Friday night on Copley Lawn was great. The Georgetown Program Board, the Irish-American Society and The Corp all deserve recognition and thanks.

It was Georgetown and her students at their best. Over 700 students were brought together to relax and have a good time on a Friday night, and it didn’t involve a drop of alcohol. Imagine that, a popular Georgetown function that attracts students from all backgrounds that didn’t involve alcohol. The Washington Post and our neighbors wouldn’t believe it. But the sad thing is that I could hardly believe it. It was the first time in a long time that I saw something like that on campus. If the Georgetown community wants to alter the alcohol-focused culture, then this should happen every week.

Sure, I’ve heard of Black 47, but I don’t own any of their CDs. Nevertheless, I went to the concert because it was convenient, cheap and my friends were going to be there. Perhaps the same reasons that I would go to a bar off campus on a Friday night. The fact is, if there are alternatives presented by the university, then students will take advantage of them. Now more than ever, the administration should be supportive of any student initiative that presents a viable alternative to going off campus and drinking. GPB and its peer organizations should not have to fight for space or approval of programs with the bureaucracy.

You know why something like this doesn’t happen every week? Students don’t have the time or patience to organize it. It is incredibly frustrating to pull something like the Black 47 concert together. Instead of making students fight, every administrator and member of the support staff should be welcoming and go out of their way to help everyone from in Leavey to the accounts payable department in the Car Barn. Instead of being critical or skeptical of programs, the university staff needs to realize that their job is to support students. Michael Boyle (MSB ’00), one of the organizers of the concert and former chair of GPB, said, “Some of the administrators that we have to deal with act less as advocates and more as adversaries.”

Money doesn’t solve all problems, but it sure makes student programming a lot easier. The Office of Student Affairs has a budget of about $8.5 million. From that, the Office of Student Programs receives about $950,000 but students only see $400,000 of that. The rest goes to salaries and overhead in the office. What’s wrong with that picture? The Office of Student Affairs actually spends less than 1/16 of its budget on students.

Moreover, that $400,000 goes very quickly when spread out over all of our campus organizations. The fact is, a concert like Black 47 doesn’t cost that much, but it drew together over 10 percent of the entire student body. Nevertheless, there wasn’t enough money to sponsor the concert. Money for student programs is so tight that The Corp was asked to contribute to the cost, which it graciously did. But GPB should never have been forced to seek outside funds. Superficially, GPB organizes events. Ultimately, however, it is responsible for engendering a type of community on campus. It is one, if not the only, organization that puts on events that are planned with the entire campus in mind. If there is one place that the administration should spend more money, it is in GPB. Developing on-campus student programming should be the priority of the replacement of the dean of students. The next time GPB wants to put on a concert, The Corp or another benevolent corporation might not have the money, and the entire campus will suffer.

There should be a major event (for 500 to 1,000 students) every weekend on campus. That is the way to build community. Opening Yates and Lauinger for longer hours is a start, but the university needs to create more true alternatives for students. Students should lobby for an event in a tent on the lawn, Gaston, the ICC Galleria or Sellinger Lounge every week. There is no shortage of creativity among the students on GPB and in other student organizations, only a lack of funds and means to realize the potential of student programming on campus. I would have been happy to pay at least $100 a year (if not per semester) for a student activity fee. I mean, we already pay that for Yates, and what percentage of the undergraduates actually uses it? That would be over $600,000 of additional money for student programs. How many tent concerts is that? A lot, with enough left over for countless new student initiatives. There are some problems that you can’t solve by throwing money at them, but this is not one of them.

The Banner appears every other Friday in The Hoya.

Have an opinion on this subject? Submit a letter to the Editor.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.