An unforeseen — and, for now, unexplained — departure has struck Georgetown amid the dog days of summer.
Mascot-in-training Jack Jr. will not return to campus this fall, and the question of whether Georgetown will continue to have a live bulldog as its mascot remains unanswered, according to student dog-walkers from the Jack Crew.
It is unclear where Jack Jr., or “J.J.,” will go or why he is leaving campus. No students were consulted, and the person responsible for the decision has not been confirmed.
Fr. Christopher Steck, S.J., who cares for J.J. and mascot Jack, declined to comment.
“I did not see this coming,” said Neve Schadler (COL ’15), head of the Jack Crew. “If a student were to have been consulted, it would have been me.”
“If it’s specifically about J.J., I’m not sure why this is happening,” added Schadler, who has cared for J.J. since the dog first arrived on the Hilltop in April 2012.
Schadler said she was unaware of any incidents that could have prompted the decision to remove the year-and-a-half-old dog from campus.
J.J., who lives with Jack and Steck on the fourth floor of New South Hall, was a gift from bulldog breeders Janice and Marcus Hochstetler, whose children attend Georgetown. Since arriving on campus, J.J.has joined Jack at basketball games and on-campus events. When 10-year-old Jack, who underwent surgery after tearing his ACL last year, retired from performing at Verizon Center in March, J.J. stepped in to pop balloons on the court at halftime.
Schadler and other students aware of the choice to remove J.J. are upset by the lack of transparency in the decision-making process.
“For students not to be consulted in this is really upsetting,” Schadler said. “Any big decision, whether it’s about Hoya spirit or something else, is part of our experience at Georgetown. It’s our home.”
Hoya Blue President Joe Fiorica (COL ’14) agreed.
“The administration was more than happy to have photo ops with the bulldogs and put them in all the welcome videos and have him talk to the tours, but now that totally changes,” Fiorica said. “When it’s convenient, [Jack and J.J.] are the greatest thing that ever happened, but when it’s not convenient, they need to go.”
Hoya Blue led a campaign to bring a live bulldog to campus in 1999 after decades with only a student in a bulldog suit as mascot. Fiorica said Hoya Blue would again advocate for Georgetown’s mascot if J.J.’s departure appears permanent.
“We’d certainly be the leaders in fighting to keep them on campus and keep a live bulldog on campus for years to come, not only for sporting events but also for every part of student life,” Fiorica said.
The Jack Crew, which has never been located in a specific department, was in the process of creating a Bulldog Advisory Committee to allow for collaboration between Steck and students, faculty and staff in making decisions about the two dogs. Members included Georgetown University Student Association Vice President Adam Ramadan (SFS ’14), who declined to comment, and representatives from the Athletics Department and Office of Advancement. The committee, which has met once, did not play a role in the decision to remove J.J.
The Jack Crew accepts a few applicants to its 20-person team each semester; students must demonstrate school spirit and are trained to keep Jack away from balloons and always walk J.J. on their left side during the dogs’ four daily walks, among other idiosyncrasies. Tour guides often discuss Jack and J.J. with campus visitors, and Jack appears on debit cards from the Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union.
“When I walk the dogs, there’s a definite ‘Hoya Saxa’ moment every time a person comes up to us. To not have them on campus would really hit the student body hard,” Schadler said. “To be able to pet them and play with them is a huge part of being a Hoya. … It’s a piece of our identity that’s missing if we don’t have a bulldog on campus.”