I write in response to Michael Weintraub’s defense of Jenna Lowenstein (COL ’09), the student member of the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission who voted in favor of recommending a limit on kegs in campus-owned housing (“Students Too Quick to Judge Lowenstein” THE HOYA, Feb. 9, 2007 A3).

While I find it laudable that he defends his classmate in the face of what I am sure was harsh criticism, his defense – built on a discussion of Georgetown’s “town-gown” relationship issues – misses the point.

The permanent residents of Georgetown, for many years, have been doing their best to have it both ways with their neighborhood. Many are quick to praise living in such a historic, beautiful and exclusive area of the country, but they are slow to recognize or even admit the reason why Georgetown the neighborhood is the way it is – because of the university.

For better or worse, Georgetown University and all of its students were around long before any million-dollar townhouses were erected. The town grew up around the university as a support system, and when middle-class Americans left the cities for the suburbs in the 1950s and 1960s, the university was wise to invest in the surrounding town.

Rather than building more walls and arming its public safety officers, Georgetown expanded into the neighborhood, purchased and preserved many of the surrounding townhouses and developed the Nevils-LXR and Alumni Square apartment complexes.

Compare Georgetown with the neighborhoods around the University of Pennsylvania, a school with a fully armed police force, or Yale, where two students were gunned down near the university president’s home a little over 10 years ago, and you’ll see my point.

People who move into Georgetown need to remember that there is a university in their backyard, and that sometimes comes with students who behave in an obnoxious manner. There is an ancient legal phrase often used in real estate transaction disputes: caveat emptor (“let the buyer beware”). It is usually invoked when a latent defect appeared in a property. Georgetown University can hardly be seen as a latent defect. Simply put, if the residents want the benefits of living with Georgetown, then one of the costs is living among students, plain and simple.

Jim Goodfellow (FLL ’00)

Feb. 12, 2007

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