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

Athletes Not the Only Source of Misconduct

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

In the six months since the Duke lacrosse scandal hit the mainstream media, college athletes have been scrutinized like never before. The heightened awareness and increased media coverage of the oft-sordid reality of “life after the game” has universities nationwide racing to curtail the behavior of their student-athletes. Teams at institutions ranging in size from the small Division-III liberal arts colleges of the Northeast to the massive universities in the Big Ten have been lectured ad nauseam about the importance of conscientious behavior both on and off the playing field. As a student and varsity athlete at Georgetown, I too have been warned about the increased attention paid to the behavior of all Hoya sports teams by members of the media. Although it is true that in the recent past college sports teams have received the lion’s share of attention pertaining to issues of student conduct, we must ask ourselves if improper behavior is indeed linked to a student being an athlete. At universities with Greek systems, fraternities and sororities are often blamed for misconduct, which is frequently linked to the pledging process. Georgetown, however, does not officially recognize such organizations. Although social fraternities do exist here, life on and off campus does not revolve around them. Thus, the problems resulting from their existence have thus far been relatively minor. Could “another Duke” happen at Georgetown? Perhaps. But is it possible that such an incident would arise not from the misconduct of student-athletes, but, indeed, from the state of the social scene on our campus at large? Definitely. This past summer, Rolling Stone magazine published an article about social life on Duke’s campus which recounted tales of foam parties, hired strippers and the university’s pervasive “hookup culture.” Despite the best efforts of Duke University’s administrators to prove that their institution was more than just a “party school,” the piece only cemented Duke’s reputation as one of the colleges upon which Tom Wolfe based the fictional booze-and-sex-soaked Dupont University in his latest novel, “I Am Charlotte Simmons.” Although Georgetown students are somewhat limited by our university’s location – it’s hard to have bonfires and foam parties in the middle of a major metropolitan area – a similar culture certainly exists at our school. Respect for others and for what many would consider “traditional” values is fast-disappearing at Georgetown – at least after 10 p.m., when the lights go down and the music turns up. By day, we are largely an overachieving, goal-oriented student body. After all, the pressure is on us to succeed as students at one of America’s most prestigious and selective universities, where graduates often go on to work on the Hill, in investment banks and at hedge funds in New York and Connecticut. By night, however, we play hard – not that there is anything wrong with that in itself. After a hard day of classes and resume-building extracurriculars, we certainly deserve to have a little fun. It’s how we party that is more than a little depressing. Georgetown has its own “hookup culture,” a sad state of affairs which is unfortunately omnipresent at many colleges today: Students no longer go out on dates, and courtship is nonexistent. Instead, students’ love lives lie at one of two extremes: a serious, long-term relationship or a series of random encounters with different people. Georgetown students are expected to exude what Rolling Stone called “effortless perfection.” For women, at least, this means that one needs to have a perfect body, nice clothes and stellar grades – and the ability to party five nights a week. Very few people can actually accomplish this. Hence the increase in stress and anxiety on our campus and other campuses nationwide. We set ourselves unrealistic and unhealthy goals which revolve around this “effortlessness” and out of fear of being socially rejected by others. The reality of much of Georgetown’s social life, as at most American universities, is that it often serves to fuel the insecurity which none of us deserve to have as smart, well-bred young men and women. We shouldn’t focus on athletes as the source of Georgetown’s problems: A sports team is only one of the many means by which students are brought together, and incidents similar to what happened at Duke last March have the potential to occur regardless of whether a student is an athlete. It’s our attitude toward one another that needs to change, and right now, it doesn’t seem like that will happen anytime soon. As long as we focus on specific groups of students rather than examining the mentality of our entire campus, this state of affairs will only continue to erode all that we work for as a community. Allison Davis is a senior in the College, opinion editor at THE HOYA and a member of the Georgetown Sailing Team.

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