Well, it look likes my column Thursday provided a real service. Some people have told me that their tour guides actually told them that Charles Smith story when they first visited campus. So in case you’re just joining us – last week, I gave you the truth (or what I think the truth is) behind four urban myths that folks on campus often believe as gospel. Now here’s six more (don’t worry, sports talk will return very soon).
Myth: Britney Spears is coming to GW (score out of 10 on the truth scale – 0).
Once upon a time, I thought this was every university’s rumor. Then I found out that GW had special cause for this one, and in my investigation, things got a little freaky. But when it was all said and done, I’m afraid the truth is – no Britney Spears.
So first of all, I’d been hearing this one since last year, and someone on The Hatchet told me that a student had actually enrolled at GW named Britney Spears – but her name was spelled a little differently. So I called Admissions. The polite woman who helped me was a bit incredulous, but then she looked it up and told me that indeed this was true, and the student’s name was Brittney Spears. Now, this intrigued me and I couldn’t wait to talk to this girl. So I called GW Information to get her phone number. After they stopped laughing at me, they told me there was no Brittney Spears in their directory. So back to Admissions I went.
At this point, my source changed her story. Apparently, she hadn’t noticed this girl had never actually even applied to GW. She had apparently only requested some information. Oh, and by the way, she’s from New Orleans.
So to this I said (as I like to do, in a high-pitched screech): Whaaaaaaat?! You see, as the President of the GW chapter of the Britney Spears Fan Club, I happen to know that Miss Spears is from Louisiana. Obviously, my imagination began racing, but that lasted only five minutes, because Brittney Spears is 19. Britney Spears is but 17. End of story.
Myth: There’s no J Street because D.C. planner Pierre L’Enfant hated Chief Justice John Jay (2).
There’s no documentation that any part of that statement is true (except that there’s no J Street), and frankly, it’s just a little silly. I asked Lyle Slovick, the assistant University archivist, about it, and although he didn’t know the answer (no one ever will), he pointed out why such a story becomes popular: “Because it engenders those feelings of – `Oh, that’s intriguing.'”
In his book “Footnote Washington,” Bryson Rash wrote on the subject that it was more likely that the absence of a J Street comes from the fact that the letter `J’ and the letter `I’ were interchangeable until 1700, so the letter was still young when the city was planned. Also, the illiterate citizenry of Washington easily confused oral directions that distinguished between the letters J and K.
“I would think the confusion between I and J would be more likely, but I don’t know for sure,” said G. David Anderson, University Archivist.
Whatever the case, GW saw an opening, and now, to the left of the front information desk at The Marvin Center, is a framed D.C. decree naming our charming food court “J Street.”
Myth: Room 723 in the Hall on Virginia Avenue is the only “Watergate Room” (0).
I sure hope the cats in Room 419 read this because they are living in a piece of history, and they didn’t even have to write an essay. From Room 419 of the former Howard Johnson Hotel, the “plumbers” monitored Democratic National Committee phone calls. They moved up to Room 723 before the break-in, so they could see better.
Myth: If your roommate commits suicide, you get straight A’s (0).
As Dr. Evil would say: Riiiiiight.
This one’s been around forever and it’s gone international (there’s even a movie, if you recall). Now, I couldn’t get an administrator to comment on this. Quite frankly, Rice Hall took my query a bit more seriously than it was intended, so I just went to the University Regulations in the GW Undergraduate Bulletin for a little common sense.
The regulations explain that if you need to, for some reason, you can petition for a leave of absence. The only grades (besides the ones you’ve earned) that are possible include I, W, and Z (I won’t bother telling you what those stand for). The point here is – if anyone died, the best you could get would be a vacation. You think the University would hand you some As, because your roommate (who, half the time, you don’t even like) died?
The whole idea is ridiculous. Grades are a measurement of what you did in a class – not some consolation prize. You think when I apply to graduate school, they’ll say, “Oh, you did well that semester.”
“Actually, no. My roommate killed himself.”
Myth: That big patch of grass on campus is called “The Quad” (4).
These last two are kind of pet peeves of mine.
Now, if one were to take the time to glance at the plaque which marks the entrance to our Frisbee grounds, you might notice that there is no mention of a “Quad” or even a “quadrangle.” It is called “The University Yard,” and in addition to the plaque, that’s what you’ll find it called in every book that’s ever been written about GW.
Now, I’ll admit “University Yard” is a bit unwieldy, so just “The Yard” is sufficient. I suggest that you try calling it that in the future, especially to avoid confusion with the new officially designated “Mid-Campus Quad.” If you do that, our lovely new fountain area will be free to just be “The Quad.”
Myth: On Jan. 1, 2000, we will enter a new millennium (0).
Now, I appreciate the significance and excitement of ditching the old 1900s, which we will on Jan. 1, but we will not enter the new millennium until 2001. For some reason, this is a hard mathematical concept for some people to grasp, so you might just have to take my word for it. Just remember, there was no year 0000, and a thousand years makes a millennium, not 999. Don’t worry, you can still have fun, but save the millennium talk for 2001. As for me, I’ll be at Newman’s party, where I understand Christopher Cross is performing.
For more myths, see David Holt’s last column from Thursday, Sept. 9 at www.gwhatchet.com.In other news, you might have noticed, as I did, that GW women’s basketball team (whom we depend on to play the Hoyas) are not playing Georgetown this year. Athletic Director Jack Kvancz reports it was just a scheduling problem and that the series will be continued.
So, that brings up our monthly topic – Why don’t our men play Georgetown? Well, an interesting thing happened a couple weeks ago. Howard released its schedule, and it has a game this year at the MCI Center against the Hoyas Dec. 6. It’s known that Georgetown doesn’t play local teams (or didn’t during John Thompson’s reign). So does this Howard game change things?
I asked Kvancz and he said he doesn’t see Georgetown ever coming to the Smith Center, but he thinks a game at the MCI Center could happen. But only if GW is given tickets – meaning that we wouldn’t settle for Georgetown getting a home advantage that we wouldn’t receive at another time. Kvancz also said that any game would have to be scheduled carefully because the date would have to be just right for such a monumental event.
“I think that’ll happen,” Kvancz said. “I thought it would happen before. If it does, we’ll have to schedule it two or three years out.”
Just a fun fact – Justin Gimelstob, who’s been doing well in the tennis world lately and advanced fairly far into the U.S. Open, is the nephew of former GW men’s basketball coach Gerry Gimelstob, who coached at GW from 1981-’85. Gimelstob coached four years and amassed a 58-55 record.
The full men’s and women’s basketball schedules are slated to be released early this week. As soon as they are, they should be up on www.gwu.edu/~gwsports.You may have already noticed that there is no “Red Auerbach Classic” on the men’s schedule this year. This has been a GW season opening tradition for
the last seven seasons, and except for last year against George Mason, it’s been a four-team tournament.
Well, according to a GW spokesman, this year there wasn’t room on the schedule to play a tournament like that, as games with Ohio and Bradley had to be played (per agreements made with those schools when GW was scrambling to fill its schedule after Mike Jarvis left). Rather than just call the South Florida game the “Red Auerbach Classic,” the tradition will take a break and continue next year.