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Friday, January 21st, 2000

Today's Georgetown Takes Shape

By Ian A. Palko
Hoya Staff Writer

"The Dream Lives on," Hoya Sports Editor John Regan wrote on April 2, 1982, just after the Hoyas lost the NCAA Basketball Championship to UNC, 63-62. Just two short years later, that dream came true, when Patrick Ewing (CAS '85), Michael Williams, Reggie Williams and the legendary John Thompson brought home the championship. Just as many of today's basketball fans know of the Hoyas of 1984, most of what Georgetown is today can find its roots in the 1980s.

At the turn of the decade the concept of a Village C had not yet come to the drawing board. Likewise, The Leavey Center was still eight years away and not yet planned. The Intercultural Center was almost finished, as was Alumni Square.

The news of the 1980s was also key in shaping the Georgetown of today.

Rev. Leo O'Donovan, S.J., ended the 1989 bicentennial celebration with his inauguration as the 47th president of Georgetown University, replacing Rev. Timothy Healy, S.J., who resigned to accept the position of President of the New York Public Library. Healy had become Georgetown's president 13 years earlier in 1976.

When today's freshmen and sophomores were just being born, Georgetown was breaking into a new decade. A decade The Hoya once entitled "GU's Decade of Growth."

And the university surely grew. Over the course of the decade tuition rose from $12,600 to near $20,000. The university raised over $180 million in an eight-year-long financial campaign in an effort to defray the cost of the massive building on campus throughout the '80s.

In 1979 Gay People of Georgetown University filed a lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court against Georgetown for discrimination. The suit lasted until 1988, when GPGU won the discrimination suit and the university was legally forced to recognize the group. In the same year, The Stewards, a secretive conservative group, was exposed in student publication and later in national newspapers. The New Press, Georgetown's first women's journal went to press for the first time during the decade.

Earlier in the decade, most Washington residents would recall the "14th Street Bridge Incident," where an airplane taking off from National Airport barely avoided crashing into the bridge, crushed cars with its wheels and then landed in the Potomac River, injuring only some passengers on the plane. Concern grew among Georgetowners, as flight paths of many National Airport-bound airplanes pass directly over the university.

News that hit campus was hardly positive on May 2, 1980, when The Hoya announced the arrest of 22 people related to a drug sting on the university campus. Fourteen of those arrested were student, two were employees of the university, one was "associated with the university," and two others were from George Washington and American Universities, respectively. Metro Police reported finding cocaine, LSD and marijuana among the various residences they searched. Estimates put the value of the cocaine alone at close to $100,000.

Campus news was negative as well after a sophomore transfer student fell from his Healy dorm room, onto the brick walkway in front of the building in November of 1980. He died just hours later from internal injuries. The next semester a student suffering from a seizure at Yates Field House was forced to wait 25 minutes for D.C. Fire and Rescue to respond to a 911 call. Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Services at that point didn't exist, however both posed important reasons and encouraged the university to recognize a then-small student group known as GERMS. It was 1982 when they won the war for recognition.

It was four years later when two major news stories hit the front page of The Hoya in one issue. Georgetown's Board of Directors voted to divest from all investment in South Africa in response to apartheid, after much protest from student advocates. In the same issue the D.C. government raised the legal drinking age from 18 to 21 citing "blackmail" from the federal government regarding Federal Highway funding. A "grandfather clause" spared most GU students from losing their drinking privileges that year. That particular issue has encouraged much debate over a fitting alcohol policy for the university.

Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, the Vatican's Secretary of State was among some of the most prominent visitors to Georgetown University during the decade. Others included ex-CIA Director and former President George Bush, and Former President Jimmy Carter.

Dignitaries weren't the only guests that visited Georgetown. February 27, 1987 brought record amounts of snowfall to Washington, D.C. closing the university and killing power in Alumni Square and many other off-campus residences. More importantly to many who know Georgetown through the movies, the third installment in the Exorcist trilogy was filmed here during the spring and summer of 1989, with its release in 1990.

The varied drama and events that made the 1980s at Georgetown what they were, shaped the future. What we know as the daily grind of Georgetown was shaped significantly by this recent history.


1980 - Fourteen students are arrested on Georgetown's campus in a drug investigation.

1981 - Under pressure from alumna Carol Powers (NUR '44), the first lines of the Alma Mater are changed from "Sons of Georgetown" to "Hail, oh Georgetown."

1982 - The Edward B. Bunn Intercultural Center is built with a $30 million price tag.

April 2, 1984 - The men's basketball team wins the NCAA national championship, defeating Houston, 84-75, for the title.

1985 - St. Elmo's Fire, filmed at University of Maryland-College Park but based on Georgetown, hits the big screen.

1986 - Village C is built.

The drinking age in the District of Columbia is changed from 18 to 21.

Georgetown's Board of Directors votes to divest Georgetown's investments in South Africa after much student protest on campus against the university's involvement with an apartheid country.

1988 - The New Press, Georgetown's first women's journal, goes to print for the first time.

Gay People of Georgetown University wins a lawsuit against Georgetown, forcing the university to grant the organization recognition for the first time.

September 30, 1988 - The Bicentennial Celebration for Georgetown begins.

February 1989 - Rev. Timothy S. Healy, S.J., announces his resignation to become president of the New York Public Library.

September 23, 1989 - Rev. Leo O'Donovan, S.J., is inaugurated as Georgetown's 47th president.

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