Georgetown Day. The name grabs the attention of all students, freshmen and seniors alike. After a semester of midterms and papers, too many Leo’s swipes, basketball triumphs — and heartbreak -— club meetings and sports practices, the phrase signals the finish line. Before we retreat from Healy Lawn to the depths of Lau to study for finals, we’ll come together as a community to recognize our achievements and enjoy the conclusion of the year.
Unfortunately, this celebration has become increasingly controversial. Last year, the administration imposed increased limitations on the festivities. Plans for barricades and heightened security threatened to detract from one of the best days of the year. But when students challenged these changes, the barricades were abandoned and the day was salvaged for students and administrators alike.
That spirit will be carried on this year. Vibrant on-campus celebrations like Georgetown Day reduce the impact of university social life on the neighborhood. Through the work of the Georgetown Community Partnership, we’ve broken down some of the barriers between us and our neighbors, finding common ground and common goals. We all want to create sensible policies for on-campus social life.
Because of this cooperation, this year’s Georgetown Day has become an opportunity to redefine the way students socialize on campus. While we applaud the administration’s decision to eliminate the keg limit, there is still much more work to be done. Lifting the ban alone does not redefine what it means to socialize on campus or to interact with our neighborhood. While the keg limit elimination was a necessary step, it alone does not change enough.
If we are going to redefine campus life, we — students, administrators and neighbors — need to work together. Before Georgetown Day, the administration needs to reassure us that our ability to celebrate will continue after Friday’s event. We are no longer restricted by the old system of party registration. That means Friday is our chance to fight to improve on-campus social life.
While we are now focusing on Georgetown Day, we must also work to bring our campus together on the other 364 days of the year.
The administration needs to reevaluate the outdated capacities of university-owned apartments. An administrative plan for this change will signal that they are serious about bringing social life back to campus. Our on-campus party hours need to be extended to better match the hours of off-campus bars. The current 2 a,m. curfew for on-campus townhouses and apartments pushes students to off-campus parties and bars on the weekends.
These changes can and should be made by the beginning of the fall semester. Georgetown Day will unite our campus on Friday, but we should strive to embody its spirit every day. Although we in GUSAare committed to defending students’ rights outside the front gates, we also believe that sensible rule changes on campus will bring social life back to the Hilltop. GUSA is ready to make the changes, and we hope the administration is, too.
Now is the time for students to seize the future of on-campus social life. While most of us were disappointed with the outcome of the 2010 Campus Plan, it has opened the door for tangible improvements. Party registration is a thing of the past; the keg limit is no longer in effect; GOCardaccess has been extended. But even with these changes, much remains to be done. A lot of that potential is in the hands of the administration, but a lot of it also lies with us, the student body. Let’s take advantage of the changes already in place and hold up our end of the bargain by responsibly demonstrating what an active and vibrant on-campus social scene looks like.
Let’s make this Georgetown Day one to remember. I’ll see you on Healy Lawn.
Zach Singer is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. He is the chief of staff of the Georgetown University Student Association.