By RACHAEL CASTILLO
Four years ago, I stepped foot on the Georgetown College’s campus for the first time. I remember three things about the tour I received that day: the sense of community on campus, the lack of air conditioning in Knight Hall and the impressive pennant wall in the Caf. For those of you keeping count, that’s one negative and two positives. Like most freshman girls, I did not relish the idea of moving into an 80-degree building in the middle of August. Luckily, the emphasis on community and the credentials of the Georgetown faculty won me over. Had it not been for those two things, I might not have been able to overlook the housing situation. I might not have chosen Georgetown College.
I loved the pennant wall—you know, the wall in the Caf that displayed flags from all our professors’ alma maters. When my tour guide explained the wall’s significance, I was impressed that Georgetown had faculty from so many prestigious schools and that Georgetown valued its professors enough to display their achievements in the Caf. Georgetown had (and still has) professors from Ivy League schools, and I was excited to learn from them.
Prospective students who tour Georgetown’s campus now will never experience the pennant wall, and current students can no longer enjoy the display. In its place is a colossal advertisement for Georgetown College. I see two major problems with the new Caf mural (well, two problems aside from the personal issue I have with my face appearing on a display that I do not support).
First, there is no need for an advertisement in the Caf. The population that the Caf is meant to serve consists of current Georgetown students, faculty and staff. These groups do not need or benefit from seeing a massive advertisement for Georgetown College at every meal. As a current student, I have already chosen to attend Georgetown College. I do not need a blatant marketing attempt to tell me about Georgetown’s great traditions. The new mural is a perfect example of the college ignoring the needs of its students and placing too great an emphasis on pleasing prospective students. It validates many students’ concern that the college is acting too much like a business and not enough like an institution of higher education. To me, the pennant wall symbolized the college’s academic rigor; the new mural represents an unwelcome shift in the college’s priorities
Of course, I acknowledge that the pennant wall was also a marketing tool. The difference, however, is that the pennant wall was an understated reminder of what is good about Georgetown College. It allowed current students to celebrate their professors, the college’s greatest asset in the eyes of many students. The pennant wall may have helped convince me to attend Georgetown, but the wall’s appeal to prospective students was coincidental, and the display meant as much (or more) to me as a current student as it did to me as a prospective one.
My second problem with the new mural is that it is not the kind of marketing that Georgetown College needs. The wall made such a positive impression on me as a prospective student because it convinced me that the college could compete with schools like Transy and Centre. While the sense of community on campus is a major selling point, I argue that Georgetown needs to advertise its academic strengths more effectively. Our professors are amazing, and we ought to take advantage of that fact. For example, Dr. Klotter is the Kentucky State Historian. Dr. Czarnecki is the historian for the International Virginia Woolf Society. How many of us knew that? How many prospective students know? Probably not many. From my perspective, Georgetown does not celebrate its faculty as it should—and replacing the pennant wall with a tawdry advertisement is an excellent example of this neglect.
I don’t claim to know anything about the current state of enrollment management at Georgetown College. Maybe the right changes are already taking place—but if they’re not, I implore the college to prioritize academics, celebrate our faculty and remember that this is an institution of learning, not a corporation.