The ANC’s Anti-Ten Year Plan Resolution: Conduct Section

Monday night, the ANC adopted a resolution opposing G.U.’s proposed ten year campus plan. GM’s already taken a closer look at the enrollment section and the transportation section. Today he’ll take a look at the last section, the one regarding student behavior off-campus.

The ANC’s approach is pretty simple and concise: they simply stated that the measures previously taken by G.U. and those proposed are inadequate to address the negative impact that student behavior has on the non-student population.

The strategy being taken by the ANC is to put the burden on G.U. to develop a program that is adequate. And it further argues that if G.U. doesn’t present an adequate plan, the Zoning Commission should reduce G.U.’s student cap until their are fewer students in the neighborhood.

And what are the steps that G.U. has put forward which the ANC considers so inadequate?:

  • Three reimbursable detail police officers stationed in trouble spots
  • A second SNAP car at night
  • Two G.U. staff members living off campus among the students to supervise them
  • New community contract to be signed by all off-campus students
  • Additional shuttles around the neighborhood to give students a ride back to the campus.

GM’s not really in a good position to judge the respective merits of each side’s case on this topic. He doesn’t live amongst students, and he doesn’t interact enough with students to know what measures are effective and which aren’t.

Many people make the valid point that not all off-campus students are causing a problem, and so you can’t punish all of them for the acts of a subset. Fine. But for the ones that do cause a problem, what will it take to stop that behavior? This is a point that GM really wishes there could be some common ground on. Some are happy simply to dismiss any and all complaints that non-student residents have and repeat the common refrain that they should’ve known better before they moved here. If that’s the position you want to take, then fine. You’re not helping, but that’s you’re right to be unhelpful.

But for those that do believe that residents of this city shouldn’t be subjected to unreasonable disruptions, regardless of which residential neighborhood they live in, what can we do to prevent that? This isn’t a rhetorical question, GM honestly has no idea what can be done to balance the students’ interests with the non-students interests that doesn’t involve one side telling the other side to go away. What would work?


Filed under Town and Gown

9 responses to “The ANC’s Anti-Ten Year Plan Resolution: Conduct Section

  1. Just Wondering

    I live in the neighborhood and teach at the University, so I can see both sides. What I don’t understand is why the landlords aren’t held more accountable. If (some) students are trashing their property, having loud parties, and basically making a nuisance of themselves, isn’t it the owners’ responsibility to take care of this? It seems that if we started fining landlords for the bad behavior of their tenants, they would be more careful to whom they rent and more oversight would occur.

    But maybe I am just missing something?

  2. andy

    What about the landlords in the neighborhood. It seems to me that they are the ones profiting off everyone’s misery and aren’t held accountable.
    Perhaps GU could require that all undergrads that live off campus register with the University and then the university could develop a neighborhood ombudsman office to deal with neighborhood complaints. It would probably be helpful to communicate with neighbors to say which addresses are where student’s are living and offer assistance in dealing with student-resident issues. Regular meetings to communicate issues would likely go a long way in resolving problems.

  3. DCstudent

    The enrollment caps in place for DC colleges are unfair and probably illegal – the schools should formally challenge the caps. The size and growth of colleges and universities in DC is already regulated by zoning standards – just like other land uses. To treat colleges and universities differently and to dictate how many students they can have on a campus is like dictating how many employees a company or office building can have in the business district. It isn’t needed since these issues are already controlled by zoning. The enrollment caps unfairly limit the activity of DC colleges and hurt these institutions by limiting growth and viability.

  4. William Newton

    I agree with the previous posters that the real problem here is Georgetown’s legendary absentee/devil-may-care landlords. The city will not crack down on them, and since that is the case, it is up to those who live in the neighborhood to do something about it.

    I graduated from Georgetown 15 years ago, and later moved back to the village after graduate school elsewhere. I have some graduate students for neighbors, and they do not cause problems, fortunately.

    I don’t think most owner-occupiers of property in Georgetown are aware of the complete lack of supervision or concern shown by the vast majority of landlords in apartments and group houses where I or my friends lived when we were students. I promise you that many of the people complaining about the behavior of the students would be appalled if they had to spend a weekend living in the conditions that many of these students live in around the university – houses with precariously crooked staircases, windows that are painted shut or with broken panes taped and covered with wood, various species of mold growing everywhere and anywhere damp, etc.

    If these landlords do not even care about their own property, why would you expect them to care about whether or not their tenants are being noisy or messy? I would think it obvious to an adult that a 19 year old college student – which you were once – is probably not going to pay much attention to you, yelling neighbor, unless a) the landlord shows up or b) the police show up.

    Rather than continue to whinge about the university, perhaps it is time to find out who owns the building next door, and the next time there is a problem, call them. Or, if you are too afraid to do so because they are an adult rather than a student, call the police and ask THEM to contact the owner.

  5. GM

    DCstudent: you should really educate yourself on this issue more. The caps are part of zoning. That’s why the zoning commission is the body that will decide it. The zoning regs and the comprehensive plan both specifically contemplate and authorize enrollment caps. And moreover, the courts have consistently upheld te legality of the zoning regs and the comp plan, not withstanding the DC Human Rights Act.

    If you feel strongly about this issue, please testify at the Zoning Commission when it hears this, but in the meantime you might want to brush up on what legal issues are actually at play here.

  6. DCstudent

    GM: thank you for your condescending and clearly biased reply.

  7. recent alum

    @ andy —

    GU does currently require that all undergrads who live off-campus register as such, with their address given. GU also has an Office of Off-Campus Student Life that handles neighborhood complaints, as you suggested — and believe me, from interaction with them, I know that they err on the side of the neighbors in almost every complaint case, so they certainly do take their job quite seriously. The Office of OCSL also hosts a mandatory meeting at the beginning of the school year for every single student living off-campus that requires them to sign a pledge of conduct and makes the rules of living in the neighborhood very clear. They also frequently e-mail students with updates about trash collection, where to get snow shovels after storms, etc.

    I just wanted to point these things out so that you know that much of this is already underway at the school — and these are all additions GU has made to its staff in order to appease neighbors and deal with conduct issues in as direct and efficient a way as possible. Of course, though, that’s never enough for the non-student residents.

  8. GM

    DCstudent: I’m sorry my tone put you off, but what you wrote was essentially gibberish. It would be like saying we shouldn’t have speed limits since that’s already covered by the traffic laws. If, however, you think the zoning laws shouldn’t allow enrollment caps, then by all means make that point. But that is a much different argument than saying we shouldn’t have enrollment caps since that’s covered by zoning. You’ll have a better chance influencing the Zoning Commission if you actually understand how zoning works. It’s hardly being biased to point that out.

  9. DCstudent

    Ok, zoning laws shouldn’t allow enrollment caps.

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