For those who attended the Wednesday night debate watch in Leo’s, it was abundantly clear that Georgetown students are fortunate to be studying on the Hilltop during this historic election year. The event was a testament to Georgetown’s unique political and intellectual vibrancy.

A panel of world-class journalists and political operatives responded to questions from student leaders before the debate. ARAMARK Higher Education, the private company that manages Leo’s, decorated both floors of the dining hall as it would for a wedding. The food and decorations were paid for by the Office of Student Affairs as a gesture of good will after the norovirus outbreak rocked campus two weeks ago. GUSA picked up the tab for the audio equipment for the panel and the jumbo projection screens for the debate. A large number of ARAMARK staffers stayed late to ensure that the larger-than-usual dinner service went off without a hitch. They also provided a free meal for all students, with or without a meal plan. While all of this was impressive, the true measure of Wednesday night’s success should be measured in terms of the intangible steps that were made toward building a stronger campus community by bringing students together outside of Verizon Center.

For three hours, Georgetown students put aside their midterms and their readings to focus on some of the critical issues facing America’s next generation. Republicans and Democrats alike came to Leo’s to take advantage of the expert panel, share a meal and cheer or jeer the candidates. Students and dining hall staff watched the debate alongside one another as peers. In short, the event really brought students together. Several underclassmen told the Editorial Board that this event reaffirmed the rationale behind their decisions to enroll at Georgetown. In light of some of the troubling findings from last year’s Intellectual Life Report, this type of feedback shows the great potential we have to build a more vibrant intellectual community on the Hilltop.

Georgetown should attempt to replicate this event’s success. To do so, it would do well to examine what makes this event different from the usual:

It provided students with the opportunity to become engaged with issues they care about. Students are educated and care, but many need to be presented with opportunities to be engaged without signing up for clubs.

It appealed to students across the board. The event was bipartisan and addressed timely issues which are important to almost all students. Thus, it brought together members of the Georgetown community in a way that few events do.

It had a more laid-back atmosphere than the lectures held in auditoriums, allowing students to be less reserved and enjoy themselves.

It was held at a time that was much less likely to conflict with class schedules and other commitments than most other events held on campus.

We’re thankful to Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson for providing much of the funding for this event in part to mark the end of the norovirus. Hopefully, it won’t take another norovirus outbreak or a presidential election to bring this type of programming back to campus. While the cost of the event most definitely exceeded the cost of a regular debate watch in Sellinger Lounge (where most of the other debate watches have been held this election season), the benefits of reaching out to a larger audience with a dinner event in Leo’s are worth the extra cost. We hope other campus offices will recognize the broad appeal of this event and step up to the plate to fund future events.

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

Comments are closed.

For those who attended the Wednesday night debate watch in Leo’s, it was abundantly clear that Georgetown students are fortunate to be studying on the Hilltop during this historic election year. The event was a testament to Georgetown’s unique political and intellectual vibrancy.

A panel of world-class journalists and political operatives responded to questions from student leaders before the debate. ARAMARK Higher Education, the private company that manages Leo’s, decorated both floors of the dining hall as it would for a wedding. The food and decorations were paid for by the Office of Student Affairs as a gesture of good will after the norovirus outbreak rocked campus two weeks ago. GUSA picked up the tab for the audio equipment for the panel and the jumbo projection screens for the debate. A large number of ARAMARK staffers stayed late to ensure that the larger-than-usual dinner service went off without a hitch. They also provided a free meal for all students, with or without a meal plan. While all of this was impressive, the true measure of Wednesday night’s success should be measured in terms of the intangible steps that were made toward building a stronger campus community by bringing students together outside of Verizon Center.

For three hours, Georgetown students put aside their midterms and their readings to focus on some of the critical issues facing America’s next generation. Republicans and Democrats alike came to Leo’s to take advantage of the expert panel, share a meal and cheer or jeer the candidates. Students and dining hall staff watched the debate alongside one another as peers. In short, the event really brought students together. Several underclassmen told the Editorial Board that this event reaffirmed the rationale behind their decisions to enroll at Georgetown. In light of some of the troubling findings from last year’s Intellectual Life Report, this type of feedback shows the great potential we have to build a more vibrant intellectual community on the Hilltop.

Georgetown should attempt to replicate this event’s success. To do so, it would do well to examine what makes this event different from the usual:

It provided students with the opportunity to become engaged with issues they care about. Students are educated and care, but many need to be presented with opportunities to be engaged without signing up for clubs.

It appealed to students across the board. The event was bipartisan and addressed timely issues which are important to almost all students. Thus, it brought together members of the Georgetown community in a way that few events do.

It had a more laid-back atmosphere than the lectures held in auditoriums, allowing students to be less reserved and enjoy themselves.

It was held at a time that was much less likely to conflict with class schedules and other commitments than most other events held on campus.

We’re thankful to Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson for providing much of the funding for this event in part to mark the end of the norovirus. Hopefully, it won’t take another norovirus outbreak or a presidential election to bring this type of programming back to campus. While the cost of the event most definitely exceeded the cost of a regular debate watch in Sellinger Lounge (where most of the other debate watches have been held this election season), the benefits of reaching out to a larger audience with a dinner event in Leo’s are worth the extra cost. We hope other campus offices will recognize the broad appeal of this event and step up to the plate to fund future events.

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

Comments are closed.