Georgetown neighbors, rejoice! Come back from your bay houses on the Chesapeake, your cabins in West Virginia and your bungalows in Rehoboth. Stay the weekend in the city.
Thanks to the District’s newly passed noise ordinance prohibiting “unreasonably loud noise” between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., you can rest assured that any student unruly enough to disrupt your beauty sleep or wake your prized Shar-Pei will be promptly evacuated to the nearest jail by a friendly policeman. No need to worry about the young menace returning; said offender can face up to 90 days in prison for any egregious interruption of your REM cycle.
Seriously, though — where’s the beef? In a city whose violent crime rate is three times the national average, why are more and more of our law enforcement being deployed to bust students for partying? The answer to that question is the same as the answer to any question in D.C.: It comes down to politics. Wealthy, influential neighbors who aren’t fond of hearing “no” have finally managed to bring about a comprehensive crackdown on off-campus partying. This result could have been predicted; few Georgetown students vote in D.C., why would any smart politician stand up for our rights?
Curious about the opinions of sensible voters without a stake in the passage of the bill, I asked my mother, who lives 20 blocks away in Logan Circle, what she thought. She hadn’t heard of the new law — an ideal result for the D.C. Council, as those who benefit from the law re-elect incumbents, those who stand to lose cannot vote and those who aren’t really affected but might object in principle haven’t actually heard of the policy.
The noise ordinance has been remarkably effective; the weekends since the bill’s passage have been marked by a major buildup of security off campus despite the shallow claims by politicians that the law was not meant to target university students. House parties have been broken up at unprecedented levels, often before midnight. Combined with recurrent raids on bars on Wisconsin Avenue and M Street, students are now left with sparse social outlets on the weekends. And these are not just wild keggers being busted: Students have even been visited by the police for ordering late-night pizza to their off-campus houses.
Do not mistake this for an unconditional defense of student behavior. The actions of drunk Georgetown students are often intrusive to people living in the neighborhood. A contained house party in a row of houses occupied by students, however, poses very little threat to anybody’s well being. As long as it has quieted down by 2 or 3 a.m., I have a hard time understanding any objections.
Issues of student conduct aside, the argument for me boils down to one concept: Every single current resident of Georgetown moved in afterthe university did, knowing full well the consequences of having over 6,000 students living down the street. An added irony is that many of the residents of the neighborhood graduated from Georgetown and similar institutions and engaged in the same debauchery that has characterized college life for decades. I can only hope that when I’m middle aged I’ll be more tolerant of this behavior than our current neighbors are.
That being said, if there are any neighbors who moved here before 1789, I apologize. You could not have foreseen the foundation and expansion of a major university and the parties that go along with it. To all other neighbors: You moved next to a major university, so don’t act surprised that there’s a party scene here. Your arguments are specious, your inconveniences are melodramatic and your whining is infantile.
And for those neighbors who are still bothered by the party down the street or the students next door ordering Manny & Olga’s, I offer a novel solution: Invest in a pair of earplugs. No matter how many noise ordinances are passed, the university and the parties inherently linked with its social scene are not going anywhere.