Neighbor claims that Georgetown area has turned in to a “student ghetto”

Did you know that if you live off-campus in West Georgetown you are part of a ghetto?

Although most people who are familiar with Georgetown would have a hard time connecting the concepts of Georgetown and a ghetto, local resident Ken Archer made the claim in a post yesterday on Greater Greater Washington.

Archer writes that if you walk around West Georgetown, “you will find a student ghetto that simply wasn’t there in 1980. The area is becoming characterized by dilapidated houses and unbagged trash strewn across lawns.” However, in the comments section, Archer notes that he moved in to the neighborhood only eight years ago.

In his post, Archer also claimed the 27 percent of student houses have had run-ins with the police and the University is proud of this number, however, he fails to cite any source. (One commenter suggested that the figure accounts for “community calls.”) Last year, Burleith Citizens’ Association President Lenore Rubino encouraged residents to call 911 when they feel student gatherings are too loud, which explains the potential amount of run-ins.

Despite Georgetown University having the most on-campus student housing in D.C.—except for Gallaudet—Archer argues that having off-campus students are more detrimental to the Georgetown neighborhood than to the Foggy Bottom, Spring Valley, or Brookland neighborhoods.

Rather than just complaining about the 2010 Campus Plan failure to include on-campus housing, Archer proposed the idea of multi-use buildings, where housing could be added to Leo O’Donovan Dining Hall, the yet-to-be-built athletic training facility, and on top of Epicurean.

The open area near Wolfington Hall and the parking lot at the end of Library Walk are other potential locations, according to his post.

Although he clearly disagrees with the 2010 Campus Plan, Archer links to competing petitions that support and oppose the plan. Nonetheless, we’re sad to see that he didn’t cite his sources—he could learn an academic thing or two from us ghetto-dwellers.

31 Comments on “Neighbor claims that Georgetown area has turned in to a “student ghetto”

  1.  by  Not Greg Monroe

    I find it a little awkward that a resident of a community built on white flight has decided that a part of his community that he finds disagreeable should be labeled a ghetto.

    Furthermore, his suggestions would actually increase the ghettoization, if you want to use that term, of the University. As one of the commenters on his piece pointed out, “If anything, a campus plan with more on-campus housing would more resemble a ghetto than student tenants freely choosing to rent from landlords, who are also freely choosing to let the students live there.”

  2.  by  DR

    Ken Archer, in his comments, states…”10% of undergraduates choosing to live off campus … would be fine.”

    Ken, in the year 2011, it’s amazing that you think that you have the right to decide who can or cannot live in a particular neighborhood.

    But as long as you’re ignoring DC human rights laws, why stop there? Perhaps the ANC can petition to limit the percentage of minorities in the greater DC metro area who are allowed to live in the District. They might decide that 10% of African-Americans can live here, but no more. They could also petition to create satellite housing outside of DC, so these displaced minority residents can still visit DC during the day, but not actually live here. Of course, local activists would complain about the increased traffic, so they would route commuter buses to avoid the 20007 area code.

    It’s 2011, it’s hard to believe that we still need to have this argument.

  3.  by  DR

    Listen to the comments of the neighborhood activist in this clip from “A Raisin in the Sun. They bear a frightening similarity to the rhetoric used by Lenore Rubino and other activists who think students shouldn’t live in “their” neighborhood.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pswect7Bf_c&feature=related

    “…I’m from the Clybourne Park Improvement Association…
    But you’ve got to admit that a man, right or wrong…
    …has the right to want to have the
    neighborhood he lives in……in a certain kind of way.
    At the moment, the overwhelming
    majority of people out there feel……that people get along better…
    …take more of a common interest in
    the life of the community…..When they share a common background….People get worked up when their
    way of life……and all they’ve worked for is threatened….

  4.  by  Just Saying...

    Obviously his characterization of Georgetown as a ghetto is a horrible use of language, but using a quote of him saying that \the area is becoming characterized by dilapidated houses and unbagged trash strewn across lawns\ is not exactly a good way to tear down his larger argument. I dare you to walk around anywhere where students live in West Georgetown or Burleith and not find exactly that.

  5.  by  JS

    @Just Saying…: I dare you to walk this city and not find houses where that is true. There are good neighbors and there are bad neighbors of all ages.

  6.  by  Mac

    “There’s no need for you to fear me. If you take your time to hear me, maybe you can learn to cheer me.”

    Preach

  7.  by  typical

    I am a student and some lovely neighbors who are doing some home renovations decided to drop their debris on the sidewalk in front of my house. In the spirit of cooperation and unity, I have reported it to the city as a case of illegal dumping.

    For the record, students have never left any trash in front of my house. Nor have they puked, defecated, urinated, or otherwise left a mess. Current score: Students 1, “Multi-generational neighbors” 0.

  8.  by  typical

    I’m sorry, I forgot to add the dog walker who let’s their dog poop all over the sidewalk up and down my street. For those keeping track, Current Score now: Students 2, “Multi-generational neighbors” 0.

  9.  by  Burleith resident

    The neighborhoods surrounding Georgetown are threatened by a proposed flood of increased enrollment, traffic and develeopment. The percentage of rental houses would creep up and up. Long-term Georgetown and Burleith residents are simply trying to protect the diversity of their neighborhoods and maintain the quality of life for homes that they will be living in for many years to come.

    Those students who are now up in arms defending their mighty and infallible institution will be gone in two or three years and simply won’t give a damn any more.

  10.  by  Mac

    “Those students who are now up in arms defending their mighty and infallible institution will be gone in two or three years and simply won’t give a damn any more.”

    Actually, that’s wrong. Students who go here now want to make sure that their institution increases its academic offerings, prompting a rise in the school’s ranking, which in turn prompts an increase in the value of a Georgetown degree.

    You, sir or madam, never gave a damn about the university in the first place. Your peers have negotiated in bad faith, opting for demands of surrender rather than compromise or constructive proposals.

  11.  by  Tim

    “Those students who are now up in arms defending their mighty and infallible institution will be gone in two or three years and simply won’t give a damn any more.”

    I graduated in 2007, and last year, I attended one of your neighborhood bitch-fest meetings. I am not in DC tomorrow, or I would be at that meeting, too. And I will continue to stay informed and engaged with these issues for as long as my degree says “Georgetown.”

  12.  by  Burleith resident

    At all costs, let’s get that ” increase in the value of a Georgetown degree,” and to hell with any neighborhood concerns that stand in the way!

    By the way, Mac, had you paid attention, you would have heard by now that there was never any negotiation on the campus plan, despite what the school claims. That plan was slapped on the hood without any opportunity for real neighborhood input. Your school hasn’t made any good faith efforts to compromise or accept constructive proposals.

    How dare those pesky residents hamper our attempt to rise in school rank!

  13.  by  Tim

    @ Burleith Resident,

    I don’t let the \increase in the value of a Georgetown degree\ stand in the way of anything. I have no problem whatsoever with compromise. And I think that students should be respectful of the non-students living around them. But respect is a two-way street, and unfortunately, the self-proclaimed \adults\ in this situation don’t seem to be willing to take the lead, instead choosing to whine, complain, exaggerate, and name-call in the media.

    As for this plan, as I said, I was at one of the community meetings, and I can tell you: the neighborhood DOES get its input. I sat in a room at Georgetown Day for over two hours listening to the neighborhood get its input. And where is the 1789 block in the final proposal? Where is the smokestack? You’re getting your neighborhood RAs. You’ve gotten buses re-routed. The University absolutely gives. But rather than any constructive back-and-forth, you \adults\ in the neighborhood see the University’s extended hand, and you want the whole damn arm. Or rather, both arms. And probably the legs, too, if you could get them.

  14.  by  Burleither is a Liar

    @burleith resident: you’re a liar. GU gave in on the smokestack, 1789 block housing, and GUTS routing. GU has also, in the past year, increased SNAP and added MPD to the neighborhood. The neighbors don’t make constructive proposals. You complain about parking in the neighborhood then fight additional parking on campus. You complain about traffic, then force GUTS to inconvenient routes that waste energy and time. Your neighbors rent parking spaces and homes to students and employees, facilitating the ghettoization of your ‘hood. For years y’all fought the Canal Road entrance reconstruction which was done to get traffic off of Prospect and Reservoir. GU administrators freely admit that students (some, but by no means anywhere near 27%) can be a problem and spend an exorbitant amount of time dealing with the problems (which they take very seriously). Many residents (but not all) can’t seem to concede on one f-ing thing.

  15.  by  DR

    Burleith resident, you have supported my previous point brilliantly. Just like the neighborhood assocation activist in “Raisin in the Sun”, you believe that you have a right to decide who lives in your neighborhood and who doesn’t. You write that GU opponents “are simply trying to protect the diversity of their neighborhoods and maintain the quality of life for homes that they will be living in for many years to come.” Of course, more students would bring more diversity to the neighborhood- I’m sure the neighbors know this fact and are terrified of the impact on their mostly white neighborhood. Your argument is the same argument used for decades to try to keep minorities out of mostly white areas.

    Just like the “welcoming committee rep” in the movie said “…I’m from the Clybourne Park Improvement Association…But you’ve got to admit that a man, right or wrong……has the right to want to have the neighborhood he lives in……in a certain kind of way. ” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pswect7Bf_c&feature=related

    So, answer the question, Burleith resident: Who gave you the right to decide who lives in your neighborhood and who doesn’t? Which demographic do you want to see replace students? Which other demographics are not welcome in your neighborhood?

  16.  by  Burleith resident

    Smart way to negotiate: Exclude the neighborhoods from ground-floor development of the plan. Propose a gigantic smokestack as low-hanging fruit so that a councilman can howl and neighbors can topple and feel success. Open discussion so that neighbors can vent and feel that they just might be a part of this design after all. Ignore their pleas to put the brakes on enrollment or move all undergrads onto campus — like that Harvard you aspire to be — and shove the plan down their throats anyway. Cave on the smokestack. Yay, no smokestack. Bone thrown.

    We residents are forced to concede whether we like it or not. This past decade, the school has been increasing enrollment like a gangbuster. WooHooo!

    We like students and we like the University, but we we don’ like being railroaded.

  17.  by  Kate

    I am an alum who proudly lived in West Georgetown for 2 years. Has anyone mentioned what students bring to the neighborhood? Besides the HUGE boost to the local economy (in the tens of millions of dollars yearly), students are integrated into many of the families and businesses around town. I’m tired of hearing about the 1% of students who leave trash when 99%, including myself, are babysitting your children or working in your local business. Yes, we have parties. Yes, we can be a bit loud. But you also live 1 block from 3 huge bars. Really, you are shocked that “Rhino Bar and Pumphouse” creates some noisy patrons, not all of whom are students? You simply cannot have all the benefits of living next to major university without some of the draw backs. And considering its GU’s 222nd birthday, you certainly can’t claim ignorance.

    Next, if you would like those 1% of students to clean up their act, start with their landlords. Student Housing Association, or SHA, owns over 50 houses, and every single one I have been in is crap. Check this article about some of the conditions: http://georgetownvoice.com/2006/11/02/the-grass-is-always-greener/ (yes, its dated, but still accurate). With a place like this, its no wonder some lazy students don’t clean up their act. Simply put, if students are held to leases that require cleanliness, you are going to have less trash littering the streets. Students leave year after year, landlords do not.

    Lastly, to current students, please know that not all our neighbors are NIMBY idiots. Some are friendly families who genuinely enjoy having students around or wonderful couples who help a bunch of girls shovel after a huge snow storm.

  18.  by  @Burleith resident

    I’m sorry but the community does not get to build the University’s plans from the ground up. That is not how it works.

    As for the smokestack being low-hanging fruit: you are wrong. That was one of the community’s most illogical objections to this plan. If you understood science you would understand that. You also seem to have ignored the other compromises made: the 1789 block, the buses, the community RAs, and the rolling back of graduate enrollment plans. Those just don’t fit your narrative, do they?

  19.  by  Georgetown Booster

    Oh, okay, so here is how it does work: The U cooks up their plan without consulting the communities, they then have “community input” meetings, the neighbors speak about their concerns and Mother Superior submits her original plan anyway! Screw the community’s ideas.

    And Mr. Science should certainly know that the smokestack would never have met environmental regulations anyway, dumping its crap not onto campus, but out into the communities. Of course! But it’s fun to think about, huh, Mr. Science? A smokestack bigger and longer than Princeton’s!

  20.  by  Tim

    @ Burleith Resident,

    I’m not asking this sarcastically or to be a jerk. I genuinely want to know the answer to this question from one of our neighbors:

    Why did you move within 5 minutes’ walking distance of a University if you didn’t want to deal with students? Didn’t you consider the possibility that Georgetown—like all institutions—would grow over time? And now, seeing that the University does behave like every other rational institution in the world, why don’t you leave for another part of DC, not immediately adjacent to something you so strongly dislike?

  21.  by  @georgetown booster

    or in less dramatic terms- the University makes pans for itself. some of these plans, those effecting the neighborhood at large, must be submitted for review. A lengthy brawl ensues and some sacrifices are made.
    Sounds reasonable.

    Less reasonable: the neighborhood setting the agenda for the University. move all undergraduates on to our cramped campus. Build baby build. We too, value quality of life and community and dont want our campus turned into the neighborhood’s dorm for GU students. Granted, it would be more unreasonable were the university to decide to force all residents to change their plans for their home etc., but their is a rough equivalence.

    one of my classes took a tour of the heating and cooling facility. We had questions about the smokestack- the head engineer explained that it more than easily complies with the strictest environmental regulations. The purpose of the extra height is for the carbon, and negligible amounts of particulate matter to dissipate. Science hint- smoketacks don’t spew smoke, at least not here and not since 1910. On the scale of a chinese industrial city, yes, on this scale, I couldnt imagine. The burner is the size of a teapot.

    Also, if im out for a walk, and a neighbor walks by with their dog, I give a nod, a smile, or a feeble hi. Rarely ever returned with more than visible scorn. Maybe thats too California of me, but wont you be my neighbor?

  22.  by  Eileen

    Okay. You get your wish and the University demands that all students live on campus. (By the way, there are currently empty beds on campus because students don’t want to live there – which is why the university is proposing putting money into renovating and and restoring its on-campus housing so that students will want to live there…but whatever)

    Problem is, landlords still own, what, fifty houses? Most of which are in decent, but not really family-friendly condition (who wants a six-bedroom house without a dining room?) – yet worth a million dollars or so, or sixty-some thousand a year in rent. So what are the landlords going to do? If they sell the houses, there are suddenly fifty million-dollar homes flooding the market, and your property values go way down. Option two: They continue to rent the houses to AU or GW students, congressional staffers (who are usually barely out of college themselves), et al. And then maybe it’s not the Georgetown students who are living here, but, hey: A bunch of twenty-somethings are all the same to you whether they go to GU or not.

    To give credit where credit is due, the above argument was presented to me by a Georgetown administrator.

    Finally, as to the trash issues – I came back from winter break early. How many Georgetown students do you think were here over Christmas instead of with their families? Burleith was absolutely filthy. So it seems that being messy is not contingent on being a student.

  23.  by  asuka

    Archer is a well-known gadfly and general idiot. He seems to hate everything about the neighborhood, but apparently loves to complaining about it so much that he won’t leave. No one takes him seriously.

  24.  by  Mickey

    Typical neighbor, doesn’t understand that we probably pay more per month than he does to live here. And he doesn’t understand that the student population is the reason that a number of businesses can afford their rent. I’d like to see a ghetto that has an average rent of over a $1,000 per month per person. If you don’t want to be around students make enough money to move east of Wisconsin, He’s a moron, end of story.

  25.  by  SFA

    Question:

    Could the students of Georgetown sue CAG, Ken Archer, BCA for libel? They are slandering us and calling us pigs…

  26.  by  Mac

    Re: SFA

    No, you can’t sue for libel just because of his comments. You have to prove there is actual malice to his comments and you have to prove standing, which you don’t really have in this case since he isn’t calling you out by name. /IANAL

    However, this material on DC’s alse light law was ultimately used to get rid of drunkengeorgetownstudents.com, or as I liked to call it, insaneramblingsofalunatic.org Seriously, Creed’s blog from the office was more coherent and less rambly. (http://www.citmedialaw.org/legal-guide/district-columbia-false-light)

  27.  by  Ken Archer

    “Archer writes that if you walk around West Georgetown, ‘you will find a student ghetto that simply wasn’t there in 1980. The area is becoming characterized by dilapidated houses and unbagged trash strewn across lawns.’ However, in the comments section, Archer notes that he moved in to the neighborhood only eight years ago.”

    This is based on data that confirms the experience of long-time residents. The data – the growing gap between enrollment and on-campus housing from 1970-2003 (when SW Quad was completed) – is presented at: http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/8693/gu-takes-student-ghetto-approach-to-housing-undergrads/#comment-84131. I’m open to any additional data sources you would like to provide on the issue of historical enrollment and housing. (Can you please add tag support to your site or indicate if it is supported?)

    “In his post, Archer also claimed the 27 percent of student houses have had run-ins with the police and the University is proud of this number, however, he fails to cite any source.”

    This is from the mailer that Georgetown University sent out to all residents after the Campus Plan filing. It’s on the last page.

    “Nonetheless, we’re sad to see that he didn’t cite his sources—he could learn an academic thing or two from us ghetto-dwellers.”

    I cited sources for several points, and provided more sources in the comments in response to questions. The comment thread to my post has ended up being probably the best back-and-forth dialogue on the Campus Plan issue anywhere. That’s what happens when you moderate the comments so that all voices feel welcome.

  28.  by  Eileen

    I’m still not a fan of his, but I have to give Ken Archer MAJOR props for using his own name on this blog.

    Although I have to say that as a proponent of free speech I oppose moderating comments.

  29.  by  asuka

    @Ken Archer

    “That’s what happens when you moderate the comments so that all voices feel welcome.”

    You accuse the student body of turning the neighborhood into a “ghetto” (a disgusting, insensitive choice of words; you do understand the history and connotation of that word, right?), and then you cry about not feeling “welcomed?”

    “If you visit the couple dozen blocks around the University in West Georgetown (west of Wisconsin Ave) and Burleith, you will find a student ghetto that simply wasn’t there in 1980. The area is becoming characterized by dilapidated houses and unbagged trash strewn across lawns.”

    That passage was about the QUALITY of the neighborhood, not the quantity of students who may be living in it, which is all that your data provides. Not only does the data you offer not support your supposition, it doesn’t even support the anecdotal evidence of “long-time residents” on which you rely.

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