Saxa Politica: Business hours only for GAAP

April 23, 2009

The sun is out, volunteers are furiously blowing up balloons, and people are already lining up for GUGS burgers: it’s time for another GAAP weekend. It’s hard not to love this time of year, but for all the school spirit, there’s one thing that GAAP weekends are still missing: an overnight. A staple of accepted student programs at schools from Bowdoin to Brown, the overnight stay in a college dorm is one of the best ways to check out a school’s on-campus housing, current students, and party scene. Why, then, doesn’t Georgetown have one?

According to Emily Merki (SFS ‘11), a coordinator of the GAAP program, it’s a matter of logistics.

“Because of the size of Georgetown and the way the campus is situated in D.C., the administration made the decision that it’s difficult to have people stay the night,” Merki said. “It’s also a big liability for the school to take on.”

Admittedly, a 1,500-person sleepover is both a logistical nightmare and a huge liability, but that doesn’t stop other similarly sized universities from taking on the challenge. Harvard University’s 6,000-odd undergraduates make room for next year’s potential freshman class during their weekends for accepted students.

There are also alternatives to inviting hundreds of 17-year-olds to spend the night en masse. The University of Pennsylvania houses just over 9,000 undergraduate students in an urban setting–Philadelphia, no less–and it solves the overnight problem by allowing prospective students to schedule their stays individually over a few dozen weeknights. Even if a GAAP weekend overnight wouldn’t be feasible, Georgetown could certainly host those who wanted overnight stays if they were spread out over the course of the semester.

Offering overnight stays is not only a courtesy to prospective freshmen; it sends a clear message about just how much Georgetown wants its admitted students to enroll. Brittany Beebe was a freshman here for one semester before she transferred to St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Her experience with St. Mary’s admissions program had a very different feel than Georgetown’s approach.

“At St. Mary’s, it’s like they really want you to come here,” she said. “Georgetown seems like ‘Oh, we’re so special.’” Beebe said an overnight stay at Georgetown would have given her a more “homey and inviting” impression of the school.

Making the effort to host potential students for a night (or not) goes beyond projecting homey image. It indicates a school’s commitment to their sense of community on campus. A college that invites you to spend the night wants you to see what it’s like to be a part of their world, not just what it’s like to take classes and make friends in Northwest D.C.

While it’s hard to tell for sure how much the absence of an overnight option says about our community, it made this former prospective freshman pause—and ask if Georgetown really cares about her.
GAAP should do more than show off our classes, our quad, and our food. It should welcome prospective students into our lives for a night and show them what being here is all about.

Want to crash at Lily’s place tonight?  Email her at


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Steve Thompson

The University managed to allow and register guests for Inauguration weekend and, by all reports, it went very well. This would be an even easier group to keep track of and “control.” There’s no reason the University can’t do it.