Roses, the Blue, Lilies, the Gray

By the

March 17, 2005

Civil War Colors

By Samantha Friedman

According to legend, Georgetown’s enrollment reached an all time low of 17 when students left to participate in the Civil War. While 1,141 alumni and student representatives fought in the war, 925 joined the Confederates, demonstrating Georgetown’s unique geographical position on the border between the country’s north and south. The U.S. Government converted classrooms into a hospital and took control of many campus buildings. At the war’s end, the University mirrored the country’s reconciliation by adopting the colors of both sides’ uniforms, blue and gray, as its official school colors.

The real reason behind the need to determine recognizable colors is found in the history of the crew team, or what was initially founded as the Georgetown University Rowing Association in 1876. J.G. Agar took the helm in founding a reputable organization to compete with the already established crew teams of other universities, “one that now sets us abreast with other Colleges on the seaboard in the matter of physical sports,” as reported by the Georgetown College Journal in 1976.

As a crew was selected, boats were purchased and a boathouse was completed on the banks of the Potomac River for $1,100, Agar formed a committee on colors. According to University Archivist Lynn Conway, “They decided they needed colors so supporters on the side could identify the boat they were supposed to be cheering for.”

Georgetown was not alone in adopting colors for this reason. As college crew teams became significant, schools around the country utilized designated colors to mark their individuality. Georgetown’s committee selected blue and gray as “expressive of the feeling of unity that exists between the Northern and Southern Boys of the College,” according to the College Journal. Students at the neighboring all-female Visitation Academy sewed a blue and gray pennant for the Boat Club, embroidered with the words Ocior Auro, “swifter than the wind.” Students became accustomed to flying the flag at University celebrations, and blue and gray were accepted that same year to also represent the college as a whole. The boat song was altered to include the new colors: “Still on! The Blue our pennon bears / To triumph leads the way: / Or, if we fail we still shall hold / To honor with the Gray.”

From Fencing to Ewing

By Eric Mittereder

Georgetown’s athletics history extends back to the arrival of two fencing masters on campus in 1798. Since then, athletics and recreation have been considered essential to the Jesuit education. At an overwhelming cost of $800, the construction of a handball court in 1814 marked the first large expenditure on athletics. The site now marks the entrance to Healy Hall. Though athletics have existed for recreational purposes ever since, it was not until after the Civil War that team sports emerged; the baseball team played its first intercollegiate game in 1869. Georgetown was slow to join in the trend of intercollegiate competition for fear that it would create a distraction from education. Today, athletic talent and the importance to the University of such organizations as the varsity basketball teams can influence the admissions process.

Embedded in the story of Georgetown sports is the establishment of Georgetown’s student government, which originated in an effort to organize sports and recreational activities on campus. Established in 1891, this first association, dubbed “The Yard,” operated as the bare bones of a student government, with an executive council headed by a president responsible for organizing and funding events.

In 1919, the Yard had expanded to include non-athletic activities, including a student council. Over the next half century, the student government structure experienced turbulent reform until 1984, when the Georgetown Student University Association was founded.

Father Alphonsus Donlon, S.J., considered the father of Georgetown athletics, advanced the football and baseball programs in the early 1900s. Though it may seem surprising today, there was a point in history when the football team had a winning record. In 1941 the football Hoyas were ranked ninth in the nation and enjoyed an undefeated record for over three years. This represented the peak of the program.

Since the 1970’s, the gem of Georgetown athletics has been the basketball team, propelled to national regard by the celebrated Coach John Thompson. With Patrick Ewing (CAS ‘85) at the helm, the team won its first national championship in 1984. This occasion was deemed so momentous that April 7 was designated Georgetown Hoya Championship Day and Thompson was presented with the key to the city. Ewing, Thompson and then United States President Ronald Reagan were featured together on a 1985 cover of Sports Illustrated.

Pajama Parades

By Anna Ziajka

The lights are turned out and tired first-years crawl gratefully into bed after a trying first week of college life. No sooner do they close their eyes, however, than their dormitory hallways are flooded by two hundred sophomores who are there to make sure that they won’t sleep that night.

The first-years are pulled from bed and forced to wear coats backwards on top of their pajamas. Blue and gray beanies are pulled over their eyes. They are marched to Gaston Hall, where they are told that they will henceforth be referred to as “inmates of the cell block.”

The year is 1957, and the theme for this season’s freshmen hazing is prison. Two years earlier, the theme was militarily inspired; first-years were required to stand at attention when facing an upperclassman and issued demerits if they failed to make their beds.

For more than half a century, hazing was a standard part of every Georgetown first-year male’s experience. For the duration of the hazing period, new Hoyas were required to run errands for upperclassmen, wear oversized nameplates and special beanies and provide their elders with an endless supply of cigarettes. They were permitted to walk only on the north side of O Street and they were subjected to such late-night festivities as mud baths on the lawn and parades to Union Station in their pajamas. Some years, first-years were sold to upperclassmen in a mock auction in Gaston Hall.

In the early 1960s, however, a series of hazing-related incidents at other universities prompted a nationwide reconsideration of the practice. In 1962, for the first time, Georgetown students did not engage in hazing. Instead, on a much more innocent note, first-years participated in community service projects and cleaned up the campus.

When the University became coed in 1969, hazing disappeared for good. Today’s first-years might have to endure hours of orientation activities and don dorky color-coded badges to signify their respective schools, but at least they can get a good night’s sleep.

Parts of a Whole

By Michael J. Bruns

Georgetown College was founded in 1789 by Father John Carroll, S.J. to offer a liberal education equal to the caliber of the institutions with which he had become familiar in Europe and also foster Jesuit ideals. The first student was William Gaston, who enrolled at the preparatory school in 1791 at age 13, when the Georgetown education included preparatory years. He was responsible for earning the school’s charter from by the United States Congress in 1815. While nobody at Georgetown has difficulty remembering the date of the French Revolution (The 1789 restaurant shares its name with both the founding of the University as well as the birth of European democracy), each of the other three schools has a unique history.

The Georgetown School of Nursing and Health Studies was founded in 1903 as the Georgetown University Training School for Nurses to support the Georgetown University Hospital, which had opened five years earlier. The Sisters of St. Francis managed the hospital, but the order was too small to supply the required amount of nurses, so the sisters engaged in the training of young nurses. The school had no dormitories, so the students inhabited the hospital rooms for the duration of the three-year program. It wasn’t until 1951 that the current four-year diploma program evolved.

The School of Foreign Service, founded in 1919, was the brainchild of Father Edmund A. Walsh, who was disturbed by the lack of internationally minded Americans following the end of World War I. Though only 62 students represented the first class, enrollment expanded beyond 500 students within just five years. The program was originally limited to night school, as all the students worked full-time jobs. Walsh ensured that “foreign service” was defined as broadly as possible; the school was intended to prepare students for roles in both the public and private sectors, covering everything from drafting treaties to international commerce. As the school’s curriculum evolved, other specialized programs were established, including the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics in 1949 and the McDonough School of Business in 1955.

First Day of School

By Chris Norton

When William Gaston arrived on campus in 1791 as Georgetown’s first student, the program of studies was slightly different from today’s relatively free and easy curriculum, which at least allows for electives. The classics were an inalienable requirement 200 years before the age of political correctness, composing the majority of the liberal arts curriculum. As late as 1851, all courses, from grammar to history to mathematics, drew primarily from Greek and Latin scholars, and all philosophy lectures were delivered in Latin.

Historical admission policies, while not nearly as competitive, were also markedly different. Students were required to demonstrate a good moral character in addition to academic excellence. Coincidentally, the McDonough School of Business was not founded for approximately another 100 years.

The code of student conduct was far different as well. A Course of Studies published in the 1850s stated, “Youths addicted to chewing tobacco will not be received, unless they resolve to abandon that habit, as the use of tobacco will not be tolerated in the College.” It is yet another coincidence that the Village C Patio was still about 150 years away from construction.

Students were also forbidden from leaving campus for extended periods of time more than once a year, and only then at “the great vacation,” which contemporary scholars translate as spring break in Acapulco. Naturally, uniforms were strictly required and pocket money was discouraged.

The true beauty of the early curriculum, though, was the tuition, which was approximately $200 per year and didn’t tack on that mandatory Yates fee. The bill even included laundry and tailoring services for those twin extra long sheets.

Playing Dress-up

By Perry Collins

As students today collect the newest issues of Maxim or Cosmopolitan from their mailboxes, they should remember those students of less than 70 years ago who may have been expelled for similar “immoral papers.”

The Georgetown experience, now coeducational and independent, emphasized until only decades ago the enforced virtue of a Catholic boys’ school, with a great abundance of rules. Students given the 1938 prospectus faced a strict schedule, beginning with the first bell jarring the campus awake at 6:45 a.m., just in time for 7:15 Mass and a full day of classes. “Lady visitors,” including female relatives, were under no circumstances to be allowed in the dorms without a faculty escort, and lights were to be turned off by 11:00 p.m. on weeknights.

The dress code was a part of the Georgetown rulebook from the University’s inception. In 1798, students were directed to bring to school with them six cravats, handkerchiefs and stockings along with weekday and Sunday suits. Little had changed 145 years later, as by 1938, coats and ties were required to be worn even at mealtimes, as “careless attire was unbecoming to a college student.”

By the 1960s, the administration became a bit more relaxed. In 1969, the School of Medicine, after conducting a study of 1,800 students, faculty and staff, decided to allow long hair, sideburns and facial hair that accompanied “an otherwise good appearance.” After the men’s dress code policy ended in 1966, the school did away with the women’s in 1969, though still reminding newly-admitted women of the “professional nature” of the school.


By Austin Richardson

One would expect the neighborhood and campus featured in 1973’s The Exorcist to be inhabited by some element of the supernatural, and Georgetown certainly does not disappoint.

The Halcyon House (a mansion at 3406 Prospect Street), for example, is Georgetown’s very own haunted house. Originally owned by Benjamin Stoddert, the first Secretary of the Navy, Albert Clemons bought it in the 1930s. The man convinced himself that if he kept making additions to the house, he would never die. Besides adding rooms and walls at random, he built doors that open into walls and a staircase that leads nowhere.

Visitors to the building have claimed to spot the apparitions of a faceless woman wandering the house in a white gown and another sitting listlessly in a rocking chair, only to have them disappear upon further investigation. As Halcyon House was originally a stop along the Underground Railroad, it is said that the moans of dead slaves can be heard in the basement.

At Mr. Henry’s, a bar at 1225 Wisconsin Ave., several regulars have also heard the ghosts of slaves, not moaning but singing, dancing and playing the piano. The surrounding block served as slave quarters during the 19th century.

Here on campus, the observatory is purportedly haunted by the spirit of a physics professor who died in the 1950s and whose ashes were scattered in its garden. In the 1970s, Georgetown Astronomy Club students claimed to see his ghost, but no further evidence has been noted.

Most students have likely heard the story of a turn of the century Jesuit who is said to haunt Healy Hall. As the story goes, he was knocked down by heavy machinery in a freak accident while winding the clock located in the tower.

Perhaps the most mysterious tale tells of a stonemason who pitched himself to his death through a fifth-floor window of Healy Hall. The only catch is that Healy’s windows are extraordinarily narrow, far too small for a human body to fit through without the aid of a supernatural force.

Off the Record: Jack the Bulldog

By Tim Fernholz

Jack the Bulldog, local celebrity, Hoya mascot and raconteur, allowed a Voice correspondent to spend three days enjoying his luxury-drenched lifestyle, which includes long walks and heavy petting. He is the latest in a line of mascots that began with student pets in the 1800s.

VOICE: There must be a lot of pressure on you to keep up the grand tradition of Georgetown’s canine mascots.

JACK: Sure, but its easier these days. I mean, in [18]’62, one of my predecessors, Pompey Gavin, killed his competition, a terrier named Rough Andready, in a fight. The most famous of my forebears, Stubby, was a decorated veteran of World War I and met President Wilson following the peace. Me, I mostly eat and waddle around.

V: What happened to Stubby?

J: Well, they made a plaster cast of his body, wrapped his skin around it, and put his cremated viscera inside. I’m looking forward to a more traditional burial.

V: Tell our readers more about yourself.

J: I came to the Hilltop as a puppy in 2004. I’m a purebred, of course, purchased by the University, the second since the “Bring Back Jack” campaign ended the canine stagflation that began in the ‘70s. I don’t believe man or beast should be purchased into slavery, but I’ve had to adapt to my condition. You know, free food.

V: Plus, you love sports, right?

J: Athletics, yeah. That’s a big part of my life. I mean, grandstands, games and groupies? Am I right?

V: You are right.

J: I go to most of the games, sit in the stands, parade around at half time. Sometimes I play with a ball. They even make me wreck cardboard boxes. Come on! Give me a ball and a trampoline and let me throw down.

V: What about the human mascot in the Jack suit?

J: Don’t even get me started on that minstrel show. I’m the real deal.

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