Last week the GW community got a glimpse of the future when the University’s radical program to rename campus buildings went into its test phase. The first step, changing one sign to gauge student response, was a small one. The Marvin Center was renamed the Marvin Gaye Center. While the great majority of students were, to say the least, receptive, a vocal minority lashed out, vandalizing the sign.
First, these miscreants covered the new part of the sign with tape. When the tape was removed, they struck again painting over the sign.
I like vandalism as much as the next guy. A brick through the window here, Molotov cocktail there; it’s just good clean fun. But when it ruins something truly good, I cannot stand behind it. And that is what we had here last week, the act of a vocal minority bent on undermining a visionary move by the University.
The bold new program to rename many campus buildings after defunct minor celebrities will not be quelled. Indeed, administrators plan to go forward with even more progressive moves. The plan is based on a similar initiative by universities across the country. Most notably, the University of Tennessee named its buildings after members of the Jackson Five, and Gonzaga named buildings after Latin American funk band Menudo. GW’s plan will attempt to spice up existing names by adding a celebrity element.
Of course, the first step will be to formally introduce the Marvin Gaye Center and purchase a new, even gaudier sign. But more moves will quickly follow. The University will soon announce the additions of Jerry Rice Hall, The Will Smith Center and Monroe, the flamboyantly gay guy from “Too Close for Comfort,” hall. The University hopes this initiative will raise morale and invigorate campus life, paving the way for more name changes.
Among the most popular proposals would have Kogan Plaza renamed Mike Piazza and a bathroom stall in the basement of the Academic Center named after Derek Jeter. There has also been talk of Johnny Corcoran Hall, changing JBKO to NKOTB and J Street to Jay-Z Street. Even one off-campus building will get in on the act when the Gibson becomes the Debbie Gibson. Most controversial are the plans to erect a 15-foot obelisk at the center of the Quad, sheathing it in black leather and calling it the Tom Jones Monument.
The Community Living and Learning Center will not be left out of the fun. While Britney Spears will not be attending GW, as many speculated last year, a floor in Thurston will house the “Brit, Brit, VD and me” living and learning program next fall.
The University also has big ideas for new buildings on campus. The workout facility on 23rd Street was to be called the Health and Wellness Center. In the spirit of these changes it will be renamed the Al Roker Myrth and Fatness Center. Further, the School of Media and Public Affair’s Tony Danza Center for Media Research will be the most advanced program named after the “Who’s the Boss” star on the East Coast, closely rivaled by Georgetown’s Tony Danza Institute for the study of Aye-Oh, Oh-Aye.
While I find solace in the fact that these name changes will succeed despite the actions of vandals, the destruction of University property still concerns me. I wondered what University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg thought of the repeated attacks on the Marvin Gaye Center sign. I caught up with him atop Jerry Rice Hall where he was shooting skeet with John Ritter, who he had apparently purchase on eBay the night before.
I asked him about the events of the past few weeks and the defaced University property. Pointing the barrel of his rifle toward campus he said, “You know that hippo down there. Well, he crossed me, and I had him frozen in carbonite, brought back here to my lair and put on display as a warning to these savages.”
“SJT?” I replied.
“You said it man, and nobody messes with the SJT.”
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