On the fifth episode of “Brendan’s Opinion,” Brendan Teehan (CAS ’25) satirically describes five ways Georgetown University administration can appreciate the Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service (GERMS) without spending a dime. Tune in to hear about decorating their ambulance in sticky notes, saying thanks via the GERMS hotline and who should replace the student volunteer EMTs on their night off.
Brendan Teehan (BT): Hi, my name is Brendan, and I should be allowed to log emotional labor into GMS. This is Brendan’s Opinion.
BT: So the idea for this episode came to me — as many do — from a tweet. The specific language is now lost on me, but it was written during National Teacher Appreciation Week. And as the son of a teacher, I remember this week very fondly, because it meant my family got a lion’s share of $5 Starbucks gift cards and candy that they sell near cash registers at TJ Maxx, which meant I could buy green tea and eat peppermint bark for at least the next month.
But this specific tweet was a picture of a piece of construction paper, presumably passed around to all the teachers working at a certain school. On this paper — designed, undoubtedly, by junior representatives of the Student Government, was stapled a completely empty plastic bag filled with hot air. And on the back of the paper, it said, “This bag may look empty, but it’s filled with our gratitude and love for you. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week.”
And this got me reflecting: “Do you ever think Georgetown maybe spends too much money on its students?” So I spent my spring break coming up with creative ways the university can show how much it values the student body without breaking the bank. And of course, my mind immediately went to GERMS.
Georgetown has been notoriously reluctant to pay its student-run emergency medical service organization, or GERMS, for a multitude of reasons: this would serve as an official endorsement by the school of this organization; payment would attract applicants who weren’t passionate enough to just volunteer their time; and thirdly, it’s Georgetown, there’s always a way for school administrators to talk their way out of paying students for their labor.
In fact, GERMS is a special case in which students not only receive no compensation for their work, they are actually billed for the training sessions that they follow before they become EMTs. All just to drive a van around campus on Friday nights … could not be me.
But enough about me. These tired, poor huddled GERMS officers yearning to breathe free are in desperate need of some tender loving care from the university. But what’s Georgetown supposed to do about that? Keeping in mind that they will spare every expense in the pursuit of student safety?
Well, I’ve got the answer for you right here. Here are five simple ways for the university to share their deep and abounding gratitude for GERMS officers this semester, all without costing a cent.
Let’s start by changing the name. Hey, I’m all for not paying student EMTs, but name-calling is taking it one step too far. I’ve met my fair share of Georgetown EMTs, and despite what their name might suggest, most of them are clean. Plus, picture yourself deathly ill: viruses and pathogens are literally coursing through your body, and someone turns to you and says, “You know what’s going to help you in this situation? GERMS.” I’d feel reluctant, if not downright insulted.
The second item on this to-do list enters the realm of the interpersonal: Imagine a sad, lonely GERM waiting by the emergency phone just wishing they had a friend to talk to. That’s why I’m calling for the university to dial up that GERMS hotline just to ask how the attendant is. Because let’s think for a second: can you imagine how many loud, frantic annoying messages they must get, everyone always yelling at the top of their lungs: “Help, help?”
What a breath of fresh air it would be to pick up the phone expecting an imminent emergency and to hear a calm, welcoming voice just start talking about their day. Yeah, other incoming calls might get bounced. But there’s nothing more important in the moment than a good one-on-one conversation.
Okay, so this next one’s a little radical. I will admit that, but I think it could do some great change. And it’s trapping all students in the HFSC Great Room on a Friday night. Extreme, I know, but stay with me. These EMTs deserve a break, don’t you think? And all the administration needs to do to give them one is announce that housing registration is taking place in-person from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. next Friday, and anyone who doesn’t come has to live in the ruins of a partially torn-down Henle. Trust me: Everyone will be there. Boom, shut the glass doors behind them and you’ve got the student body safe and secure, giving the GERMs a day off to do as their hearts desire.
Oh, and this isn’t my only idea for how to give the GERMs a day off. Why not replace all of the GERMs for one night, and one night only, with Golden Globe-nominated actress Ellen Pompeo? Because when you think of a competent medical professional, who else comes to mind, but the precocious surgical prodigy Meredith Grey of “Grey’s Anatomy”? And I know what you’re all thinking, “isn’t she a nepo baby?” and I hear you, your point is well taken. And also she isn’t a real person, which is also well taken by this host. But could you imagine how safe an ailing Georgetown student would feel when the door of their Harbin swings open, and in strides the woman who removed a bomb from a man’s sternum? Personally, I’d know I was in good hands. And I’m completely sympathetic to the possibility that Ellen Pompeo will likely be too booked and busy — or too expensive — to land, even for one night.
So I’ve given the university a list of alternatives: Katherine Heigl, Sandra Oh, Dr. Ranit Mishori, Baymax from “Big Hero 6,” Doctor of Fine Arts from NYU Taylor Swift, that talking EpiPen that walks you through injections, or that girl from my high school who claimed she was basically a doctor because her dad was a plastic surgeon. All great options.
For my last recommendation, I really leaned into the classic phrase “words speak louder than actions.” Which words you might ask? Well, I’m leaving that up to a third party. I think we should cover the GERMS van in Post-it notes with affirmations written on them by Georgetown GIVES. We all know what I’m referring to, because who hasn’t walked through the halls of the ICC while they’re plastered with positive sayings written by Georgetown’s most encouraging student organization?
My personal faves have been “you’re hotter than John DeGioia,” and a hot pink frilled heart that just said “yas” in the middle. I think both of those were Valentine’s Day-themed. But imagine with me for a second, instead of the ICC, it was the GERMS van, which is frankly in need of a revamp. I can see it now: the GERMS van driving full speed past Southwest Quad covered top-to-bottom, even the windshield, in opaque pieces of paper. I think it would bring a lot of needed joy to the job, regardless of how well you could see.
All of this being said, what I just wrote is clearly satire meant to provide you all with some light humor; obviously expecting the university to do all that for its students is an undue burden. And I would never want to pressure the administration into working harder than they clearly already do. So as a send off, or conversation starter for this episode, I want to shift gears a little bit.
Asking people how their spring break was is so derivative, here are 10 alternatives to try out on your friends:
“Is your concealer also the wrong shade now?”
“Rate your vacation on a spectrum from ‘Love Island’ to ‘White Lotus Season Two’?”
“Have you always had that rash?”
“So what did you tell your parents when they asked you if you had an internship this summer?”
“Did you know that Jamie Lee Curtis is the first Activia spokesperson to win an Oscar?”
“Who were you the least excited to remember existed when you got back to campus?”
“I thought those two broke up, why are they in Aruba together?”
“How are you going to spend your time once ‘New Girl’ gets taken off Netflix?”
“So based on these yacht photos, what tax bracket do you think this guy is in?”
“So, you don’t have to show your GOCard at Lau anymore. Thoughts?”
Hey, I didn’t say all of them were winners.
This podcast was hosted by Brendan Teehan who is so sick with a cold right now that he has GERMS on speed dial. It was edited by David Yang, and it was produced by Amna Shamim. I want to thank The Hoya for giving me this platform to reach my vast and wide readership. I think there are five of you now. And I hope you tune into another episode of “Brendan’s Opinion.” See ya!