Georgetown Day to Be Scaled Back
Published: Monday, March 19, 2012
Updated: Thursday, March 22, 2012 20:03
While the lack of a planning committee put this year’s Georgetown Day in jeopardy, students and administrators say a slightly scaled-down version of the annual event will still take place.
Organization of the event traditionally begins in the fall semester, but discussions between students and the university about this year’s festivities did not begin until shortly before spring break. The delay in planning was due to a lack of student interest in the fall semester, according to Chris Butterfield (MSB ’12), leader of the informal planning efforts, and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Jeanne Lord.
“The past few years have seen declining participation on the part of student organizations and individual student volunteers in the scheduled activities of Georgetown Day,” Lord wrote in an email.
A group of students have begun efforts to arrange funding and logistics for the event and hope to organize an official planning committee to continue the efforts.
In a broadcast email to the student body Monday, newly inaugurated GUSA President Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) and Vice President Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13) solicited applications for a formalized planning committee that are due Saturday.
The majority of the students currently involved are seniors, and the group includes past Georgetown Day planning committee members.
“This is a very loose structure. … It’s a very collaborative effort at the moment,” Butterfield, who is also Senior Class Committee chair, said.
This year’s event will not include any inflatables or a beer garden but will likely feature other Georgetown Day traditions like student music and dance performances and food and stands around Healy Lawn and Healy Circle.
“We will hold on to a few traditions that have always been there, like the Dorothy Brown Award,” Butterfield said. Each year the award is given to a faculty member who contributes to both the academic and extracurricular advancement of the university and is nominated by students.
The abolishment of the beer garden is an attempt to create a more welcoming atmosphere for students of all ages and discourage public alcohol consumption, according to Butterfield.
While some aspects of the day are set to change, the students involved in its organization hope to maintain the legacy of the event, which was originally started by students in 2000 to commemorate the death of an undergraduate in an alcohol-related altercation.
According to Lord, the event has veered from its original intention.
“The mission of Georgetown Day seems also to have lost clarity over the last few years. What began in 2000 as a celebration of the campus community in all its parts has shifted to being a celebration by the community, or more accurately, by the student community,” she wrote in an email.
Butterfield noted that the current culture of the day has alienated faculty and staff whose families were previously welcome at the day’s activities.
“Faculties and staff don’t bring their kids and don’t want to,” he said. “We’ve seen this day trend toward students.”
According to Lord, the administration hopes to promote health and safety on Georgetown Day while still maintaining a celebratory atmosphere.
“Student leaders and administrators have been discussing the concerns raised and are developing a plan for the last Friday of classes that seeks to both celebrate appropriately the end of the academic year and address concerns about the scope and mission of the day,” she wrote.
Butterfield also emphasized that he wants the day to remain one of festivity.
“I think that at the end of the year, we have so much to be thankful for,” he said. “We want this to be a day of thanks, of celebration, of gratitude.”