As another basketball season begins, it is a fitting time to remember that athletics at Georgetown University can bring students together with a sense of unity and pride in a special way that transcends sports. Georgetown’s dedicated student-athletes and loyal fans have made invaluable contributions to the overall Hoya experience by uniting generations of Georgetown alumni through athletic accomplishments.
In 1984, our men’s basketball championship not only created an exciting culture at Georgetown, but also captivated the District and countless fans across the country. Athletic success in the 1980s contributed to a dramatic spike in applications and fueled Georgetown’s rise from a distinguished regional university to a preeminent national brand. But, today, distractions like our school’s “busy culture” can often leave many students feeling disconnected from a vibrant sense of school spirit. Many students are too preoccupied to go downtown to a men’s basketball game or walk up to Shaw Field for a women’s soccer game. In order to revive school spirit and cultivate an even stronger Hoya community, Georgetown should take proactive steps to unite the student body in a fun, simple and bold way.
Georgetown should illuminate the Healy Hall clock tower with blue lights after significant athletic achievements to increase the visibility of our teams’ accomplishments and to bolster school spirit throughout campus. This tradition would not only recognize our student-athletes, but would also serve as a way to engage our entire campus community, including people at Georgetown who do not closely follow sports.
Athletics have long been at the forefront of Georgetown traditions that unify our student body and alumni community. In 1876, the crew team began using the distinctive colors of blue and gray so onlookers could spot them from ashore. The colors blue and gray quickly became inextricably tied to the university’s identity. In the 1890s, students began chanting “Hoya Saxa” at football games. By the 1920s, the chant had become ubiquitous on campus, and students began referring to themselves as Hoyas. In the 1960s, the Student Mascot Committee adopted an English Bulldog named Jack to serve as Georgetown’s official mascot at athletic events. Today, students can spot members of the Jack Crew walking Jack the Bulldog across campus. All of these iconic traditions — inspired by athletics — have largely contributed to an experience that is special to Georgetown. As Georgetown approaches the 150th anniversary of athletics on the Hilltop, we believe Georgetown is due for a new tradition.
At other colleges, similar traditions have successfully boosted school pride: Northwestern University’s Rebecca Crown Center clock tower is illuminated purple every time one of its sports teams wins a major victory. Northwestern got the idea from The University of Texas at Austin, where the school’s landmark tower has been lit in orange for special athletic accomplishments since the 1930s. Earlier this year, a generous donor at the University of Pittsburgh made it possible for the school to include a blue beam of light that shoots into the sky as part of its iconic “Victory Lights.”
At Georgetown, taking a picture in front of a blue Healy Hall could become as much a campus staple as stepping around the seal in front of Healy or sitting on John Carroll’s lap. This tradition would be iconic not only for our campus, but also for the Georgetown neighborhood and Washington, D.C., as a whole. Residents, commuters and tourists alike could take pride in Georgetown’s blue and gray. At Hoya Blue, our motto has always been “Bleed Hoya Blue.” Now, it’s time to “Bleed Healy Blue.”
Will Ball is a senior in the McDonough School of Business the the president of Hoya Blue. Ellie Cush is a senior in the School of Nursing and Health Studies and the vice president of Hoya Blue.