Cinderella had all the reasons for going to University away from home: an evil stepmother, abusive stepsisters and a rather unfair workload at home. If she had gone away to college, however, it wouldn’t have been to GW. Besides her small budget, the reason is pretty simple – the girl needs her ball, and she won’t find one around here.
GW is excellent at holding extra-curricular activities for those who enjoy hearing Tony Snow discuss politics or the chairman of a Senatorial committee debating tax reform. But when it comes down to a major social event, like a dance that brings the entire school together, our school simply falls short.
Your high school most likely had one, and quite often they are joyous occasions. You get to dress up, hang out with your friends, dance, drink punch (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) and look with amazement at how great that girl or boy from your biology lab looks when he or she takes a shower and gets out of sweatpants.
My home University in Britain has such events each year. The big one is held at the end of the last semester, and all student years are welcome. At our summer ball we have big performances by well-known artists, as well as different DJs and artists that play anything from hip-hop to Britney Spears all night. We also have a ball for each residence hall, and all the sports teams have one together too.
To have a major GW dance for all undergraduates, not just seniors, at the end of the year would really add to everyone’s time here. Sure, there is the Spring Fling and Fall Fest, but these are really just concerts and don’t quite have the prestige of a big ball. Furthermore, they go on for the entire day, with students coming and going randomly, and they tend to be more of an event for commercial interests than for the students.
Of course it is hard to compete with the buzzing nightlife of D.C., but one night a year for a special occasion is doable for most. The cue lies in making it a really exceptional event that accommodates everyone. If the ball becomes the only cool place to be that one night of the year, then the event would fund itself from ticket sales, and GW’s students and accountants would be better off because of it.
Music for a dance must be varied so that it appeals to all tastes, a characteristic that has been lacking in some of the hip-hop performances put on in the past. Furthermore, the location must be enchanting – something grand with a number of activities and events.
Of course the biggest hurdle may be attracting seniors, who may be more inclined to visit bars rather than an event. For those who want a drink, there should be a beer-tent serving students of legal age. This would provide the perfect chance for freshmen to mix with seniors, something that isn’t easy to do on a normal Saturday night.
Having a black tie dress code is essential to making the night unique, and on a warm spring night, this wouldn’t be a problem. Loads of GW kids dressed up in pretty dresses and smart tuxedos for a purely social function would be something that few students would forget.
Everyone is aware that GW has a reputation as a school without a campus and without spirit. Its lack of a defined geographical space is tough to change, but the school spirit aspect is not. School spirit comes from a give-and-take relationship, and GW cannot expect its students to feel more pride in their institution if they do not offer more occasions where the entire school can get together.
A well-organized dance where all students can get a chance to enjoy themselves could not only make us feel more invested with the University, but also help us get a better reputation in the area where many prospective students now see us as lacking. It is not unusual for schools to have these large social occasions, and the fact that GW doesn’t makes us look bad.
GW has shown that it wants to make us feel more like college students through various programming and events, but have clearly overlooked an obvious solution. The Program Board could expand its programming and, together with the schools administrators, could arrange an unforgettable spring dance.
And maybe one day, after all, you will get the chance to sit next to Cinderella studying on the fourth floor in Gelman Library.
-The writer, a junior majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.