Of the seven seats on the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, only one has gone reliably to a Georgetown student in recent years, ideally giving the student population one vote in support of its interests on the range of local issues the panel considers.

But that norm was woefully disregarded at the ANC’s meeting last week, when the commissioners unanimously approved a letter to Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson encouraging him to extend the newly adopted one-keg policy to off-campus housing. Jenna Lowenstein (COL `09), the student commissioner, co-sponsored the resolution, and in doing so, sided with the neighborhood residents in their unreasonable attempt to restrict student freedoms.

Lowenstein defends her vote, saying that off-campus parties will become more appealing as a result of the new keg restrictions in campus housing. Her solution, then, is to make off-campus parties less appealing, too.

Lowenstein is right in pointing out that neighbors matter, too. Students and neighbors alike benefited from a program by the university and Citizens Association of Georgetown to hire off-duty police officers to patrol our streets on weekend nights. And students were quick to assert last semester that an on-campus keg ban would unwisely send more students off campus on the weekends.

But Lowenstein is misguided in rallying behind the ANC’s proposal. She cites fears of off-campus violence, but instead of fighting to protect students by focusing on more police patrols and streetlights, Lowenstein feels that the best way to guard students from muggers is to keep them from going off campus at all.

Lowenstein also mentions that the university already exercises a right “to intrude on the lives of its student.” This may be true in matters such as vandalism and excessive noise, but those are civil crimes that students should absolutely not take part in. There are no laws against having a good time in a responsible manner.

What she is referencing is the ambiguous language of the university code of conduct that permits Georgetown University, as a private institution, to punish students for actions that it deems to be against its mission and purpose – a power used with moderation. It is unsettling that a student would push for a stricter interpretation.

While students and the neighborhood probably benefit when the university punishes those who break the law, the university has no place to impose regulations with no legal sanction. The university has no right to enforce the number of kegs present in properties it does not own.

Lowenstein has obviously made a tremendous error in judgment by proposing an extension of the university’s keg policy to off-campus housing. If Lowenstein doesn’t get her act together and start representing the students who elected her, she should step aside so someone else can.

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