Georgetown neighbor outs party houses online
Stephen R. Brown tried all of the classic methods of breaking up loud college house parties: Pounding on doors, trying to reason with his young neighbors, calling the cops, firing off complaints to the university.
No success. On Friday and Saturday nights -- and now that the weather is nice, Thursday nights, too -- Brown said it is impossible to sleep in his neighborhood near Georgetown University.
Exhausted and angry, Brown launched a Web site earlier this month, drunkengeorgetownstudents.com. The site features photos Brown has taken of the loudest parties on his block, addresses of alleged party houses, police correspondence, instructions for reporting problems and colorful commentary on the drunken exploits of his neighbors. Coming soon: Video.
Brown encourages his neighbors to take their own photos, as long as they can do so safely:
Be careful, drunken persons are frequently violent and unreasonable so "reasoning" with them isn't a great plan. Keep your distance! Also, make sure you document every incident as we need documentation to prevent our neighborhood from becoming another bar zone.
The photos online so far feature students drinking in a backyard lit by holiday lights, a group sunning themselves on a roof, a nighttime porch party, and police chatting with party hosts. Brown also recounts a Saturday afternoon pool party during which a young woman screamed, "woof, woof, woof...quack, quack ...."
The Georgetown student blog, Vox Populi, warns students to "be wary the next time you head out to an off-campus party" because their picture might show up on the site. An NBC 4 Washington online headline exclaims: "Website Documents Hoyas Gone Wild."
Brown said he wants the negative publicity to hurt the university and prompt some parents to reconsider sending their kids there. He said he has the right to take the photos and post them online, and that he has police reports to back each documented incident.
"If the university would let me have a night's sleep, I might take it down," said Brown, 62, a professional photographer, in an interview Tuesday. "The students call me a 'grumpy old man.' That's fine. I have been called a lot worse than that."
Jeanne Lord, associate vice president of student affairs, said usually neighbors air their concerns through "typical forms of communication" like phone calls. "I don't recall having seen something like this," she said of the website.
In 2000, the university started a community hotline so neighbors could report problems to the Student-Neighborhood Assistance Program (SNAP). Often a university staff member and private security guard will venture over to parties and break them up before the police arrive. Lord said a "vast majority" of the time there is not a second violation at that location.
Students who live off-campus are required to attend an orientation program. And the best thing students and neighbors can do is talk to one another, Lord said.
"It's the easiest and most direct way" to address problems, she said. "We tell students, 'Go over and say hi. You don't have to take over a plate of cookies, but if you want to, that's fine.'"
Student drinking and administration crackdowns are a generations-old problem, The Hoya reported Tuesday, and last week the university e-mailed students reminding them of the school's alcohol and drug policy. Violations are punished on campus "by judicial sanctions that range from fines and essays to prosecution and suspension from the university," The Hoya reported.
The university is preparing its 10-year plan for campus growth, which has to be approved by District zoning officials. Neighbors have questioned why the university plans to add more than 3,000 graduate and professional students but not any more on-campus housing. A Georgetown spokesman said the university has on-campus housing for 84 percent of traditional undergraduate students, one of the highest rates in the region.
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April 27, 2010; 4:22 PM ET
Categories: Night Life | Tags: Georgetown University, Hoya, Vox Populi
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