New classes, new homes and new friends — with last year behind us, the Georgetown community get a clean slate. As both the student body and the university administration prepare for the year ahead, the entire Hilltop population finds itself with a narrow window of opportunity to recognize how we can better serve one another for the next year on campus.

One area of focus for both students and the surrounding neighborhood is improved communication, transparency and student input for major university initiatives. As the administration embarks on the necessary projects that continue to improve the Hilltop, we hope to see an increase in the level of administrative transparency. If the university wishes to cultivate a feeling of openness and cohesion, we need to see an increase in active discussions between students, Georgetown residents and university administrators.

Good communication is especially key for the university’s relationship with the Advisory Neighborhood Commission. The student body has seemingly been left to itself to mount opposition to the current redistricting plan of the ANC. This grievance adds to the outrage on top of last spring’s passing of a 10p.m. noise violation law and the proposal that the university move all students on campus by 2016. This is a chance for all of Georgetown — both the administration and students — to join together in an effort to protect the future of the university and the rights of Georgetown’s student population.

In the past, students have been unnecessarily alienated by the ANC. The university will likely challenge ANC’s most recent proposal in court, but it must also be clear about its efforts to protect its students. Many students choose the District as their home away from home because of the close-knit community around the Hilltop. However, that image must be reinforced by a constant stream of information and announcements by the administration concerning its efforts to support student initiatives in compromising with the ANC and achieving what is fair — and not whatever the ANC wants.

Georgetown students have a habit of playing a blind blame game with our neighbors. At present, news regarding meetings between the ANC and university officials is obscure and poorly advertised. The end of last year’s town-gown relationships looked gloomy, but new beginnings give both parties a chance to understand one another.

This academic year, Georgetown should take steps to foster greater unity and understanding with the greater community. Last spring’s neighborhood block party on Copley Lawn was advertised as one such event intended to open lines of communication between students and neighbors.

Moving into this semester, further efforts should be taken to encourage students, neighbors and administrators to have a more positive and proactive relationship; the days of 911 calls to MPD at 2 a.m. and last minute announcements of dorm renovations should be past us. Mid-May of 2011 showed once again why students have lost faith in the overall transparency at Georgetown. The Nevils renovation disclosure comes to mind when thinking of recent lackluster communication. While this ambitious project was much needed after the week-long power outage this past winter and the discovery of asbestos in the building, many were disappointed to hear that seniors would have to move into temporary housing during their last week on the Hilltop. We recognize that there was, of course, no good way to break this news and those inconvenienced were bound to be upset and somewhat insulted. In the future though, these grand-scale plans are the kind that would be best outlined sooner in the year.

We don’t want to complain about work intended for students’ benefits, however. The Nevils renovations seem to have been pulled off without a hitch, which is why new university projects become the perfect opportunity to open lines of communication regarding ongoing and future on-campus projects. Students and alumni deserve to know that their tuition money and donations are being utilized in the best possible manner.

Similarly, discussions regarding the possible conversion of the Georgetown Hotel and Conference Center into student housing should be made available. As residents and scholars of the Georgetown community, students deserve a say in the utilization of campus space and the availability of student housing in the dense, expensive area around Georgetown. Such increased communication and appreciation of student input could lead to more renovations in areas that students deem necessary — such as improvements in Henle Village and Village C — rather than those that will simply bring in more revenue and prestige to the university.

We recognize that administrators do not deserve to be sold short; Georgetown students rarely see or understand the immense planning that goes into even the most routine events. The very process of moving back to campus requires the coordinating of over 6,000 students at various times in accordance with organizational demands and cleaning schedules. And frankly, it’s always easier to complain rather than commend any efforts made by university officials. A step to campus unity ultimately must be a joint effort on the student body’s part.

As we look ahead into the fall semester, students, administrators and the greater community need to strive for a more candid and open relationship. Improving relationships with the neighbors and revamping student space doesn’t require a team of communication specialists. It starts with university officials stopping to say hello to students and students taking time to introduce themselves to the folks living nearby. Administrators want to know that the amount of planning and hard work they put into their decisions is appreciated, and students want to feel that their thoughts and opinions matter. By focusing on opening the line of discourse for the year, the administration will not only foster a more supportive community, but strengthen the unity on the Hilltop for years to come.

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