Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Block Partiers Arrested

Block Partiers Arrested

Metro Nabs Five Georgetown Students

By Heather Burke Hoya Staff Writer

Despite community opposition and a lack of official university support, students mingled, listened to music and enjoyed the spring afternoon at last Friday’s spring semi-annual Charity Block Party, held on 37th Street between N and Prospect. There were no serious behavioral incidents at the Block Party or in surrounding neighborhoods, as some opponents had feared. However, the Metropolitan Police Department arrested five students outside Block Party for open alcohol container violations.

“Block Party was a tremendous success,” organizer Mike Owens (MSB ’00) said. “It achieved all of its missions, bringing the community together and raising a good deal of money for charities.”

Approximately 2,300 students attended Block Party, which ran from noon to 6:30 p.m., according to Owens. He said the event raised between $15,000 and $18,000. Last fall’s Block Party raised $18,000; however, Owens said the event incurred higher expenses than past Block Parties because of delays and extra costs.

Charities receiving Block Party profits include Sursum Corda, Its For The Kids, Campaign Georgetown, Habitat for Humanity, Hyde Elementary PTA, Holy Trinity Elementary School and Christ House, a soup kitchen.

He added that there were no big problems, including underage drinking. “I think the controls we put in place worked,” he said. Besides reducing the number of beers with admission from three to two, as requested by the Alcohol Beverage Commission, controls included having volunteers undergo Training for Intervention Procedures, to assist spotting fake identification and in seeing if someone has had too much to drink. In addition, MPD officers and Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service was on hand.

“[Block Party] met all my expectations,” said Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Art Schultz, a vocal supporter of Block Party. “It was well-managed and everyone was well-behaved.” Schultz is part of a Georgetown community task force working to curb underage drinking and excessive alcohol consumption.

Several university officials, including Dean of Students James A. Donahue, Assistant Dean of Students Jeanne Lord and Assistant Vice-President for External Relations Linda Greenan attended Block Party, as did ANC commissioners including Schultz, Matt Payne (COL ’01) and Peter Pulsifer, who opposed it.

But there was also another presence just outside Block Party – an MPD paddy wagon and several officers. According to Lt. Patrick Burke of the Second District Metropolitan Police, who attended the Block Party, three students, two females and one male, were arrested for possessing open containers at 6:30 p.m. at 37th and N Streets, near the entrance to Block Party. One male student was picked up by MPD at 7:07 p.m. outside 3607 N Street, his house, and another male student was arrested at 7:15 p.m. outside at 1251 37th Street. Both were also arrested for open container violations, according to Burke. Both houses are located near Block Party, and Burke said it is most likely that they attended. The five students were processed and released from Second District headquarters, after being charged a $25 fine for the misdemeanor charge.

“By putting a wagon there, I’m setting the tone that I won’t tolerate any unlawful drinking or disorderly conduct in my neighborhoods,” Burke said. He added that, for every student he had arrested, there were 10 more students he told to dump out their beers.

Owens said he did not feel that MPD was overly harsh in their response to drinking outside Block Party. “They have to be strict in a situation where there are thousands of people to make sure it doesn’t get out of control,” he said.

Block Party has caused controversy in the community over the past few months and was almost canceled. The battle over Block Party approval comes in the midst of police crackdowns on underage drinking and a debate on campus and in the community over the role of alcohol in student life and what Pulsifer termed a “culture of drinking” on Georgetown’s campus. This debate was intensified by several serious events, including the death of junior David Shick on Feb. 22.

In February, Donahue refused to write his traditional letter of support for Block Party, saying that his office could not support the event at the time. Block Party is run by a nonprofit foundation, independent of Georgetown University.

Block Party approval caused a heated debate at a Feb. 29 ANC meeting, resulting in a close 4-3 vote supporting Block Party. At the meeting, residents, students and commissioners hotly debated Block Party itself and the larger issue of student drinking and its impact on the surrounding neighborhoods. Commissioners and residents opposed to the event claimed that supporting Block Party would send a bad message in the wake of Shick’s death.

Initially, the ABC had denied the Block Party’s one-day alcohol license because the board felt that underage drinking was a serious problem and their policy was to not approve events where people under 21 were present. However, after a fact-finding hearing, the ABC granted the one-day permit with two stipulations: that the organizers should charge a $10 admission fee that would allow patrons 21 and older to have two beers instead of the three initially planned by the organizers.

While he does not oppose Block Party per se, Burke said he worries about what happens after the Block Party, such as after parties and “disrespect for the law.” In the past, neighborhood residents, particularly in Burleith, have complained about noise, vandalism and unruly behavior after block parties, a major reason why several ANC commissioners and the Burleith Citizens Association opposed the event. However, he said there were no Block Party related major incidents after Block Party in either Burleith or Georgetown, adding that, in general, he was pleased with attendees’ behavior. Burke commended the university administration on assisting with Block Party and related incidents.

“I’d like everyone to have a good time at Block Party,” Burke said. “It’s just a matter of where the good time is.”

Burke said that MPD cracks down on student drinking for safety as well as legal issues. He pointed out Harvard School of Public Health statistics that cite alcohol-related incidents as the leading cause of death for young adults. “It is not so much drinking but what happens with drinking that I am concerned about,” Burke said.

Schultz said he will urge the ANC approve Block Party in the future. “Why change something when it is working so well?” he said.

Related Links

Block Party Approved at Last Minute (4/28)

Block Party License Denied (4/18)

ANC Approves Block Party (3/15) University Withdraws Support for Block Party (2/29)

Donate to The Hoya

Your donation will support the student journalists of Georgetown University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Hoya