Although the historic Healy Pub dried up over 20 years ago, talk of a revival flowed freely across campus this week.
One of 23 proposed allocations submitted to the Georgetown University Student Association for the $3.4 million available in the Student Activities Fee Endowment, the bid for a social hub in campus’s most iconic building calls for a student lounge, restaurant, bar and performance venue.
Originally founded in 1974, the student-run Healy Pub was located in the basement of Healy Hall until it shut its doors in 1988, due in part to a revenue shortage caused by mandatory dry nights and the raising of the drinking age from 18 to 21 in 1984.
Matt Stoller (COL ’08), who submitted the pitch for a rekindled hangout, said the student-owned and operated pub would be open to community members, regardless of age.
Comparable projects at other universities, such as Harvard’s Queen Head Pub, have cost around $3 million, according to the proposal drafted by Stoller.
SAFE, which was allocated half of each student’s Student Activities Fee since the fall of 2001, was freed up for spending as part of the SAFE reform passed via student body referendum last semester.
In February, GUSA formed a committee to review proposals and submit recommendations for the appropriation of the money remaining in the fund after the initial distribution of money to student groups. The resulting plan, chosen by the body following two town halls this spring, will be put to a student vote this April.
The proposal has been signed by 21 current and former campus leaders, including five past and present GUSA presidents
and vice presidents, two past and present student Advisory Neighborhood Commission members and the current chief executive officer of The Corp. Backers of the proposal are capitalizing on Facebook, Twitter and bringbackhealypub.com to spread the word to the student body. At press time, the Facebook event had 1,662 attendees and its Facebook page had 775 likes.
GUSA Deputy Chief of Staff Chris Pigott (COL ’12), who is leading the on-campus campaign to resurrect Healy Pub, said that the plan focused on student life, neighborhood relations and alumni relations.
“The [Report on Student Space] shows that [student space] is the number one issue facing students at Georgetown,” Pigott said. “The same report also shows that social spaces, study spaces, dining spaces and meeting spaces are the most desired forms of spaces on campus.”
The study, conducted from 2008 to 2010, found that 88 percent of students polled supported reinstating student space in Healy Hall, according to Fitz Lufkin (COL ’11), an author of the student space report.
Amy Wiggington (COL ’14) said that the need for space on campus remains.
“I think that Georgetown needs more space to sit and study. I’m tired of being in [Lauinger Library] and having no space to sit. It would be nice to have another place than The Corp,” Wiggington said.
“The Healy Pub once satisfied all of these student desires and has been sorely missed for almost 25 years,” Pigott added. “Students would be able to eat, drink, study, meet, perform, present, bartend, cook and dance in the most central and iconic building on campus.”
Neighborhood relations could also be improved with the addition of a pub on campus, according to Jake Sticka (COL ’13), the student commissioner on the ANC-2E.
“I support the Healy Pub proposal because I believe it will create the student-centric space in the heart of our campus that Georgetown so badly needs,” Sticka wrote in an email. “This great space will also have the added benefit of bringing student life back on campus, where it belongs and where it leads to fewer conflicts with our neighbors.”
An accompanying letter to the proposal, signed by 41 Georgetown alumni, advocates for the pub’s comeback.
Lufkin stressed the importance of this type of alumni engagement.
“SAFE has not only been funded by current undergraduates, but also by a number of past years and classes. This project has the unique ability to engage the campus as well as the alumni community,” he said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime [opportunity] we can’t afford to pass up.”
Students also stressed the sentimental legacy that the pub has inspired in alumni and its potential as a social space.
“I’ve heard a lot of people talk about their parents who remember hanging out in the pub when they were at Georgetown, and it seems really unfortunate that we don’t get to experience that,” Caitlin Green (MSB ’14) said.
Although they do not officially endorse this proposal, GUSA President Mike Meaney (SFS ’12) and Vice President Greg Laverriere (COL ’12) have added their signatures to the Healy Pub proposal and will take a closer look at its feasibility in the coming weeks.
“We’re interested in exploring the idea of a Healy pub, especially as a hub for student socializing,” Laverriere said. “Though still in idea form, we imagine this pub as a way to bolster student life on campus, safety in the community, and interaction between students and professors.”