Hundreds of homebound students tuned in to a Zoom video conference April 24 to celebrate the 20th annual Georgetown Day, breaking a long-held tradition of daytime partying and jamming out to “Mr. Brightside.”
“Georgetown Day 2020: (Zoom Edition)” offered a mix of entertainment. Faculty read student feedback from Rate My Professor, a teacher review website, and students put on musical performances. The event also featured a prerecorded video address from University President John J. DeGioia (CAS ’79, GRD ’95) as well as an appearance by Jack the Bulldog. This year’s celebration arrived at a time when students are continuing to adjust to university life during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because of the unusual circumstances, the event aimed to alleviate some of the confusion and stress felt by the community, according to Leo John Arnett (SFS ’22) the former Georgetown Day planning committee chair and co-host of the event’s virtual replacement.
“The last Friday of classes remains a sacred tradition that most first-years know about by the end of NSO Day 1, and this online celebration proudly continued that tradition,” Arnett wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Yet, this year wasn’t about parties or festivities, it was about solidarity, support, and joy.”
Many students treat Georgetown Day as a celebratory capstone for the academic year. The day is often packed with official events and other festivities. Past Georgetown Day celebrations have featured live musical performances on Copley Lawn, art showcases and daylong rooftop parties.
The highly anticipated annual tradition was born from tragedy. The university originally created Georgetown Day to lift campus spirits after the death of a student in a drunken brawl in 2000. This year’s organizers hoped the event’s first online version would serve a similarly therapeutic purpose, according to Arnett.
“We wanted to foster a sense of support for all students, and the idea to involve the administration and student performers greatly added to that intention,” Arnett wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We desired to tap into that original need for community support during a time of confusion and pain.”
Planners on the Georgetown Program Board found it difficult to garner the same level of enthusiasm for the virtual event, according to Arnett.
“From forming the schedule of those willing to participate to encouraging students to register for the event and attend for the hour and a half, raising engagement from the Georgetown community was the hardest aspect of planning,” Arnett wrote.
Just over 300 students tuned into the Zoom call, according to Arnett. Because students were coming and going, however, it was hard to tell how many students attended the event in total.
The Zoom version of Georgetown Day allowed the Georgetown University community to come together in a fun way during a difficult time, according to student performer Katelyn Barr (SFS ’22).
“I don’t think the purpose of the event was to replace the traditional Georgetown Day, but provide a way for the Georgetown community to come together and celebrate the school while in quarantine,” Barr wrote in an email to The Hoya. “It was a simple way to lift people’s spirits and pass some time on a traditionally community-based day.”
The event succeeded in enlivening an otherwise bleak circumstance, even though it differed from past Georgetown Days, according to professor of economics Carol Rogers, who read some of her student reviews at the Zoom event.
“Georgetown Day is an important celebration at the end of every academic year. And it’s one of the early celebratory events every academic year for the graduating seniors,” Rogers wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Obviously, the online event was not the same as the on-campus event. But there was a wonderful spirit, and I am happy that it was offered online, because of its importance to the community.”