By Anthony Bartlett

Just recently, a newly-admitted freshman from my hometown came to visit campus. Her parents called the day before to see if I’d be willing to give them a tour. I hesitantly accepted, and that evening, I thought about the things I would say, the recommendations I would give and the honest image I would try to portray of Georgetown in light of recent events. I thought about the two contrasting perceptions of our university. The first, and far more glowing, belongs to those who know Georgetown by reputation. The second belongs to the weathered GU student, experienced by the harsh reality of disappointed expectations. Where would I fall?

I tried hard to remember the positive feelings I had about Georgetown in high school – the ones of awe and excitement over the thin-enveloped wonder that was my Georgetown acceptance letter. What gave rise to those good feelings? Where did they go? I am not Joe Hoya. I was not valedictorian, and I did not play lacrosse. I don’t sit in the front of the class, and I failed “Map of the odern World.” In fact, I was kicked out of that class in front of 300 peers for sleeping. I did not run for GUSA office, and I have never voted in a GUSA election. I did not go on ESCAPE; nor did I try out for the crew team. I have never gone to a basketball game, I don’t own a GU sweatshirt and the number of activities on my transcript still stands at zero.

As I talked to the prospective and her parents, the conversation began to bother me. Jumbled amidst a thousand questions, they wanted to know one thing: What will Georgetown really be like? I was trying hard to filter through the disheartening realities that swallowed what I wanted to say, what I should have said. A lot was coming to mind: a vandalized menorah, sweat shops, homophobic graffiti, breaking bottles outside my window, a death, lacking endowments, dropped rankings, tube tops, that sickening SFSer in love with the sound of his own voice, the denial of my third-year preference and, worst of all, my attitude.

Why is it the last time I was proud to be part of GU was the summer before freshman year? When and where did I change? I realized it was when I began to believe everything I read. From The Hoya to The Washington Post, article after article has the same thing to say: GU has problems, too many problems. The columns I read were perceptive, well-written and correct in their observations. I hopped on the bandwagon and perpetuated the negative sentiments pervading campus.

As the student and her parents walked away, I realized I had wrongly made my battles their battles and left them with a negative viewpoint. It was an injustice to them, Georgetown and myself. For awhile, I bought it. And for a brief time, I almost believed I was anywhere but the most dynamic college campus in the country. Anyone who disagrees probably hasn’t spent a great deal of time at another university. So recently, I decided to take a moment and remember why I came here in the first place. I am a pessimist and Georgetown, like the real world, is flawed.

Our campus parallels a world pathetically filled with anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, drunkenness, arrogance, a biased media, imperfect administration and tragedy where far too many lives end too early. When or where did I expect college to be any different? Georgetown is not above the rest of the world; it is a reflection of it. I never asked anyone here to shelter me from these things or create some utopia on the Hilltop. GU is here for my tuition, and I am here for its degree. That’s it.

A lot of schools have enormous research grants, endowments, dazzling libraries and big-name professors who increase their rankings. Yet most students won’t ever have those professors in class or talk with them in office hours. The library seems dazzling because the Library of Congress isn’t three miles away, and lax campus drinking rules exist because many of these places are in the middle of nowhere. Try Dartmouth or Princeton, or visit Middlebury sometime. Hang out at Notre Dame after football season or Duke after a basketball game. Yes, you can drink in freshman dorms – then what? Milk the cow, shuck the corn or go to the only bar or coffee shop in town?

Most people leave the real world when they go to college. We don’t, and are better for it. If reality is what you want to avoid, don’t come to GU. If a bubble lost in a world of safety and academia is what you want, don’t come to GU. And if you are too clueless to figure out that this is the most extraordinary and vigorous location in the world to go to school, don’t come to GU. Here, we get the refuge of a closed campus where one step out the front gates is a vibrant city with endless opportunity. Carmela Soprano is willing to put her neighbor in concrete sneakers for acceptance to this university and we have forgotten why.

For any prospectives or students I have discouraged in my own fight, I am sorry. I won’t be on the wrong side again. I have no qualms with students who complain, want more and need this place to be better. I don’t want those unsatisfied with their Georgetown experience to stop fighting, stop the editorials or settle for second best. For awhile now, I have seen the glass half-empty; but next time, during another one-sided berating of this university, I won’t forget to take a good look at where I am and remember to say thanks.

Anthony Bartlett is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service.

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