Excluding dedicated members of Georgetown’s faculty, student-run organizations like GERMS and the Food Court’s Subway employees, Georgetown personnel provide students with the slowest responses to requests for aide seemingly possible by a top-tier university. This is the story of one Harbin resident:

In August, I called a hotline provided by Georgetown Counseling and Psychiatric Service for after-hour therapy services. Though the promise of reaching a psychologist 24 hours a day is designed specifically to respond to mental health emergencies (fortunately mine was not such a call), nevertheless no one responded. Or rather, someone answered, told me a psychologist had been paged, and assured me that I would be called back with 10 minutes. Yet, I was left sitting by my phone for an hour waiting for a call that never came. Later on in the year, a CAPS therapist apologized profusely for this error and informed me that the hotline system had been entirely revamped so nothing of the sort could happen again.

In the beginning of December, my cluster needed soap in its bathroom (clearly this was no emergency). Needless to say, after a week without soap, everyone kept their heads. Beginning the next week, however, we left a note in our bathroom asking that the soap be refilled. Still cringing that we were little more than dampening our palms during flu season in a college dorm (i.e. a Petri dish), we put in a call two days later to maintenance to please run some soap up to our bathroom. Promised our soap before the day’s end, we were surprised to find the dispensers empty that night. A good-natured girl in our cluster finally bought soap for the bathroom. Once we had gone through several bottles of communally bought soap, we were eventually allotted our soap from the school – just in time for Christmas break.

Just before Easter break, another dilemma arose. At 7 a.m. Friday morning, the blaring alarm of a dear cluster-mate sounded through the halls. We know its owner to be one of those exceptional people who could sleep through an atomic holocaust, and so the ungodly decibel of the fire alarm knock-off is nothing new to our mornings. What was new this time, however, was how long the buzzing continued.10.20.30 minutes. After taking turns pounding on the door, the few unfortunate girls left in my cluster (now unable to go back to sleep) made the horrifying discovery that the room’s inhabitants had left for break already, leaving no one to turn off the loudest alarm clock made by man.

Our RA refused to open the girl’s door for reasons unknown. The RA on duty was nowhere to be found. The security guard in Harbin was distinctly unhelpful, advising us to find the ethereal RA on duty. The RHO was not open. The security guard did not want to call anyone until 9 a.m. when everything was open. My roommate called maintenance who said they would be over “immediately.” Having listened to an unbelievable BEEP, BEEP, BEEP in what was fast becoming an auditory version of Chinese water torture for an hour already, we sat waiting for another half-hour for maintenance to “immediately” come and open the door. Bleary eyed with heightened blood pressure and headaches, we thanked maintenance and put out a death warrant for our cluster-mate.

There is humor in some of these stories: Who knew epics could come in the search of soap or the halting of an alarm clock blast? Yet, one wonders if Georgetown assumes that its students’ intelligence somehow relieves it of the responsibility to act in response to calls of assistance, whether minor or potentially major. To live on campus seems to be a challenge, with the school saying “You’re all smart, so learn to help yourselves; welcome to the real world where plumbers are late and therapists overcharge.”

Consequently, everything from making our opinions heard to the administration to getting a dean’s attention during registration to obtaining consistent internet access or, most importantly, to being guaranteed proper help in an emergency seems an unnecessary struggle or a toss-up at best. Especially unhelpful is the way “business hours” conflict with “student hours:” Students’ free hours fall after five o’clock (and later if they play sports) or on the weekends. Help seems to be just out of reach at 5:30 p.m. Thursday and entirely impossible at 8 p.m. Sunday night.

Perhaps this is reality, but it is not an inevitable reality. Considering the success of GERMS and other student-run organizations that help fellow students, particularly during unconventional hours, Georgetown students should look to these as examples of how to make on-campus response agencies of every caliber more effective.

Lizzie Griesedieck is a freshman in the College and a cartoonist for THE HOYA.

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

Comments are closed.