Administration partners with student leadership for Georgetown Day
This year’s Georgetown Day, beginning at 7:00 a.m. and ending at 2:30 a.m., will feature events such as a Leo’s kegger (called Club Leo’s) for 21+ students, the return of inflatables, and a concert in the McDonough parking lot by 2AM Club, a band featured on the show Pretty Little Liars.
Inflatables, which were cancelled last year due to the administration’s attempt to scale back Georgetown Day, will return with bounce houses, obstacle courses, and a rock climbing wall from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Other events throughout the day include a Build-your-own-Bulldog, a blessing of Jesuit graves, a faculty and staff wine tasting reception, a screening of Space Jam, food trucks, and a scavenger hunt (where students can win Tombs gift cards), among other events.
Jack the Bulldog’s retirement party will also take place that day with free cookies and a photo-op. A dunk tank on the lawn will also give students the opportunity to dunk GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) and DPS Chief Jay Gruber, according to Thomas De Bow (COL ’15), the GUSA representative on the Georgetown Day Planning Committee.
The events were largely brought about and planned with student input, according to Tisa. Club Leo’s is a revival of the beer garden, a Georgetown Day tradition that was cancelled last year along with the inflatables. From 10:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., students who present a valid ID and GoCard will be able to drink unlimited amounts of beer for $5 to $10, depending on whether they reserved tickets or not.
The 2AM Club concert, also from 10:00 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., offers students another night-time activity alongside the kegger and a pillow fight at 1 a.m. The administration, rather than attempting to make rules about drinking on Georgetown Day, is supporting these night-time events to give students incentives to drink responsibly (a.k.a survive past nightfall) and stay on campus for “responsible socializing,” Tisa said.
Attempts to move partying back on campus with the Campus Plan agreement and the student response surrounding last year’s scaling back has led to a more open, student-oriented dialogue with the administration, according to Tisa. He said this conversation has allowed for a more student-friendly on-campus environment on Georgetown Day, which includes the lift of the on-campus keg limit and the removal of party registration.
“Starting [planning] earlier and making it very clear that this is a day for students as well as faculty and the administration to celebrate Georgetown really did change the tone,” Tisa said. “Ongoing campus plan discussions also gave Adam and I the opportunity to advocate for student-friendly safety and security procedures.”
Andi Debellis (MSB ’14), the head of the Georgetown Day Planning Committee, said that many of the issues last year stemmed from a lack of funding due to the short time frame students had to plan the event. This year, the day has received about $50,000 in funding that includes cups of Chobani yogurt and about 100 cases of beverages from Coca-Cola, Debellis said.
Last year, the administration blamed the cancellation of the beer garden and inflatables on “lack of student support,” though interest in planning was never solicited through email, as was the norm in previous years. Administrators proceeded to say that they had become concerned with the health and safety of students.
Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Jeanne Lord told Vox last year that the event had become “a celebration of the campus community” to “a celebration by…the student community.” (The bolding is hers.) Lord was referring to the event’s origins. It was originally meant to celebrate the Georgetown community in light of the alcohol-related manslaughter of David Shick (MSB ’01) by another student, who the administration assigned a 10-page reflection paper as punishment. Those who remembered the incident eventually graduated, and Georgetown Day came to replace Block Party, its off-campus counterpart, which was cancelled the year before the new student memorial day was launched.
Former Vox editor Jackson Perry (COL ’12) noted other, more likely motivations for the administration to scale back events, as three days after Georgetown Day, the D.C. Zoning Commission would determine whether to hold another hearing on the Campus Plan before issuing a decision on the matter.
But after the negative reactions to last year’s events, the administration has approached Georgetown Day differently. Lord approved of the work students have done in planning a day for the Georgetown community. “We wanted to support creative and thoughtful student leadership in planning a vibrant, welcoming campus celebration,” she said.
The administration helped the planning committee find more money and support to fund the increased size of the Georgetown Day. Debellis said, “They were very cooperative… They were open to suggestions, open to giving suggestions. They were very instrumental helping us find funding this year.”
Debellis said the planning committee also met with the Georgetown Community Partnership, a group composed of neighborhood leaders, students, and University officials, which approved of the events and was even impressed with the level of organization the group had in planning the day.
“This year the administration seems to understand the student perspective and has done everything they can within the boundaries of safety and legal requirements to make it a day students will enjoy,” Tisa said.
Photo: Kirill Makarenko/Georgetown Voice