A bottle of André costs $4.99, and a Georgetown tank from the campus bookstore costs $20. The total price tag for Georgetown Day this year, however, is slightly more expensive, coming in at around $50,000.
The day of celebration on the last Friday of classes, this year April 25, generally involves students roaming the front lawn, but the Georgetown Day Planning Committee also prepares other activities to ensure all students can enjoy the day.
The $50,000 budget includes approximately $11,000 for security, $8,000 for food, $7,000 for performers, $9,000 for sound equipment, $6,000 for inflatables, $4,000 for giveaways, $2,000 for venues, $2,000 for combined food, t-shirts and small gifts for volunteers, $1,000 in other equipment and $1,000 for non-volunteer labor.
The high budget for security and other staff is generally necessary because of a low turnout in student volunteers.
“At the end of the day we have to hire a lot of help to run the day,” Georgetown Day Planning Committee Chair Andi DeBellis (MSB ’14) said. “Where we would normally rely on student volunteers, we have to rely on outside people and provide heavy incentives for students to volunteer. That is a large chunk of the cost.”
Volunteer recruitment began with a mass email to students from the Center for Student Engagement and through Facebook advertising. This year, CSE staff set the goal of attracting 120 student volunteers, which they have almost met. Some Georgetown Day Planning Committee members attribute this to better incentives than in years past.
“Surprisingly, it has been easy to find volunteers because of the great incentives we have this year,” Georgetown Day Planning Committee member Natalia Peña (SFS ’17) said. “It is the first year we have a volunteer hospitality room where they will have food all day. … Volunteers will also get free shirts, and they get all of this just for volunteering for one two-hour shift.”
Georgetown Day has been a university tradition since 2000, after a student died in February because of injuries sustained in a fight with another student. A committee was quickly formed to plan an event in April to raise the morale of students and members of the Georgetown community. The day has since become a highly-anticipated end-of-semester event for students.
“Students really look forward to it, so there’s a lot of pressure,” DeBellis said.
The nine members of this year’s planning committee began brainstorming ideas for Georgetown Day in November 2013 and began executing logistics in January. Associate Director of the Center for Student Engagement Amanda Carlton, the main administrative advisor for Georgetown Day, meets regularly with the committee.
“As an advisor, I help to facilitate the proper university policy and processes. I also advise them with how much money there is, where the relevant university offices are, what contracts to get, and help to facilitate relationships across campus with faculty and staff,” Carlton said.
This advanced planning represents a shift from years past, in which students did not sign up for or pursue creating planning committees, which led to a scaled-back version of the campus holiday in 2012, without the inflatables or beer garden that had been customary in years past.
“Two years ago, Georgetown Day hit rock bottom where people weren’t willing to volunteer to take on planning it because they wanted to partake in the events of the day,” DeBellis said. “A major reset button was pressed.”
This year, the planning committee has worked to assuage professors’ concerns about low class attendance on Georgetown Day.
“We want everyone to enjoy the day and for professors to be able to do their job,” DeBellis said. “[Professors] were really in favor of us doing more night programming and that is how Georgetown Day got as expensive as it is now.”
The committee runs programming from 6 a.m. Friday morning to early Saturday morning. There is more emphasis this year on nighttime events, so as to not interfere with classes and other day events.
“We want to make sure this is a day for the entire Georgetown community,” Carlton said.
One way that committee members hope to increase class attendance is to provide a variety of activities on campus at nighttime, similar to last year’s program, allowing students to fully enjoy their Georgetown Day experience while not risking truancy. According to DeBellis, nighttime activities will include an ice cream social, a concert and a kegger for those over 21 years old.
However, these changes seem impractical to experienced Georgetown Day participants.
“I think attendance at those will be lower because after a day of drinking it’s hard to motivate yourself to go places in the evening,” Meg Beedle (COL ’14) said. “I think that it would be nice to have something to go to in the evening, but I have to say from past experience, it can be a challenge to rally after, and getting people to go places in the evening can be difficult.”
Despite not drinking, Grant Franco (MSB ’14) agreed that the nighttime activities are likely to be sparsely attended.
“Honestly I think it’s kind of silly because there’s a lot of people who drink a lot during the day so they probably don’t want to go and do stuff at night,” Franco said. “Personally, I think that’s fine, I love concerts and I love doing stuff like that, and I don’t drink, so I love that, but I know a lot of my friends take naps during the afternoon so I don’t know how many people would be into that.”