A group of Georgetown students launched stopcrimenotparties.com on Sunday, giving students the opportunity to report encounters with local residents, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Department of Public Safety, and the Student Neighbor Assistance Program.
The website’s goal? To document any instances of “questionable behavior” observed by students during those encounters — especially in the wake of an amended disorderly conduct law that outlaws any loud noise between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. that could be considered “likely to disturb one or more persons in their residence.”
Although no students have been arrested under the law since it took effect last month, it inspired the site’s launch.
“Obviously the new noise law means that things are changing a bit,” Adam Mortillaro (COL ’12), one of the founders of the site, said. “We just want to keep an eye on this as the ordinance moves forward.”
The law, which carries a punishment of up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine, has been met with strong student opposition. Last month, Mortillaro, who also serves as speaker of the Georgetown University Student Association Senate and is a member of the 15-college advocacy group DC Student Alliance, met with Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson, Director of Student Affairs Anne Koester, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Jeanne Lord, and Director of Student Programs Erika Cohen-Derr to discuss GUSA’s concerns about the law. During that meeting, the administrators encouraged a student-run effort to document incidents related to the law.
“They encouraged us to be able to take down the information and gather it,” he said. “We thought the best way to do that was create a website where students can go on online and register their concerns.”
Mortillaro, Colton Malkerson (COL ’13), Ben Goldhaber (SFS ’12), and Greg Laverriere (COL ’12) began to talk about the idea with each other shortly before spring break. And while they are all affiliated with GUSA — Malkerson is a senator, Goldhaber is the GUSA’s director of technology, and Laverriere is the newly-elected vice president — the site is privately funded by a small group of students.
The group’s next step is to tell other students about the site. They hope to team up with student leaders and go door to door at off-campus residences soon, and they’ve already ordered lawn signs that they plan to distribute to students next weekend. The signs read, “STOP CRIME / NOT PARTIES / We’ve been here since 1789. How about you? / Report inappropriate police, DPS, SNAP, and neighbor activity at: www.stopcrimesnotparties.com” and can be requested on the site. Although they suggest a $5 donation for a sign, Mortillaro said that payment is optional.
“We want to provide a service to students,” he said. “The money’s not that important.”
Since launching yesterday, the site has already gained the support of other groups, such as DC Students Speak. Mortillaro also hopes to meet with Mayor Vincent Gray to discuss the law and has opened a case file with the American Civil Liberties Union in the event that any students are arrested.
“We’re not accusing anyone of anything,” he said. “We’re just here to make sure that somewhere down the road, something awful doesn’t happen.”
Mortillaro added that he wants to keep the site’s mission “broad” and hopes to expand beyond the noise law issue.
“We’d like to use this website as a conversation starter,” he said. “It’s a stepping-stone to something greater — getting students to realize their rights as citizens of this city.”
StopCrimeNotParties is also on Facebook.