For the next couple of weeks, Voice Managing Editor Molly Redden and I will be pitting the University’s most foolish decisions against one another in a feature we’re calling “The Worst Idea Georgetown’s Ever Had.” Today, we discuss two decisions we think radically altered partying at Georgetown, and then let you vote on which you think was worse. We’ll keep the polls open for you votes until next week, when we’ll tackle a new category. Ultimately, you’ll choose the worst move ever made by Georgetown.
The Alcohol Policy
Party registration. Keg bans. Suspensions. For a school that once housed a bar in the basement of Healy Hall, Georgetown has changed an awful lot.
In May 2007, as students buckled down for finals and seniors prepared for graduation, Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson announced a revised alcohol policy that applied strict rules to on campus parties. The sneaky move, which caught many students off guard, effectively killed on campus parties thereafter. Although student-based suggestions at the end of the 2008-09 academic year led to minor changes in the policy, make no mistake—Georgetown’s party scene has never been the same.
In case you’ve forgotten, the policy limits the size of on campus parties (25 to 35 attendees, with some exceptions for townhouses and Village A rooftop apartments), suspends students if they run afoul three times, and hilariously bans “board games … such as ‘Drinko’, ‘Keel Over’, and ‘Shots and Ladders’.” (No! Not Drinko!)
Are you sick of the bickering between students, administrators, and residents about the 2010 Campus Plan? Well, if weren’t for the alcohol policy, we’d probably hear much less about town-gown relations. The strict regulations encouraged students to move parties off campus, turning many Burleith and West Georgetown residents into angry, sleep-deprived people. Their complaints even led the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department to issue 61D citations for “excessive noise.” (And of course, if you receive a 61D citation, it lands on your arrest record.)
The alcohol policy is the worst idea Georgetown’s ever had. Hell, it might even get you arrested.
Banning the Block Party
Before Georgetown Day, there was Block Party.
Block Party was an one-day outdoor carnival of drinking that masqueraded as a charity barbecue. Much to the chagrin of Georgetown administrators, students would drink openly and sloppily right outside the front gates. It died in 2000 when the Vice President for Student Affairs, Juan Gonzales, withdrew University support for this annual shit-facing of students in the streets of West Georgetown.
Gonzales’ kill shot was pretty savvy. Despite the fact that it took place on school property, students never previously needed University approval for their April bacchanalian, so Gonzales’s decision caught students off guard. And no one was prepared to meet the strict conditions Gonzales put forth for holding Block Party within Georgetown’s gates as an alternative.. Attempts to resurrect Block Party became an annual tradition for various student governments, (as did decrying its death), but those attempts were eventually abandoned. With the arrival of Georgetown Day—and the graduation of those who fondly remember getting blackout in the direct path of G2 buses—people pretty much gave up on Block Party.
Why was killing it the worst idea Georgetown ever had? Because it precipitated the watering-down of Georgetown’s Spring boozefest. (In the words one Vox commenter, “First they water down Block Party by making it Georgetown Day and then they water down Georgetown Day by searching backpacks?”) But more importantly, it signaled the end of an era at Georgetown—an era during which you could drink without serious danger of disciplinary consequence. Killing Block Party and keeping it dead was one of the last big hurdles the University had to jump in order to assert total control over students’ drinking habits, and then rein them in. With Block Party still alive and raging, could Georgetown credibly enforce an alcohol policy that limits kegs and requires party registration? No way.
But most of all, let’s remember this: You can say what you want about Georgetown’s responsibility to curtail bad drinking behavior, but killing Block Party was a terrible idea because Block Party sounds like it was super fucking awesome.
Photo by Flickr user “evilerin” used under a Creative Commons license.