While bemoaning the loss of our beloved mascot-in-training, J.J., we reached an interesting conclusion: Georgetown needs a new tradition. We certainly cherish the ones we’ve inherited, from the intellectual stimulation of “The Problem of God” to the frivolities of homecoming and Georgetown Day, but these moments are rare, and few of them are explicitly rooted in Georgetown’s principles.
It was the hope of the late Father General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., that Jesuit institutions throughout the world would form “men and women who cannot even conceive of love of God which does not include love for the least of their neighbors.” Now, we hope to put this imperative into action through the creation of a Georgetown Service Day. We propose that the administration set aside one day early in the fall semester where every single student must engage in community service.
Georgetown Service Day would replace Community Service Day, an event for new students after they first arrive on campus. While a positive initiative, Community Service Day has suffered from low participation and technical issues despite fiscal and physical dedication from university staff and upperclassmen committed to community service. Our proposal would expand this exclusively freshman and transfer event to encompass the full manpower of our student body.
While replacing the alcohol-fueled festivities of Georgetown Day with this new Georgetown Service Day might seem attractive to the administration, this would be misguided. Since Georgetown lacks unifying events, the answer is not to replace one tradition — especially one so loved as Georgetown Day — but to create a new one. Georgetown Service Day would serve as a conscientious foil to its more social spring counterpart. It would serve as an early reminder of our responsibility as Georgetown students, while the day of celebration near the end of the year would continue to encourage us to treasure our short time on the Hilltop.
How can we make this a reality? It’s unlikely that a significant portion of students would willingly relinquish an entire day of their overscheduled time for community service. With the right incentives, however, we strongly believe that interest in this project would immediately present itself; namely, the possibility of being excused from class.
For this single day, all classes will be cancelled so that our entire community can act as men and women for others. A Georgetown Service Day planning committee will create project options for students to choose from, ranging from volunteering in inner-city schools to campus beautification efforts. All students will also be encouraged to submit their own proposals for service for approval by the planning committee.
An alternative option would be submitting a thoughtful reflection on the importance of community service. Failure to participate or submit this essay would result in the inability to register for classes in the following semester. While this seems like a harsh measure, it ensures campus-wide participation in the event and would help solidify this tradition through its fledgling years.
We understand the importance of traditional class time and the effort that goes into planning curricula, and we anticipate that faculty will not be pleased with losing this entire day. However, we believe the altruistic goal of this project would ultimately overcome any hesitations.
To Healy Hall, we offer this trade: One day of cancelled classes for a great and unified display of Georgetown’s best values and ideals. In your consideration of this open proposal, please heed the words of our beloved Fr. James Schall, S.J.: “Do not let school get in the way of our education.”
Benjamin Weiss and Phillip Dearing are juniors in the College. A University for Others appears every other Friday.