Greater Greater Washington

On-campus housing not the answer for Georgetown

In "GU takes student ghetto approach to housing undergrads," Ken Archer argues that Georgetown University has created a "student ghetto" by failing to guarantee undergraduates four years of on-campus housing. In response, he suggests four locations where the University should build "multi-use" facilities behind the gates.


Photo by Payton Chung on Flickr.

However, the University's very real financial and space constraints, historical context, and students' actual needs don't support this approach.

Historical context

It' s hard to substantiate the claim, echoed by many other neighbors, that the University has created a larger "student ghetto" than there was in the past.

Mr. Archer uses 1980 as a benchmark. But a 1979 Hoya student newspaper article reported that only 3,058 students were offered on-campus housing in 1980, or 58 percent of Georgetown's 5,293 undergraduates. Today, the University houses 84 percent of its undergraduates. In 1980, 2,235 students lived off-campus. Last semester 1,077 students lived off-campus, not including those studying abroad.*

Mr. Archer might still be right that something fundamentally changed in the 1980s. However, I think he misses the true cause. In 1986, the drinking age in D.C. rose from 18 to 21. As a result, the University implemented a harsher alcohol policy in 1987 that made drinking a punishable offense. The University also ordered the closure of the University Center Pub in Healy basement.

Students responded by moving their parties off-campus. The University instituted additional restrictions in 2007, introducing a one-keg limit and requiring that parties be registered beforehand. There aren't more students actually living off-campus now, but they might be louder.

Regardless of the cause, the 1990s were a highly contentious period. In 1996, neighbors were so bothered by the "student ghetto" that they tried to displace students by proposing a zoning overlay that would prevent more than three unrelated people from renting group homes together. The Zoning Commission rejected the proposal in 1998, ruling that it was discriminatory against students.

In response to the overlay, over 1,000 Georgetown students registered to vote in D.C. to elect two undergraduates to the Advisory Neighborhood Commission. Then-ANC Commissioner Westy Byrd distributed flyers warning students of the consequences of registering and was subsequently charged with voter intimidation (though the US Attorney's Office declined to prosecute).

Once the two students were elected, the losing ANC commissioners launched a lawsuit against them that dragged on until 2002. When I wrote a feature story about this time period, several people stressed to me how much better town-gown relations are now.

But opposition to the 2000 Campus Plan was just as fierce. Some of the points in the
Burleith Citizen Association's response letter could be used verbatim as arguments today. ("In fact, the University already has facilities on campus not presently used for undergraduate student housing that would be suitable for that purpose now or in the near future.")

At the time, the Board of Zoning and Adjustment sided with the neighborhood, refusing the University's request to increase its enrollment cap and requiring the University to publicly disclose information about student misconduct complaints. The University appealed, and in 2003, the DC Court of Appeals overturned the decision, declaring it was not the BZA's purview to rule on the University's disciplinary code.

The Southwest Quad also opened in fall 2003, bringing 780 students onto campus. There is a September 2003 newspaper hanging in our student newspaper office with the headline, "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood: Have Georgetown's persistent town-gown battles finally come to an end?" The short answer: absolutely not.

It helps the neighbors' cause to pretend town-gown relations are worse than they've ever been, which is why some neighbors have been using this tactic for decades. The reality is, history is only repeating itself. In 1997, Mayor Marion Barry celebrated with the Georgetown ANC over their success in keeping a Papa John's from opening in the neighborhood. In 2010, Mayor Adrian Fenty held a press conference at the shuttering of our beloved Philly Pizza.

In 1979, Citizens Association of Georgetown Vice President Thomas Parrott told the Hoya he opposed the 1980 Campus Plan because it would extend campus boundaries to include Nevils Hall. In 2011, CAG President Jennifer Altemus reminisced about her time as an undergraduate living in Nevilswhile opposing the construction of University housing literally across the street.

Within historical context, it does not seem we are reaching a tipping point. Town-gown relations have ebbed and flowed for years. So we're finalizing the ten-year plan and residents say students are taking over the neighborhood? We're right on schedule.

"Multi-use" buildings are not the answer

Mr. Archer erroneously believes students are unhappy with the Southwest Quad and similar proposals because they are not "multi-use." Take it from a student: we couldn't care less.

Adding 800 beds on-campus would require building additional dorm-style accommodations, with double and triple rooms, common rooms and common bathrooms. Dorms are vastly inferior to off-campus options, which include kitchens, living rooms, single rooms, washing machines, dishwashers and all the furnishings of independent living.

We don't care if the dining hall is an elevator-ride away or a 10-minute walk. We want our own kitchens. We want area for entertaining. We want independence. We want apartments.

Mr. Archer's specific recommendations don't work for students. Considering Darnall's square-shaped floor plan, extending over Epicurean could only be marginally useful. But to any student, the proposal to expand Darnall would just be a sick joke.

Darnall is commonly considered the worst freshman dorm. Every floor houses about 50 people in 173-square-foot doubles. The beds are so close together that roommates can reach out and touch hands. For freshmen, this is fine. I myself survived Darnall Floor 1. But no upperclassmen would live there willingly. At New Student Orientation, ifsomeone says he was assigned to live in Darnall, the appropriate response is, "Oh... I'm so sorry."

The University actually provides townhouses and several nice apartment complexes: Village A, Village B, Nevils and Henle. But apartment complexes are more expensive than dorms, and they are not as space-efficient. In 1979 the Hoya reported that building Village A cost about $58,000 per unit$169,180 in today's money. It's also harder to
build apartment complexes in the tiny slivers of space the architectural firm suggested.

Likewise, the University is already using the parking lot at the end of library walk to reroute the GUTS buses, as the neighbors have demanded. If the University could add apartments on top of O'Donovan Dining Hall or the new athletic facility, maybe it would attract some interested upperclassmen. But the architects did suggest adding on to Village C, so they likely already considered adding on to other buildings as well.

Considering that expensive apartment-style accommodations are the only options that will keep students on campus, when University officials insist there is no room to build on the traditional campus, they're not being wily. They're being realistic.

Going forward

The campus plan is a balance of sometimes competing interests: the University's desire to expand its offerings and bring in revenue, the neighbors' desire to preserve Georgetown's historic character and family-friendly atmosphere, and the students' desire for access to quality, affordable housing and state-of-the-art University facilities. This
balance requires compromise.

One seemingly obvious solution has since been taken off the table. I would like to see a reconsideration of the 1789 Block proposal, which could have housed 250 students in apartment-style accommodations. Neighbors considered this space "off-campus," even though it is University-owned and wedged between existing classroom buildings and University housing. After their ceaseless complaints, the University relented and struck the project from the plan.

In regards to noise, Mr. Archer says, "27% of student group homes have had run-ins with the police in the past year." Honestly, I'm surprised it' s not more. Neighbors urge each other to call the Metropolitan Police Department about noise before even talking to their student neighbors or calling the Student Neighborhood Assistance Program.

Admittedly, parties get out of control, and destructive behavior should not be tolerated. But calling the MPD about noise complaints takes resources away from real emergencies, like the too-frequent robberies, muggings and sexual assaults.

Neighbors are also quick to blame students for houses in disrepair. I have some Burleith horror stories of my own, as CAG likes to use as evidence for their cause. When I
subletted a room this summer, we had to exterminate bedbugs and pantry moths. The landlord left us to pay for the damages.

Students don't want to live in filth. But it's a seller's market. We don't have the resources or bargaining power to advocate for ourselves, and it's not a summer subletter's job to take on beautification projects. More of the condemnation needs to be directed at landlords who take advantage of students and fail to maintain their property.

Most importantly, neighbors should direct their frustrations at specific problem houses rather than write off students as a group. Responding to a student question at the Campus Plan meeting last Thursday, Ms. Altemus said, "We welcome students into the neighborhood if they obey the laws." If only she meant it.

Ms. Altemus and Mr. Archer do not decry our behaviorthey decry our very presence. But under DC Code, it is illegal to discriminate against people based on their "matriculation status," which is why the Zoning Commission struck down the overlay preventing more than three unrelated people from living together. As a group, we have as much of a right to live here as anyone else.

Finally, DC Students Speak and other involved students are making good-faith efforts to engage residents about the campus plan. About 30 students showed up to last Thursday's meeting, and 784 people have signed a petition in support of the plan. My newspaper, the Georgetown Voice, has been attending these meetings from the very beginning. We want a stake in this community. Writing us off as a "student ghetto" doesn't even give us the chance.

* Since there has been so much debate about these numbers, I'll explain my methodology. The 1979 Hoya article said that 1,558 students won the housing lottery, 660 lost and were then "forced to look for off-campus housing," and 1,500 spaces were reserved for freshmen and students with health problems or special circumstances.

A History of Georgetown University, Volume 3 Appendix A, says for academic year 1980-81, the University enrolled 2,091 college students, 462 nursing students, 1,201 school of foreign service students and 838 business students, adding to Mr. Archer' s total of 4,592. However, he forgets to count the School of Languages and Linguistics, which merged with Georgetown College in 1995 and enrolled 701 students in 1980-81.

This brings us to a total of 5,293. If Georgetown had 5,293 undergraduates and housed 3,058, then 2,235 lived off-campus, though not all requested housing.

I have not yet found good statistics about how many students studied abroad during this time. However, considering that study abroad has gotten immensely popular in recent yearsaccording to the Office of International Programs, 57 percent of current students study abroad at some pointI think it's most accurate to exclude students who are studying abroad from the current off-campus count.

The 2010 Campus Plan shows specific enrollment figures for students on the main campus dating back to 2006. There are fewer students on the main campus in the spring because more students study abroad that semester, so under the 2000 Campus Plan, Georgetown reported the enrollment as an average of the two semesters.

I have chosen the most recent data available, fall 2010 alone, when there were 6,130 undergraduates enrolled at the main campus. The University provides 5,053 beds, so assuming every bed was filled last semester, 1,077 students lived off-campus.

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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. 

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Remember, Jack Evans wants 100 percent of Georgetown undergrads to live on campus: http://www.thegeorgetowndish.com/thedish/anc-forum-defines-issues-evans-urges-100-undergrads-gu-campus

by Tim on Jan 25, 2011 12:13 pm • linkreport

Kara - Thank you for this wonderful, well reasoned post. Although this in no way affects me (I graduated from school long ago, not georgetown, and live in NE), I have heard both sides of the argument and find yours to be overwhelmingly more defensible.

by Sam on Jan 25, 2011 12:55 pm • linkreport

I enjoy the Ken Archer smackdown. Are you a student? Because you should be a teacher -- you just schooled him.

However, I think you point on multi-use was a bit weak. It's not what students WANT. None of us get what we WANT. Sometimes you just have to accept what you get. I know as a senior I still had crappy housing.

However, you bring up a great point about urban living -- should the University be a gateway to learning to live in a city. But most of the fun of being a student is living with other students and enjoying that lifestyle. Trust me, living in Ballston and taking to metro to Rosslyn and walking to class over the bridge isn't fun.

I suspect the real answer is have the University start to buy some of those off campus houses and turn them into slightly better run tenements. You can't do much about parties, and honestly they aren't that bad. You can do a lot about trash, fading paint, broken windows, etc.

by charlie on Jan 25, 2011 1:00 pm • linkreport

Just a minor point, I hardly call an institution with a billion dollar endowment and who raises more than 100 million a year in campaign commitments and cash "fiscally constrained".

by freely on Jan 25, 2011 1:03 pm • linkreport

I think Georgetown students are going to have to suck it up and see their university become a primarily on-campus-residential college as is the norm with wealthy mid-sized private universities.

by JustMe on Jan 25, 2011 1:06 pm • linkreport

@JustMe -- Georgetown University already is a primarily on-campus residential college, housing 84% of its undergrads on campus. I'm not really sure what sucking up is necessary.

by Jacques on Jan 25, 2011 1:13 pm • linkreport

I don't think Kara's point necessarily said that Georgetown students are totally averse to living on-campus. I imagine you're thinking of schools with residential colleges like Harvard and Yale when you reference "wealthy mid-sized private universities" -- well, their residential college system houses upperclassmen in facilities equipped with private dining halls, darkrooms, auditoriums, fitness centers, and a whole host of other amenities. All Kara was saying was that upperclassmen would be averse to the dorm-style housing currently in place for freshmen, and would benefit from more facilities like Village A and Village B -- but that this may not be feasible, with space and financial issues taken into consideration. It's not about students having to "suck it up"; it's about trying to find a housing solution that benefits as many people as possible, and building more on-campus housing suitable to upperclassmen just doesn't seem feasible at this point.

by @JustMe on Jan 25, 2011 1:14 pm • linkreport

Very well reasoned and written article.

by Fritz on Jan 25, 2011 1:19 pm • linkreport

Just a minor point, I hardly call an institution with a billion dollar endowment and who raises more than 100 million a year in campaign commitments and cash "fiscally constrained".

Then you have no idea how university finances operate. Believe me, it is very much fiscally constrained. Note also that those endowment dollars are like government grants - they more often than not have to go toward something specific, they are not a piggy bank from which money can be withdrawn for any purpose, at any time.

by Dizzy on Jan 25, 2011 1:24 pm • linkreport

Compare Georgetown University to peer universities in terms of endowment. It is somewhere near 70th in the country despite having to provide facilities and faculties on par with its top 20 academic reputation.

by @freely on Jan 25, 2011 1:34 pm • linkreport

Kara +1

by Jasper on Jan 25, 2011 1:43 pm • linkreport

Excellent post.

One thing I'd still like to see expounded upon is the presence of college-aged (or recent grads), non-students people living in and amongst those who are GU students. I think you rightly hit on the notion that this is an issue of behavior, not physical urbanism. I suspect that the attribution of all the behavioral conflicts to GU students misses the potentially broad category of non-GU students who are living in Georgetown.

by Alex B. on Jan 25, 2011 2:01 pm • linkreport

Ok,

Please, enlighten me. How exactly are Georgetowns finances constrained? What evidence have you?

My proof that they aren't?

The aforementioned 1 BILLION dollar endowment, the (I was wrong before, it wasn't 100 million) 300 million it raised in 2009 alone in campaign contributions and the fact that it has gotten away with raising its base undergrad tuition by $9,000 or 32% in the past 5 years.

Fiscally constrained? Doesn't even pass the smell test.

by freely on Jan 25, 2011 2:07 pm • linkreport

Excellent, well written and thought out piece.

As a fellow Hoya (CAS '06) and Georgetown Voice alum, I know these issues all to well. I lived off-campus for the last two years of college, though in an apartment building, not a house with roommates. I tried to be active in the Burleith Citizens Association and participated in discussions on various neighborhood listserves; but it was always a trying thing. It was hard to get other students involved, and it was hard to get long-time neighborhood residents to engage in thoughtful conversation.

In any case, I'd like to see a bit more leadership from Jack Evans, other than simply wanting all students to live on campus. That's not realistic and making those kinds of demands only ups the animosity. Yes, students will have parties, and they will occasionally get out of hand. It happens at all universities. Even over on the other side of town, walk down Monroe Street, NE on a Saturday night and you'll hear some CUA parties. Same goes for AU, Howard, etc. However, I think there is something to be said for approaching this in a way that treats students like the adults they are. This begins with the landlords who are renting these properties, and extends to neighbors, the ANC, Jack Evans, etc.

I don't think you can expect to have a productive dialogue between students and residents if students are treated like people undesirable in the neighborhood. That's a terrible place to try and start a conversation.

by Dave Stroup on Jan 25, 2011 2:08 pm • linkreport

Kara and others that support the plan are missing the primary point- The University has the burden of proof that its campus plan will not cause objectionable impacts to the community. Balance means nothing. History of how many students lived off campus in the 70s means nothing. The University's desire to raise revenue with additional students means nothing. Lower endowment relative to peers means nothing. The students desire to live off campus means nothing. It is all about the impact period, everything else is just fluff. It is not the community's job to find the solution, but the University. Satellite campus, not enough money- too bad, fix it. More on campus housing, not enough space- too bad, fix it. If it means reducing the number of students then- too bad. Stop jerking the community around with excuses, and use some of your so called intelligence to comply with the Zoning Laws.

by ignores the main issue on Jan 25, 2011 2:16 pm • linkreport

Compare Georgetown University to peer universities in terms of endowment. It is somewhere near 70th in the country despite having to provide facilities and faculties on par with its top 20 academic reputation.

And in DC, no less. There's a reason why Georgetown, GW, and American are so expensive and have such expensive room & board fees. Operating in the District is very expensive, even for a non-profit entity.

Kara, kudos to you for this strong contribution.

by Dizzy on Jan 25, 2011 2:16 pm • linkreport

@Freely: A school whose endowment to debt ratio approaches 1:1 is financially constrained.

How did they get all that debt? Borrowing to build, among other things, dorms.

by Box on Jan 25, 2011 2:16 pm • linkreport

Ok,

Please, enlighten me. How exactly are Georgetowns finances constrained? What evidence have you?

Those with access to the university's budget numbers sign non-disclosure agreements, so I can't give you specifics, but all staff salaries have been frozen (no COLA) for the last 2 years and new hiring pretty much has to be cost-neutral.

As I said, that endowment is not a piggy bank, much of it is tied down in specific endowments for scholarships, chairs, and the like (e.g. you have a dedicated $X sitting in endowment, the dividends from which pay the annual salary and benefits of the Chair of Greek Studies or something. That money was given for that purpose and cannot be used for anything else).

With respect to the capital campaign contributions you mention, the current campaign (the 1789 Scholarship Imperative is the brand name) is dedicated to creating that number of self-sustaining undergraduate scholarships. Again, that money cannot be rearranged and used on anything else, because it was donated with the express understanding that it would be used to create an endowment fund from which undergraduate financial aid (there are no merit scholarships) would be funded through returns). You need about $500 million to do that. Not all donations go to that campaign, of course, but most of what doesn't is earmarked for something else.

Salaries, benefits, and maintaining the facilities and infrastructure of campuses this size is a HUGE expense. If this were a governmental entity, it would be consuming many times that yearly.

by Dizzy on Jan 25, 2011 2:28 pm • linkreport

@ ignores the main issue

"The University has the burden of proof that its campus plan will not cause objectionable impacts to the community."

Ah, yes, the old burden of proving a negative. Sounds like quite a fair and equitable system.

by Tim on Jan 25, 2011 2:29 pm • linkreport

@freely, the 2007 and 2008 Georgetown U financial statements are on-line.

For an institution with an annual operating budget of nearly $1 billion, an endowment of that size is not huge (in fact, it's rather small), given that the endowment supports a considerable number of earmarked faculty salaries, facilities/programs, and scholarships. A university endowment is also used as leverage against bonds or other loans to support the cost of infrastructure upgrades and new construction.

As of 2009, Georgetown's endowment was 67th among universities.

Saying that an institution with a billion dollar endowment cannot be fiscally constrained is similar to saying that someone living in a big house (or like the millions of Americans with "underwater" mortgages) can't be fiscally constrained.

Not all assets are liquid, and Georgetown has had to be quite conservative over the last ten years to regain a solid bond rating after some missteps and pressures in the 1990s.

by Jacques on Jan 25, 2011 2:36 pm • linkreport

Great article. I especially appreciated your point about not blaming students for rundown housing when it is the landlords' responsibility to maintain their properties!

As I read your article I kept thinking about growing up in Ann Arbor, MI where the vast majority of upperclassmen live in "student ghettos" near campus, and wondering why people in Georgetown seem to have such a different attitude toward students.

I won't say there was no town-gown tension in Ann Arbor, because there were always a few houses (esp. fraternities) where parties got out of hand. However, those issues were dealt with on an individual basis. For the most part, people accepted that they lived in a college town and welcomed the cultural opportunities and liveliness that went along with that as a more than worthwhile compensation.

Perhaps the explanation is that people in Georgetown do not really think of themselves as living in a university area, or as benefitting from that university, the way people in Ann Arbor do. Then they are upset when they find they live in a "college town" ambiance. Without assigning blame, it might be good for the university to do more outreach to the community in terms of open lecture series, concerts, etc. promoted specifically to show people that there are benefits to being around the school and not just costs.

by Erica on Jan 25, 2011 2:54 pm • linkreport

@Erica,

I, too, have lived in many college towns, including Ann Arbor. I think part of the acceptance there is that there is no way a large, state school like Michigan could house all of their undergrads on campus. A school like the University of Wisconsin has almost 30,000 undergraduates, and they don't even have space to provide housing for their entire Freshman class, yet alone all students.

I went to school in such an environment, thus the backlash against the notion that students would want to live off-campus is puzzling to me. The idea that the University could force students to live on-campus as upperclassmen is almost offensive.

by Alex B. on Jan 25, 2011 3:04 pm • linkreport

If MPD and DCRA had effective instruments to limit the negative effects of neighborhood housing of students, we wouldn't be having this discussion to begin with. There's nothing inherently wrong with student renters, except that they're young and immature and don't often make the right decisions. That's not an attack, that's just the reality of youth. They're no worse than my drug dealing neighbors in Capitol Hill and in many ways 1000% better.

That's not saying students are great, I sure as heck don't want to live near them, but I don't see why G'town residents get special consideration, when the problem is universal (bad neighbors).

The real issue is that MPD and DCRA seem to think that their hands are tied. I don't know whether that's because of the influence of wealthy GU alums, the ACLU or our city's misguided "protect renters at all costs, but never really punish landlords" laws. However, I'll repeat: the negative behaviors that students are exhibiting are found freely all through the city. We should focus on tightening up the LAW first.

Also, next time you vote for one Mendo remember that he likes the city just the way it is.

by Cap Hill on Jan 25, 2011 3:18 pm • linkreport

@ JustMe

I think Georgetown students are going to have to suck it up and see their university become a primarily on-campus-residential college as is the norm with wealthy mid-sized private universities.

Is this the norm for mid sized private universities that are located in cities? I know for a fact that at Hopkins up in Baltimore where I went to school, nearly every undergrad Junior and above lives off of campus (44% of 5k students) along with nearly all the 1700 grad students.

by Wheatoner on Jan 25, 2011 3:21 pm • linkreport

Erica and Alex B.--the reality is that in Ann Arbor, in the neighborhoods that are predominately considered to be "student ghettoes" (along Packard/Hill Street, the neighborhood west of Glen Ave., etc.) the number of "permanent residents" who are older than 30 is extremely low, I am certain under 10%.

That's not how it is adjacent to Georgetown. Plus the residential property is worth far far more in Georgetown than it ever will be in AA (even though comparatively speaking AA properties are worth more than a lot of other places in Michigan).

I lived for a year in Burns Park, a half block from the elementary school, and let me tell you, on our block, we were probably the only students. (We lived in the upstairs, the property owner lived in the downstairs.) Totally different than living one block say from Campus Corner or Village Corner.

Compare that to living in places like on Mary Court or Mary Street or on Oakland Street, where the likelihood is that at least 80%-90% of the housing is student occupied.

And in Ann Arbor there is a kind of local tension between property owners who want to be able to rent their properties for relatively high prices vis-a-vis the university and its building of additional housing, which reduces demand for privately owned housing.

It's been a long time since I've been in Ann Arbor. Since that time, they've built North Quad (the old Frieze Building), which adds housing for 450 students (and therefore reduces demand for 100-150 3/4 bedroom houses/apts.). A lot of people who otherwise wouldn't be worth much are multi-millionaires because of their purchase and rental of off-campus properties to students.

And yes, I think this was a great article, but it does reflect one change in student expectation about the amount of space they need to live in. I lived in a small room in Markley (probably no bigger than 173 sq. feet) for 3 years.

by Richard Layman on Jan 25, 2011 3:30 pm • linkreport

@Richard,

Of course the neighborhoods are very different - that's not really my point. My point is that the experience of being a student is largely the same.

It also isn't about raw space. It's about the kind of space a student has. It's about not sharing a bedroom. It's about moving into a space that's more apartment-like and less dorm-like.

by Alex B. on Jan 25, 2011 3:44 pm • linkreport

"Ignores the main issue," your comment is one of the most cynical, self-serving remarks I've heard in years. Your remark tops all the negative things that have been said at me in my almost three years in the ground as an advocate.

While your comment is incorrect, it also completely sidesteps the obvious fact that Georgetown would have gone to seed and disrepair in the mid-20th century without the economic activity generated by the university. Further, that university has been there for CENTURIES longer than any resident. It's not like the university's existence was hidden in the fine print of the disclosure forms when you purchased there.

Your comment was the equivalent of telling the writer to kiss your ear. It wasn't an argument. It was self-entitled cynicism. The author took good time to write a nuanced piece. The least you could do is to write a comment worthy of the post.

by Cavan on Jan 25, 2011 4:13 pm • linkreport

Ignores the point states: "The University has the burden of proof that its campus plan will not cause objectionable impacts to the community."

I don't know the laws, but I'd be dumbfounded to find out this were true. Besides the fact that you can't logically prove a negative. I'd be surprised if the burden of proof wasn't on the community to prove that there will be an objectionable impact on the community.

There's also no way that not build on campus housing creates an objectionable impact on the community. Even assuming that students living off campus is an objectionable impact on the community. Not building more dorms wouldn't be causing a objectionable impact. The objectionable impact would already exist. The new campus plan just wouldn't be fixing a current objectionable impact that already exists. That being said students living off campus does not qualify as an objectionable impact on the community.

Noise violations and trash constitute objectionable impacts. The campus plan includes several solutions to these problems which the neighbors continue to ignore.

by Peter on Jan 25, 2011 4:14 pm • linkreport

What did GWU do over the last decade about their town/gown arguments? Did they not buy up all of Foggy Bottom, and turn most of the old row houses/apartments/hotels into student housing?

I went to GWU in the early 90's when alot of this was going on - when GWU really started buying up the apartments. I lived off campus, and heard often how GWU was ruining the neighborhood. And the residents were quite correct - Foggy Bottom is no longer a residential neighborhood. It is GWU (and the KC/Watergate). What else is in Foggy Bottom?!?

Students living off campus in high density in one area turn that neighborhood into a dorm - a simple extension of the university "unofficially". I can see why Georgetown residents get cranky over students. I can see why GU students get cranky at neighbors who treat them badly simply because they are students. Tough road, either way.

But, nothing to fix. GU (and GWU) will win in court, and the ANC can draw out the process but that's it. To the residents - it is simple: the universities mean more than you do.

Sell your house to GU and move to upper Georgetown. Nope, AU. Go to NE.. nope, CU/Galladet. Hmmmm.... keep your house, and rent it at jack high rates, and move to Glover Park?!?!

by greent on Jan 25, 2011 4:54 pm • linkreport

Nope, Glover Park has a lot of grad students and yuppies. You'd have to move to Foxhall or east Georgetown.

by Phil on Jan 25, 2011 4:59 pm • linkreport

Great job, Kara. Another important point from history is that neighbors who demand more dorms don't necessarily support their construction. When the ANC had to vote whether to approve the construction of the Southwest Quadrangle, two commissioners voted to oppose it, even though one of them (Barbara Zartman) was a fierce critic of students living off campus.

by DR on Jan 25, 2011 5:07 pm • linkreport

Alex I think you are missing my point, which is comparable to the point that greent made about GWU and the "reproduction of space" (not his term) in Foggy Bottom so that for all intents and purposes, the area around the campus that is housing is an extension of and controlled by the University.

There isn't town-gown "tension" vis-a-vis student ghettoes in Ann Arbor because for all intents and purposes it is an extension of the university in terms of nominal control by students as student housing and thereby indirectly by the University.

The area in Georgetown around the campus is decidedly residential and not nominally controlled by students and/or the university and because of the cost of housing this won't ever change. So it isn't comparable to the situation in Ann Arbor, which yes, needs more off campus housing than GU does, because UM has 6x the student population.

Were there lots of permanent residents unconnected to UM in what we term student ghettoes, there would be a lot more tension on this aspect of town-gown relations. (There the tensions exist around the cost of services provided to the university, tax exempt property, failure to pay for the cost of educating children of graduate students living in married housing, expansion of tax exempt property rolls, etc. OTOH, there is a recognition that the local economy is relatively insulated from Michigan's economic dislocation.)

by Richard Layman on Jan 25, 2011 6:17 pm • linkreport

Richard,

I understand your point just fine - except I think the Georgetown neighborhood would oppose that exact kind of plan (GU buying up rowhouses and renting them out to students) on a larger scale than they do now.

I don't deny that there's a conflict, but I can't take the neioghborhood's side in any resolution because I think their positions are completely unreasonable.

I would also note that there was plenty of town-gown tension in Ann Arbor when I was there, but it focused on student behavior and how to address it. Here, Georgetown residents don't seem to try that approach, instead making ridiculous demands that all students live on campus and things like that.

by Alex B. on Jan 25, 2011 6:30 pm • linkreport

Richard - Assuming I understand your point, I agree that that would be a reasonable resolution. But remember (as the author points out): the neighbors rejected the University's plan to build on its own land (the 1789 proposal), and some rejected the plan to build the mixed-use Southwest Quad (also cited above). So the neighbors* both demand the university build more housing, and yet reject the university's attempts to comply. I doubt they would roll over and support such a plan.

re: financial security, in the last decade the university's credit rating was downgraded to BBB+ due in part to their debt-to-asset ratio (below most of the now famous toxic CDO's). In searching for a link I found this, which suggests that as of 2008 it was up to an A-. http://explore.georgetown.edu/news/?ID=36008 Even at A- and in this era of "free money," I believe it's difficult to bring on more debt. I'll stand by to be corrected on this point by someone more knowledgable of the debt markets.

*To say "the neighbors" is unfair to most neighbors who are either unaffected by the students neighbors, or choose to work with their neighbors to find equitable solutions to their mutual concerns. It really is a small group of neighbors with vocal views who we're are talking about. Just as it's a small number of students with extremely bad behavior who are the genesis of this trouble.

by Jeff on Jan 25, 2011 7:21 pm • linkreport

@Kara,

Thanks for a well-written and thoughtful article. I've got two main questions.

(1) If on-campus housing is not the answer, then what is?

Even if your argument that the real cause of the tensions is the increased drinking age and other measures that moved parties off campus, what is your solution? One solution to the behavior problem that the University seems to have passed on is off-campus party registration.

(2) Why could Georgetown upperclassmen care less if on-campus housing was within a multi-use building housing a residential college, but over 90% of undergrads at schools adopting this model (Harvard, Yale, Princeton) live on campus?

I agree with your critique of extending Darnall over Epicurean, but adding 5 floors of apartments on top of O'Donovan Dining Hall and the new athletic facility is something that many private student housing contractors would be happy to do profitably for Georgetown. And the idea, which the university was going to implement in 1990, would be for students to apply to the residential college that happens to live in a multi-use facility, not simply to apply to a dorm.

by Ken Archer on Jan 25, 2011 7:43 pm • linkreport

I wasn't saying I agree with the neighbors position, just explaining the dynamics. I agree that the 1789 project should probably have been done, just as Michigan did the North Quad. If you want to reduce pressure on student presence in extant residential housing, that's the best way.

Getting the residents and GU to both give and take is probably too much to ask.

WRT "GU buying up residential buildings" and making them official housing, I wouldn't be in favor, and I can't see the U doing it, it wouldn't make sense economically. But the U could threaten to do that, to get the residents to roll over on a dev. for the 1789 block.

by Richard Layman on Jan 25, 2011 9:33 pm • linkreport

@Ken: I'm assuming you mean the athletic training facility. Earlier plans were already turned down by the OGB four years ago for being too tall, so how would adding five floors of dorm rooms help things?

by Box on Jan 25, 2011 10:07 pm • linkreport

Ken,

(1) If on-campus housing is not the answer, then what is?

How about residents of Georgetown and Burleith learning to accept people who don't fit their exact demographic profile living next to them?

(2) Why could Georgetown upperclassmen care less if on-campus housing was within a multi-use building housing a residential college, but over 90% of undergrads at schools adopting this model (Harvard, Yale, Princeton) live on campus?

Harvard, Yale, and Princeton could stock the bathrooms of their colleges/eating clubs with toilet paper made of money. If my dorm was nicer than the average country club, I'd probably consider staying on campus too.

Also, Box brings up an important point: the Old Georgetown Board and/or the Commission on Fine Arts would never allow five extra stories on the athletic facility or on O'Donovan Hall or really pretty much anything that can be seen from the river.

by Dizzy on Jan 25, 2011 10:30 pm • linkreport

@charlie

Yes, subpar housing is part of college and young adulthood. My argument was more that:

a) Mr. Archer misunderstood why students choose off-campus housing over the Southwest Quad/similar options. “Multi-use” facilities don’t rank high with students, but kitchens, single rooms and living rooms do.

b) Unless Georgetown REQUIRES on-campus housing all four years (keep in mind, right now the University only guarantees three years and requires two), the University needs to build housing that students will choose over off-campus options. When given the choice between a group home in Burleith and a double in the Southwest Quad, almost all upperclassmen would choose the group home in Burleith.

@ignores the main issue

I don’t think history supports your argument. The D.C. Court of Appeals struck down the Board of Zoning Adjustment’s 2000 ruling, which had capped undergraduate enrollment and forced the University to enact policies addressing behavioral problems. By that standard, I don’t think undergraduates living off-campus today constitute an “objectionable impact,” especially since the D.C. Court has already approved the status quo and the University has capped undergraduate enrollment in the 2010 plan. The increased graduate enrollment is a different question; even then, I expect the BZA with be looking at traffic concerns, not prejudiced assumptions about students as a group.

@Jeff

I usually say “neighbors” or “residents” to mean non-students living in Georgetown—and often to mean Campus Plan opponents—but I’m unsatisfied with those terms. Students are neighbors and residents as well. I appreciate your attempt to draw a distinction, and I apologize if I tend to over-generalize.

@Ken Archer

1) In regards to housing, I think the University should reconsider the 1789 Block. The apartments would have been wedged between existing University-owned buildings, so I don’t understand why CAG considered the area “off-campus.”

I think in regards to parties, a little communication would go a long way. Students and neighbors should talk to each other, let each other know about any gatherings that might get loud, and exchange numbers in case problems come up. I can’t speak for all my classmates, but I think most students would be more responsive to resident concerns if it seemed the neighborhood had reasonable expectations and first tried to communicate in a positive way. Instead, next-door neighbors post “Our Homes, Not GU’s Dorm” signs on their lawns. Stephen Brown hides in bushes and takes pictures of us. Many residents make it clear that we are fundamentally unwelcome. I think the sense among students is, neighbors will never give us the benefit of the doubt, and so what’s the point?

As a result, off-campus party registration would likely cause a lot of anger and provide very few benefits. First, there are the obvious questions of scope: What about undergraduates who live with graduate students? With students from other universities? With family? What about undergraduates who move to Dupont or Rosslyn or East Georgetown? If anything, party registration might expose an inconvenient truth: not all the loud parties are thrown by Georgetown undergraduates. There are also graduate students and young professionals renting in these neighborhoods, especially over the summer. Second, I don’t believe off-campus party registration would be any more effective than current measures. Students are already deterred by sanction hours and study abroad restrictions. They are already held accountable. What would party registration accomplish?

2) My point was, students would rather live in apartments than multi-use dorms. If the University could find room to provide multi-use apartments, that would be fantastic. I’m skeptical that the University could build on top of the dining hall or the athletic facility—it seemed like the architectural firm had exhausted every possibility—but if it were possible, I would support it.

@Everyone

I sincerely appreciate your thoughtful and respectful comments. I’m very encouraged that there are neighbors who are willing to include students in these discussions.

by Kara Brandeisky on Jan 26, 2011 12:40 am • linkreport

*I expect the BZA WILL be looking at traffic concerns

by Kara Brandeisky on Jan 26, 2011 12:50 am • linkreport

I think in regards to parties, a little communication would go a long way.

When I first learned about this issue as a resident, I gravitated towards the "just communicate better" solution as well, and I would agree if the residents of each group home didn't change every 6-12 months.

The problem is that it places the burden on residents to communicate with not only students, but their absentee landlords, DCRA, MPD and DPW for the different issues raised by problem houses, and then do it all over again next semester or next school year when the student residents change. There comes a point where one has to ask if this is where city resources should be directed.

re: Off-Campus Party Registration
What about undergraduates who live with graduate students? With students from other universities? With family? What about undergraduates who move to Dupont or Rosslyn or East Georgetown? If anything, party registration might expose an inconvenient truth: not all the loud parties are thrown by Georgetown undergraduates.

The need to register parties is geographically bound, probably in this case to the surrounding neighborhoods. And if it exposes that several of the parties are in houses where non-GU undergrads residents are hosting parties, all the more reason for students to support it. If it doesn't improve the situation, I'll be the first to advocate that it be done away with. But it has been shown to work and is touted by the student life community as a solution, unlike the current approach which is to give students sanctions and a record without any kind of warning and hasn't been shown to work anywhere.

I’m skeptical that the University could build on top of the dining hall or the athletic facility—it seemed like the architectural firm had exhausted every possibility—but if it were possible, I would support it.

The architectural firm, I'm fairly confident, was given restrictions by the University on where to look. But that's just a conjecture based on the refusal of the university to explain why these individual locations won't work. Don't the universities opaque non-answers about why specific locations like these 2 won't work pique your interest as a journalist?

I think, Kara, that you and I could probably work out this issue and propose a compromise that reasonable folks on both sides support. I don't like lowering the number of unrelated people in a home to 3 just like I don't like enrollment caps, because I like density and diversity. The challenge is how to plan for density so that we get its benefits.

I know my use of the term "ghetto" has distracted away from this central argument, but the term was meant to refer to what happens when you have density with no planning (just adding lots more people to a small area). I don't mean the term to communicate any disrespect to students and apologize that my use of it has communicated disrespect. My wife was a GU grad student, we have season tickets to GU student theater, we are members of Yates and Lauinger library associates - we like students and certainly don't want to disrespect them.

by Ken Archer on Jan 26, 2011 8:08 am • linkreport

I have removed a comment by "@Ken Archer". I think the commenter was trying to post a message replying to Ken Archer, but instead put Ken's name (with an @) in the name field.

Please feel free to repost your comment, but if you want to reply to someone else, put "@ Their Name" as the first line of your comment, and put your own name (or a distinctive pseudonym) in the name field.

Dizzy: I went to Harvard, and while the residential colleges (which they call "houses") are perhaps a little more spacious than dorms at some schools, they're not so fancy as you might imagine. The university is very frugal because they want their money to last forever, and because they put more money into research and financial aid as opposed to undergraduate comfort.

If someone moved off-campus, they would get more space and most likely a more comfortable living arrangement than staying on-campus. However, people stay on campus because that's where the community is, that's where your friends are eating and hanging out, and so on.

I don't think you need to offer students a fancier apartment to get them to live on campus, if you just offer them places to live that create that community.

by David Alpert on Jan 26, 2011 8:33 am • linkreport

I think all sides should evaluate the policies regarding on-campus parties. If students 21 or older want to throw a party that includes alcohol, perhaps the administration could make it easier for them to do so using space on campus. Minor restrictions, e.g., requiring that an alternative, non-alcoholic beverage be available, might be needed. Of course, anti-student activists will complain about anything, but reasonable people, both student and non-student, might appreciate even a minor shift of social life to the campus.

by DR on Jan 26, 2011 8:53 am • linkreport

I've also removed a comment by AJ which was calling names instead of raising any substantive arguments.

by David Alpert on Jan 26, 2011 9:10 am • linkreport

I don't think it's entitled to list off what you want and then go rent it yourself. It would seem entitled to demand these things of Georgetown, with no other actions on her part.

by Neil Flanagan on Jan 26, 2011 9:11 am • linkreport

"The architectural firm, I'm fairly confident, was given restrictions by the University on where to look. But that's just a conjecture based on the refusal of the university to explain why these individual locations won't work. Don't the universities opaque non-answers about why specific locations like these 2 won't work pique your interest as a journalist?"

Ken, the Old Georgetown Board has opposed the construction of further tall buildings in the parts of campus you propose - as noted upthread, they have already said the planned new athletic facility is too tall, and I believe the proposed height was 4-5 stories. They want to preserve the view of Georgetown from across the Potomac. This is a matter of public record.

by Phil on Jan 26, 2011 9:45 am • linkreport

David,

I've been to Harvard dorms. The difference between them and most Georgetown dorms (not the on-campus apartments, which are better) is kind of like the difference between a suite at the Trump Plaza and the average Manhattan closet apartment.

In any case, my point still stands: it's a lot easier to create and maintain lots of on-campus amenities when you have a $20+ billion endowment and a 380-acre campus than when you have a small fraction of that money and a campus that is less than a fourth that size. (To round out the comparison, Princeton has a $14.4 billion endowment and a 500-acre campus; Yale has a $16.7 billion endowment and 320-acre campus.)

I'm in no way hesitant to criticize certain design decisions as far as campus goes. Rest assured that Alan Brangman, the university architect, is exceedingly smart and aware of pretty much every facet of what is possible and what could be improved. But the constraints under which this planning is undertaken are immense.

by Dizzy on Jan 26, 2011 10:10 am • linkreport

@David:

I don't think you need to offer students a fancier apartment to get them to live on campus, if you just offer them places to live that create that community.

Meanwhile, here's student housing at one of the elite Beijing universities:

http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/beijing-university-graduate-lifestyle-1.jpeg

Now that's a tight-knit community!

by oboe on Jan 26, 2011 10:18 am • linkreport

Kara, I very much appreciate you taking on this issue in a polite and well-reasoned manner. I think you've done an excellent job of rooting out the facts and the underlying sources of the political tensions.

by tom veil on Jan 26, 2011 10:45 am • linkreport

I've deleted another comment from the person who is putting Ken Archer's name into the Name field. Please use your own name in that field even if you are replying to someone else.

by David Alpert on Jan 26, 2011 12:52 pm • linkreport

Kara- I'm a bit peeved that you'd use a photo taken on the Climate Action Tour where a Georgetown Professor opened his home to the public to demonstrate solar panels, and have used it to imply overcrowding in Georgetown. Very misleading.

by Shawn G on Jan 26, 2011 1:07 pm • linkreport

@Ken Archer:
Did you read my comment on the previous thread about the off-campus party registration issue?

by John Kenchelian on Jan 26, 2011 1:54 pm • linkreport

@John, I did read it and I replied. I've copied the reply below.

the university has absolutely 0 right to enforce rules off-campus

This has never been the case though. Universities have always enforced rules off-campus, just like Georgetown does now. (The Dean of Students is tweaking off-campus sanctions in response to resident complaints.) But the willingness of Universities to enforce rules off-campus has declined over the previous decades.

It used to be (say, in the 1960s when GU enforced a curfew off-campus) that parents wanted to know that the university they were sending their children off to cared about what happened off-campus.

That this paternalistec approach to students has been largely replaced by one in which students are considered paying customers is, IMHO, a central dynamic in play along with the changing attitudes to alcohol in the past several decades.

by Ken Archer on Jan 26, 2011 2:02 pm • linkreport

Point of clarification: the Zoning Commission is hearing this, not the BZA. That was changed since 2000.

I forget why it is, but it is my understanding that moving the decision to the ZC rather than the BZA favors CAG/ANC. I'm rather confident that the plan will be rejected by the Zoning Commission. Whether they win on appeal is less clear to me. The Court of Appeals case from last go around would support GU, but it's not a binding decision and different court personnel court rule differently.

Personally I think that if a will existed, they'd find a way to build more density on campus. As for financing, the University just floated $90 million of tax exempt bonds to build the science center and to assist in other capital projects. So financing new construction would be possible even with their current balance sheet.

I've tried to be fair in looking at this and to call out the neighbors for their hysterical ramblings. But I've also been disappointed at how naive a lot of the students have been. I get that they feel (rightly) insulted and persecuted by the neighbors, and that as a result they defend the school's position strongly. But I don't think they realize that the school is going to agree to do the very least that it has to do to get the plan approved. I've never seen them even begin to doubt what the school is saying about its capabilities. Don't the students realize that the school is in negotiation mode?

They rightly realize that that's what the neighbors are doing, but they rarely call the school out for doing the same thing. It's funny since they typically have such a critical eye towards the administration in other matters, but in this case it's as if the enemy-of-my-enemy rule has eliminated all journalistic skepticism.

by TM on Jan 26, 2011 2:44 pm • linkreport

I would like to make a few observations, as a GU student, and ardent opponent of the ANC's ridiculous rhetoric:

1)The Darnall-bashing is just ridiculous. It is often (although obviously not always, as is the case here) perpetuated by people who have never lived there, and seems to be done just for the sake of feeling superior for looking down on something. Quite honestly, I sense something of a class divide too, given that most griping comes from students from more affluent backgrounds. Compared to much of america's apartment housing stock (let alone university dorms), Darnall compares favorably.

2)If new dorm style-housing were built, this is not the type of housing that would have to attract/retain upperclassmen. Dorm-style housing would go to the remainder of the sophomores who currently get an on-campus apartment, usually a Village B or Henle. The question is whether that housing stock is attractive enough to retain students, and I think it is.

3)Both in this, and the last, thread people have mentioned the term "residential college." I just want to be clear, because some people seem to think that this is just a college where students are residents, when actually it implies what would be a large reorganization of the university's structure. (One which, quite frankly, the university isn't built for.)

4) I think the most remarkable thing that's come out of these threads is just how accommodating the university has been. Off-campus housing has stayed flat (or probably even declined given study-abroad) for almost three decades, while the university has consistently ceded to neighbor's demands on buses, patrols, disciplinary sanctions, etc. It sounds like the only difference between now and 1980 is that the university is much more involved in the lives of students off campus, and certain neighbors' victimhood complexes have reached astronomical proportions.

by Doug on Jan 26, 2011 3:45 pm • linkreport

Long comment...

@Ken Archer

When I first learned about this issue as a resident, I gravitated towards the "just communicate better" solution as well, and I would agree if the residents of each group home didn't change every 6-12 months.

I don’t mean to put the burden entirely on residents. Students need to communicate as well.

Don't the universities opaque non-answers about why specific locations like these 2 won't work pique your interest as a journalist?

Unfortunately, in my experience, the Office of Communications gives opaque non-answers to all questions. But I’ll contact the University architect to see if we can get a real answer.

[Party registration] has been shown to work.

I’m not sure in what sense party registration “works,” or how it could be useful off-campus. In practice, on-campus party registration means you have to have one 21-year-old host, you have to let the University know by Thursday that you’re having a party, you have to have someone manning the door, and then you can make noise until 2 a.m., when the Department of Public Safety will come and clear everyone out if you haven’t already. (Here’s the website if you’re interested—there are rules I haven’t mentioned, but that’s because they're hard to enforce and I haven’t seen them followed: http://be.georgetown.edu/iknowhowtoparty/responsibilities.html). I don't think off-campus party registration would make a measurable difference, and it would create another layer of bureaucracy for students.

I think, Kara, that you and I could probably work out this issue and propose a compromise that reasonable folks on both sides support.

Like I said, I feel very encouraged by this discussion. For a long time, ANC Commissioner Aaron Golds, the Georgetown University Student Association leaders and the Georgetown Voice news writers were the only students who spoke out about the 10 Year Plan. Now DC Students Speak is pulling in new voices and trying to engage with residents. There are a lot of students who want to talk about these issues, and I’m glad the community is ready to hear them.

@David Alpert

However, people stay on campus because that's where the community is, that's where your friends are eating and hanging out, and so on.

This is an important insight. In the 1980s when the University was building a lot of new housing, it chose to build apartments. The apartments are great. But Mr. Archer and others are right that we don’t have the kind of community living that students have at Harvard and Yale. After freshman year, a lot of the eating and hanging out doesn’t happen in common areas. For example, when we want new club members to bond, we make them dinner, or we throw a party at someone’s house. Students don’t lose out on Georgetown community life by moving off-campus. The campus community extends there (which is what some neighbors don’t like).

@Shawn G

My piece actually argues that we have not seen increased overcrowding in recent years, as Mr. Archer had claimed. I approved the photo because I thought it showed students taking an interest in their community. A lot of the conversation revolves around student party habits. I thought the photo demonstrated that students make positive contributions as well. But you're right, it's not directly related to the question at hand, so I'm sorry if other people got a similar impression.

@TM

Point of clarification: the Zoning Commission is hearing this, not the BZA. That was changed since 2000. I forget why it is, but it is my understanding that moving the decision to the ZC rather than the BZA favors CAG/ANC. I'm rather confident that the plan will be rejected by the Zoning Commission.

This is really interesting. I’d love to hear more. You can email me at kbrandeisky@georgetownvoice.com if you know more.

But I've also been disappointed at how naive a lot of the students have been. I get that they feel (rightly) insulted and persecuted by the neighbors, and that as a result they defend the school's position strongly.

In this post, I defended the University’s position on undergraduate housing behind the gates. But I am critical of other parts of the plan. I’m concerned that increasing graduate enrollment will cause additional overcrowding of University facilities, especially if the increase is not paired with an expansion of Lauinger Library. I oppose routing the Dupont GUTS bus to the Canal Road exit, which makes it more difficult for students to get into the city. And I would like to see Georgetown offer more quality University-owned housing in viable locations, starting with the 1789 Block. I just believe the University’s argument that there aren’t many viable locations on the traditional campus.

by Kara Brandeisky on Jan 26, 2011 4:51 pm • linkreport

@TM

I don't think all the people defending the university are blind to the realities of negotiations. Rather, rightly or wrongly, we see the university as having given up some crown jewels - the 1789 student housing, GUTS bus routes, dreams of an on campus convocation center - and gotten no compromise in return. They've also taken some concrete, proactive steps to better police their students off campus - steps they were smart to have taken, but didn't have to take - and have been met with more aggressive tactics (encouraging the first call to be to MPD) vice cooperation by some neighbors.
--

Kara indirectly raises an interesting point in her last post about the sense of community and why it (perhaps) drives the off campus party scene: If the university hadn't cracked down on on-campus parties over the last decade, if they were allowed to build a convocation center to host large events for students, or put up lights on the field to host Saturday night football or lacrosse games, would the students be less likely to leave the gates looking for fun? I don't think we'll ever know, but it is an interesting thought experiment: has the crack down on campus had the unintended consequence of driving the fun into the neighborhood and exacerbating relations?

by Jeff on Jan 26, 2011 6:42 pm • linkreport

@Ken
Fair enough, I must have missed it.
I would agree that there is now less of a paternalistic attitude of universities towards their students. Without a doubt. However, I argue that, without a doubt, this is a positive development. Furthermore, I would argue that the new alcohol policies developed over the last 30 odd years have been more paternalistic and antagonistic towards students. Students used to drink with professors and vice versa. That no longer happens. I consider the lack of comraderie these days to be a crucial instrument in encouraging students to "rebel" or "argue" against university policies with regards to alcohol.

by John Kenchelian on Jan 27, 2011 3:53 pm • linkreport

Students used to drink with professors and vice versa. That no longer happens. I consider the lack of comraderie these days to be a crucial instrument in encouraging students to "rebel" or "argue" against university policies with regards to alcohol.

I couldn't agree more.

Here's what it ultimately comes down to, in my opinion - the integration of intellectual life and residential life.

When those are integrated, richer community is created on campus than is possible off campus, and students are more likely to want to be on campus. But when residential life is reduced to facilities and liability management, students create their own community off-campus.

Put cafes that serve alcohol in the dorms, and put professors/clergy/grad students in the dorms, and you'll have the residential college model in which a richer community is fostered on campus than would be possible off campus.

by Ken Archer on Jan 27, 2011 4:06 pm • linkreport

Having been a former grad student, you'd have to pay me and pay me substantially to get me to live in undergraduate dorms on campus. I can't even think about professors doing such a thing. This is not a realistic solution, Ken.

by Alex B. on Jan 27, 2011 4:13 pm • linkreport

This is not a realistic solution, Ken.

For those unfamiliar with the residential college model, there are several resources online. Half of the top 25 universities have faculty-led residential colleges.

by Ken Archer on Jan 27, 2011 4:29 pm • linkreport

Put cafes that serve alcohol in the dorms, and put professors/clergy/grad students in the dorms, and you'll have the residential college model in which a richer community is fostered on campus than would be possible off campus.

For the record, there is a full-service bar in the Epicurian & Company that is located in Darnall Hall. Also, The Tombs is directly across the street from the East Campus (Nevils and LXR housing) block. Not surprisingly, students and professors do interact in both those venues. I had an upper-level Russian history seminar one year that actually met at The Tombs each week, instead of in a classroom. There was only 8 of us to fit around a booth, but still, pretty great.

Likewise, there is a faculty-in-residence and chaplains-in-residence program in place. Chaplains live in every residence hall and faculty in several.

There is a big difference, however, between aspiring to ideal standards in which the university campus itself was so fantabulous that no one would ever want to leave and arguing that students should be discriminated against in housing. Nor is it right to hold a university's modest plans for development hostage because they do not meet a standard that over 99% of other universities don't meet either (speaking about % undergraduates living on-campus).

by Dizzy on Jan 27, 2011 4:43 pm • linkreport

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