Moving off campus can be a liberating experience. One is free to engage in life’s simple pleasures such as hall sports (if one has a hall long enough) and is under no pressure to respect quiet hours during finals time. But when students move off campus, we often forget that, although we’re no longer in a dorm, our behavior still affects the people living around us. Living in a house in Burleith or West Georgetown presents students with a host of new responsibilities, not least of which is to be a considerate neighbor.

In our haste to celebrate our residential independence from Georgetown University’s campus, we frequently act against our own best interests. In residential areas, when someone new moves in, they customarily introduce themselves to the neighbors and attempt to be considerate and cooperative from the start. Many college students, however, elect to throw a raging house-warming party on their first night in a new home, a tradition which is more likely to infuriate than it is to charm.

It’s no secret that many Georgetown residents are not fond of living near college students and, in truth, their feelings are justified. While students are only living in a house for a year, other residents are raising families or have lived here for decades. Burleith is made up of about 530 houses of which student residences make up a minority. Though the university has been around longer than the residential areas surrounding it, it doesn’t change that students are sharing the space with families who make their homes in Burleith and in West Georgetown.

Though the residents of West Georgetown and Burleith have a number of reasons to hate us, many don’t, and those who aren’t fans of living next to Georgetown students make reasonable requests.

The biggest complaint levied against Georgetown students is about the trash they leave. Walking around houses where students live, it’s easy to see improperly disposed trash. Often it’s dumped on the street near other residents’ houses, where it won’t be picked up. There also appears to be a renegade group of street artists who have been decorating the area with empty beer cans. Though it’s easy to write the trash off as a minor grievance, many moved to Burleith because, as the president of the Burleith Citizens Association described it, Burleith is a “small oasis of peaceful greenery.” Clearly, empty beer bottles and overflowing trash bags are not desired.

Another problem, of course, is the noise that comes with a house full of college students. The “whooping” at 4 a.m. by exuberant students is an unwelcome disturbance, especially when you have children who are trying to sleep. That students will host parties is a well-known fact, but sending an e-mail or calling a day in advance to give your neighbors a heads-up is a small way to be considerate and will decrease the likelihood that they’ll call the police.

As college students who move almost every year, it is not surprising that few of us ever make the effort to get to know any of our neighbors or people in our communities. If students off campus were merely to go knock on a few doors, introduce themselves and offer to exchange contact information, everyone would be better off. At the very least, it’s much harder to hate the college student living next door if you have a face to associate with his address.

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