Talk It Out

August 30, 2007

If you’re not unhappy with the new party regulations, you should be—even if you don’t drink. They represent a betrayal of Georgetown’s tradition of consulting with students before making policy changes.

Some of the anger comes from returning students miss the freedom they enjoyed in the past. There were already restrictions on parties, and they worked—Georgetown students were safe at parties. Historically, only seven percent of GERMS calls are alcohol related and most campus safety threats come from off campus. First-year students should not let the administration convince them that these regulations have always existed.

No one should believe that these regulations are necessary, either, at least until the administration makes its case. That’s the real reason you should be angry: the administration barely made an effort to consult with students about this issue. Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson told the Voice last week that there were no specific reasons for the changes, but that they came as a result of “general trends.” Regardless of GUSA’s objections, his office made the decision.

That’s not the norm at Georgetown. This is a campus where the admissions committee includes influential student members, where students take part in University policymaking as members of working groups, on-campus organizations, student government, and, yes, at the newspapers. In fact, students have a lot of sway, as they should. This is our college, and while we value the knowledge, experience and (occasional) wisdom of our administration, and more so, our faculty, our views deserve equal credibility.

In fact, it seems that the administration chose to bypass our input because they knew—in the wake of the successful opposition to the keg ban last fall—we would be able to stop the passage of these regulations, or at least force a workable compromise. And that’s exactly what you should think until they explain otherwise. Why else would the University fail to court public opinion, not even holding a town hall meeting? Why else would they release the policy over e-mail during finals week without offering the reasoning behind it? The additional rules against beer pong and other drinking paraphernalia were approved over the summer.

There’s no doubt that some of the rules are reasonable; I could stomach the restrictions on decorative bottles and party safety class. But others are needless—it bears repeating that there doesn’t seem to be any safety justification for the rules. None of them seem targeted to prevent underage drinkers from accessing alcohol. The stricter party registration system and the limits on the number of guests are both galling because they make socializing harder. And they will drive students to drink off campus, which will anger our neighbors (remember, Georgetown’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission opposed the keg ban) and put students further away from GERMS and other support systems.

Georgetown is not a party school, and is not in danger of becoming one. We work hard—in classes, in extracurriculars, at jobs and internships—and we also, to use the cliché, play hard. Barring real safety reasons, there’s no reason to change that. (Incidentally, if the administration wants some advice on safety, we have plenty of ideas about training DPS and paying them well). The SafeRides Shuttle, for instance, addressed a real threat to safety—students off campus late at night—and has already done more good than these new policies ever will.

That’s why the Voice’s editorial board urged all students with apartments to register parties every weekend night, as a protest and as a precaution (it’s surprisingly easy to have eight people come over to your four person apartment for dinner and suddenly, it’s a party). Students should organize, in Facebook groups and through GUSA, to get the most onerous policies here reversed. Most importantly, we’re owed an explanation. I challenge Vice President Olson to explain the reasoning behind his policies, in these pages or in a campus-wide town hall meeting.

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