Earlier this semester, this page called upon the University and its new Office of Foggy Bottom and District of Columbia Affairs to actively work with students living off campus to ensure conditions in student-rented townhouses were safe. While the Office should be commended for its leadership role in this endeavor, it must be wary to not overstep its boundaries as a liaison between GW administrators, students and the community at large.
Recently, the Office worked in concert with Foggy Bottom neighbors to combat the occupation of a condemned townhouse which students have allegedly been using for parties. While the alleged individuals are in fact students, living off campus should preclude them from being constantly policed by University officials and bodies. Just like all other District residents, these students should be subjected to D.C. law and be charged and judged accordingly. In a situation where a resident has a specific complaint about student residents and calls the Office for assistance, it should encourage the individual to contact D.C. authorities, rather than deploying the University’s own resources to investigate the incident.
The University, to an extent, is responsible for student behavior. However, in current circumstances where student justice is already unnecessarily secretive, the University must ensure it remains engaged in the affairs of its own tenants and not extend its precarious jurisdiction into off-campus affairs.