Saturday, September 5, 2020

Noble, Authoritarian Georgetown Needs Your Help in Regulating Student Behavior

Provost Groves: What part of respect my authority don't you understand?

At Georgetown, only a few students are living on campus or even allowed on campus.

Nevertheless, we practice "cura personalis" here. Cura personalis is a Latin phrase meaning, "Authority over the whole person, even if you are attending classes virtually." You see, Georgetown told students that if they live in any of the neighborhoods near campus, they must follow a strict set of behavioral guidelines regarding COVID-19 (guidelines that would, for instance, forbid them from kissing a significant other that they don't also live with). Keep in mind that these are students taking classes virtually and who are forbidden from stepping foot on campus. Georgetown does not merely take itself to have the authority to regulate the behavior of people living on campus, but also the behavior of students renting apartments nearby (including quite a distance away). 

Big surprise: Students aren't following the protocols. So Provost Groves needs parents' help. He sent out the following email recently:

September 4, 2020

Dear Georgetown University Parents,

Thank you for your efforts to ensure a smooth transition to the Fall semester at Georgetown University. We continue to be guided by the priority of health and safety for the members of our community, while providing a uniquely Georgetown learning experience for our students.


COVID-19 continues to present critical challenges we must meet. We appreciate that some Georgetown students had already committed to leases or living arrangements in the Georgetown neighborhood before the University’s decision was made to move to a virtual learning environment as we began the Fall semester.


If you have a student residing in neighborhoods surrounding the University, we write requesting your help, because in fact we are in this together.


Unfortunately, while many students are doing their part to keep everyone healthy, we have experienced a gap between the public health guidance we have given to our students and the choices some students are making. This is especially true among our students living in the local neighborhoods off-campus, with regard to wearing masks and social distancing.


We ask that you reinforce the requirement that your student wear a mask, except when alone or with roommates inside their living unit. In the neighborhoods and on campus, it is also critical for students to maintain at least six feet of distance between themselves and others at all times.


Further, please know that students cannot gather in groups of more than 10. Even if in groups less than 10, where students are not wearing masks or respecting physical distancing, the university will impose strict conduct sanctions. Students violating these policies will face negative sanctions, including possible suspension from the university.


If your student is in off-campus housing, please know that not only the host of a party in the house, but all residents of that house, are held accountable for behavior in the house and will be subject to the same sanctions, including suspension. 


We must all take steps necessary to pursue a safe and healthy semester for all students and everyone in our community, and to work towards the earliest possible return to campus for all students. If you have a student living in the area surrounding the University, your help in this effort, by having conversations with your student about these important requirements, is invaluable. Thank you for your partnership.



Robert M. Groves, Provost

Geoff Chatas, Senior Vice President and C.O.O.

Todd Olson, Vice President for Student Affairs

Legally speaking, as a private school, we have significant leeway to do this. Just as some schools can expel you for having pre-marital sex, Georgetown can suspend you for hanging out with your girlfriend in your apartment. But should it?