I think you would be hard-pressed to find a student at Georgetown University who isn’t aware of the funding problems that plague this fine institution. Are students at other big-name schools bombarded with similar facts and figures? It seems like the topic is unavoidable in speeches by University President John J. DeGioia or the deans of each of the schools. While the Third Century Campaign, Georgetown’s principle fundraiser started by former University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., has raised more than its original goal of $500 million, school officials are still hungry for donations (“Third Century: Success, Unfulfilled Goals,” The Hoya, Sept. 26, 2000). If the administration were to take a closer look at undergraduate life here on the Hilltop, it would find some important clues as to why alumni are less generous with their wallets than some might hope.

If the symptom is a lack of alumni giving, what is the disease? Are graduates from Georgetown unsuccessful in their jobs? Are employers not interested in hiring a Hoya? While these may be possible, they seem to be unlikely explanations for the university’s empty coffers. The most obvious affliction would be general dissatisfaction of the student body, and it seems that this is in fact also the most logical explanation.

Undergraduate life at Georgetown lacks a true sense of community. It’s like the glue that binds students together was purchased from the lowest bidder, perhaps another attempt to cut costs around here. As a student, I feel like I get what I pay for, and nothing more. I must say that I feel my investment of nearly $40,000 every year is a good one, and that Georgetown is earning every penny of what I pay. Unfortunately (excuse the pun), the buck stops there.

My money goes toward paying our distinguished professors, providing an incredible diversity of interesting classes, offering me access to the not-so-humble city of Washington, D.C. and surrounding me with a peer-group of some of the most capable and driven students in the country. I feel that’s what $40,000 gets me. When I look for the value-added, the special offer, the extra 33 percent free or the bonus fold-up stadium blanket I get for selecting Georgetown, they’re all conspicuously missing.

It seems that Georgetown is caught in a difficult paradox. Clearly we’re hurting for money – it’s practically flying in italics beneath “Georgetown Forever” on the face of Healy – yet many of the things that could most improve student life for undergraduates cost something. A solution must be found.

What is clear is that student groups need more funding. Technology is state-of-the-art on the surface and decrepit and decaying in the corners. Special events and student activities are glaringly few and far between. Even the Lecture Fund, a noteworthy and successful student organization, must attempt to lure speakers to our campus with a shoestring budget while competing with other local schools like American University that shells out nearly five times as much every year to bring in top-notch experts and public figures.

No single act or moment of inaction has created the current atmosphere of draught in the student community. There are a plethora of examples of individual students and groups which are fighting upstream against the current of mediocrity and are enriching our campus environment, yet unfortunately they still stick out as pleasant exceptions, not the rule.

The Corp has blessed this campus with its continued sponsorship of student activities and services from free airport shuttles to chilled beverages for new student move-in. It is opening a new coffeehouse on the second floor of Lauinger Library to provide caffeine and a relaxed atmosphere in the place it is needed most. GPB movies, Late Night at Leavey, student arts performances, comedian acts and sporting events from lacrosse to basketball help provide some diversity in the typical options of binge drinking or clubbing on the weekends, but aren’t enough. Also deserving honorable mention are Georgetown Day and the lighting of the Dahlgren Christmas tree. Events like these are the building blocks of a real campus community.

The source of wilted student life thus seems to be the administration itself, and its refusal to acknowledge student opinion. University officials appear two-faced while on one hand asking for money from graduates and ignoring the complaints of students currently on campus on the other. The most glaring offense was this year’s implementation of the “24 hour lockdown policy” whereby student access to many buildings on campus was restricted or in many cases eliminated entirely. The policy had a huge negative impact on student life and was implemented without the administration ever consulting students or the elected student government. Similarly disappointing has been the administration’s decision to ignore repeated requests by students for extended hours of operation of the campus GUTS bus system, providing us with access to the Metro and the city beyond. On a campus where hardly any students drive, the failure to provide shuttle services most of Saturday and all of Sunday hinders student activities in almost every form.

Whether or not I or any of my fellow members of the class of 2005 will be giving money to Georgetown 15 years from now depends on whether the university can start providing us with the value-added feature of a vibrant student community. We’ll do our part and continue performing student-written plays, signing up for intramurals and showing up en masse for New South theme nights. It’s time for our university’s administration leaders to match step with the student leaders on campus, and it’s time for student voices to be heard.

Mitch Fox is a sophomore in the McDonough School of Business, Web Editor and a member of The Hoya’s Editorial Board.

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