Student leaders seek institutional home for Georgetown Day as planning begins
“There’s been no formal change in the planning structure,” said Former GPB Chair Tyler Simpson (COL ‘13). “This is sort of a transition year, mainly just because in the past there simply has not been an official institutional home for Georgetown Day.”
Last year, the Center for Student Programs neglected to send out an email requesting applications to join the Georgetown Day planning committee, which they had done in years past. As a result, student leaders are examining ways Georgetown Day could gain institutional permanency to avoid last year’s controversy and confusion.
“It’s just up to whatever student leaders are around to remind the administration to send out an email soliciting applications, which is not a sustainable model for a day that is the largest programming day of the year,” said GUSA President Clara Gustafson (SFS ‘13).
Despite minor changes this year, authority over Georgetown Day will not be transferred to GPB. “There’s nothing definite about it,” Gustafson said. “I think their members’ interest and expertise and planning make it a logical home, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily have the capacity currently or the desire at this moment to do that, but they did express interest. So, hopefully that’s where it could live long-term.”
She also emphasized that even if GPB were to take control, it would not become financially responsible for Georgetown Day. “That was very clear from the beginning, that the financial structure would not be incorporated for them to deal with by themselves,” Gustafson said. “We would continue to fundraise like we have in the past.”
Everything is on schedule for Georgetown Day this year, according to sitting Georgetown Day Committee Chair Andi Debellis (MSB ‘14). “We’re starting much earlier, we’re on track, everything is on time, we’ll have time to do contracts and get inflatables and any other large scale events,” Debellis said. “The setbacks have been that there’s a little bit more pushback from staff and faculty considering that it has become a scary day for them.”
“They [administrators] want to make sure we’re having fun,” said last year’s committee chair, Maeve Brody (COL ‘14), “but they also want to make sure we’re doing it safely in a way that’s not disrespectful to the community.”
As far as ensuring that safety, Gustafson said, “I think the administration heard loud and clear last year from students that barricades were not an acceptable form of safety precautions, and Jay Gruber has 28 plus years of experience in community policing up at UMD, and that’s a much larger campus.”
Although students were not barricaded on Copley Lawn last year, there were definitely changes to the event, which is continuing to change and evolve to accommodate both students and the community.
“We definitely want to emphasize that we want everyone to have fun on the day, I think there’s a lot about Georgetown Day to be preserved,” Simpson said. “We don’t want to make huge changes to the day, but also to be sure to consider other people within the community.”
One change includes lessening the incentive to day drink by possibly offering an event at night that would serve alcohol for students who are of age. “I think the fact that the administration is very open to the idea of having a kegger at night speaks to something,” Simpson said. “They want the day to be a celebration, they want people to have fun. We have a very diverse community, so different people have fun in different ways.”
As for its tradition, Gustafson thinks the history and mission of Georgetown Day are complicated. Once two events—block party and Georgetown Day—the end of year celebration has merged into one. “It’s always at the end of the year, which is always going to be celebratory for students, and so I think it will be a long-term discussion about yes, there is a need to celebrate that we are a community and include staff and faculty in that celebration,” Gustafson said. “While there is a complicated relationship, I think ultimately it will be a day that is the last Friday of classes and there are blow-up bouncy houses on the front lawn and a dunk tank, and I think it will be what we need it to be.”
File Photo: Kirill Makarenko/Georgetown Voice