Greater Greater Washington

Education


Improve campus life to fix Georgetown town-gown relations

The Office of Planning's recent recommendation to require Georgetown University to house 100 percent of undergraduates on campus would both severely damage Georgetown student life and fail to achieve the campus plan opponents' objectives. A better approach would be to make campus a more desirable place to be.


Photo by swe.anna on Flickr.

If Georgetown improved student gathering spaces, brought back Healy Pub, reduced restrictions for on-campus parties, added more housing and helped students avoid problematic landlords, many students would voluntarily move on campus and spend more social time there.

OP's report followed more than two years of negotiations over Georgetown's 2010 campus plan and changed the debate considerably. Recognizing that there is likely no room to build enough dormitories to house 100% of undergrads on Georgetown's campus, the OP report would mandate that the University reduce enrollment to equal the available housing.

In the Zoning Commission hearings, OP representatives also hinted that they would look favorably upon satellite housing and forced triples, like there are at American University. But satellite housing would only further fragment campus life.

Freshmen should not be forced to live in 170-square-feet triples while paying for some of the most expensive University housing in the country. Reducing enrollment by nearly 25 percent would represent a huge blow to the University's already constrained financial resources. These losses could lead to layoffs at the District's largest private employer.

Additionally, requiring all students to live on-campus would reduce the vibrancy and diversity of the already fairly staid surrounding community. Students live off-campus so that they can assert their independence and learn what it is like to live on their own. This arrangement, which furthers student ties to their community, should be encouraged, especially by a city hoping to expand its tax base.

Fortunately, the OP seems to recognize that their recommendations are not the only way forward. At the May 12 Zoning Commission hearing, OP representative Jennifer Steingasser repeatedly said that she was open to other solutions, so long as they brought students back on-campus and mitigated objectionable impacts in the community.

These solutions are possible. Today, Georgetown students spend time off-campus because they are frustrated by a lack of on-campus space that meets their needs. There's no real reason to live close to the center of student life, because there isn't one.

As long that is true, students will continue to socialize in the community and frequent bars on M Street, even if they are barred from living off-campus. A more holistic plan to remedying the objectionable impacts that OP sees is needed. Such a plan, which both recognizes the need to draw students back on-campus and their right to live off-campus, is laid out below.

Increase student space

For years, students have been advocating for more student space on campus. In 1999, a group of student leaders compiled the Report on Student Life, which recommended that the University reorganize Leavey Center and invest in a real student union. Plans for a New South Student Center were included in the 2000 Campus Plan but never came to fruition, and the proposal is again part of the 2010 Campus Plan.

Last year, the Student Space Working Group released a report that found that the same problems still exist a decade later. When surveyed, 64 percent of students said they desired more study space, 56 percent desired more social space, 49 percent desired more space for eating, 41 percent desired more meeting space, and 32 percent desired more student club space. The longer the students had been at Georgetown, and the more involved they were in extracurricular activities, the more frustrated they were with the space available.

What's more, when asked to identify the center of student life on campus, a plurality of students (33 percent) said it was Lauinger Library. This perception demonstrates a core problem. The spaces available do not meet the full variety of student needs, which means students need to use space in a way that conflicts with its intended purposefor example, we socialize in an area where other people are trying to studywhich renders the space ineffective.

As a result, a full 17 percent of those surveyed answered that there was no center of student life at all.

The closest thing we have to a student unionSellinger Lounge in the Leavey Centerhas not become the student-centered space it was envisioned as because of the presence of hotel guests and Georgetown Hospital staff.

If the campus were the real center of student life, more students would choose to live on-campus. The University can and should create spaces and opportunities for a healthy social scene to thrive.

Bring back Healy Pub

Many alumni still wistfully remember Healy Pub, the bar located in the basement of Georgetown's signature building. In 1987, responding to the higher drinking age, the University ordered the pub to shut down. Town-gown struggles began in full-force in the early 1990s, as student social life began to shift to private parties in Burleith and West Georgetown.

Now, a group of students are trying to bring the pub back. Since 2001, the student body has been paying into a Georgetown University Student Association Endowment Fund. The interest from the fund was supposed to finance student activities once the fund reached $10 million by 2011, but the University reneged on its promised $3 million contribution, so the fund has only reached $3.4 million. The student association leaders now consider the endowment a failure and plan to re-appropriate the money. We have $3.4 million to spend, and the Endowment Commission, identifying the same lack of student space we have, voted last month to put $3.23 million towards the pub.

The proposal is to model the pub after Queen's Head Pub at Harvard. On weekend nights, the area would function as a bar. Those under 21 would be allowed to enter, but they would not be allowed to drink. The rest of the time, the space would function as a lounge, where students could meet, socialize, work, eat snacks and reserve private rooms for meetings.

There are obvious obstacles. Once running, the pub will need an alcohol license, which obviously requires support from the Georgetown Advisory Neighborhood Commission.

Also, the Financial Aid Office and other administrators currently occupy Healy basement, so students need the University's assistanceand blessingin relocating the people already there to space that will be opened up with the completion of the new science center.

Although the New South Student Center is a necessity and a part of the plan that students welcome, it is not enough. A student-designed, student-run, student-financed space in the heart of Georgetown's historic campus would go a very long way to creating a stronger sense of on-campus community and toward bringing socialization back on-campus.

Reduce on-campus party restrictions

During finals week in 2007, Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson surprised students with the announcement of a new alcohol policy. Administrators had decided to institute a one-keg limit, require host training for parties, require students to register parties by Thursday morning, limit the number of students, and increase sanctions for violations, with a third violation leading to suspension. At the time, the Georgetown Voice termed the changes "draconian."

The following September, the student association president led administrators on a tour through campus on a Saturday night. To their surprise, "There were about eight people standing around [on the rooftops] … and when they moved on to Henle, they could hear crickets in the courtyards." Before, it had been one of the biggest party weekends of the year.

Neighbors complained that they noticed an increase in off-campus parties and student noise. Students expressed fear of throwing parties on-campus, citing the new increased sanctions and party registration requirements.

Now, the dynamic has shifted somewhat. Many students express similar fears of 61-Ds for noise violations or Office of Off-Campus Student Life sanctions for off-campus parties.

Students know that despite their best efforts, parties often take on a life of their own, especially at the beginning of the year when groups of freshmen search high and low for a party to crash. Therefore, students decide to throw their parties on- or off- campus depending on where they perceive they'll attract the least trouble.

If we want students to socialize on-campus, we should consider this constant calculus. To an extent, we can shift the party culture by simply shifting the incentives. As we have seen in the last few years, it's not enough to increase the punishments for out-of-control off-campus parties. We need to also loosen the restrictions on on-campus parties.

Meet all undergrad demand for on-campus housing, starting with hotel and 1789 Block

The University maintains that it has provided housing for all undergraduates who have requested it. However, should the above measures be implemented, more upperclassmen will want to live on-campus so that they can be closer to the center to student activity. This is especially true if the expansion locations are well-integrated with existing student patterns.

Considering the existing campus, the two sites for additional housing that seem most sensible are the Leavey Center hotel and the block bounded by Prospect, N, 36th, and 37th, known informally as the "1789 block."

Although the Leavey Center has many flaws as a student center and should ultimately be replaced, it has recently become more student-friendly with the opening of the Hariri Business Building, which connects to Leavey. This trend will continue when the new science center opens in fall 2012 (plans call for the science center to connect to Leavey via open lounge spaces). The addition of student housing to Leavey will help ensure that foot traffic in the building returns to being predominantly student-driven, as opposed to hotel guest- or hospital staff-driven.

The "1789 block" which was once a part of the 2010 Campus Plan, would add up to 250 beds and 8,500 square feet of neighborhood servicing retail in the middle of a university-owned block right outside the university's gates. This project would be within a block of three other university dormitories and two university academic buildings. The "1789 block" would be closer to the front gates than the preexisting Nevils apartment complex and LXR dorm. This space is already a center of student activity, and additional commercial areas so close to campus would entice more students to the area.

The University estimates that these two projects could house approximately 500 undergraduates. This would bring the total number housed on-campus to 5,553, which represents about 92 percent of Georgetown's traditional undergraduate enrollment. This figure compares favorably to every university in Washington and is in line with schools like Harvard, Princeton and MIT, which OP praises in their report as models.

Rate My Landlord

Even if these measures are successful, approximately 8 percent of undergraduates will still have the ability to live off-campus.

However, those students who choose to move out of University housing often pay high rents for low-quality neighborhood housing. Slum landlords regularly fail to maintain their property or respect tenant rights. Students are blamed for the unsightly rental houses, when it is the landlord's responsibility to pay for upkeep.

Theoretically, the Georgetown Office of Off-Campus Life is there to "address the needs and concerns of off campus students." In practice, the office spends as least as much time serving its secondary function: acting "as a liaison between the university and our neighbors, encouraging dialogue about issues of mutual concern."

Lost in the shuffle are the students, who need a stronger advocate in their negotiations with landlords.

One service that would make a big impact would be a "rate my landlord"-type website, where students and other subletters could share information about rental rates, housing quality, upkeep and landlord responsiveness.

Students don't want to live under poor conditions. With more transparent information, students can demand better treatment and drive the slumlords out of business.

The takeaway

In the long run, holistic solutions that aim to improve campus and community life will be far more effective than draconian mandates, which will mire us in legal battles for years to come. We ask that the Zoning Commission, University, and community rethink their approach. The only solutions that can truly address persistent town-gown tensions will be the ones that also take student interests into account.

Kara Brandeisky is a student at Georgetown University majoring in government. She writes for the Georgetown Voice, recently as campus news and politics columnist and currently as its features editor. 
Jake Sticka is a member of Georgetown University's class of 2013, majoring in Government. Originally from San Diego, California, Jake was elected to ANC2E in November 2010. He also serves as President of the DC College Democrats. 

Comments

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It seems like a lot of the problems are caused by the drinking age being 21. Given that it's ridiculous (and, to my mind, unfair) to expect 19 year olds not to drink, maybe a Hamsterdam solution on the GU campus wouldn't be amiss?

by Dan Miller on Jun 2, 2011 12:46 pm • linkreport

Targeting landlords in Burleith and West Georgetown is critical. While there are some landlords who own a few properties and manage them well, there are several large property management companies who charge exorbitant rents but do little to ensure safety, regular maintenance and appearance in the neighborhood. Students often get a bad rap for unsightly houses but most often apathetic landlords are the real problem.

Part of this problem arises because the demand is so high. Even if some students boycott certain management companies or decide to live on campus, there will be another group looking to live off campus.

Requiring more students on campus could lower the townhouse demand and force landlords to provide a better housing stock, but there are other options too. The university should make students aware (and work on their behalf) of building codes and tenant laws to protect against negligent landlords. DCRA also should also crack down on these slumlords, which can ultimately help students and the neighbors.

by Jamie Scott on Jun 2, 2011 12:56 pm • linkreport

@Dan Miller, you have struck on one of the key roots of the problem in regard to most current town-gown conflicts in the US. Unfortunately, the legal (and resulting liability/insurance) issues surrounding any type of "wink and a nudge" enforcement make a Hamsterdam approach impossible.

Many college and university presidents have sought to make this a larger policy initiative (see: http://www.amethystinitiative.org/), but without a legal change, there are significant constraints to the ability of colleges and universities to look the other way.

by Jacques on Jun 2, 2011 1:06 pm • linkreport

On dealing with slum landlands, one service that was really valuable to me, when I was a grad student was the office that helped students with various civil legal issues like landlord/tenant issues. They did things like reviewed leases for students and would help them understand their rights. Often a letter from that office to a bad landlord reminding landlords of the law would get a response. They helped me do the paperwork to take a landlord that wouldn't return my security deposit or explain why he wasn't returning it to landlord tenant court and gave me some idea of what to expect and what to argue. If Georgetown doesn't have something like that they should consider it.

by Kate W on Jun 2, 2011 1:20 pm • linkreport

It's a college; not a prison. That's ridiculous for anyone to expect 100% of undergraduates to live on-campus. Please find me another institution of a size similar to Gtown that has 100% on-campus housing rates.

I feel badly for current gtown students. It seems like they are getting attacked from two fronts: the hostile (and delusional) gtown residents and an administration that is intent on policing their every single move.

And I hate to recycle this old argument, but the only reason it reappears is because of the enormous truth to it: NOBODY living near the university can claim ignorance as an excuse. The university has been there a long time and is not going anywhere. If you hate it so much, then just MOVE. The argument would be no different if I moved into those new condos that are about to open across from the GW emergency room and then complained about the sirens late at night. Can't the ambulances turn their sirens off when they are a couple of blocks from the hospital? Can't we reduce the number of people admitted to the ER every night?

by MJ on Jun 2, 2011 1:32 pm • linkreport

@Dan Miller--

The 21-as-national-drinking-age came about in 1984, in which states that did not set the age for purchase and public possession of alcohol to at least 21 would lose 10% of their highway funds.

Unfortunately for the prospects of liberalized laws in DC, DC goes far beyond what is required to keep all of its federal funding and prohibits underage drinking in all circumstances. (According to Wikipedia, at least, many states, contrary to popular belief, do not prohibit underage consumption in private settings, and many also permit underage consumption in restaurants with parental supervision and approval.)

But I'd like to see a financial analysis of what DC could stand to gain in increased alcohol taxes if we liberalized the drinking laws, compared to what we would stand to lose in highway funding. But there's enough room in the transportation funding laws for DC to liberalize private and on-campus drinking and keep all the transportation money as well.

by thm on Jun 2, 2011 2:02 pm • linkreport

@ MJ: +1.

It's kinda embarrassing to see this defensive plea from students. Students should never, ever do anything that remotely resembles accepting the fact that they should be herded onto campus. There are monkeys in the National Zoo that have more freedom than students in DC!

If students want to get more campus activity, it would probably be more productive to publish in a forum that is actually read by the administration. I doubt John DeGioia has GGW on his daily checklist.

by Jasper on Jun 2, 2011 2:08 pm • linkreport

@Jasper

In our defense, we are being proactive in that we are trying to put $3.23 million worth of student money towards student space in Healy. The question is whether the administration will work with us to make it happen - and that may require support from the neighborhood.

by Kara Brandeisky on Jun 2, 2011 2:12 pm • linkreport

I hear there's a lot of empty space out on the National Mall Georgetown could make use of...

by Proud Burleither on Jun 2, 2011 2:18 pm • linkreport

Ask some students at other colleges how they like forced triples and satellite housing?

My alma mater eliminated satellite housing at enormous expense, and kept the buildings shut despite a housing shortage prompted by increased enrollment requirements from the state.

Those rooms had that bad of a rap, and were seriously hindering the college's ability to attract students.

Also, take a look at graduation/retention rates for students living in forced triples/quads. I don't have numbers offhand, but it isn't good.

by andrew on Jun 2, 2011 2:31 pm • linkreport

Good work, Kara and Jake. Solid, useful proposals, although I can imagine the Clydes group running a full-court press to prevent Healy Pub from reopening, lest The Tombs lose a big chunk of its business.

I also don't know that it's feasible and/or legal to essentially shut down the GU Hotel & Conference Center and convert the hotel to student housing.

Another big step toward this goal would be to blow up Yates and replace it with a true, multi-level student recreation/fitness center. That's not happening anytime soon, alas.

For what its worth, the plans I've seen for "new and improved Lauinger" are, in fact, a massive improvement. Having that as one of the centers of social life (at least the academic component of it) on campus wouldn't be such a bad thing, especially compared to what it looks like today.

by Dizzy on Jun 2, 2011 2:40 pm • linkreport

@Jasper: Failing to accept the realities of the situation would be naive. Do I feel as though students living in Georgetown & Burleith cause inherently objectionable affects? Of course not. Having sat through every ZC hearing & read the OP report do I believe that the ZC's ultimate decision will be agree with me in this regard? Nope.

Considering these constraints, it is imperative that we push back against the principle of 100% on-campus, which I think we both see as absolutely ludicrous and draconian. The fat of the manner is if these principles were to go into place, Georgetown students would want to be on-campus, without any herding involved.

As for publishing elsewhere, it has been done. Both campus publications have covered these issues with insight. I trust that this article will find its way to interested parties.

by Jake on Jun 2, 2011 2:41 pm • linkreport

@Dizzy: The administration seems to think that the hotel conversion is at least somewhat feasible: http://blog.georgetownvoice.com/2011/04/05/olson-discusses-campus-plan-changes/

As for a Yates renovation: I'm with you. As with a number of things at Georgetown, if only the capital existed...

by Jake on Jun 2, 2011 2:47 pm • linkreport

i really don't see what all the fuss is about with 100% on-campus housing for undergrads. Brown used to do that (you had to apply for special permission to live off-campus), and i think it helped town-gown relations tremendously. (for reference, undergrad population approx 5k.)

it also seems to me that if undergrads object so highly to the university's policies, they can transfer elsewhere. the market will eventually even out.

by AJ on Jun 2, 2011 2:56 pm • linkreport

"it also seems to me that if undergrads object so highly to the university's policies, they can transfer elsewhere."

Given that GU is a major private employer in the District, this seems like a sub-optimal solution.

I'd also note that this sentence is logically equivalent to "If Gtown residents don't like students living in the neighborhood, they can move elsewhere."

by Dan Miller on Jun 2, 2011 3:07 pm • linkreport

One nit-
While "Healy Pub" did close in 1987 to facilitate the student center move to the then-new Leavey Center, a new Pub did open up there and lasted through around 1994 or so. The problem was it was poorly managed, where underage (and indeed, free) drinking was common. The University realizes that tuition $$ was being used to subsidize this and shut the place down at that point. The Corp was even asked to take it over, but declined.

by Dave on Jun 2, 2011 3:17 pm • linkreport

@Dan-
Given that GU is a major private employer in the District, this seems like a sub-optimal solution.
hence my next sentence.
I'd also note that this sentence is logically equivalent to "If Gtown residents don't like students living in the neighborhood, they can move elsewhere."
logically, perhaps, but not functionally. i can't imagine someone with more flexibility in where they choose to attend undergrad than someone who can afford g'town (either through scholarship or SES). adults have somewhat less flexibility, not to mention greater permanence in a neighborhood. IMO, the interests of long-term residents carry greater weight than the definitionally transient undergrad population.

requiring students to live on-campus isn't jailing them, or taking away their rights.

by AJ on Jun 2, 2011 3:18 pm • linkreport

The bar in Leavey was still open in the late 90s at various times. At one point student bartending was re-introduced but quickly shut down because of underage drinking.

by Dave on Jun 2, 2011 3:24 pm • linkreport

Jake,

I saw that at the time and wasn't sure what to make of it, i.e. how serious the proposal was.

Given that this plan will no doubt end up in the courts for years, it would give the University some time to put together a process and the funds necessary for something like that, so I suppose given a wide enough timeframe, it is feasible. I don't know the specifics of the GU/Aramark contract, but I assume there are escape clauses. I don't know what the terms would look like, though.

by Dizzy on Jun 2, 2011 3:25 pm • linkreport

@AJ -- speaking personally, I have a lot more mobility as a Georgetown resident with a full-time job, than I did 12 years ago as a Georgetown undergraduate on financial aid.

I'm also unclear on whether OP has proposed requiring undergraduates to live on campus, or requiring Georgetown to offer that capacity. If it's the latter, what does OP suggest if GU builds the housing (forgoing other things they would otherwise do with those construction funds, like some of the items mentioned by Kara and Jake in the article), but 1,000 students still prefer to live off-campus?

by Jacques on Jun 2, 2011 3:33 pm • linkreport

I love booze on campus.

My alma mater, the Univ. of Wisconsin, serves a lot of beer at the Memorial Union. The Rathskeller is a great basement beer-hall type place. They have a food service side and then the bar side (der Stiftskeller) - 23 beers on tap!

http://www.union.wisc.edu/food/stiftskeller.html

Underage drinking was never a problem. It certainly happened, but then again I'm not so sure that it qualifies as a problem in a boozy state like Wisconsin.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/16/us/16wisconsin.html

Combine the Rathskeller with the Memorial Union's lakeside terrace, and you've got a wonderful place on campus for the entire community (not just students) to grab a beer and hang out.

by Alex B. on Jun 2, 2011 3:37 pm • linkreport

AJ - Every neighbor is but a mere transient compared to the university, which also has essentially zero flexibility on where it is located. So by your logic, it's interests should carry the greatest weight of all.

by Dizzy on Jun 2, 2011 3:40 pm • linkreport

@AJ -- following up on my previous comment. As a student on financial aid, I came to Georgetown specifically because they offered the most generous package of the schools I applied to, so that flexibility was not available elsewhere.

by Jacques on Jun 2, 2011 3:45 pm • linkreport

Hey AJ. Two things for what they are worth:

1) I come from a low-income background and attend Georgetown completely thanks to financial aid. Like Jacques, among the reasons I chose Georgetown was that they aid package was the most competitive.
2) I wouldn't say that Georgetown neighbors are a model of permanency. Some stay for long periods (and to be fair, some undergraduates transition to living in the neighborhood for long periods themselves). Many others, though, sell their homes quickly or live in them for only a few months at a time, spending the rest of the year abroad.

by Jake on Jun 2, 2011 4:27 pm • linkreport

@ Kara: and that may require support from the neighborhood.

Which you will never get. They oppose the very presence of the university.

@ Jake: The fat of the manner is if these principles were to go into place

But they won't, and you argue that yourself. You're playing defense here, while you should be playing offense. Offendedly so.

As for publishing elsewhere, it has been done.

Missed that, will keep my eyes better open.

BTW, Kara & Jake: You two do deserve props for speaking out. That makes you better than 99% of all students, too many of whom are not even aware of these issues.

@ AlexB:I love booze on campus.

I love booze on campus.

My alma mater had weekly free delivery of beer by the local brewery at dorms (note, free delivery of beer, unfortunately not delivery of free beer). When I toured the brewery, I asked why they did that. They said it was the cheapest way to create brand loyalty. They had the trucks driving around town anyway, so they might as well swing over campus. Too bad I didn't live on campus...

by Jasper on Jun 2, 2011 5:05 pm • linkreport

The DC Human Rights Law forbids rounding up students and forcing them to live in restricted areas:

§ 1-2515. Unlawful discriminatory practices in real estate transactions.

(a) General. It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice to do any of the following acts, wholly or partially for a discriminatory reason based on the race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal
appearance, sexual orientation, family responsibilities, disability, ***matriculation***, political affiliation, source of income, or place of residence or business of any individual:

(1) To interrupt or terminate, or refuse or fail to initiate or conduct any transaction in real property; or to require different terms for such transaction; or to represent falsely that an interest in real property is not available for transaction;

(4) To refuse or restrict facilities, services, repairs or improvements for a tenant or lessee;

A strict interpretation of the law forbids the DC government itself or the University (except when acting in loco parentis in the case of a minor) from denying an inidividual his or her right to choose a place to live because of matriculation.

Of course, the DC Government and the Georgetown neighbors consider themselves - and therefore act - above the law.

by Mike on Jun 3, 2011 8:49 am • linkreport

Reduce numbers? Each GT student pays a huge fee to go there, and then must spend tens of thousands to live. All this is money in the pockets of DC and the neighborhood.

Another thing that mystifies me is that there is so much conflict. In a lot of town/gown conflicts you have rich college kids in a blue collar city, and there is a complete failure of perspective from each side (Eton Rifles and all that) GT University is particularly strong in foreign service, politics etc, and is in a wealthy neighborhood full of people in the foreign service, politics, etc. It should be a good match.

by SJE on Jun 3, 2011 6:45 pm • linkreport

Don't forget that Georgetown (the neighborhood) used to be a LOT poorer. Without GU, Georgetown might have remained poor and decayed. Instead it has evolved into this tony neighborhood, who now wants to kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

by SJE on Jun 3, 2011 6:48 pm • linkreport

@ SJE -

While it may be true that GU has helped boost Georgetown's credentials, the neighborhood's evolution from a poor, working-class neighborhood where many of the African-Americans who worked at the Waterfront (back in its industrial days) lived, to what it is today, has much less to do with GU than it does with the impact of the Kennedy family's presence in the neighborhood and the historic preservation movement that helped Georgetown retain so much of its character that has been torn down in other parts of the city. The University is only one small part of the greater picture of the Georgetown neighborhood's evolution.

by recent grad on Jun 6, 2011 4:03 pm • linkreport

I totally agree with the concept that universities such as Georgetown need to make it more attractive to live on campus, and that alcohol regulations are a part of that.

I'm struck with the contrast to the Claremont Colleges - a consortium of five colleges in California that include some of the top-ranked private colleges in the country. Over 97% of the students live on the campus. The consortium permits parties with alcohol(most of which are financed by student activity fees), but they must be held on campus, and be registered and accessible to all. With all the partying limited to campus, there are minimal issues with off-campus noise, nuisance, drunk driving or with medical emergencies from alcohol poisoning. And it fosters a strong sense of campus identity. After freshman year, student housing consists of apartment style suites, which, while not palatial in all the individual colleges, still attract students, because of the proximity to campus facilities and activities, including excellent internet service and ready availability of technical support and high quality printers. Identity is also promoted by attractively landscaped public spaces (OK, it is outside of LA, so that helps). A fabulous resource, the Marian Miner Cook Athaneum, offers notable speakers Monday - Thursday, with white table cloth dining at dining hall prices. If DC Council needs to enact legislation explicitly permitting the waiving of drinking age limits for private, appropriately supervised college events, and that would help to rectify off-campus behavious problems, it should do so.

by Campus Plan Reform Advocate on Jun 8, 2011 1:05 am • linkreport

Here's another idea:

1. Move the hospital, med school, and nursing school to Hill East to replace DC General and the vacant lots south of RFK.
2. Expand northward from the law school campus into all the vacant lots surrounding Gonzaga High (a fellow Jesuit institution). Move the business school, continuing ed, and any other standalone grad programs (foreign service?) there.
3. Use the freed-up space on the main campus to create dormitory and social space for all the students remaining there (undergrads and grads). There may even be room to increase enrollment with no effect on the neighborhoods.

by Novanglus on Jun 8, 2011 5:00 pm • linkreport

@Novanglus

1. Move the hospital, med school, and nursing school to Hill East to replace DC General and the vacant lots south of RFK.

Current thinking is indeed that the hospital and medical center will have to decamp at some point, not least because MedStar hates the Georgetown location and would rather have some big Inova-style campus out in a greenfield. From an institutional perspective, though, this would be a significant loss, because pre-med and nursing undergrads benefit greatly from having the Medical Center right there for research and clinical purposes.

Also, any plan for "the vacant lots south of RFK" is going to run into major governmental gridlock given the history and status of that property.

2. Expand northward from the law school campus into all the vacant lots surrounding Gonzaga High (a fellow Jesuit institution). Move the business school, continuing ed, and any other standalone grad programs (foreign service?) there.

Those lots are pretty much all owned by the DC and Federal governments. Good luck getting those, especially since the ostensible stance of DC is that prime, centrally-located real estate is too valuable to be wasted on non-property taxpaying entities.

3. Use the freed-up space on the main campus to create dormitory and social space for all the students remaining there (undergrads and grads). There may even be room to increase enrollment with no effect on the neighborhoods.

There's no way to have no effect on the neighborhoods - students are still going to want to leave campus at some point, and they're going to be moving through the neighborhood when they do, be it on foot, on bike, by GUTS bus, etc. This movement causes and will continue to cause friction, since there is a small but vigorous cohort of residents that views residential streets as having quiet, highly limited, resident-only foot and vehicle traffic as their only acceptable use.

by Dizzy on Jun 9, 2011 12:24 pm • linkreport


Good points, Dizzy.

The DC Council would need to decide between their own competing desires. Do they want a hospital in Ward 7 or not? Do they want to stimulate growth in NoMa or not? Do they want less traffic and noise around campus or not?

Putting the most lucrative programs in NoMa and Hill East would bring huge benefits to those areas, far outweighing the loss of taxes on the property itself.

Regarding effect on neighborhoods, I should have said no "net" effect. Removing the hospital traffic and all the buses serving off-campus housing will have a very positive effect on the neighbors north and west. The movement in and out of campus would only be toward the M Street commercial area and the other two campuses.

by Novanglus on Jun 9, 2011 1:15 pm • linkreport

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Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

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