With school intensifying, leaves falling and temperatures dropping there is one thing that continues to brighten our days: DJ DeSmet. From new indie bands to timeless classics, the music echoes throughout campus as a constant reminder for students to relax a little bit.
DJ DeSmet is a tradition for one of the oldest on-campus dorms, DeSmet Hall. Each year, the corner room on the third floor houses the funky beats of the year’s two DJs. This year, it’s sophomores Caleb Keller and Alex Collie.
“When the opportunity presented itself to myself and Caleb we realized that being DJ DeSmet was an amazing opportunity that we would both have a blast doing,” Collie said. “We really realized we could get Room 316 and the DJ DeSmet role later in the year last year and it was just after that when I realized how much I wanted that room. The opportunity to share music with everyone and improve their days was too good of a case to pass up.”
To not much of a surprise, the DJs themselves are very passionate about music and they want to spread that passion throughout campus.
“I play the guitar and make instrumentals with my guitar, keyboard and a looper pedal,” Keller said. “Having the opportunity to share my music taste with the entire campus is a gift. That’s the reason I wanted to become DJ DeSmet. I wanted to share my music and hopefully relate and connect with students going to class through it.”
Although DJ DeSmet has been engrained in tradition, there are a few variations between each of the DJs.
“Everyone has their own taste in music,” said Griffin Koerner one of the previous DJ DeSmets of 2017-2018. “Each DJ DeSmet definitely has a strong taste in music but I believe it’s up to them to properly reflect the interests of the entire student body. During my time as DJ DeSmet, I played music from every genre – even country which I wasn’t too keen on, but hey some students like it, so why not?”
One genre that has consistently been played from the DJ DeSmet window is oldies because it’s a genre that everyone can groove to.
However, this year Collie and Keller have introduced something new to us: DJ DeSmet Live.
“Caleb plugs his electric guitar into his amp and plays guitar live for everyone,” Collie said. “DJ DeSmet Live made its debut during parents weekend for about half an hour but we are planning on a few more sessions. It’s a fantastic thing to be a part of and I couldn’t enjoy it more.”
Within this tradition, comes camaraderie between the current, previous and even future DJs.
“I am close with the DJ DeSmets who played while I was a senior in high school. [Griffin Koerner and Peter Paskill] hosted me for an overnight visit, and I’ve been close with them ever since,” Keller said. “The DJ DeSmets from last year, however, I’m not as close to, but we’re still buddies. This weekend, actually, they came to check out their old stomping grounds and look at the new and improved setup.”
“It is the connection that I think is awesome,” Collie said.
The connection and camaraderie between all the DJs is the reason he knew he wanted to join the legacy of DJs.
“I knew the DJ DeSmet before me, and the one before him. As the oldest dorm on campus, DeSmet is a place that values tradition and loyalty,” Koerner said.
Their music has become part of GU’s hustle and bustle, which has caused some natural questions that arise in regards to how much autonomy the DJs have.
“We have a few time restrictions due to professors in Welch needing some quiet time during the day, but it’s mostly an independent operation besides that. We play what music we want, as long as it is appropriate to be blasting across campus,” Keller said. “As for playlists, we didn’t prepare any for DJ DeSmet. We either play individually queued songs, one of our own playlists, or put on a Spotify radio for a song that we think is fitting for the day. For that reason, there isn’t much of a selection process outside of excluding explicit music. But even then, we will play explicit music as long as the song itself is clean enough and not wholly inappropriate.”
One of the burdens that the DJs have faced is the target they constantly carry on their backs.
“One beautiful Friday in April, we were playing music from my room,” Koerner said. “It was a bit too loud. Next thing we know there’s a campus cop standing in our doorway who gave us all write-ups. Why the door was open, I have no idea. We were stupid back then.”
However, the threat of write ups is not enough to stop the DJs from playing.
“There’s a lot of great parts that come with being DJ DeSmet but my personal favorite is pretty simple,” Collie said. “One of my favorite parts of every day is coming back from class around lunchtime and turning on music for the crowd walking past. I just love looking out and seeing the mass of students walking past and listening.”
For Keller, it’s the small things that make the biggest impacts on students.
“My favorite thing about being DJ DeSmet are the people that tell me ‘Your music is great!’ or ‘You make my walk to class so much more enjoyable’,” Keller said. “It warms my heart when people let me know that in one way or another, my music improved their day. The advice I’d give to a future DJ DeSmet is that the job isn’t for your enjoyment, it’s for brightening other peoples’ day. That in itself is an incredible thing.”
DJ’s and students alike benefit from the longevity of the tradition that is blasting music from the second story of the oldest dorm.
“DJ DeSmet music allows students to escape from reality,” said junior Meghan Mahoney. “As you walk down Bulldog Alley after a long week of tests and homework, you can hear the sweet sounds of ‘It’s Raining Men’ and think to yourself, I’m doing all right.”