It’s spring again at Georgetown. The arrival of warmer weather heralds Georgetown Day, the gradual closing of my sinuses and swarm after swarm of shell-shocked high school seniors clogging up campus pathways (usually making me even later for class). On Tuesday, when I ran into one such group in Red Square, I found myself wondering, “Am I ethically obligated to warn these prospects about Georgetown’s stifling student regulations?”
The last several years at Georgetown have been marked by a full-fledged assault from all sides on Hoya partying. In 2007, our administration introduced an unprecedented alcohol policy that tightened restrictions on on-campus drinking. In 2010, we saw the growth of an office dedicated to regulating the actions of student-rented townhouses unaffiliated with the university. This academic year has witnessed the successful push from our wealthy and influential neighbors to crack down on student parties in the form of a local ordinance with the Big Brother-style ban on “unreasonable” noise between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
A university whose mission is to create adults to serve others is patronizing and infantilizing its student body. A security force charged with protecting students has morphed into one whose primary mission is to ruin social outlets and drive dangerous behavior underground. A city whose violent crime rate is three times the average sends its police officers to crack down on drinking in its wealthiest neighborhood. Has Georgetown entered the Twilight Zone?
The stifling policy changes enacted in the last decade have been met with silent grumblings but no real activism from our often-apathetic and complacent student body. But, like the weather, things are starting to heat up. Georgetown University Student Rights Initiative, a group of which I am a member, was founded this spring to tackle a number of pressing issues.
First, we are educating students about the labyrinthine regulations imposed by D.C. law and university policy. Second, we are working one-on-one with Hoyas slapped with alcohol and noise violations as advocates during the appeals process. Third, we are hoping to enact policy changes that will benefit the student body, particularly regarding Georgetown’s overly stringent alcohol regulations. In order to actually protect student health, we need to bring drinking up from underground, and that won’t happen until the university stops its witch-hunt against student partying.
GUSRI isn’t the only group working on new policies. DC Students Speak is working to unite the marginalized students of our city into a potent political force. Our representatives in Georgetown University Student Association are exploring options to protect student rights. Although I’m still vacillating on founding “Georgetown Students for Increased Earplug Usage” to target our light-sleeping neighbors, it seems that the arrival of the current groups marks a shift in student sentiment. This year, we’ve moved from helpless subjects of unfair policy to passionate agents for change.
At the end of the day, students are the bedrock of this institution. We can effect change. Recently Georgetown has been marked with a consistent and painful chipping away at student autonomy. Now we are pushing back, and we are doing so effectively and energetically. Students will reclaim the mantle as leaders of this university, instead of victims of its wrong-headed policies.
Perhaps when Georgetown’s painfully awkward prospective students are ready to register parties in a few years, we will have reached a new juncture in university life. The administration will treat us like adults, we will enjoy our leisure time as we see fit and police officers will protect us, not encroach on our rights. With the energy of our student body, we’re sure to push through this bizarre point of town-gown animosity and forge a new Georgetown that benefits its students.
Albert Eisenberg is a sophomore in the College. He can be reached at [email protected] Just Doing Me appears every other Friday.