In a couple of weeks when you and the rest of the Prefrosh move onto campus, you’ll find that becoming a Hoya is much more than just receiving your Convocation robes and participating in the endless New Student Orientation activities. There are certain antics that make being a Hoya timeless. Whether it’s a large celebration or a subtle unwritten rule, here is a guide to the many Georgetown traditions that link Hoyas together throughout the generations.
This is the one day of the year that Georgetown students somewhat care about the football team. It is also the one day of the year that alumni come back to campus and get even drunker than the students do. There’s an annual tailgate followed by football and soccer games where alumni and students share their love of drunkenness and Hoya pride. Free food, performances by different student groups, and of course a large inflatable Jack the Bulldog on the lawn round out the festivities.
While not nearly as insane as Georgetown Day, Homecoming is unique because many student groups host parties with their alumni, giving underclassmen a nice opportunity to see those who came before them.
Stepping on the seal
If you haven’t yet noticed or if you weren’t paying attention on your tour of campus, there is a Georgetown seal in mosaic form covering the ground at the central entrance to Healy Hall. If you observe students coming and going from the door, you will notice that they will never walk down the middle of the seal, but rather around it in an awkward fashion, in hopes that the soles of their Sperry’s don’t touch the mosaic tiles of the seal.
Legend, if anything Blue and Gray tour guides come up with can be described as “legend,” has it that if a student sets foot on the seal, they won’t graduate. If you’re feeling brave and not even a little superstitious, go ahead and walk on the seal.
Sitting on John Carroll’s lap
John Carroll founded Georgetown, and his statue is fittingly one of the richest and most fun rites of passage for any Hoya. Before graduating, every student must climb onto the lap of his statue located at the front gates of campus. Be warned: it is not as easy as it looks.
It’s usually done after a late night of “adventures,” making the climb obviously more difficult. It’s not uncommon to see drunken freshman struggle onto his lap, with their body awkwardly propped on the cold statue to ensure they don’t fall off before the picture is taken. The key to getting onto the statue safely: teamwork.
A plunge into the Dalhgren Fountain
Located outside of Dalhgren Chapel, the site of many Hoya weddings, every student should take a quick plunge into the ice cold water any time the fountain is on. This isn’t as challenging as it sounds. The fountain only really gets your ankles wet and the beauty of the quad makes the experience much more enjoyable … unless you slip and fall.
A Run to the White House
Going to school in D.C. for four years guarantees every Hoya an opportunity to be present for one presidential Election Regardless of political party, a tradition for both Georgetown students and students from the surrounding D.C. colleges is to take a quick run to the White House after the presidential election results are announced.
Georgetown students have made the run to our neighbors down the road on other exciting occasions like reaching the Final Four in the NCAA tournament and after Osama Bin Laden‘s death.
This underground restaurant and bar located a couple blocks from the main gates is one of the most iconic and special places for any Georgetown student, faculty, or alumni. It’s probably the only bar in Georgetown where getting in when you’re under 21 would be considered a bad idea. Come almost every Hoya’s 21 birthday, they will receive a stamp on their forehead from Tombs as an official rite of passage into the bar.
In addition to many memorable (or not so memorable) nights in The Tombs, many seniors attempt at being in the “99 Days Club,” in which in the last 99 days of their senior year they must sit down and order something from either the restaurant or bar everyday until they graduate. All the seniors that complete the challenge have their names put on a plaque in the restaurant, which they are most likely more proud of than their diploma.
Running up the Exorcist steps
While Exorcist author William Blatty (COL ’50) is trying to have Georgetown lose its Catholic status, he is the reason for Georgetown’s terrifying “Exorcist stairs.” We won’t spoil the final scene of the movie, but there is a chilling ending to The Exorcist involving those stairs. You are guaranteed to be out of breath and a little creeped out once you reach the top.
The last Friday of classes of the spring semester, Georgetown Day is a campus-wide celebration of how awesome Georgetown is. Georgetown Day is insane. Almost everyone day drinks very early and heads out to celebrate the (hopefully) nice weather on Healy and Copley Lawns. Anything goes on Georgetown Day: sipping out of questionable water bottles during class (that is, if you decide to go to class), killing your Spanish oral exam because you are drunk, killing your final presentation because you are drunk, and falling asleep on Healy Lawn at 1:15 in the afternoon.
All of the campus a capella and dance groups perform throughout the course of the day while hammered, but no one is lucid enough to notice. There’s a plethora of bouncy castles and games on the front lawn. The only thing that brings a damper on the day is the poor souls sitting in Lau looking at all of the fun that everyone else is having. We can assure you that it’s one tradition that the Georgetown community holds dearly, and the high expectations are met.
This article was first published in 2014 on Vox Populi.