Between a funding cut and a potential university-led crackdown, Georgetown Day — a time-honored campus tradition since 2000 — may be in trouble.
University concerns over excessive noise and class disruption have led the celebration to be scrutinized by the faculty, who created a committee last fall dedicated to “evaluating Georgetown Day this year with particular attention to excessive drinking and health concerns,” according to notes from a March 17 Main Campus Executive Faculty meeting.
The university plans to gather data on the number of Georgetown Day conduct violations, including Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service requests and Georgetown University Police Department calls. This had prompted the Georgetown University Student Association to host a “Save Georgetown Day” event Tuesday urging students to celebrate responsibly.
While the university has not confirmed what it plans to do with the data, this editorial board believes it should use its findings to refine, rather than restrict, Georgetown Day programming. The results of data collection might reveal a spike in GERMS requests and GUPD calls from students throughout the day. But cracking down on the tradition will do little to dissuade students from participating in the day’s partying and pageantry — instead, they may be driven away from the very resources intended to assure their safety.
Make no mistake, Georgetown Day is a day of excessive celebration. But attempts to impose restrictions on the celebrations are ultimately misguided, as these will likely be unable to quell what, at the end of the day, amount to individual student decisions. Rather than go to lengths to prevent festivities or force them underground, Georgetown can use its data to promote a culture of healthier consumption and restraint through advocacy from campus leaders.
In particular, this data can play a crucial role in the coordination of events. The university can harness this information to alert neighbors about the peak hours of activity surrounding Georgetown Day, and ensure that emergency services are best distributed during those times and that students implement crowd management plans for attendees both inside and outside party spaces.
Moreover, university officials should share their findings with student groups and partner up to address legitimate concerns about health and safety issues on Georgetown Day. This should include briefing student leaders about safety and sexual assault resources on campus, but even more importantly, helping develop a set of best practices through workshops addressing policies on alcohol, noise, damages and fire safety.
The mantle of responsibility falls on student groups as well: Using the university’s data, leaders can take precautions based on the findings, implement containment plans, distribute contact information and designate student monitors who remain cognizant of risky activities.
For the past 17 years, Georgetown Day has served as a celebration of student life before the hard work of a semester gives way to a stressful finals season. Though the university is well within its right to collect data on the tradition, the key to promoting student safety lies with responsible coordination instead of prohibition.