Resident blogs about, photographs partying Georgetown students

Be wary the next time you head out to an off-campus party—you just might end up on “Drunken Georgetown Students,” a website run by a Burleith resident which publishes photographs and written accounts of off-campus student life.

The site, which dubs Georgetown “AN EAST COAST PARTY SCHOOL,” is run by neighbor and former American University professor Stephen R. Brown. Besides being a place for him to make bizarre claims like, “Unfortunately if two students hadn’t died on campus this year in alcohol related students (and who knows how many more that are ‘in official denial’, it might be amusing,” he makes as suggestions on the site about how Georgetown and Burleith residents can best report student disturbances.

In an interview this afternoon, Brown, a Villanova graduate, said, “I live across from six student houses and two young professional houses. I document what happens in the alley … I report everything to the police that is put on the blog … [The site] is just an attempt to make sure that the University is aware that there’s trouble.”

In addition to publishing photographs of students, Brown also posts residents’ accounts of student activity off-campus.

“I don’t consult with [the students who I photograph.] I’m doing what I’m doing … I have the First Amendment right to photograph whatever is going on,” he claimed.

While the only photographs currently posted to the site are his own, Brown hopes to post other residents’ photographs of students in the future.

“I might run a contest. I was thinking of having a drunken Georgetown student photo contest,” Brown said. “Maybe we could have a urination category.”

After the jump, check out some excerpts Vox plucked from Brown’s site.

On 61D violations

Amazingly enough, a 61D only carries a $35.00 fine so hardly worth the effort. The sign above says “Maximum Fine $500.00…10 days in jail” so I think we need to go for the max….!

On students’ counting skills

We did learn that one of the drunken Georgetown students alcohol games involved counting up to fourteen. I was suprised they could get that high.

On preventing “tragic deaths”

There’s a long history of drunkenness in Georgetown so…if you see bad behavior, make a phone call. You not only help yourself, you help a student perhaps study for an exam or a neighbor write a book. You may even prevent a “tragic death.”

On vague threats to Georgetown students

And if you are living in one of those houses that gets mentioned on this site, make sure that you let the security officials who are doing your background check for a job make sure that you lived there. This little website may stand between you and a good job but if your’re an alcoholic…that won’t really matter.

On Georgetown President Jack “DeJoia

I wonder what Jack DeJoia is thinking as he tries to build a globally branded University with a bunch of drunken students as his forward advertising campaign?

On frustrations about the private lives of Georgetown administrators:

email Dean Jeanne Lord and Ann Koester and call them at 202-687-5138 in the morning. They will not share their home phone numbers!!!

On the Voice and its “frightening” journalism

This article is quite frightening http://georgetownvoice.com/2009/09/03/from-dry-to-debaucherous-georgetown-through-the-ages/

On a future viral campaign

I am starting a mock advertising campaign referencing Georgetown and binge drinking and if you have any ideas, feel free to submit them. This could be fun!!…and it could be viral!

78 Comments on “Resident blogs about, photographs partying Georgetown students

  1. Pingback: Drunken Georgetown Students « Ben Turner's Blog

  2.  by  Timbo

    Just because you drink in college does not mean that you cannot do so whilst being respectful of your neighbors at the same time. If you fail to do this, do you really expect to skirt the natural and probable results of your failure to be respectful?

    For all the law-talking guys here, please remember that truth is a defense to any defamation claim and that if a person is in a public place, or is clearly visible from a public place, i.e. the street, then they have no reasonable expectation of privacy. He can take your pic and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. If you want to cry foul when he calls you an alcoholic, you have to be prepared to argue that a reasonable person would take the opinion of a photographer as fact on this medical issue. Doesn’t seem reasonable to me, nor any jury you could expect to hear your case. Lastly in this regard, any claims about your (derived) ‘right to privacy’ being infringed have to overcome the big daddy First Amendment. Ties go to the speaker/publisher.

    No matter the legalities of it all, long before your university or our First Amendment, the natural law has been that you reap what you sow. The chickens that you set out in the morning will indeed come home to roost. Karma is a bitch. Conduct yourself as a jackass in public and you must be prepared to deal with the consequences. If this is new info to you, perhaps you should thank Mr. Brown for teaching you this most important lesson.

  3.  by  @Timbo

    Read up on false light, Timbo. I don’t have much to say except you’re completely wrong. False light is much easier than defamation. Also, First Amendment cases involving privacy (generally) involve public figures; the privacy rights of private individuals are much greater (hence, defamation & false light law).

    In any case, it looks like there’s been a partial victory — Brown’s internet service provider has forced him to censor the images and street names or risk being taken down. However, the false light claims are still possible, since he had the website up (retraction doesn’t save you).

  4.  by  @Timbo

    It’s not entirely clear that everyone in the photos that this guy has posted are “drunken Georgetown students.” While no doubt there are plenty of those on the weekend, there may be some people at these parties who haven’t had much to drink or just don’t drink at all. And, guess what, it’s impossible to tell whether or not that’s the case from the pictures. While I agree with you that people are going to have a hard time with the privacy claims, it’s not obvious that someone who was not drunk at these parties doesn’t have a legitimate claim against this guy. Your post, for example, indicates how you assume that everyone in these photos is acting like “a jackass in public” by boozin’ it up way too much – that may be the case for some people, and it may not be the case for others. For those whom it isn’t the case, it appears that this dude has acted maliciously and attempted to damage their reputation and future earnings and employment potential. If I were this guy, I’d take these photos down before getting sued by someone like that.

  5.  by  Megan Berard

    Looks like he has censored his photographs if you check the website again.

  6.  by  @Timbo

    Or, here’s a better idea – if you move to a neighborhood near a centuries-old university, you can STFU about student behavior. If you want peace and quiet, you can live in Alexandria, or Foxhall, or Friendship Heights…don’t move within blocks of a major university and then have the gumption to complain about student behavior. I know a lot of students here can act like total louts, but that’s unfortunately a reasonable expectation from college kids. You knew there were going to be students when you moved here. Deal with it.

  7.  by  Timbo

    Thanks guys, but I still think you’re wrong. The actual malice standard is not satisfied. Brown’s gripe is not with the individuals, but rather their behavior. I do not agree that Brown “attempted to damage their reputation and future earnings and employment potential”, but rather he (unconvincingly) argued that his website would have that effect. He doesn’t appear to want to destroy these asshats’ lives, but rather to quiet his own streets. It is his specific intent that would be at issue, and it is lacking here.

    I further disagree that the “false light” prong is satisfied. The images depict intoxicated individuals in a public place and those that associate with them. What is false about this? If the person was not drunk, what damages can they reasonably show (understanding the tricky nature of the iied/nied-type damages at play here) for publication of the fact that they were either drunk and obnoxious once or were once in the company of drunken and obnoxious individuals?

    While I do not disagree that Brown is being less than honorable in his response, and was less than wise in selecting his abode, he has not committed any actionable intentional tort, and I seriously doubt any potentially aggrieved parties will find representation on these facts. Regardless of what they tell you on the Fox News, you can’t just sue anybody for anything.

  8.  by  Timbo

    Further, censorship, even when it comes from a private party like his webhost, is not something to cheer. The cowardly webhost has caved to its own fear, leaving our Internet a less vibrant marketplace of ideas. Even if you disagree with a viewpoint, it is far nobler to ignore it than to quash it, even if you ‘know’ it is wrong. Do not view this as a victory.

  9.  by  @Timbo

    If Brown just published the photos, he’d likely be alright (although the website name ‘Drunken Georgetown Students’ may present a problem).

    However, as noted above, the entire website is designed (or was, before he blurred the photos and addresses) to lead one to the conclusion that anyone pictured in the photographs, or living at the residences in question, is an alcoholic and a habitual loutish drunk. The text on the website associates the people in the picture with violence, vandalism, urination, etc. False light is all about context.

    If I showed you one of those pictures out of context, you would basically look and see about 8 or so people in a backyard. Some have beer cans in their hand. Any inferences you want to draw from that would be your own. That in and of itself isn’t a violation.

    However, if I then posted those photos to “DrugUsers.com” or Alcoholics Anonymous and you saw them, the context would color your opinion. DrunkenGeorgetownStudents is like Girls Gone Wild in its suggestiveness. As he notes on the website, “Be careful, drunken persons are frequently violent and unreasonable so “reasoning” with them isn’t a great plan.” This, along with other phrases, casts anyone in the picture in an false light. And by associating entire addresses, and thus houses, with it, it casts the reputation of anyone living in or associated with the house as a wild, violent, alcoholic partier.

    The fact that it further doesn’t identify the persons by name but by address can be harmful. What if you’re a pleasant roommate who doesn’t go out? Or what if you move in a year or two down the road, but a search of the address turns up the address that is allegedly associated with ‘wild’ behavior.

    Again, if Brown just put up the pictures or video, without comment, that would probably be fine (as long as he doesn’t, you know, peek into people’s windows or anything like that — but if they’re in the yard or street, that’s basically fair game), it’s his comment and context that’s actionable.

  10.  by  @Timbo

    And as to ‘caving into fear’, it’s more like, ‘caving into the posted acceptable use policies’. The website stated that you can’t use the site to harass people or do illegal behavior.

    If he wants to move to another, more permissive web host, go ahead. That having been said, generally speaking web hosts aren’t liable for false light/defamation absent actual collusion. If Brown wants to host his pictures and text on some other site that lets him, he’s more than welcome, but he’s just inviting a lawsuit.

  11.  by  Hunter Kaplan

    Sorry Timbo – gonna have to disagree with you on the whole “malice standard” question. The guy fully intends to damage the reputation of individual students and the university. He said so on his site and to the Washington Post. You can say something in public, do something in public, then back off and say you didnt mean it.

    Even as an advocate of free speech – there are some things that dont fly in my book. Personal attacks on non-public figures using false claims is one of em. This is a victory. Not for Neighbors, not for students, but for the continued efforts of those who want to have reasonable dialogue between these groups.

  12.  by  Doug

    I have to say, the website looks absolutely hilarious with all the photos blurred out.

    Also, for a photographer, he sure did some unsophisticated blurring.

  13.  by  David Houkre

    If people want to publish Stephen Brown’s phone number and address, then why not set uo your own web site? It is not hard. But then, that could seem pretty malicious.

    I lived near GWU, and the student noise could get pretty bad at times, though not as bad as what Brown describes. Even if I lived there today, it is hard to imagine that I would put up such a web site … which, BTW, is offline at this moment.

  14.  by  mona

    This guys is really taking the wrong stance with all this. He should just stop with the pictures, it is a waste of his time. Take down the website and find other things to do. If he was really that pissed off with what was going on with these houses he would go after the owners of these houses. There are all kinds of legal things owners have to have in place before they can even rent group homes like this and most people in DC who rent out homes don’t bother with the paperwork. The fines can be huge for not having this paper work in place. Things like basic business license and certificate of occupancy and DCRA inspections. Some fines can be as much as 2k/day. He isn’t that pissed off about the noise or he would have jumped on the owner day one.

  15.  by  Nermal Howard

    I wish the good students of Georgetown could read these comments from the point of a view of an outsider. Perhaps then you might realize how amazingly childish and petty you all appear – prime examples of a me-first, privileged culture of young people who get to feel as if they exist in a world all their own, with their own rules. Having worked at the Medical Center and spent a good bit of time on campus, I am not surprised.

    The fact is that Georgetown University IS bordered by neighborhoods where people are attempting to live lives that involve raising children, going back and forth to work, and all the other day-to-day responsibilities of being an adult. You’re saying that such homeowners should have known better before buying in the neighborhood is one more example of excusing poor behavior rather than seeking a solution like quiet hours on weeknights or, at the very least, agreeing to settle down once a neighbor has asked you to.

    It further surprises me that none of you see Mr. Brown’s actions as those of a man who has reached the end of his rope, rather than someone who is out to get you, take away your bottles, or invade your privacy. Instead, he is dismissed as just a cranky old guy trying to stop your fun. I call bullsh*t. He’s your neighbor and, judging from the comments here, you are not meeting him halfway on a problem. I suspect this man has better things to do than build a so-called harassing website or take pictures of loud, drunken teenagers and 20-somethings. Clearly, drunkgeorgetownstudents.com came to be when all other avenues and appeals to the students themselves, the University, and the local cops had failed.

    The comments published here do not put Georgetown students in a good light. You appear spoiled, entitled, and mean. Your seemingly inability to empathize with this guy is unfortunate. But then, you’re college kids (emphasis on the kids) and as someone posted above, that kind of callous behavior is, unfortunately, to be expected.

    Criticizing someone’s age or grammar skills and name-calling (like voyeur) are poor arguments. These pseudo-legal opinions (which read like kids playing grown-up), and the so-called privacy and safety concerns, do not excuse or justify what is essentially loutish, childish behavior. I hope that the very expensive education you are receiving will ultimately include a sense of empathy and a little-less entitlement down the line.

    I, for one, side with Mr. Brown.

  16.  by  DB

    i concur with Nermal. Men and women for others?

  17.  by  @Nermal Howard

    Perhaps some of the comments here did get a little carried away. However, I think that’s based on a few things.

    1. The pictures that Mr. Brown posted are all of small gatherings, with about 7-10 people visible at most. This doesn’t seem to substantiate his claims that all weekend nights in the neighborhood are plagued by raucous, uncontrollable partying. Granted his site is relatively new, but based on the small amount of evidence he has up there, readers have to generally take Mr. Brown’s word that the Burleith neighborhood is out of control on weekends which, from my experience, isn’t completely true.

    2. As childish as the argument that “he should have known better when moving next to a university” can sound, it’s partly valid. The same can be said about living in a city; beyond the drinking scene, the simple fact is that it’s an extremely densely-populated area, and there will be more noise as a result.

    3. The false light claims aren’t pseudo-legal opinions, that’s actually fact. Look up DC false light law, and you’ll find that what Mr. Brown is doing actually flirts on the border of law, by saying that all Georgetown students are “unreasonable” and “alcoholics.” Most here fit into neither of those categories.

    4. His methods aren’t the most favorable. I don’t remember, but I’m not sure to what extent Mr. Brown says he ever tries to contact the residents first; again, he claims that drunk Georgetown students, or “alcoholics,” cannot be reasoned with. I don’t know about everyone else, but as a Georgetown student in off-campus housing who throws parties fairly regularly, if an adult neighbor of mine came to the door and asked me to quiet things down unless I wanted him to call the cops, I’d listen. Maybe Mr. Brown thinks this is the only avenue left to him, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he demonstrates malicious intent against students throughout the language of his website. His attitude and methods are just as childish as you think we’re behaving.

    5. Taking pictures of others on their private property is creepy. It’s not a poor argument. I understand that it was a reactionary decision, but if someone openly stated that they intended to roam the neighborhood taking pictures and videos of other residents and post them on the Internet, it would worry me.

    Mr. Brown is addressing an issue that may need some working on, but he’s not doing it in the right way. He doesn’t know how to correctly spell the names of the University President or the woman in charge of Off Campus Student Life, who would be his primary contacts to voice concerns to the university, so it seems like he probably hasn’t tried working with them too extensively. If you look at some of the posts here and elsewhere, very few of his fellow elder Burleith residents agree with him; the President of the Citizens Association of Georgetown said his website is “just a little bit too dramatic.” And this is why Georgetown students are so upset about it.

  18.  by  brohansantana

    To be fair, referring to this man as a voyeur isn’t particularly invalid name-calling.

    One of the definitions of voyeur is: an obsessive observer of sordid or sensational topics.

    If the behaviors Mr. Brown describes are correct, they can be labeled as sordid. Also, constantly updating a website documenting these observations can surely be referred to as “obsessive.” He perfectly fits the definition of the word used to describe him.

    The fact of the matter is, Mr. Brown’s activities were possibly harmful for the students of the university and for himself, if his alleged police semi-custody claims were true (although, wouldn’t that mean he was semi- taken into custody? As in, the police viewed him as a possible sex offender?). They were also extremely creepy. Are you telling me that you wouldn’t mind someone documenting your life without your consent?

  19.  by  Nermal Howard

    As English is my first language, you need not define voyeur for me. Mr. Brown obviously has a point to make and he is doing so “obsessively” because the normal way that people might go about resolving a situation like this just hasn’t panned out. His blog also “obsessively” points out the many times he has appealed to his neighbors (your fellow students), the police, and the University for some resolution of the issue.

    Try seeing it from my angle – a non-resident of Georgetown who just happened upon an interesting story. This guy wants a decent night’s sleep in his home (or a quite evening in front of the tube) and that is prevented because the students who live across the street drink too much and carry on (and 7-10 people can make PLENTY of noise). This fellow follows the usual channels and nothing is done. The same clever fellow decides to use the web as a weapon and suddenly all kinds of people – even strangers like me – are paying attention. Maybe *now* he can get some satisfaction.

    In my world, he’s in the right. Unfortunately, judging from many of the comments here, it would seem he is in far more danger than the students he photographs. So we have his “creepy” behavior on one hand and the loutish, bullying behavior of the students on the other. Again, I’ll side with creepy until loutish decides they can meet creepy halfway and tone it down.

  20.  by  Nermal Howard

    And get off the guy’s spelling skills. It’s utterly immaterial to the situation at hand.

  21.  by  Johnson

    Georgetown is *not* an East Coast School! It is located on a swamp, and D.C. = the Deep South. Note the flaming heat of over 95%.. classic Southern climate here. Georgetown = Party-land school; and internal Administration study (Spring 09) within the university collected data on how nearly 60% of the enrolled Georgetown students get A grades across campus. Gradeflation -Plus campus, akin to Harvard.. where almost 85% are awarded A-grades. (i.e. over 80% graduate cum laude, Harvard). On Hoya-campus, the famed School of Foreign Service is a program where the average grade awarded is “A.” Courses and grades are a cake-walk. The NY Times July said that even the “famed’ law school bumped up the GPA of all their students — including alumni– by .33 points to give them an advantage when it came to being “competitive” for the job market. By White-Gravenor where the fish pond is located, a sophomore Died in a Drunken state by hitting his head on the concrete while drinking into the night. Note, he did not “collapse” due to exhaustion from studying too hard.. A house near Saxbys (O St.) partied til 4:30am starting Thursday, last day of classes, Fridays, Saturdays.. going for a full two years. When they “graduated” their bill from the realtor was $8,000 in “damages”.. from parties that went til 4am every week, Thurs-Fri-Saturday.

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