Posts about GWU
Something unprecedented is happening at the most grassroots level of DC's democracy. For the first time ever, 9 college students are choosing to run for seats on Advisory Neighborhood Commissions.
These candidates represent part of a broader trend of enhanced student engagement in local affairs. Since DC Students Speak launched at Georgetown only 2 years ago, the organization has developed chapters at campuses through the District. Consequently, thousands of students have made the decision to register to vote in DC.
Unfortunately, too often, a heightened level of student engagement has met animosity from a few older residents. David Lehrman, an ANC commissioner in Foggy Bottom's ANC 2A01 who is facing a student challenger, recently told the Current that students "should be thinking about dating the prettiest girl and getting into the best graduate program," rather than focus on local government, and accused his challenger, GWU junior Patrick Kennedy, of running for "resume-enhancing" purposes.
This "soft bigotry of low expectations" often deters so many of my peers to become involved in civic affairs. The reality is that not only is a more aware college student population better for students, it is also in the best interest of the District.
There are almost 85,000 college students in the District of Columbia, who make up a substantial portion of the overall population. The District does itself a disservice by not engaging this large chunk of the populace. Having college students being more civically aware means more college students volunteering for non-profits, and pushing for reforms necessary to the District's vitality.
A major element of increasing the level of civic engagement is having college students run for local office. It demonstrates that students have a stake in local affairs, and are an actual political constituency. Washingtonians have to move beyond debates about who is a "native," and recognize that regardless of whether one is here for 4 years, or has been here for 40 years, everyone should be welcome in civic life.
Thankfully, after years of hard work, the interests of college students are gaining more recognition. For instance, when Councilmember Jack Evans (ward 2) came to campus at Georgetown recently, he told a meeting of DC Students Speak that college students completely have the right to live off campus, and that they should be encouraged to run for office. This is definitely a change in tone in Evans' rhetoric from only a few years ago.
Left to right: Patrick Kennedy, Jackson Carnes, Peter Prindiville, and Craig Cassey.
3 students are running at George Washington University: Peter Sacco, Jackson Carnes, and Patrick Kennedy. Sacco and Carnes are running uncontested, with Carnes on the ballot in 2A07 and Sacco as a write-in for 2A08, while the race between Kennedy and long-term incumbent David Lehrman has turned out to be a very competitive race in a district, 2A01, that contains many students and non-students.
Nicole Goines, who is also an American University student, is running for ANC in Brentwood's ANC 5C05. Connell Wise, a student at Marymount University, is running in 6E07, in the Mount Vernon Triangle.
Having so many students run for office represents major progress, but there is still much work yet to be done. What is at stake is more than just 9 college students running for local office, but how to get all groups of residents to participate in the civic life of this great city.
Is the quality of medical education in Washington worse than in other metropolitan areas? Looking at the rankings of our medical schools compared to other regions, it seems that we're behind.
According to a number of people in the medical profession, the general consensus in the field is that DC has fewer very experienced doctors in many specialties. Primary care physicians also generally seem harder to get to see, and fewer take insurance.
The US News rankings for the top medical, law, business, and engineering graduate schools for each of the top 11 metropolitan areas are below. When another school was close behind, the table includes those schools as well.
The Washington area is near the top of the pack for most of the graduate programs. In law, perhaps not surprisingly, we've got four top-50 schools. But in medicine, Washington's best are ranked farther down; we're more comparable to Miami, a city in a state which places very little emphasis on quality education.
The number two medical school in the nation is, of course, not far at all. Baltimore is even part of the same Combined Statistical Area as Washington. UVA's is number 25, but it's far enough away as not to be part of the Washington region.
Does this matter? The link between medical education and medical care
Who cares if our medical schools aren't the best in the nation, especially with Johns Hopkins around?
Doctors have the ability to live in many parts of the country, and residency already takes them to areas they might not otherwise have lived in. When choosing a long-term place to live, many want to either work where they can get the most interesting cases, or make the most money.
Specialists who have the most knowledge often want to work in the best academic or research hospitals. Patients needing the most unusual and expert care will go to those hospitals, making the work more interesting for doctors. Plus, a doctor's reputation comes partly from the quality of the school and hospital where he or she works. That draws many of the best doctors to want to work at the best schools and their hospitals.
Doctors primarily concerned with money are attracted to areas with a lower cost of living and higher Medicare reimbursement rates, which vary by state. For a doctor in a hospital, like a surgeon, Medicare rates govern payments for many procedures and therefore strongly influence physician pay. Meanwhile, the cost of living also varies greatly, but often not in lockstep. A higher cost of living in the Washington area might deter doctors from choosing to practice here.
Certainly people in Washington can go to Baltimore for the occasional, very serious medical issue. But in a metropolitan area of almost 6 million people, shouldn't we want to have great specialists too? And while there are plenty of great primary care doctors in Washington, there often don't seem to be enough. If our medical schools were even better, it might attract even more of the best and brightest in the medical profession, just as the region attracts much of the best and brightest in the legal field.
Help medical schools thrive
Georgetown has expressed a long-term interest in moving its medical school, Washington's best ranked. DC should work hard to keep it here, and discourage it from moving to a distant exurban part of the region. It should also take an interest in helping the other medical schools grow and thrive.
Sometimes it seems DC takes its universities for granted. While certain officials entice sports teams to move here no matter what the cost, the District government is placing severe limitations on its universities. These limitations aim to satisfy residents who don't want to see an increase in undergraduate or graduate students or more institutional use of buildings in their neighborhoods.
DC won't collapse without better medical education or care, but as residents and leaders think about the future, we should consider helping DC and the Washington area be as competitive in medicine as it is in other fields.
George Washington University has begun early conversations with DC officials for another large redevelopment project on its campus. As the school, the DC government, and the public start discussing the project, all should think about how to make a much-needed second Foggy Bottom Metro entrance a reality.
The project will rebuild most of Square 55, between H and I from 22nd to 23rd. This is one block south of Square 54, home to a massive redevelopment project currently under construction. 55 contains three existing residence halls, which will remain, but most of the square contains enormous parking garages and a small unremarkable building on the 23rd Street side.
GW wants to build a new 61,000 square foot science and engineering complex on the site. It would remove 5 of the 7 existing curb cuts and widen the remaining 2 to create a parking entrance on H and a loading entrance on I.
When thinking about GW's growth, a huge issue is the Foggy Bottom Metro, one of the most common sources of rider complaints from overcrowding at the entrance. Foggy Bottom is DC's highest ridership station with only a single mezzanine; Rosslyn and Pentagon are the only two with more traffic and one mezzanine. Rosslyn is getting a second entrance, and Pentagon has two sets of escalators in an uncommon configuration.
WMATA studied possible locations for a second entrance. The most logical site is the corner of 22nd and I, at the eastern end of the current station and closer to most of the campus and downtown.
WMATA suggested the southeast corner of 22nd and I, which is mostly empty save for a small brick townhouse which the current GW Master Plan calls to remove. According to officials from the Office of Planning, GW has agreed to reserve space for this entrance when they eventually redevelop that square, Square 77, which is just to the east of Square 55.
I couldn't get clear information about whether the agreement includes actually building the mezzanine, which on WMATA's plans will go under 22nd Street and overlap pieces of both Square 77 and Square 55, or building the escalator entrance versus simply leaving empty space for it and demanding DC or WMATA pay part of the construction cost for the building.
Arlington has successfully asked developers to pay the full cost of new entrances as part of projects, though they can authorize far, far taller buildings than DC can. DC is very cash-strapped today, and has a number of other high priority capital projects including streetcars and the Union Station north entrance expansion.
GW is already going to dig down many levels for parking in the Square 55 project. Perhaps they can construct all or part of the necessary mezzanine now, while there's a big hole in the ground. A new entrance would benefit GW employees most of all.
This PUD will implement part of the existing campus plan, which unfortunately does not include a new entrance in its transportation section. However, according to Foggy Bottom Association director Greg Snyder, GW has been using PUDs to push for some extra density beyond that called for in the campus plan in some areas. If they want extra flexibility, OP and the Zoning Commission should ask them to give their employees extra flexibility as well and reduce traffic in the neighborhood by contributing to an extra entrance.
A new entrance won't happen without leadership from the DC government. OP and DDOT should keep this priority in mind as they discuss ongoing campus redevelopment with GW, and figure out how to best get the entrance built with minimal public money. Otherwise, development may proceed without an entrance, foreclosing the opportunity for a long time.
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