Loud students have been a perennial complaint among neighborhood residents and are one of the leading sources of strain between Georgetown University and the surrounding community.
Noise issues date back at least to 2000, when the university launched the Student Neighborhood Assistance Program in response to complaints from neighbors. If residents were disturbed by noisy Georgetown students. they could call a hotline, and a SNAP officer would be sent to mitigate the problem. In 2007, SNAP officers began patrolling Burleith and West Georgetown, becoming a more proactive deterrent.
Despite these and other efforts – at one time, SNAP employed Metropolitan Police Department officers who were paid overtime by the university, and in October 2007, MPD boosted so-called “party patrols” in the neighborhoods – noise remains a contentious issue.
“Definitely, noise is up this year as opposed to the last several years,” Citizens Association of Georgetown President Jennifer Altemus (CAS ’88) said recently.
However, Anne Koester, director of off-campus student life, said that the complaints from neighbors about noise seemed to be down this year.
“I have heard some say that it has been better this year,” she said.
Altemus said that neighborhood residents have lost faith in SNAP and have begun to call MPD directly to report rowdy students.
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Jeanne Lord said SNAP serves several valuable functions.
“It enhances safety, it addresses noise issues, it does a variety of different things,” she said. “I think we wouldn’t have continued to devote the resources and the time and the energy to the program if we didn’t think it was a valuable piece of our off-campus program.”
GUSA President Calen Angert (MSB ’11) has made noise one of the main issues of his term in office. He said recently that GUSA is working to get more parties involved, including the Alumni Association and lawyers. He said GUSA has considered launching a public information campaign about noise issues and that concrete plans are being developed.
Altemus said that when she attended Georgetown in the 1980s, neighbors rarely complained about noise, and the police were not summoned to break up parties. She expressed hope that noise can once again become a non-issue.
“I don’t think it’s something that can’t be fixed,” she said. “A lot of noise is people not having any idea that they’re disrupting other people.”