Just like last year, Vox has compiled a guide to “news you can use”, or in other words, an excessively comprehensive review of last year’s important news stories. Today, we cover the off-campus issues that made headlines.
Georgetown’s 2010 Campus Plan
Every ten years, the University has to submit a campus plan to the D.C. Zoning Commission, detailing its construction plans for the next decade. University administrators hosted a series of meetings to present the plan to the neighborhood and ask for feedback, but Georgetown residents have been unsupportive, to say the least.
Their main complaint: the University has no plans to add new undergraduate housing on campus, which means upperclassmen will continue to live in West Georgetown (the neighborhood east of the front gates) and Burleith (the neighborhood northwest of the hospital). The neighborhood associations have launched fundraising campaigns, circulated a petition, and put up lawn signs to oppose the 2010 Campus Plan.
While the plan has some initiatives to benefit undergraduates, such as a New South student center, Voice writers have expressed concern about circuitous free shuttle bus routes and overcrowding from increased graduate student enrollment.
But, you still might ask—why should you care?
61-Ds can ruin your shit
To combat student noise problems, the neighborhood associations have pushed for the expanded use of 61-Ds—citations that leave students with arrest records for noise violations. Even though the police do not physically arrest 61-D violators, the citations show up as arrests on violators’ criminal records and appear on routine background checks.
61-Ds carry a fine and violators can contest the citations in court. While 61-Ds are fairly rare—six were issued in the last calendar year—when it comes to loud parties, students should know the neighbors mean business.
When you venture off-campus, watch out for not only the Metropolitan Police Department, but also for amateur photographers. In April, town-gown tensions turned downright creepy with the launch of drunkengeorgetownstudents.com, a blog where Burleith resident Stephen R. Brown posted photos of students drinking and socializing, wrote accounts of their activities, and added his own commentary.
The University condemned Brown’s site, and students almost immediately launched a series of spoofs. The original server operator behind the website first told Brown to blur the students’ faces and then told him to shut it down. Brown now runs a blogspot, though it hasn’t been updated since May.
RIP Philly Pizza
Last year, neighborhood groups successfully campaigned to shut down Georgetown’s beloved late night pizza place, Philly Pizza. The neighbors’ complaints about the restaurant included drunken, belligerent mobs, excessive noise, public urination, trash and rats, but Board of Zoning Adjustment officially shuttered Philly P because it was zoned as a sit-down restaurant but operated as a carryout. While owner Matt Kocak said he would reduce hours and include more sit-down seating, his attempts fell flat, and he ultimately lost his appeal. Kocak is attempting to reopen, but Voice managing editor Molly Redden isn’t optimistic about his chances.
It’s not all bad news, though. Since the District of Columbia is not a state, it has a unique kind of hyper-local government in the form of advisory neighborhood commissions. There are 38 ANCs throughout the District. The commissioners pass resolutions about neighborhood issues, and District agencies must give their recommendations “great weight.” (For example, when the ANC goes to the zoning board with complaints about Georgetown’s 2010 Campus Plan, the zoning board is legally obligated to take its opinion into consideration). Vox provides extensive coverage of the monthly Georgetown ANC meetings. There is also a spot for one Georgetown student on the Georgetown ANC, and although it’s an uphill battle, Jake Sticka (COL ‘13) has decided to run for a seat on the commission when Aaron Gold’s (COL ’11) term expires this winter.