George Washington Week kicks off with birthday cake, buggy rides

Our nation’s father talks about the value of diversity — and why he always spends his birthday at Washington University

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Throughout the years, “George Washington” has celebrated his birthday at Washington University in St. Louis. In 2011, student Chris Wilburn offered free carriage rides and enjoyed birthday cake as part of Lock and Chain’s annual George Washington Week. (Credit: SID Hastings/WUSTL Photos)

Even at 282 years old, George Washington still enjoys buggy rides, sheet cake and a spirited discussion about American values.

In celebration of George Washington Week, sponsored by Washington University in St. Louis sophomore honorary society Lock and Chain, our “founding father” took a moment to reflect on what makes this country — and this campus — great.

So tell us, Mr. President, what do you have planned for the day?

George Washington: Monday is beliefs day, which I am absolutely in love with! I’ll be up bright and early to ride around in my horse and buggy, giving rides to students who wish to tour the campus 4 feet above the ground. I also will be attending my cake-cutting ceremony with Chancellor Wrighton. I wonder if he will find enough candles? The day ends with an insightful panel featuring a variety of local religious leaders discussing their beliefs and what they mean to them.

George Washington Week

Monday: Diversity in Belief
11 a.m.- 2 p.m.: Horse and buggy rides and hot chocolate. Danforth University Center
12:15 p.m.: Birthday cake with Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. Tisch Commons (DUC)
8-9:30 p.m.: “Repaving Perception,” a panel on religion. Tisch Commons

Tuesday: Diversity in Expression
3-4:30 p.m.: “Not Your Average Student Exhibition.” Goldberg Formal Lounge (DUC)

Wednesday: Diversity in Identity
7 p.m.: LNC110 original film: “Discovering Identity” and WU-SLAM. Ursa’s Stageside

Thursday: Benefit Night
4-9 p.m.: Dinner at Noodles & Company, 6310 Delmar Blvd. Proceeds benefit St. Louis organization Places for People.

Friday: WUnity
8-11 p.m: Lock & Chain and Connect4 present WUnity Ball. $7, $5 in advance. Lopata (Hall) Gallery.

Saturday: Service
11 a.m.-3 p.m.: Lock and Chain and Engage360 host a service trip to the Hope House, followed by lunch from Mom’s Kitchen.

Also in honor of President’s Day: The Center for the Humanities presents “The Riddle of Reagan,” by H.W. Brands, University of Texas at Austin. 5 p.m. Monday, Women’s Building Formal Lounge

Mr. President, why did you chose “diversity” for this year’s George Washington Week theme?

George Washington: America has come a long way since my time in appreciating diversity, but it has not come far enough. All too often, diversity is thought of as a statistic or a checkbox. There exists an unfortunate over-emphasis on visual diversity, which undermines the existence of all the other ways in which a group of people can be diverse — through their beliefs, their expressions, their identities, their socioeconomic status, etc. I wanted to use this week as an opportunity to bring the campus together to recognize the amazing diversity that exists here at Wash. U, and to learn how to benefit from it.

So George, there are like two-dozen colleges and universities with Washington in their name. And yet you always spend President’s Day with us. What make us so awesome?

George Washington: Wash. U. has always been special to me. Which other university gives me my own cake, my own horse and buggy, and an entire week dedicated to my history and legacy? The kids here are also just a little bit cooler than the kids at those other schools (but don’t tell them I said that). E pluribus WUnum!

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