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Saxa Politica: The new license to spill
In the wake of the unanimous approval of the 2010 Campus Plan by the D.C. Zoning Commission this July, students had remarkably little to celebrate. Still, the University’s apparent caving in to the demands of the Advisory Neighborhood Committee did produce a gem of a regulation—students living in University-owned apartments and townhouses are no longer required to register parties prior to their raucous merrymaking.
Based on the most recent statistics, North Korea is now the only remaining location where Party Registration is required.
Townhouse and apartment residents received the joyful tidings in an email from their hall directors and the Office of Residence Life, which explained a burdensome caveat to the policy changes: students who want to get down must still attend an “I Know How to Party” training session. If the name choice is not punishment enough, the email presented the vague threat that failure to attend a session before hosting “may result in greater sanctions in the event a violation occurs.”
Despite having been conceived in a bureaucratically sealed container, the policy shift promises to marginally advance student rights in the one field that seems to matter to students: alcohol consumption.
Communication has never been a strength of Georgetown’s administrators, and thus the announcement should raise some suspicions. No standards have been set forth that would facilitate the conversion to the new regulations. Even more worrying is Village A Hall Director Michael Ritterbeck’s statement in response to questioning about the changes in procedure: “I’m not sure what I’m allowed to quote on the record.”
Comments like this seem to indicate the administration is unprepared to deal with the new regulations. Even the Department of Public Safety, which previously used party registration data in operations, has little idea of how to proceed. “We don’t know anything about that,” Police Lieutenant Glenette Hilton said, but she indicated that DPS would “abide by any new regulations.”
“Our operations will not be affected,” she said.
Altering the party landscape while simultaneously claiming operations will stick to the status quo is, of course, a contradictory idea that further emphasizes the confusion flowing through the University. Jay Gruber, recently-hired Chief of Police, responded similarly. “I have only been on board for a month now, so I have a lot of catching up to do on parties, party registration, and other issues,” he said.
Director of Student Affairs Stephanie Lynch declined to comment on how parties will be regulated under the new rules. Instead, she endorsed the clearly inadequate email announcement from ResLife as the supreme source of information on party policies.
Without a concrete notion of procedures, DPS officers will wander along their designated patrol routes scouring the night air for any rogue vibrations. As a result, they will likely end up busting gatherings too small to be considered parties by the University’s own policy, breaking with the intention to provide students with additional freedom and keep them on campus.
Alberto Lorenzo, East Campus Hall Director, attempted to justify the new policy at an “I Know How to Party” session yesterday evening. “Statistics show that accidents decreased,” he said of the Code of Conduct rules remaining in place, but “no one liked the party registration.” Contrary to the dialogue surrounding the campus plan, Lorenzo also said the new regulations were not necessarily intended to restrict students to campus.
What’s more, after hinting at the formation of a committee to investigate the impact of removal of registration procedures, Lorenzo said that evaluations did not show the policy change to be effective in keeping students on campus, as intended by the ANC.
“I don’t feel like just because you can party now, everyone will do it,” Lorenzo said, but he refused to comment further.
One has no choice but to admire the University’s chutzpah in removing party registration —especially if administrators know the policy may not curtail students flocking to Burleith in droves, and DPS has no semblance of a plan to deal with the new social conditions. In pacifying the neighbors without the addition of any enforceable regulations, Georgetown has won a minor victory for the students in the conclusion of the Campus Plan—even if they don’t know it.
The administration’s task now must be to improve communication among departments to ensure that students do not become the victims of the as-of-now poorly handled initiative. But even if DPS oversteps its boundaries, students at least have one less piece of paperwork to file before reaching for the red solo cup.
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