Saxa Politica: Magis Row not at fault

November 17, 2011

On November 8, the Citizens Association of Georgetown and the Burleith Citizens Association jointly filed a supplemental submission to the D.C. Zoning Commission ahead of tonight’s final hearing on the proposed Georgetown Campus Plan. Among the countless complaints about the University, the neighborhood associations continue to rail against the Magis Row townhouses.

The Magis Row houses on 36th Street are directly across the street from non-Georgetown residents; the direct neighbors of most other University-owned townhouses are typically students. This has caused increasingly hostile town-gown relations on the street.

In their submission, CAG and the BCA wrote, “The undergraduates living off campus in University owned townhouses on 36th Street in West Georgetown, the so-called Magis Row housing, deserve special mention. As set forth in detail in the prior submissions of CAG/BCA the 50-60 students living in those townhouses have been a persistent source of loud late night parties, vandalism, and trash violations for a decade.”

Like most of their filings and testimony for the Zoning Commission, CAG and the BCA refuse to let facts get in the way of making this claim.

While students have lived in these houses on 36th Street for at least a decade, Magis Row is only in its third year of existence. The living and learning community places strict restrictions on the community members. Each household is required to host a minimum of two events per semester based on the theme of their house and to participate in a community service project as a group.

Along with these requirements, Magis Row residents also sign a contract agreeing to host registered parties no later than midnight. The Department of Public Safety and SNAP are quick to enforce this rule.

Considering that Magis Row was created in response to neighborhood complaints a few years ago, this intentionally misleading claim that Magis Row has been a problem for a decade is disheartening.

Neighborhood residents also seem to attribute all problems that happen on the street with the residents of Magis Row.

Michelle Galler, a resident of 36th Street, wrote in the filing, “The noise violations, vandalism and drunken behavior committed by Georgetown University students, especially those in Magis Row across from the residents on 36th Street, continue to plague my neighbors and me. The police are not protecting us!! We are helplessly being surrounded by callous, entitled students who are NOT BEING SUFFICIENTLY PENALIZED for their bad behavior” (emphasis Galler’s).

In an email on November 5 to the Georgetown community email listserv, Galler noted a specific incident the night before in which her front yard was vandalized. Obviously, vandalism is wrong and the students who are responsible for it should be held accountable. However, for Galler and other 36th Street residents to continue to blame Magis Row residents is downright wrong.

As a resident of the community, drunken students walking past my house have woken me up from time to time. Anyone living in the houses on Magis Row—where the paper-thin walls make it easy to hear any noise outside—can commiserate with the neighbors’ complaints about noise and vandalism.

However, more often than not, the students who are actually causing these problems for neighbors are not Magis Row occupants. They are simply walking by—either to their privately-owned off campus houses or to their on-campus residences.

Hopefully as the Zoning Commission deliberates on the Campus Plan they will realize that Magis Row is not the problem. Eliminating Magis Row would only hurt the Georgetown community.

Want to start a row with Geoffrey? Tell him he’s disturbing the peace at


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