Last Saturday night, I experienced something that seemed, to me, rather thought-provoking — on the corner of 36th and N streets, members of the off-campus community board were handing out lollipops to passers-by.
At first, I was excited to get free candy before returning to my apartment, but when I heard the reason behind the distribution of lollipops, I was surprised.
“Please keep quiet in the neighborhood!” the smiling Office of Neighborhood Life employee said.
While this gesture seemed well-intentioned, it is incredibly patronizing.
How belittling it is to hand out candy to adults in order to pacify them? Some group of people — with students quite likely not playing any conceivable role — must have thought how cute it would be to pass out some lollipops to keep the peace in our historic neighborhood.
You cannot doubt the merit behind this campaign; it is an understandably frustrating experience to live so close to a college campus. We students admittedly all can be very loud in the wee hours of the morning. Few things are worse than unwarranted noise at ungodly hours of the night. We empathize.
Yet, the administration has not worked with students in regard to recent actions and policies. Everything from the Northeast Triangle to the closure of the townhouses on the 1400 block of 36th Street reflects rather deep divides between the administration and the student body.
The increased presence of SNAPS and the clearly different and distinct standards for student conduct on and off campus coupled with the fact that neighbors have access to Yates and borrowing privileges from Lauinger — all of which is financed by our tuition and endowment — calls into question who the university cares for more.
Georgetown’s Jesuit education can educate the whole person, but it seems its administration cannot care for the whole of its student body.
Many of these policies came from the 2010 Campus Plan agreement – the same one that is forcing Georgetown to, very slowly, destroy one of the last green spaces on campus. The campus plan undeniably gave students the short end of the stick, and some of the policies purported to create a “more vibrant on-campus student life” have been implemented in confusing and underhanded ways. The administration needs to directly address the students, and just tell us that they care about the neighbors’ comfort more than they care about students’ comfort.
The symptoms of an uncaring administration imposing new rules on an unwilling student body will emerge more and more until they achieve the golden 95 percent of students living on campus, whenever that will happen. By the looks of the “construction site” around the Northeast Triangle I doubt it will happen any time soon.
In the meantime, feel free to accept the administration’s pacifiers on your way to your soon-extinct off-campus residence.
Seeing as the 2010 Campus Plan expires in 2017, the negotiations surrounding the next campus plan are on the horizon. And it is here where the administration can turn itself around and accept student input, before we lose anything more.
Students will absolutely need a seat at the table, if not some deciding power in the policymaking. If generations of students’ tuition have paid for the operation of Georgetown and the benefits shared by the neighbors, then shouldn’t we get some say in the future of this institution we pay to support? Next time, the administration must let us negotiate.
We are, after all, legally adults (except for some of the youngest freshmen). It would be considerate if we were treated in such a way. The president of this university is not the president of West Georgetown and Burleith. A lollipop will not bridge the gap between the administration, neighbors and students.
The series of unfavorable decisions will leave behind a frustrated student body. No matter how sweet a lollipop is, the administration’s surface-level measures to hide institutional issues concerning students ought not to satisfy us until there is a student voice at the table that can actively represent us. Yet, it must be said that the bonds between students, administrators and the neighborhood need not be adversarial relationships. Instead, let us all be partners in the future of Georgetown. All I’m asking for is a seat at the table.
Please, do not shut us out — or up — again.
Charlie Lowe is a junior in the School of Foreign Service.