Yesterday, the Office of Student Affairs announced that it would be imposing new restrictions on the previously unmitigated free-for-all that students knew and loved as Georgetown Day.
According to an email sent by the Georgetown Day Planning Committee from the Division of Student Affairs’ email address, Copley Lawn will be fenced off and guarded by a cadre of security guards, DPS officers, University administrators, and student volunteers. The group will be tasked with preventing anyone from climbing over the metal barricades or bringing beverages of any kind onto the lawn. This is a clear attempt to clamp down on the festivities that Jeanne Lord has called, “a celebration by the campus community,” rather than “a celebration of the campus community.” Georgetown Day should remain a celebration of a difficult school year, a day when students can let loose and enjoy the camaraderie of the campus community.
Not only is the lawn one of the most beautiful places on campus, it is most amenable to the carnival-like atmosphere of the day—with the exception, perhaps, of the streets of Burleith. Georgetown Day replaced Block Party, a similar celebration that did not please the neighbors.
The University’s decision to ban festivities from the lawn, which is in attempt to appease the neighbors opposing the campus plan, will most likely relegate celebrating students to the neighborhood. With the Zoning Commission set to decide on Monday whether to hold even more Campus Plan hearings, the University’s move will most likely sow poorly-timed ill will among the most vocal of neighbors.
Some have pointed out that the administration brought Georgetown Day onto the lawn—complete with free food and inflatables—to memorialize David Schick (MSB ’01), a student who was killed in an altercation outside Lauinger Library in early 2001. However, it is hypocritical for the administration to deplore student behavior as an act of disrespect for this student. After Schick’s death, the administration fought his family to keep the perpetrator’s punishment a secret—a punishment which consisted of a ten-page reflection paper and a suspension that was not even carried out. Good-natured celebration is nowhere near as disrespectful as this minimal punishment.
Last semester, the University tried to passively stifle Georgetown Day by neglecting to create an organizing committee as it had in years past. But even this attempt to actively undermine the institution will not stop students from enjoying the day. The community spirit that previously pervaded the lawn will be lost, but students will continue to celebrate their last day of classes in whatever way they see fit. Ultimately, the University’s diminishing of the Georgetown Day festivities is misguided, and entirely misses the point of a “celebration of the campus community.”