Every year, when stories appear about the decisions of local neighborhood organizations and their impact on student life on the Hilltop, students throw up their arms questioning the interests of neighbors and administrators, hope for the best and move on.

But when Georgetown students lobbied Jenna Lowenstein (COL ’09), the sole student member of the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, to withdraw support for her proposal to extend a university keg limit to off-campus housing last week, it marked an unusual example of students actively engaging their local neighborhood organizations.

Georgetown students should be this proactive more often – and they must if they hope to foster stronger “town-gown” relations that protect the “gown’s” interests, too.

Students should join those neighborhood organizations with open membership, and attend meetings of others so that student opinion in the Georgetown area is represented on the bodies that make decisions.

The local ANC holds monthly meetings, all of which take place within walking distance of campus (the next one will be at Georgetown Visitation School on Feb. 27). Students should make the short walk to these meetings to build personal relationships with their elected officials, represent student organizations and the students they affect, and ensure that elected officials are knowledgeable, honest and accountable.

As the recent dispute over Lowenstein’s proposal made clear, having one student member on this governing body will not always guarantee accurate representation of students’ voices. Students who are registered to vote in Washington, D.C. should be aware of biennial commissioner elections for the ANC, and make an effort to elect students to those positions – or at least commissioners who understand that the Georgetown community includes Georgetown University.

Other groups in the neighborhood also exist, and their relationship with the larger community carries enough weight that students should seek representation within their ranks. Like the ANC, the Burleith Citizens Association meets to discuss concerns in Burleith, and when matters like SafeRides or noise violations come to the table, it is this group that has the ear of the university. It is free to join and can be done with an online form.

Rather than childishly complaining after decisions are made and then passively accepting the consequences, students should engage more with this aspect of the “town-gown” relationship.

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