OFF-CAMPUS LIFE DPS To Monitor Cars By Charlotte Nichols Hoya Staff Writer

Georgetown’s Department of Public Safety has implemented a plan that will allow area residents to report unregistered student cars to the Metropolitan Police Department to control student parking in the Georgetown neighborhood. The system was proposed by DPS in a meeting last week with Student Affairs and Georgetown residents after an order from the Board of Zoning Adjustment required the university to control student parking more effectively.

The plan allows neighborhood residents to call DPS and report cars that they suspect are unregistered. DPS will then forward the license plate number to the Department of Public Works and MPD, who will “investigate and see if that person is in violation of registration,” Director of Public Safety William Tucker said.

The university and DPS will take no other action besides forwarding the information, according to Tucker. ANC Commissioner Justin Wagner (COL ’03) said the university is creating the plan only because it was mandated by the BZA last April. He said, however, that it breaches the role of the university.

“[The plan] blatantly violates students rights and asks the university to alter its focus from an educational institution to that of a D.C. government agency,” Wagner, who chairs the ANC’s Public Safety Committee, said. “The real issue here is that these conditions supported by a vocal minority of people in the community are discriminatory because they create special laws that only apply to students.”

“The D.C. Human Rights Act protects university students as a class of people that can not be discriminated against and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act protects a student’s private information with the university,” Wagner added. “Since these conditions clearly violate privacy rights, students have supported the university’s appeal to have these discriminatory conditions thrown out.”

Georgetown residents who support the BZA mandate, however, believe the new plan is necessary in dealing with the increasing parking problems, especially the number of back yards in Burleith that are being turned into student parking lots, Georgetown resident Karen Cruz said. It is not a violation of FERPA because DPS would be generating the list rather than outside sources like PD, she said.

“One of the requirements that the BZA had was that the university keep a registered list of students with cars. At one of the past meetings, the university was asked if they had this list and they said no,” Cruz said. “The university is using this system as a way to start that list.”

Furthermore, the plan may not even be implemented very fully, she said. “The university is not actively looking for students,” and in front of campus people are moving cars around so much that’s it’s not as noticeable to the neighbors.

“This program has no ability to distinguish between visitors and those who are violating the law. This is one of the major problems,” Wagner said.

Although the plan was announced last week, Tucker said he has yet to see it in action because there have been no reports of unregistered cars yet, and he does not know how publicized the plan will be to the Georgetown residents.

“We’ve already announced it, so I’m all ready to proceed as soon as we get some calls,” he said.

Last September, Georgetown appealed the provisions set forth by the BZA, which also included the release of private information of students living off campus, an enrollment cap, a 24-hour telephone hotline designed to receive complaints and a maintenance of records of student conduct. Because a decision from the D.C. Court of Appeals could take up to 10 more months, Wagner said Georgetown was required to implement the parking plan in the interim.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.