Off-Campus Discipline Crackdown Looms
Published: Friday, March 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 1, 2013 02:03
The university is planning a crackdown on rowdy off-campus parties after spring break, outgoing GUSA President Clara Gustafson (SFS '13) confirmed.
“It’s not that the university is going to be stricter, per se, but they’re going to enforce the rules that already exist,” Gustafson said. “It’s not a policy change.”
The crackdown honors a pledge to neighbors to refocus student socializing on campus. The Georgetown Community Partnership, formed in June as a solution to contentious campus plan negotiations, made noise reduction and decreased off-campus parties a top priority.
Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Student Advocacy Office senior advocate Constantine Petallides (SFS ’13) was unsurprised by news of the crackdown, referencing the university’s dual standard for discipline on and off campus and neighbors’ discontent with student presence in the area.
“The writing was on the wall, especially with the ‘clear and convincing’ ruling applying to on-campus and not off-campus housing, the neighbors voicing their concerns and just the way things have been going,” Petallides said.
Citing the university’s need to cooperate with its neighbors, Petallides stressed that it is important for students keep the various sides of the issue in mind.
“The reaction is, on one hand, it’s a bit arbitrary and unfair, and at the other, the university is doing what it needs to,” Petallides said. “There’s no solution that will make everyone happy all of the time.”
Gustafson said that a successful partnership between the university and the community must rely on mutual compromise.
“There is some need to demonstrate commitment from all sides that this is something everyone wants to participate in, and the neighbors have been around here for a very long time,” Gustafson said. “Noise has been their primary concern, but they also understand we’re college students, and we need ways to enjoy ourselves and each other. We’re currently working on ways on how both of those things can happen in a safe way.”
Burleith Citizens Association board member Christopher Clements said that the planned crackdown is a step in the right direction toward minimizing town-gown disputes.
“To be honest, I didn’t know there was an impending crackdown,” Clements said. “But my understanding was that’s been part of the goal of the Georgetown Community Partnership — to manage some of those things that residents identified as problems.”
The university has made some efforts to fulfill its promise of making on-campus life more inviting by bringing food trucks to campus on weekend evenings, eliminating party registration for on-campus parties, upping on-campus evening activities and announcing plans to increase student housing space on campus.
Clements said that the new focus on campus life would benefit both students and community members.
“I agree with Georgetown in the strategic vision of making campus more student-friendly,” Clements said. “If you have a dynamic and entertaining campus, everybody wins; I definitely support that.”
But Petallides said that the transition period toward a more campus-centered social life is still littered with obstacles, citing a culture that places emphasis on off-campus life.
“A lot of juniors and seniors live off campus because there’s not enough housing on campus,” Petallides said. “And there’s incentives to get out [of campus], such as price differences.”
Petallides added that until the university can provide the additional promised on-campus housing, there would be a large number of students living off campus with nowhere to go.
“There’s going to be growing pains,” he said.
Petallides said that the university’s crackdown would be a strategic move.
“Every four years, they get a completely new fresh pot of people; anyone who is a freshman here will be gone,” Petallides said. “And [Georgetown] can just say — ‘hey these are the new rules now.’ It’s a smart decision for them.”
Clements said that BCA’s ultimate concern was to minimize objectionable student behavior.
“The main concern is for people to be good neighbors, and if that means cracking down on an extremely loud and disruptive party at one in the morning on a weekend, I don’t think that’s a bad thing,” Clements said. “That’s just not being a good neighbor, so I don’t see what’s controversial.”
Petallides, however, saw the situation as a fight over the campus plan that strands students in between.
“The students are stuck in the middle, and they will react on an individual basis how they feel like they want to react,” Petallides said. “Some will say what they want, this will cause more incidents and this will cause a downward spiral. It has happened before, and it can certainly happen again. It may be productive, or it may be counterproductive; there’s no way to predict it.”