The Worst Idea Georgetown’s Ever Had: Party edition

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.

—Chris Heller

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.

—Molly Redden


Photo by Flickr user “evilerin” used under a Creative Commons license.

19 Comments on “The Worst Idea Georgetown’s Ever Had: Party edition

  1. How about donating WGTB’s radio signal to UDC, losing at least $25 mil in the process?

  2. Gotta agree with my comrade Brosef.

  3. Mount Vernon…Alban Towers…and any other number of real estate debacles.

  4. The only effective change of the new alcohol policy was the enforcement of existing occupancy limits. It was done after a party in Alumni Square literally fell through the ceiling of the apartment beneath it. The keg ban was a measure meant to help with this goal. Because only so many people can share a keg, the numbers of attendees would keep themselves at safer levels.

    The “three strike rule” has been used conservatively by administrators only to correct the behavior of students with outrageously unhealthy drinking habits. I haven’t yet heard of someone getting suspended because they got caught with a Zima in their hand three times over the course of a year.

    The point about driving students (*cough* freshmen *cough*) into the neighborhood is valid, but it was an unfortunate consequence of a push to curb what were legitimately unsafe numbers of partygoers apartment parties. I don’t think Dr. Olson deserves to be dragged through the mud because our littlest classmates can’t keep their act together walking from 37th and R back to campus.

    Point: Redden.

  5. The neighbors would still be complaining just as much even if the alcohol policy hadn’t been changed. It’s been the same every 10 years. That hasn’t changed.

  6. Were you even a student on both sides of the alcohol rule? The change in party-scene between 06/07 and 07/08 was INCREDIBLY dramatic. Killed the way weekends used to be and completely shifted student nightlife into Burleith and further into W Gtown.

    The administration has been careful in using the 3 strike rule, but they don’t bother to go after people with “outrageous” drinking habits, as you claim. I got a second ‘strike’ for having 1 beer in my dorm room, unopened.

  7. “completely shifted student nightlife into Burleith and further into W Gtown.” This is the neighbors fault right?

    GU is ON RECORD stating they could not control the large intoxicated groups of students on campus. Their answer to their problem? Make it the community’s problem. One of the community solutions- call 911. Students get sanctions and 61Ds and blame the community. GU smiles, says problem solved and please pay your tuition on time. Oh, and community we are bringing in thousands more students by the way.

  8. The Georgetown Voice: running out of current events to whine about so digging up events to exercise their entitlement since 1969.

  9. A question and a comment:

    1) When was the Bloc(k) Part abolished? I think it was before the time of currently rising seniors although I could be wrong.
    2) This year’s graduating class marks the graduation of the last class that experienced any time at Georgetown without the new alcohol policy. It’s a sad day in Mudville…

  10. Chris, it sounds like you may be in denial about the negative effects of binge drinking and alcohol abuse at GU–a problem it shares with many universities. On the other hand, several responders (Heller, P) correctly note that GU’s “solutions” merely exported the problem to other areas. Does anyone agree that intentionally getting drunk is a threat to public health and to be discouraged? Is the pro-drunkeness culture inevitable…the natural and right thing to do…?

  11. Pingback: Vox Populi » The Worst Idea Georgetown’s Ever Had: Alumni edition

  12. Pingback: Vox Populi » The Worst Idea Georgetown’s Ever Had: A final countdown

  13. Pingback: Vox Populi » FDA bans caffeinated alcoholic drinks; college parties everywhere get more boring

  14. Pingback: Vox Populi » Students: Better campus life would improve town-gown relations

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  16. Link exchange is nothing else but it is just placing the other person’s webpage link on your page at appropriate place and other person will also do same in favor of you.

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