A Look Back In Hoya History: Margaret Thatcher on the Hilltop

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While the world reflects on Lady Margaret Thatcher’s life and legacy as Great Britain’s first female Prime Minister, The Fourth Edition thought it would be fitting to look back at a special moment of Hoya History: when Britain’s “Iron Lady” took the Hilltop by storm.

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Thatcher was presented an honorary Doctor of Law degree from the University on Feb. 27, 1981 for serving as “the first woman to head a European nation,” according to Director of Public Relations Wesley Christiansen in a February 1981 issue of The Hoya. In addition, Thatcher was honored for her efforts in reaching a peace settlement in Zimbabwe and her actions “to deal with the economic problems in Britain,” including “stagnation” and “stagflation,” The Hoya reported.

During the honorary-doctoral ceremony, Thatcher addressed a less-than-full crowd in Gaston Hall on the economy and its relation to political freedom:

“The quality of our freedom in the Western democracies can be measured against the repression and drabness of totalitarian states. That freedom has provided a fertile ground for the varied talents and inventiveness of our peoples. We cherish it. We must defend it.”

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The 1981 visit from this polarizing leader was not without controversy; according to The Hoya, approximately 150 students and members of various Irish-American groups stood outside the university gates to protest Great Britain’s suspension of English Law and alleged human rights violations in Northern Ireland. Protestors chanted “England out of Ireland!” and “Brits’ out!” while holding signs that claimed “Irish give sons to Jesuits; Georgetown gives honor to the Brits” and called to “Free Ireland!”

Numerous organizations participated in the demonstrations, including the INC, Amnesty International, The Washington H-Block Armagh Committee, the Knights of Equity, The Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Daughters of Erin and Irish Northern Aid.

However, not all crowd members were protesting. Numerous students gathered to wish Thatcher well and watch her receive her honorary degree.

One student commented, “She’s a fine statesman and a great woman,” a sentiment that is being shared more than 30 years later, as the world reflects on the grocer’s daughter who came to redefine British politics and change the world. Her impact will linger for many years to come, despite her passing.

Overcoats, More Overcoats and Other Hoya Inauguration Blunders

1. Jan. 23rd, 2009: A year of hope and change…except for DarnallScreen Shot 2013-01-17 at 7.28.43 PM
In 2009, President Obama was inaugurated for his first term. Unfortunately, the first headline Hoya readers saw was not one of his historic entrance into office, but of the crap-tastic nature of Darnall’s plumbing. As we enter 2013, not much has changed: same president, same Darnall struggles.


2. Jan. 23rd, 2009: Enter Tobias FünkeScreen Shot 2013-01-17 at 7.36.11 PM

I’m sorry, but all I can think of is the episode of Arrested Development in which Tobias gets his full leather outfit to be a “leather daddy” … Tobias storming D.C. against Obama? Tobias for president?

3. Jan. 22nd, 1993: Wait … so what kind of coats?Screen Shot 2013-01-17 at 7.26.09 PM

Georgetown alumni Bill Clinton steps into office and we have one question: Why is the inauguration being compared to melted animal fats? (Schmaltz is Yiddish for rendered animal fat, usually chicken fat. Thank you, Urban Dictionary.)

4. Jan. 23rd, 1981: The year of fighting steeds

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If you’re attending the inauguration this year, I would suggest taking a self-defense class to prepare yourself for possibility of having to fight off a stallion. I would like to point out that above this inauguration feature was an article about a 25,000-person march to honor Martin Luther King Jr. and, between those two beautiful and important posts, was the article “Hoya Pick-Up Line of the Week Award.” And yes, we will bringing this post back.

5. Jan. 19th, 1973: There are so many things wrong with this.

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I don’t know about you guys, but I have some major issues with the phrase ” … a castrated Congress limping into a new session …” Well, here’s to a new Presidential term and a fully … uhh … “equipped” Congress.


Happy inauguration! I’m sure that 30 years in the future, our current staff will be berated for their word choices and out-of-context headlines, but until then, we will continue to be sassy and snarky, just for you.