I’m from Rhode Island, so I’m used to regulations that miss the point. To keep up with our strict fire code (enacted following the tragic Station nightclub fire in 2003), officials at the State House a few years ago sprayed the Christmas tree in the rotunda with flame-retardant powder. Obviously, the tree died shortly thereafter, and visitors came to mock us for our brown Christmas tree.

Here at Georgetown, we have another attempt at safety regulations that, while well-intentioned, unfortunately misses the point.

I am talking about the university’s inauguration weekend overnight guest policy, in effect from January 16th until the 21st. According to the e-mail from Student Housing, “students are not permitted to sublease or rent their residence at any time.” I am not surprised by this policy, but I am disappointed by it.

Presumably, it exists in the name of student safety, the “commitment” of which we are reminded each time we find a Department of Public Safety report or campus alert in our GUMail inboxes. Since the “safety and security of our students is paramount,” I do not understand why Housing refuses to let us rent out our rooms. I mean of course I do, but I don’t.

Here’s why: The only thing harder to come by than an inauguration ticket is a place to stay. D.C.-area hotels are booked solid. Apartments as far away as Philadelphia are being offered for upwards of $10,000 for the weekend. With more than four million people expected to come to D.C. for the inauguration, the asking price for a suitable place to stay within walking distance of the Capitol is probably just shy of the amount the Yankees recently forked over to get C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Texeira, for all I know.

With such high demand, it might be entrepreneurial to be able to pay for a good chunk of tuition and a meal at 1789 Restaurant with the money one could command for renting out one’s residence for the inauguration. I’d be willing to make a deal with Housing: You let me rent out my room, and I’ll pay for the extra security.

Of course, this will never happen. Not when we’re talking about a department that asks students to pick their living arrangements for the following year in November, when within a few weeks, as much as half the junior class will find out whether they will even be spending the next semester in the same country.

And I question the commitment to security as well. For inauguration weekend we will have a special pre-registration period for guests (which, if it is anything like pre-registration for classes, will be a resounding success). Guests will supposedly be required to show photo identification, and we all know those are accurate representations of who they claim to depict. Just ask the bouncers at Rhino or Thirds.

What’s to stop me from selling my room to someone, finding out their name and pre-registering them? How does that make campus safer? Short of providing a background check, which due to the sheer number of additional guests to accommodate would be impossible, how does this policy affect campus safety at all? If anything, it just confirms that a potential bad apple like a thief or sex offender looks like the picture on their ID. As it is, we’ve all got our pictures on our GOCards, and that has done little to deter burglaries and sexual assaults – a good deal of which, I’d say, are committed by members of our own community anyway (under the influence or otherwise).

What I find most amusing is the number of guests we are allowed. According to the e-mail, “residents are permitted to host two students each.” Really? That’s great, and makes me feel very safe knowing that campus security will only have to deal with no more than three times its current load.

And even if they are able to manage that Herculean feat, what are we supposed to do? Students are expected to accompany their guests at all times for entry into the residential facilities. That sounds like fun. I’m really curious to know how the residences themselves hold up. I’m lucky to have a fairly large room, but I know a number of people who can barely open the door for lack of space. Surely an additional two guests per student will make for a very pleasant weekend for guests and hosts alike. Time to stock up on deodorant (and Prozac).

aybe if we were allowed to charge for the use of our living spaces it would be worth the hassle. But to prohibit subletting in the name of safety is naïve, if not misleading. I hope everything goes smoothly – if not, McCain voters won’t be the only ones disappointed by the inauguration proceedings.

Colin Nagle is a sophomore in the College. He can be reached at naglethehoya.com. Getting in Tune appears every other Friday.

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