The Metropolitan Police Department arrested 17 Georgetown students last weekend, an increase from the previous weekend’s arrests and a clear indication that the police department is cracking down on rowdy student behavior.

Considering the continuing complaints of university neighbors, this seeming increase in police vigilance should come as no surprise. While most community grumblings focus on the perennial student-related issues of vandalism, noise and drunken misconduct, the majority of the 24 arrests made over the past two weeks were for possession of open containers, the only alcohol violation carrying the threat of arrest following the decriminalization of underage drinking last year.

It may anger some that the police are targeting the most punishable offense instead of the direct incidents which cause complaints, but community leaders evidently see a clear connection between open containers and excessive student rowdiness, and between excessive student rowdiness and neighborhood disturbances. And as long as MPD avoids arresting students on porches of homes, it is arresting students for activity which is indeed illegal.

Students should realize this and be responsible, yet also recognize that there are simple ways to continue the college lifestyle of weekend revelry without fear of arrest. As long as gatherings takes place within houses, behind closed doors and with moderation in noise, neighbors have little to be angry about and PD has little cause to administer citations or arrests.

The Citizens Association of Georgetown has been trying for some time to curb student behavior and this weekend’s arrests demonstrate that MPD seems to have responded. Nearly every weekend, Georgetown residents wake to find overturned flower pots, vandalized property and in more extreme cases, evidence of public urination and bricks through their car windows. Although many neighbors fail to recognize that harmless revelry is par for the course when they live blocks from a college, they should not have to expect some of the more outrageous incidents as an inescapable consequence of living alongside young people.

Yet no matter how many times students are arrested, others are going to continue to throw parties, drink and make noise. Students must recognize, however, that angering the Georgetown community can have dire consequences for the university. Much of the university’s future expansion is dependent on the approval of neighborhood boards and councils, and if the relationship between the university and its neighbors fails to improve, these neighbors may exercise their displeasure by interfering with the plans of the university.

MPD’s actions this weekend demonstrate that if students continue to act stupidly they are putting themselves in danger of arrest. If students walk around loudly and carry open containers of alcohol, they are going to anger neighbors and thus intensify police monitoring of the area. The problem does not demand changes in student lifestyles. It means simply that, however they choose to celebrate the weekend, students should behave with the same degree of respect – or at least intelligence and sensibility – that they display during the week.

As spring approaches and the weather gets warmer, more students will be spending time outside on the weekends and the increased police presence could potentially dampen students’ fun. Students can continue to behave as they would indoors without fear of punishment, but should try to be quiet and calmer when moving from place to place outside or going home. Students need not abandon the fun collegiate lifestyle, but they must be conscious of their actions and do their best to moderate certain behavior in order to prevent unwanted consequences.

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