Students launch, distribute lawn signs

A group of Georgetown students launched 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:” 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.

19 Comments on “Students launch, distribute lawn signs

  1. Will they post pictures of our “adult” neighbors doing ridiculous things like waking up before the sun comes out?

  2. Maybe “Stop Crime, Not Students” might have been a better choice.

  3. Seconded, Suspicious.

    I don’t know how I feel about these signs. First, the phrasing seems a bit entitled, as if we have some inalienable right to party (yeah, yeah…). But also, I don’t have a problem with neighbors calling the police if students are really disorderly. More at issues is whether the misdeeds of a few means that we have to route our buses through Maryland and park in Vriginia. If the argument from the neighbors is “too many drunken partygoers” and we reply, like in these signs, “don’t stop us from partying,” we’re going to lose. Every time.

  4. Stop Crime, Not Boozin’

    What a fail.


  5. I think it makes sense. When neighbors call 911 because people are being loud and do not use SNAPS which was set up to appease them they are diverting resource to actual crimes. I know our Georgetown neighbors may not know, but the DC police need to address real crimes that happen in other areas. You live in a city. You chose to live next to a University. Get over it.

  6. also, the neighbors signs say \our homes not GU’s dorms\ and they demand that we have fewer students. Now THAT’S entitled.

  7. Neighbors: “Students do not have a right to live in the community.”

    Students’ Response????


    Glad to see GUSA’s finest really grasping nuance. This is already a PR snafu.

  8. GUSA has been kind of late in the game getting into this fight, with other groups like DC Students Speak demonstrating that acting entitled isn’t the way to go on this one. Do we sometimes party? Yes, but the neighbors seem to think that’s all we do. DCSS has chosen instead to emphasize the fact that students are citizens of the District and deserve the right to be heard as the valid residents we are.

    Responding to their inappropriate “OUR HOMES” signs with even more provocative ones isn’t gonna help us win ANC seats or get anyone in DC government to respect us. The odds are stacked against us here, and acting like the partiers they think we are is just playing into their arguments.

    Thanks for trying to bandwagon, but let DCSS lead the way here GUSA. Don’t set us another semester behind.

  9. Pingback: The Morning Metropolitan | The Georgetown Metropolitan

  10. Pingback: Vox Populi » GUSA passes resolution supporting

  11. actually yes….Georgetown as a port and residential community dates back to the 1740s. Please stop using that argument. It has nothing to do with students rights or the rights of the neighbors. The fact that GU has been here since 1789 does not mean that the laws of DC and the community do not apply to the current crop of students. Just like the fact that residents have inhabited Georgetown prior to 1789 givens no special rights to the neighbors. I am sure it is fun to say but lends nothing towards a productive dialogue.

    I think the law is silly – 10 – 7 does not make a lot of sense given that we are in the city and next to a university. I get that much. That said, I agree with the above – this sign is not doing the students any favors. Students do not have a right to party or commit what they are construing as minor crimes (public intoxication, public urination, destruction of property, and disturbing the peace) but they do have the right not to be harassed when they aren’t really doing anything wrong.

    I would fix the sign and focus on changing the law.

  12. Members of the student body have been here since the 18th century? Are they vampires? If so, are they the cool Eclipse kind, or the mean Blade kind?

  13. Well, someone beat me to the invalidating of the specious argument that the University being around since 1789 justifies some people being disruptive members of the community. If extended to its natural conclusion, since the neighborhood has been around longer, then the University should conform. Both viewpoints are illogical and more about bumper sticker slogans that dominate the current discourse in our nation. Though it would be fun to see the students who came up with this slogan embrace the 1789 University…first, get rid of all the women…then cut the total enrollment to a few hundred…add in formal attire as the expected norm. I actually bet even the most combative of the local residents would accept the 1789 version of Georgetown.

    Is the law silly? Possibly. Then again the DC municipal code is filled with silly laws (as are all law books). Ultimately it is a legal representation of a long time frustration with the issues that come with living in a diverse community. It is hard to negotiate with students, since most are only going to be living next door for a year and in the community for four…as a result they have no “skin” in the game as homeowners worried about property values or even damage to property. Many landlords exacerbate this by being absentee and expecting/tolerating the trashing of their properties and sadly offering them up as not much more than slum housing.

    As an alumni who has resided in the same house since 1990 (when I was a student), it has certainly ebbed and flowed around here. I used to have to call the police regularly as a student to deal with parties next door…though they did slow down a bit after the stabbing. The SNAP line is very responsive, and possibly the weight of the law has added to the pressure. If you think it is bad now…you should have been here years ago. Georgetown is a unique location…where students and leaders of tomorrow mix with wealthy and leaders of today. To my knowledge there is no other neighborhood like it…so both sides bare responsibility to be respectful and understanding of the other. To get respect one must give respect.

  14. No one is saying that people who commit crimes like public urination should not be held responsible. The law that was recently enacted does not specify a crime like that. Rather it creates a vague regulation that opens everyone up to police harassment. Maybe if you are a straight, white, heterosexual, wealthy male then it doesn’t scare you, but quite frankly I don’t trust Metro enough to enforce this law in a fair way.

  15. “Maybe if you are a straight, white, heterosexual, wealthy male then it doesn’t scare you”

    LOL – Really? Redundancy aside, that’s a ridiculous statement.

  16. Am I the only one who thinks the signs should just say “Sorry for partying?”

  17. I just don’t think it is that far a reach to talk about other crimes that can be associated with parties. The sign implies that there are more serious crimes that the police should be focused on. Public intoxication, public urination, destruction of property, and disturbing the peace are some of the crimes typically associated with parties. When you say Stop Crimes, Not Parties one can infer that you do not take the potential criminal activities that can result from these parties to be as serious as other crimes. If the group wants to go on record to support the more aggressive enforcement of other laws on the books to address these types of crimes while simultaneously fighting the new ordinance that is fine. I can see your point that there is not a direct connection spelled out in black and white but to imply that it is not one of the issues is disingenuous.

    I too believe that the law is vague and grants police a lot of discretion. I am hispanic and live in Georgetown (I know that probably blows your mind) the law does not scare me. If I lived elsewhere in the city I would be concerned. The new law probably over reaches and needs to be amended but the goal of this campaign is not justice or equal protection….it is parties. Please also note that “straight, white, heterosexual, wealthy” (4/5 of your criteria) apply to the vast majority of the Georgetown student body so I guess it must be the neighbors infringing on their “right” to party that is bothering them so much. How is that for a generalization?!

  18. Public intoxication, public urination, destruction of property, and disturbing the peace are crimes, yes…but no, I don’t think they’re as serious as other crimes that HAVE been occurring in the neighborhood. Do I want some guy peeing in public at 2:00 AM as he sings “Sweet Caroline” at the top of his lungs? Not particularly. Would I prefer that Metro focus its attention on, say, the sexual assailants whose crimes keep turning up in my inbox? Absolutely. The crimes associated with partying are typically more annoying than they are dangerous or threatening, and considering that there are dangerous and threatening crimes going on in the community, I think that the amount of effort being put into stopping a bunch of students from partying is not only discriminatory but a disservice to the community.

  19. I should have added sexual assault to the list of crimes associated with parties……

    90% of all campus rapes occur when alcohol has been used by either the assailant or the victim. (Facts on Tap website)

    One in twelve college males admit to having committed acts that meet the legal definition of rape or acquaintance rape. (Facts on Tap website)

    55% of female students and 75% of male students involved in acquaintance rape admit to having been drinking or using drugs when the incident occurred. (Facts on Tap website)

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