One doesn't need a calendar to know that Georgetown and other area colleges are back in session. The marked increase in noise, illegal parking and disturbances in Georgetown since the beginning of the month are ample evidence. Groups of students have been roaming the streets at all hours, until two or three in the morning, shouting, yelling and singing at the top of their lungs.
These students, particularly those at Georgetown University, should understand that Georgetown is basically a quiet, residential area -- the commercial district of Wisconsin and M streets is, in fact, only a small part of the total community. The university is set in the middle of a residential area, and its students should conduct themselves accordingly.
The houses of Georgetown are inhabited by men, women and children who live here 365 days a year. We work hard for a living and get up early in the morning to go to work. Unlike most students, we cannot schedule our first classes for 11 a.m. and only four days a week. I am sure if I walked around the dormitories at 6 in the morning and screamed at the top of my lungs I would get an unfavorable reaction from students. We live here before the students arrive as freshmen and will be here after they graduate. Contrary to what some may believe, we are not maintaining a free parking lot, public toilet or an all-night playground.
Georgetown University has a special responsibility for the conduct and behavior of its students. Last year students got their jollies overturning neighborhood cars. This year started off with the immensely funny and clever, boisterous singing of Christmas carols at 2 in the morning. And there is certainly something special about waking up to find broken beer bottles, trash and the evidence of someone having used your front entrance as a public toilet. Most of us have attended college too and recall the exuberance and celebration of youth. We just ask that the students keep it under reasonable control while in our neighborhood.
How many thousands of students attend Georgetown University and either live on campus or commute? How many parking spaces does Georgetown Unversity provide its thousands of students? Obviously not enough. For example, Loyola Hall and the Nevils complex, located in the middle of a residential area, house hundreds of students, and yet there are no university-provided parking facilities within blocks. Where do these cars end up? On our streets, and most illegally parked. How does one know they belong to students? A car, usually with out-of-state tags and a Georgetown University decal/sticker that is left by a college-age individual carrying books and heading west toward the campus is usually a fair indication. These cars fill the streets all day and all night. Just the other night, at 2:45 in the morning, a speeding drunk driver, swerving to avoid an illegally parked Georgetown University student's car (New Jersey tags and GU decal), lost control of his car and rammed into the house across the street.
Georgetown University's responsibility does not stop at the dormitory door or property line. The university brought the offenders in and owes the community the expenditure of resources properly to care for and control them. Providing adequate, reasonable on-campus parking for students and other members of the university community is a minimum. In order to deal with the continuing problems of noise, trash and congestion, the university should get its security personnel out to maintain the peace in immediate surrounding residential areas. If university resources are insufficient or jurisdictional issues create a problem, then the school should coordinate coverage with the D.C. police.
What is particularly frustrating is that no one seems to care -- not the students, the university or the District government. Georgetown residents pay a premium, including very high city taxes, to live in a conveniently located, attractive, historic area, and we resent having our lives continually disrupted by a few selfish, immature undergraduates. -- Mark D. Cheng