Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown Forever: More Than a Slogan

There’s a grim kind of ritual that happens at Georgetown at the end of each semester. Well, okay, there are a lot of grim rituals – finals come to mind. What I’m talking about, though, isn’t something that you’ll see in the classroom. Rather, it’s a shift in the cultural mindset of the student body. Whenever a semester comes to an end, we as students have a hard time looking ahead to when life at Georgetown will continue.

The best place to look for evidence of a minor crisis in self-confidence is the campus media. Every spring, the campus press pays tribute to its graduating seniors by letting each of them pen a “farewell” piece. As a device to say thanks to people for all of their hard work, the tribute is a great idea. But, too often, writers use the column as a way to say good-bye to Georgetown writ large, as if they’re going off on some journey and may never return. And that’s exactly what makes the pieces so hard to read.

So long as you view your time here at Georgetown as a self-contained, four-year experience, you will necessarily limit the potential of Georgetown as a whole because, in your mind, Georgetown ceases to be real after you leave it. I submit that the better way of looking at Georgetown is as a place that you can now call home for life. From the time you decided to apply, you began a relationship with this place that you’ll carry with you for life. Heck, the alumni office will never stop hunting you down with interminable requests for contributions to all kinds of causes. Do you want to view that life-long relationship as a hindrance to moving on with your life, or do want to view it as an opportunity?

I say that we’re better off viewing our relationship with Georgetown as an opportunity. The development office has adopted a slogan for the Third Century Campaign that says, simply, “Georgetown Forever.” It seems incredibly stupid the first thousand times you read it, especially as an undergraduate. But, as you move out into the world, you realize that it captures a kaleidoscope of meanings. The trick to bringing relevance to the slogan is to find a reason to care about Georgetown, forever.

The point that what I do as both a student and as an alumnus matters in the life of this institution was driven home to me over the Thanksgiving break. While I was in Rhode Island celebrating my great-aunt’s birthday, I was introduced to people in my extended family that I had never met before. It turns out that one of my second cousins is a high school senior named Kyle. Kyle wants to come to Georgetown in the worst way. Never having met him before, I was amazed at just how similar he and I are. The experience was like looking myself in the face, as I was six years ago. Like so many people that I’ve met on the Hilltop and at the Law Center, Kyle is filled with dreams, hopes and aspirations for the future. (My only complaint is that he wants to go into the SFS!)

So, why do I care about Georgetown? At bottom, it’s because I love this place. From the moment I set foot on campus in the fall of 1997 to this day, I’ve been touched by the soul of Georgetown. The people that I’ve met here have changed me for the better. On a more superficial level, it’s because I know that my relatives could very likely call this place home, too. And I want to make sure that my cousin gets to the same type of experience that I had, both in quality and in kind. I am going to do everything that I can to make sure that the Georgetown Kyle knows tomorrow is the same kind of place that I know today.

For the seniors who leave Georgetown this semester, good luck in the world. Come back to visit us often. Remember, you are not leaving: you’re taking your relationship with Georgetown to the next level. Those of us who are still here need your help to give Georgetown a better tomorrow. For the rest of us who are continuing on, there’s a lot of work that needs to get done on the ground. Ask your alumni friends for help when you need it, even if you think that your concerns and questions are so far out there that no one could possibly be interested in them.

So, please, don’t give in to the “this is it” mindset. Leaving Georgetown – or just ending the semester – isn’t the end of the world. It’s the start of a new opportunity.

Alex Henlin is a 2001 graduate of the College and is a second-year student at the Law Center. This is the final installment of The Dissenting Opinion.

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