It is sad when a tragic event such as the death of a young member of the community becomes no more than a stumping opportunity for anti-student activists ["GU Student Found Dead in House Fire; Electrical Blaze Damages Students' Rowhouse Hours After Party," Metro, Oct. 18].

The Georgetown community suffered a terrible tragedy on the morning of Oct. 17, but that fact was superseded by neighborhood advocates who insist on restricting the right of students and their non-student neighbors to coexist. Unfortunately, Post reporter Jerry Markon relied mostly on the opinions of these neighborhood advocates to explain the terrible tragedy.

The advocates implied that because students are forced into undesirable living situations as a result of sky-high rental prices and insufficient on-campus housing, students are at fault for a fire caused by "faulty electrical wiring leading from the furnace." I am glad to see that complaints have led the city to do something about the condition of these buildings ["Fire Inspections Follow Death of GU Student," Metro, Oct. 20]. Instead of simply questioning the safety of students living together in a small space, we must demand more responsible upkeep of these historic homes.

But Georgetown University students are forced to live off campus for at least one year because of housing restrictions on campus. Once off campus, students must choose between living in cramped houses to distribute the burden of some of the District's highest rents or paying an inordinately high cost to live a more comfortable and less "dangerous" home life. Students do not simply choose to live in a basement; the choice is made for them because of economics.

Members of the community should remember that the Georgetown neighborhood has been inhabited by students for more than two centuries. To represent the interests of all residents, we must work together to fight for the safety of all residents, both student and non-student.

-- Jeffrey McCullough



I am a GU student and a friend of the man who died in the fire on Prospect Street NW. I was appalled to see that your article focused more on the fact that there was a party at the house in which the fire took place than on the events surrounding the young man's death.

It is a bit strange that, although the cause of the fire was identified as faulty wiring, the party was mentioned no fewer than five times in the article, including in the sub-headline. College drinking is a serious issue, but to use a student's tragic death as some sort of soapbox is, at the least, a grossly insensitive error in judgment. I may be the only person who takes the effort to write in and mention this, but I know that many others among his friends have expressed similar sentiments, and I can only imagine how this young man's parents must feel after reading your article.

-- David Passarelli