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Wednesday, July 31, 2013 11:33 p.m.

Top officials announce tougher rules for students living off-campus

Updated July 31 at 11:55 p.m.

GW will crack down on loud off-campus parties this fall with quicker disciplinary action for students and a new online complaint system for neighbors, University officials announced at a meeting with Foggy Bottom residents Wednesday.

The changes were some of the most dramatic steps the University has taken to calm its relationship with Foggy Bottom neighbors, who for years have called on GW to tighten its rules for students living off campus, particularly members of Greek life who are living in off-campus townhouses not registered with the University.

The University is taking action to enforce stronger disciplinary actions for students who misbehave off campus. Hatchet File Photo

The University now will collect addresses for all Greek life members living off campus, create an online complaint form for neighbors and take disciplinary action against students after a second verified report of disruptive behavior instead of a third. GW could also consider video footage from neighbors as verification that misbehavior occurred.

“We’re going to take a more proactive and aggressive role with fraternities and sororities, but we want to engage them in the conversation,” Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski said. “This is a series of attempts to address behavior in some different ways. It won’t be perfect and I’ll assure you we’ll probably make some mistakes along the way.”

Neighbors have long criticized students’ off-campus behavior in email listservs and community meetings, recounting stories about students throwing beer bottles at them and playing loud music in the middle of the night.

Students could also see fines for neighborhood misconduct, like failing to pick up trash during move-out, though Konwerski said that plan will be in a pilot phase. “If students and the community members were interested in [other] types of fines, as a way to diminish certain behaviors, we certainly would consider them and try to test them out,” Konwerski added in an email.

Students will also need to take part in a mandatory online orientation in August that lays out issues of underage drinking and objectionable noise.

If students do not attend meetings with staff outlining the changes this fall, they will face a course registration hold. The Greek life office will meet with fraternity and sorority members living off campus on Aug. 21 and 25. Other student organizations will begin reporting member addresses next spring and meet with advisers about the changes this fall.

“Really our goal is to discuss what we expect and what the community expects, and kind of how we can live in peace,” Konwerski said.

The University officials said they will also consider increasing the amount of time staff members monitor the neighborhood on weekend nights. University Police officers had been the ones knocking on townhouse doors during noise complaints until this spring when it changed its off-campus response protocol that violates D.C. law.

GW will try to change that law, officials announced Wednesday, by backing a potential D.C. Council bill that would allow campus police officers to break up parties in off-campus residences.

Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski said GW was moving toward addressing neighbor complaints of student rowdiness. Hatchet File Photo

Konwerski was joined at the meeting by some of GW’s top officials from the offices of general counsel, Greek life, and safety and security. He said in an email after the meeting that he would begin deeper discussions with Student Association leaders this week on how to put the policies into effect.

The moves come after the University announced it would mandate that students live on-campus through their junior year, beginning with the Class of 2018. That step was also listed as a way to appease neighbors, but has faced strong opposition from students for cutting down on cheaper living options.

The crackdown also follows Georgetown University, which reached an extensive agreement with neighbors last year during its campus plan negotiations that quieted complaints about student partying off campus.

At the meeting, Foggy Bottom, neighbors complained that GW is not doing enough to “play hardball” with students misbehaving off campus. Complaints mostly surrounded townhouses rented by students in the western part of the neighborhood – between 24th and 26th streets and down I Street and New Hampshire Avenue.

“I’ve invested all my savings in my home here, and I won’t let that go away because some kid wants to have a kegger,” said Daniel Gage, a Foggy Bottom resident, who described repeated problems with student partying near his house.

Some of the dozen Foggy Bottom residents at the meeting said they were pleased with the changes, and resident Marina Streznewski said she was even surprised GW moved with a comprehensive strategy so quickly.

“They know we’re angry,” she said after the meeting. “We’re civil, but we won’t be nice.”

  • LOLOLOLOL

    There are like 7 different topics of debate going on in the comments.

  • For gods sake

    Residents and Students alike are acting equally immature.

    1. Residents cite these 150 person parties that occur all the time. Well please tell me where because I dont know of many places that could even pretend to hold that many people.

    2. Residents talk to your neighbors. Forget that they are students. They are human beings first and foremost. If that doesnt work call MPD. Its quite simple. That is unless MPD isnt doing anything because your claims are unfounded and the students are not doing anything illegal. In that case yes try and make the university hold something over them.

    3. Students everyone provides their off campus address in banweb and has done so for years. This was horribly phrased by the administration, not surprisingly.

    4. Resdients get off your high horses, its very unbecoming to be so pompous.

    5. Residents, your property value has gone up significantly, we agree, however this is DIRECTLY attributable to GW. just 15 years ago this was a literal ghetto, as was most of DC. Then GW started pouring money into its surroundings and buildings and SURPRISE someone was able to sell their house for 1.3 million as stated above.

    6. EVERYONE GET OVER YOURSELVES

    That is all. If the city law doesnt get someone in trouble for something you deem wrong then making a fake governing body try to get them in trouble is one of the dumbest things I have EVER heard.

  • Alum

    @for gods sake

    “If the city law doesn’t get someone in trouble for something you deem wrong then making a fake governing body to try to make them in trouble is one of the dumbest things I has EVER heard.”

    Exactly.

    This is designed to get students in trouble who aren’t doing anything wrong. This isn’t about parties or loud noises. DC law already covers that.

    This is about specifically going after fraternities because they own property that GW wants. One of the administrators acknowledged wanting to get rid of these houses as the reason in the comments section (“Reasonable”).

    GW even has a public plan where they eliminate Phi Sigma Kappa in the near future.

    There is a decent chance the DC government will approve it because GW is the second most powerful local lobbyist (after the Federal government). The DC government officials care more about money more than the students. It’s their job; that’s how politics works, unfortunately. They’ve always done what GW asked in the past, such as making Sophomores live on-campus.

  • You suck

    @GWPeterK, yo is your hair ever not slicked back? Also, get a new suit. Or for that matter, wear something other than a suit. Someone, please, sign him up for Queer Eye for the Straight Administrator.

  • Try Me

    GW’s not stepping foot on my property.

  • Glazebrook

    Maybe Mr. Gage should have thought twice about investing all his savings into a home in a university area. What else do you expect? College is college.

  • Student2

    Konwerski looks such a slimeball/corporate pimp.

    Dean of Pimping Students

    Students should go to these meetings and tell them what they think about Fascism. If the students start protesting in large groups, the University will have to slow down pimping them.

  • Student

    Serious question: Is this sort of discrimination legal?

  • Alumnus

    GW doesn’t care about what’s legal. They commit crimes all the time. UPD has always violated their jurisdiction, and they regularly kidnap students they don’t like, because they are in a fraternity or are a Jew. GW claims the Student Code of Conduct allows them to arrest students when they want to because they’re students. The Student Code of Conduct doesn’t supercede the Constitution, but it’s allowed to because GW functiond like its own state. They are trying to get the law passed, so that when they do police on private property that isn’t theirs, it won’t be as illegal. The amount of illegal activity they’ll do will only increase, though.

    They’re a big private university. They don’t have any oversight. GW only gets challenged when students sue them, and not everyone is willing to do that, or has the money. They lose lawsuits all the time still, but it’s just part of the cost of doing business. There isn’t any student government or public presence on campus.

    GW owns DC. If you think the NRA is powerful in Congress, how powerful do you think a billion dollar corporation is in a small city?!

  • Student3

    Law what law? GW is the law. After a Judge told the University they had to change their systematic procedures because they discriminated against men, they ignored the contract they signed and instituted more discriminatory policies, and promoted the bigot responsible, Tara Pereira. Take that, Judge.

    Don’t expect the law to be on your side. There is no law at GW.

  • GWU Student

    Make your voice heard and tell GWU administration these new policies are not ok. Sign our petition:

    http://www.change.org/petitions/george-washington-university-stop-limiting-the-freedoms-of-students-when-it-comes-to-housing

  • El Oh El

    Peter K is such a slimeball. The guy just has zero respect from the students he claims to represent.

    Who would have ever thought the students would miss Christina, who is equally horrible?

    Lol.

  • Athlete

    GW has collected the housing information for its Student Athletes for a while now. I don’t think any athlete believes they are being targeted. When you receive accommodations and other forms of preferential treatment it is expected that you give back. For athletes it might be scholarships and for Greeks you can point to the allocation of University property for events. The school wouldn’t ask for these things if there wasn’t a problem with Fraternity houses off-campus. When you sign up for an organization that is affiliated with the university, you have to do things according to their rules. If you don’t like the way your being treated, have your organization disaffiliate from the University, or provide them with reasons for there to be trust between the two groups.

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