Despite the panoply of student groups serving the interests of the Georgetown community, certain inadequacies in campus life remain unaddressed. In Georgetown’s recent history, student-led startups have sought to fill these voids, building on, and in some cases reimagining, the work of some of Georgetown’s most established institutions. Through their efforts, these startups have challenged the assumption that the bigger and older the institution, the better it attends to student and university needs.
Take admissions, for example. When students visit Georgetown, they want their visit to be a clear indication of their compatibility with Georgetown’s culture. Although the Blue and Gray Tour Guide Society succeeds at opening this university’s doors to prospective students, the startup Campus Sherpa, launched by two undergraduates, offers an alternative to the traditional group tour model by providing a paid, individualized, face-to-face experience with a current undergraduate. This gives prospective students a window into campus life tailored to their specific needs and interests.
This entrepreneurial challenge to the university’s dominant institutions is but the latest in a long line of student opposition to the status quo. In 1971, what is now Students of Georgetown, Inc. was formed in response to repressive measures taken against anti-war student demonstrators, ensuring legal protection for the Georgetown student body. The services that The Corp provided in its starting years include creating Corp Travel to help students plan for study abroad, establishing a Furniture Co-op, and launching Corp Typing and Corp Copying. In an internal memo sent to its members, The Corp explained how they felt they should use their profitability to provide services that weren’t easily accessible to the students of Georgetown.
Students ought to consider this rich legacy of entrepreneurship in their appraisal of campus groups and affairs. Campus Sherpa, The Corp and Georgetown University Alumni Student Federal Credit Union — all originally startups themselves — demonstrate that Georgetown’s most deeply entrenched institutions are not immune to criticism, revision or reimagination. Rather, these institutions lie on a continuum of collaboration and progress, a continuum that all Hoyas should seek to traverse.
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