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Blogging neighbor and partying Georgetown students clash

A photo appearing on the blog
A photo appearing on the blog "Drunken Georgetown Students."

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By Jenna Johnson
Saturday, May 1, 2010

Stephen R. Brown wanted to curb the loud, drunken parties that Georgetown University students throw in his historic Burleith neighborhood. So Brown, 62, snapped photos of the ruckus on his block -- students hanging out on a roof, a backyard gathering lit by holiday lights -- and posted the images on a new Web site: DrunkenGeorgetownStudents.com.

But it didn't go quite according to plan: The operator of the server hosting the site received more than 20 complaints and warned Brown that he was violating the terms of service, he said. Some neighbors complained that the site strayed from their usual strategies in trying to get college students to quiet down, mow their lawns and pick up trash. And Brown, a professional photographer, realized that posting photos of identifiable people, along with their addresses, could land him in court.

"I don't have time for a First Amendment suit," said Brown, a resident of the neighborhood for 19 years.

When he was forced to shut down the Web site Wednesday afternoon, the Georgetown Voice, a student magazine, celebrated with a tweet: "students 1, stephen brown 0."

And so ended Round 1.

Round 2 began later that day.

Brown moved his content to a blog. He blurred the photos so that no faces or license plates could be identified. He edited out exact addresses. And he typed up a post aimed at those who had complained about the original Web site.

"We're here in the soup, live on the web and photographing away," Brown wrote. "Welcome to 'Drunken Georgetown Students'!"

When an apparent reply arrived -- a car full of people drove past his home early Thursday and yelled his name -- Brown wrote another post: "I hope the police pick you up tonight and that you have a terrible hangover in the morning."

This escalation of the ancient town-gown battle along the fringes of Georgetown University has not produced a decisive victor, but it has yielded increasingly raw feelings on both sides.

A Georgetown student created a spoof Web site, CreepyBurleithGuy.com, which chronicles the actions of the "The Man . . . The Myth . . . The Creepy Old Guy who stalks drunk college kids and takes their pictures in the dark of night."

Other students organized an honorary Drunken Georgetown Students BBQ for Saturday afternoon. Yet another group joked about buying the domain name UpTightGeorgetownResident.com.


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