Washington City Paper to computerless District dwellers: Steal GU’s internet!

Pegged to the story of Eric Sheptock, a homeless man in D.C. who has blogged about homeless issues all the way to CNN, NPR, and the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper has put together a guide of where to go in the District to access the Internet for free if you don’t have a computer.

Barring the D.C. Public Library system, which maintains about 600 free computers, or, not nearly enough to service the 40 percent of residents in City Wards 5, 7, and 8, WCP has put Georgetown’s Lauinger Library first in that guide:

“The best place in the area for virtually unlimited, unmonitored computer use. In what Georgetown officials say is ‘a conscious effort to reach out to the community and the city,’ the library is open daily from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. to anyone with a photo ID. On the main floor are 45 computers equipped with Windows Vista and available to anyone, though they tend to be for short-term use.

“The real sweet spot is downstairs. Open 24 hours most days (closed between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday nights), the basement’s Gelardin New Media Center has roughly 65 computers with a basic version of Windows; the chairs are soft, the lighting not too bright, and the computers all come with keyboard wrist pads.”

Flattering us further, reporter Amanda Abrams gives props to the Corp: “Best is the second-floor café, which is open until 2 a.m. many nights and offers dirt-cheap bagels with cream cheese,” she writes. While service can be notoriously slow at said café, Midnight Mug, we have to agree, those are some damn good, cheap bagels.

But a few points of information, D.C. residents: Not all 65 downstairs computers are available for anyone to use. Any computers that do extra stuff—video editing and scanning, for instance—required a Georgetown login that only students and employees have.

And Abrams incorrectly reports that through clever navigation of our “idiosyncratic entry scheme for outsiders,” you can enter the Library at 10:45 p.m., just before they start turning away outsiders, and “no one will care whether you’re a student or not.” In fact, the Department of Public Safety scours the Library almost every evening checking to see if you have a University ID once it’s time for outsiders to leave. If you don’t, adios.

Still, she closes with strong advice.

“[G]et ready for sensory deprivation—if you spend too much time in the windowless Gelardin Center, it will start to feel like a dungeon.”

8 Comments on “Washington City Paper to computerless District dwellers: Steal GU’s internet!

  1. they forgot to mention that outlets are few and far between in lau.

  2. no outlets? but how will people be able to plug in their non-existent computers?

  3. This is part of the reason I wish Lau would block sites like hulu. I’m trying to find a computer for write my paper and their all taken by 40 year old bums watching family guy.

  4. But then the neighbors might have to see (or, God forbid, interact with — EW!) homeless people, and I don’t think anyone’s going to stand for that.

  5. I’m all for free access to technology for those who can’t afford computers, but Lau isn’t equivalent to a public library. Perhaps the City Paper should hold off on encouraging outsiders to spend their nights in Georgetown’s library. Sure, most of those people are likely perfectly nice, but I’d rather the City Paper not give creepers any ideas. Georgetown is a private institution and has to ensure that its students, faculty, and staff feel safe.

  6. Completely agree. Lau is overcrowded enough as it is, and Georgetown has embarrassingly few facilities to accommodate all the students. At the risk of sounding elitist, we pay $50,000 to go here, and it’s more than a little frustrating when you walk into Gelardin needing to snag a computer just to print something out, and immediately see that some of the people in there using those computers aren’t paying a dime. The way in which City Paper wrote that blurb about Georgetown makes it sound like people are “getting away with something” if they can sneakily get into the place and use it all night long.

  7. Pingback: Vox Populi » Comments of the Week: The omnipotent, supreme commander of GUSA sucks at baseball

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