The recently announced policies for on-campus partying are no reason for celebration, at least not yet. While many have hailed the reform as a new chapter in student nightlife, the changes fail to offer a concrete standard that can be fairly and consistently enforced.

As part of the most recent campus plan agreement, the university has implemented initiatives to attract students to campus at night and decrease the off-campus evening activity that irritates neighbors in West Georgetown and Burleith. The most notable change is the elimination of advance party registration for students in on-campus housing. But by eliminating registration altogether, administrators have generated a cloud of uncertainty.

Registration, in theory, legitimized parties. Inconvenient as requesting approval for a party may have been, it represented an understanding between students and the university that a given on-campus party was acceptable. What is perceived to be a new “turn the other way” guideline does not sufficiently substitute for a more explicit standard to which both students and policy enforcers could be held.

Under the new system, on-campus parties can no longer be insulated by a stamp of approval from Georgetown. This deficiency in protection, coupled with the university’s lack of clarity about the rules for monitoring and breaking up parties, leaves room for potentially arbitrary punishment.

The policy reversal makes a puzzling statement about how seriously the university is taking its efforts to improve on-campus nightlife. Administrators have stood firmly against Healy Pub, another proposed effort to improve evening social life on campus. In light of the apparent shift in values reflected by the scrapping of on-campus party registration, we wonder why the pub would not also receive university approval. Instead of the pub, students were awarded the New South Student Center, which, as far as we have been led to believe, will hardly be a nightlife destination on campus.

Changes in party rules are no guarantee that students will remain on campus in the evenings. We would prefer reinstatement of party registration but with narrower definitions of conduct warranting punishment. When students receive greater clarity on how they are allowed to conduct parties, we’ll be throwing one of our own.

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