Key to Vibrant Campus Life Lies With Students
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 10:03
Depending on where you are in your Hilltop career, you might be thinking about pregaming in your room, finding the weekend’s best house party or dancing at the Tombs or somewhere down M Street. Georgetown students are lucky; we have all kinds of options when it comes to social life. For most students, the goal is to avoid the university administration on weekend nights, with the threat of write-ups, conduct meetings, fines and sanction hours. However, the university can be an important partner in our social scene.
Our weekend nights are completely disconnected from the regular contributions we make to the campus community. Most student organizations are seen as the place for building leadership skills and friendships or creating a more vibrant campus community. Socializing with student organizations really takes place outside of official events. With just one major exception, most student organizations don’t typically incorporate alcohol and partying on campus. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
As chair of the Senior Class Committee and director of the Center for Student Programs, we’ll be the first to tell you that there is an appropriate time, place and manner for partying on campus. Student organizations can be a part of that. The Senior Class Committee is a great example of how: It’s about respect, safety and a mix of friends, acquaintances and people you’ve never met. When SCC members are hosting parties, there’s an understanding, however subtle, between us about the fun atmosphere we’re providing and the respect and attitude we receive back. Seniors know that there’s a right way to enjoy our events. Student leaders and university administrators work together to provide a fun and well-managed environment in which our seniors can socialize.
But it only happens because a student organization and its leaders take responsibility. It’s not always easy to be the host of the party. Everyone who comes to our parties has to live up to the expectations we and the university set out: be on the guest list, be in good standing with the university, show valid ID, pay a small contribution toward the cost of the party and behave reasonably so everyone can have fun. As students and fellow seniors, we’re the ones who have to say no to our friends that want to bend the rules. We have to make sure the 5 percent that don’t want to follow these standards don’t dictate how the rest of us are treated. If you think about it, the same thing applies to how we as a university community interact with members of our neighborhood.
For most of us, the memories we create on the Hilltop are a blend of time spent together in class, in student organizations and in the campus community. We work hard, and many of us want to play hard too. The university wants us to build these connections with each other and with Georgetown, and it knows that many of them happen as a result of unforgettable nights celebrating together. The SCC has the chance to help create those memories by hosting parties on campus that make it easy, safe and fun for us to party on campus and to drink and dance without worrying about noise violations or sanctions. If we live up to the expectations, pay a little money to offset the costs and watch out for our friends and fellow students, we can all enjoy a vibrant on-campus party scene. And if you’re so inclined, we wouldn’t mind a little help cleaning up, too!
And maybe, just maybe, a more responsible student body can work with the university to expand opportunities like this for everyone — imagine what a monthly 21-plus keg party in Leo’s could be? Or perhaps your student organization’s formal event catering has a nice complement of wine for attendees? What might your student organization do to socialize more on-campus together?
We will admit that taking responsibility for managing our collective social life is not always easy. As students, we’ve all been inclined to break the rules now and then, and we may not want to hold others accountable if they do the same. But remember this: We are all Georgetown. We all have to uphold community standards, even when that means facing our peers and taking responsibility for each other’s actions. Because if we don’t, we are letting that rowdy minority dictate the rules for the rest of us, meaning harsher sanctions, party restrictions, constant oversight and more university regulations determining our social life.
And is that really how you want to party?
Justin Mercer is a senior in the College and the chairman of the Senior Class Committee. Erika Cohen Derr is the assistant dean for student engagement and the director of the Center for Student Programs.