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

Don’t Drop the Inaugural Ball

There’s a line from Joe Walsh’s song “Life’s Been Good” that expresses a worldview shared by many Georgetown students, myself included: “I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do.”

Over the course of this past adrenaline-charged weekend leading up to President Barack Obama’s inauguration, we were treated to first-class performances by stars from around the world; we had front-row seats to watch history unfold in our backyard. Only one thing was lacking: a major-league inaugural ball.

I realize that there was, in fact, a “Georgetown Inaugural Celebration” held last Friday in Leo’s – sponsored by the Georgetown chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Georgetown Univ-ersity Student Association, the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access, the Center for Student Programs and others – and I’m sure those in attendance had, well, a ball. I applaud these student groups for their efforts to organize such an event.

I wasn’t involved in the planning of said ball, so I have no knowledge of the level of involvement by the administration, the Georgetown Program Board, the Student Activities Commission or any other groups, but I get the feeling that this ball was put together because there weren’t other big plans in place. Judging by what I’ve seen of Georgetown in my own endeavors to organize events, I’m fairly confident that my hunch is correct.

And if I’m right, I think it’s rather pathetic that we didn’t do more to have a world-class ball. Despite the best intentions of the university and the sponsors, do you really think you’re going to impress anybody by taking them to Leo’s? What’s that you say? There was formal attire involved? That saying “you can dress them up, but you can’t take them anywhere” comes to mind, and in this case it applies in more than one sense.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with Leo’s per se – at least when norovirus isn’t on the menu – but couldn’t we have held the ball somewhere a little classier? The Diplomatic Ball is held at far better venues (the National Music Center and Museum in 2008, for example), and that happens every year.

Inaugurations come only once every four years, and this one is supposedly the most significant in history. Now that he has your vote, do you really expect President Obama to visit your cafeteria? Even one of the ballrooms in the Marriott Conference Center would have been better.

Like I said, I wasn’t involved in the planning process, and this complaint will likely have little effect (since I write with hindsight and the disadvantage of having no readers who will be around to act on my suggestions four years from now). Regardless, I take issue with the university’s apparent disinterest in on-campus festivities.

aybe all the “good” venues were booked by the time negotiations took place. Even so, the university should have foreseen the astronomical demand for locations and planned accordingly. (Consider how organized Georgetown was in coordinating the camera crews on campus during the presidential debates and on election night.)

It’s a question of priorities. If we are to be seen as a world-class institution, we ought to celebrate like one as well.

Which brings me to the topic of entertainment. While we were spoiled with an historic lineup at the “We Are One” concert at the Lincoln Memorial, we haven’t had a major musical guest perform on campus all year. That is inexcusable, and to let this inauguration pass without correcting this error is mind-boggling.

Could we not find anybody in town? I find that hard to believe. Was the asking price too steep? Here are two tips for whomever arranges on-campus entertainment. First: No matter how humble they make themselves out to be, all artists have egos, and the chance to be honored as a performer in such a historic celebration is too much to pass up for many. Second: Artists are often willing to negotiate lower fees if they can book multiple dates in the same geographic area.

That’s why even superstars like Sheryl Crow and Sting are playing multiple dates during inauguration week. That’s right, Sting, the same Sting who played at the Creative Coalition Ball and the Huffington Post Ball. The same Sting who, on his previous solo tour, included several master classes for college students in between performance days. Do you really think he’s hurting for money?

Don’t get me wrong, the inauguration ceremonies and the excitement in the air were fantastic, and it is not my intention to detract from the efforts of the student groups that organized Georgetown’s ball. But that doesn’t mean we should settle for anything less than the best we can get. So I hope that four years from now, Georgetown gets its act together and pools all its resources into having an inaugural ball that it deserves.

Colin Nagle is a sophomore in the College. He can be reached at Getting in Tune appears every other Friday.

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