Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

A Top 10 List 85 Years in the Making

Feb. 3, 1921: North Building in Flames Today, Origin of Fire Unknown

A small fire damaged the Old North building, one of the oldest college buildings in the United States, as THE HOYA was going to press the morning of Thursday, Feb. 3, 1921. Editors decided to delay the issue’s production in order to provide coverage.

Flames were confined almost entirely to the top floor of the building, which was then serving as a dormitory. No student rooms were affected and most of the damage was done by water intended to put out the flames rather than the fire itself. The fire was extinguished an hour and a half after its discovery and according to the report. Insurance partially covered the losses.

The report captured the comedic scenes of the night well. “Nero and his fiddling while Rome burned didn’t have a thing on some wild Junior, who set up his Victrola on the roof of North Porch, and while the water fell in cascades about him and the flames were bursting from the third story, put on that soulful record, `Keep the Home Fire Burning.'”

Later, the report described the antics of College president P. S. Lauinger (C ’22). “`Are the women and children all saved,’ called P. S. Lauinger, the valiant president of ’22, and adding, `You get the children,’ made a mad dash for the burning building.”

The issue actually arrived on students’ doorsteps as the final flames were being extinguished. The Associated Press later picked up the story.

April 11, 1951: Georgetown Discontinues Football, Student Deaths Stun Georgetown

THE HOYA’s two banner headlines shocked students as they returned from Easter Break announcing the deaths of four students in a plane crash and the school’s decision to end varsity football.

B.J. Phoenix, Joseph Mertes, Vince Nyhan and Robert Beaudry were killed when the small, private plane owned and flown by Mertes went down in a snowstorm near Mount Pleasant, Pa., en route to Chicago from Washington, D.C. At the time, Phoenix, then a senior, was serving as president of the Yard – the student government body of the era. Nyhan, also a senior, had completed just three months earlier his tenure as editor-in-chief of THE HOYA. Mertes, a freshman, was a writer and copy editor of THE HOYA as well as a member of the Dramatic Society. Beaudry was a law student and a prefect at Georgetown.

Mertes, although only 18, was an experienced pilot and was flying the others to Chicago, where all four lived, for the Easter holiday. He lost the horizon during a snowstorm over Pennsylvania and became disoriented and within an hour crashed into a field. THE HOYA called it, “the worst civil tragedy of the university’s history.”

Above the masthead of the same issue, THE HOYA reported that Georgetown had decided to discontinue its football program citing “an uncertain outlook for student enrollment.”

A HOYA editorial tacitly endorsed the decision saying, “As long as the decision has been made, let us seek out the good.” Alumni, however, were outraged.

Football would not return to Georgetown until 1964. An earlier return, scheduled with a game set for Nov. 23, 1963, was delayed after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and play did not begin until the next year.

Feb. 13, 1964: New Elections Usher in New HOYA

The content of this issue was less important than the politics behind it. While the cover announced the opening of “luxury” Harbin Hall for the following spring, the real story was in the recent HOYA editor elections. The newly elected editor-in-chief, Ken Atchity (C ’65) announced that for the first time, THE HOYA would be open to students not in the College and would expand coverage to the other schools as well.

During the early 1960s, the university administration had decided to integrate the five existing schools, the College, the Foreign Service School, the Business School, the Nursing School and the Language School.

Until then, each school had different classes, dormitories and extra-curricular activities. Only varsity sports included students from all the schools.

John Glavin (C ’64), HOYA editor-in-chief from in 1963, who opposed the integration, said it “was part of a much more sweeping set of changes.” According to Glavin, Achity strongly favored opening THE HOYA to non-College students.

“Before, THE HOYA was an exclusively College newspaper but afterward it became more of an undergraduate newspaper and there was a gain and there was a loss,” Glavin said.

Mar. 20, 1969: The Alioto Incident: S.D.S. in Revolt

Gaston Hall erupted into a fistfight on Mar. 13, 1969, as Democratic San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto was confronted by the bourgeoning campus group Students for a Democratic Society, and THE HOYA was at the center of the brawl.

Alioto came to campus to speak in Gaston Hall upon the invitation of then HOYA editor-in-chief, Don Casper (C ’70, L ’77), who was also a personal friend of Alioto.

The mayor was scheduled to speak on the evening of Thursday, ar. 20, but that Tuesday the FBI notified Alioto’s San Francisco office that SDS was planning to disrupt his lecture. On Wednesday, a HOYA reporter discovered minutes from an SDS meeting indicating that Alioto’s lecture would be the group’s first major confrontation on campus.

Precautions were taken, but Alioto, accustomed to the raucous crowds of San Francisco, seemed unconcerned about the threats.

The major confrontation took place on the stage of Gaston Hall where Casper was “showered with obscenities” as he tried to introduce Alioto. Just as the mayor prepared to speak, the SDS rushed the stage, knocked down the microphone and demanded equal speaking time before yelling several more obscenities. Attempts to remove the SDSers resulted in a melee on the stage including one female member of SDS gripping the genitalia of an usher.

As the fighting continued, Alioto retreated into Old North escorted by an entourage of students including Casper, eventually escaping to the Ryan building.

Alioto eventually did address students at Geogetown, however it was not the crowd he expected in Gaston Hall. Instead he spoke later that evening to a smaller group in Gervase, which was then serving as the Jesuit residence.

During his speech, he addressed the events of the evening when he said, “We tell the students very frankly that, constitutionally they have a right to be discourteous. They have a right to be obnoxious.. However, if you try to block one door, just one, if you try to occupy one corridor, if you try to get into an administration building, we are going to be prepared to use whatever police force is necessary within constitutional limitations.

April 19, 1974: Ryan Showdown

The public feud between University President Rev. Robert Henle, S.J. and Educational Affairs Vice President Edmund Ryan played out in the pages of THE HOYA during the spring of 1974.

On April 4, the 64-year-old Henle told Ryan in a private meeting that he wanted to see Ryan’s resignation within a week. One week later, on April 11, the two met again and Ryan refused to resign prompting Henle to dismiss Ryan, “effective immediately.” No reason was given beyond “irreconcilable differences.” Ryan claimed to have been unaware of what exactly those differences were.

It was the week before Easter Break and THE HOYA conjectured that the date was chosen to avoid extensive coverage in the student press. The Voice was not scheduled to appear that week and THE HOYA was forced to push back its issue from Wednesday to Friday to cover the story.

According to a commentary published in THE HOYA, it was “a dispute for control between academic circles led by Ryan, and non-academic circles, let by Henle’s svengali, Dan Altobello (C’ 63), Secretary to the University [President].” Later, the column said, “On several occasions, Henle has been heard to proclaim his exasperation, feeling that Ryan was plotting to overthrown him.”

Students rallied behind the much-loved Ryan, holding a series of sit-ins and vigils. Student Body President Jack Leslie (SFS ’76) accused Henle of a “series of Machiavellian political moves, disgracing to an institution of higher learning.”

A year later, Henle was replaced as university president by Rev. Timothy Healy, S.J.

April 6, 1984: Hoyas Capture NCAA Championship

It was the Miracle on 37th Street according to one columnist.

Two years after a devastating loss in the championship game for the NCAA basketball title, the Hoyas returned to the NCAA finals with a vengeance. They won it all in an 84-75 win over the University of Houston at the Kingdome in Seattle.

Led by head coach John Thompson II, the young team overcame enormous challenges, including a hostile national press which dubbed the team’s effect on other schools as, “Hoya paranoia.”

On campus and in the District, the team’s success had a more unifying effect. “[The team] has made Washington and its people a part of the Georgetown family. `Hoya Saxa!’ is now just as much a part of Anacostia as it is at Dumbarton Oaks,” said a HOYA sports analysis.

“The University can share in a sense of real pride in the victory, and what lies behind the win,” another HOYA article said. “This isn’t a basketball factory. In fact, our entire enrollment could fit in the University of Kentucky’s gymnasium twice over. `Parks and Recreation’ majors don’t apply here. Basketball players earn a degree the right way at Georgetown University, and their success in the business world is proof of that. Little wonder that in all the months of `Hoya Paranoia’ the so-called `reporters’ couldn’t find one ex-player with a gripe about John Thompson. Not one.”

Thompson was, understandably, elated. “It’s a fabulous feeling,” he said.

Thompson went on to lead the Hoyas to 12 NCAA appearances over the next 15 years before suddenly resigning in January 1999.

Sept. 22, 1987: THE HOYA goes twice weekly

While the content of this issue alone was not particularly noteworthy, it was the first issue of The Hoya’s twice-weekly publication schedule.

For several years, THE HOYA’s editorial board had directed the newspaper toward the change opting to take a series of small steps to ensure the feasibility of the plan.

First, the board started setting aside operating surpluses to cover the extra expenses associated with the more frequent production schedule. The board also examined operating procedures to determine what extra staffing requirements the move would necessitate.

During the same period, THE HOYA began a series of magazine ventures called “The Hoya Review” which was published several times per semester. According to Mary Prahinski (CAS ’85), who served as editor-in-chief in 1984 and was involved in some of the preliminary decisions moving toward twice weekly publication, the magazine issues had longer stories, color photos and other features that normally didn’t appear in the paper.

The new publication scheduled debuted the third week of September in 1987 with issues on Tuesdays and Fridays. The Voice soon accommodated its publication schedule as well.

Nov. 13, 1989: HOYA, Voice Suspend Publication Schedules

THE HOYA and The Voice suspended their publication in mid-November 1989 to protest the university’s media policy. The issue came to the forefront when John J. DeGioia, then dean of student affairs, prohibited THE HOYA from publishing a paid advertisement from the National Organization of Women publicizing a pro-choice rally.

Both newspapers instead decided to publish a joint issue calling for a revision of the university’s media policy.

“We call on University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., to agree that all speech that is predominantly political, regardless of its form or the part of the newspaper in which it is located, be granted full protection under the university’s policy of freedom of expression . the Dean of Student Affairs cannot be permitted to act unilaterally” an editorial in the special issue said. “We are writers and editors, not social activists. We have every intention of being flexible in negotiation, and we do not support efforts to turn this issue into a campaign that vilifies the university.”

THE HOYA had received the advertisement several weeks before the issue emerged and had attempted to gain administrative approval for its publication, however according to THE HOYA, the warnings were lost in the bureaucratic shuffle of paperwork.

After not receiving a response for two weeks, THE HOYA decided to publish the ad on Nov. 10 and notified DeGioia of the decision early in the day on Nov. 9. Later that day, DeGioia called a meeting with Timothy Flynn (SFS ’90), then THE HOYA’s editor-in-chief, and informed him that he would not allow the advertisement to run saying that it violated the media guidelines.

DeGioia offered Flynn “a number of alternatives, saying that THE HOYA could `run the ad as part of an editorial saying that Dean DeGioia would not allow this ad to run, what do you think?'” That ad, however, could not be run as a paid advertisement or public service announcement.

Flynn decided that the compromise was unacceptable and THE HOYA chose to halt publication. The Voice immediately joined the effort.

A compromise was reached the following week and both newspapers resumed publication.

Nov. 6, 1992: Georgetown Celebrates Clinton Election Victory

The Hilltop buzzed with activity and excitement during early November 1992. Bill Clinton (SFS ’68) had just become the first Hoya to be elected President of the United States.

THE HOYA’s extensive coverage included reaction from Democrats and Republicans alike as well administrators and alumni. In a news analysis article, the newspaper boldly said that Clinton “is unquestionably Georgetown’s favorite son.”

Even supporters of George H. W. Bush and Ross Perot were consoled by the fact that Clinton was a Hoya, the article said.

“On Tuesday night, a couple walked through Red Square around midnight, bravely sporting their `Bush/Quayle 92′ buttons. A group of students with matching Clinton/Gore T-shirts walked by them, cheering and shouting `Clinton! Clinton!’ The couple was solemn as the mob passed, but then one turned to the other and laughed. `Hey, it could be worse. Bill could be from Duke,’ he said.”

University President Leo J. O’Donovan released a statement the next day saying, “We at Georgetown University are immensely proud that our alumnus, Governor Bill Clinton, has been chosen by the people of the United States to be our next president … [The university] gladly and proudly pledges its intellectual resources to work with [Clinton’s] administration in tackling the social and economic problems we face as a nation.”

Clinton’s candidacy, in fact, swelled the membership of the College Democrats from around 100 early in the fall 1992 semester to 215 by Election Day.

Six years later, amidst Clinton’s impeachment trial, the newspaper would call on him to resign the presidency saying, “Given that the fallout from the scandal is almost certain to consume the rest of his term, Clinton needs to swallow his personal pride and resign the presidency.”

Sept. 14, 2001: Terror Hits Home

When terrorists attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, Georgetown students could see the destruction across the Potomac River from their dorm rooms. For the various HOYA writers and photographer who covered it, it was the story of a lifetime.

“By 10:15 a.m., the flag on Copley Lawn was at half-staff. The north tower of the World Trade Center had collapsed. The Pentagon was hit. The campus knew that America was under attack, but did not know if the attack was over. Clearer facts would only partly ease tensions. Cell phone signals were dead and phone lines were overloaded in Washington, D.C., and New York. It would be hours before many could connect with their friends and family,” one HOYA report said.

More than 100 Georgetown alumni work in the World Trade Center and about 20 worked in the Pentagon in Sept. 2001, according to Bill Reynolds (COL ’79), then associate vice president for alumni relations.

By Sept. 14, it had been confirmed that one alumna, Lisa J. Raines (L ’82) was on American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon. Leslie Whittington, a professor at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute was also on the flight.

On campus, classes were canceled until the subsequent Wednesday. In a broadcast e-mail, University President John J. DeGioia said, “We’ve seen the worst of humanity. We can still work together to build a better place for humanity.”

DPS and MPD implemented stringent security measures in response to the attacks.

“Increased security was visible off campus as well. ilitary police and their camouflaged, armored vehicles were positioned at most intersections along M Street. Armored cars drove up and down M Street while fighter jets patrolled the skies over the city. Helicopters with gun and missile turrets buzzed past campus along the Potomac River,” according to THE HOYA.

One HOYA reporter, Jean Weinberg (COL ’02) was in New York finishing a summer job when the attacks occurred. She provided THE HOYA with an on-the-scene report.

“I woke up late Tuesday morning. I was supposed to report to the NY1 newsroom at 3 p.m. for primary day and was assigned to be at Mark Green’s, a Democrat candidate for mayor, headquarters,” she wrote. “However, there would not even be a primary that day and I ended up covering one of the most heinous events in world history.”

Meanwhile, Hoya photographer Charles Nailen (SFS ’04) captured images of a burning Pentagon building from the Village A rooftop.

While the Georgetown University Hospital did not send staff to assist at the Pentagon, it did switch into external disaster mode, upgrading security and arranging for additional staff assistance. Only one victim from the Pentagon was ultimately treated there.

Georgetown’s proximity to the tragedies made the day, unforgettable for so many Americans, particularly poignant for those on the Hilltop.

“On the morning after four hijacked jetliners collapsed New York’s World Trade Center and crashed into the Pentagon, the pall of smoke cast across the Potomac River was still visible from the Village A rooftops,” read a Hoya news analysis. “A solemn, somber reminder of the destruction wrought the day before.”

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