Student responds to “student ghetto” blog post on GGW

[Editor’s note: Kara Brandeisky is the head of business for the Voice.]

Kara Brandeisky (COL ’13) has come to the defense of the Campus Plan following the recent post on Greater Greater Washington by Georgetown resident Ken Archer that referred to the area around Georgetown University as a “student ghetto.”

In her post, Brandeisky takes a look back at the history of student housing, both on and off campus, exposing the flaws in the 2010 Campus Plan opponents’ logic and the repetition of arguments that have been used against a number of plans.

In his post, Archer claimed that the neighborhood has become a student ghetto that did not exist in 1980. However, Brandeisky notes, “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.”

She also points out that massive changes in the alcohol policy at Georgetown took place during the late 1980s when the legal drinking age was increased from 18 to 21. (Citizens Association of Georgetown President Jennifer Altemus (COL’ 88) likely remembers this since she was a student at the time.)

In his post, Archer advocated for more housing to be built on campus by making many buildings—such as Leo O’Donovan Dining Hall and the proposed athletic training facility—multi-use buildings.

“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,” Brandeisky responded.

Rather than solely critique the neighbors’ claims, Brandeisky also offers her opinion on what she agrees and disagrees with in the plan. Her biggest concern is the loss of the proposed 1789 block plan.

Neighbors considered this space ‘off-campus,’ even though it is University-owned and wedged between existing classroom buildings and University housing,” she wrote.

This argument echoed a similar one made by residents opposing the 1980 Campus Plan. “n 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 Nevils — while opposing the construction of University housing literally across the street,” Brandeisky argues.

“Ms. Altemus and Mr. Archer do not decry our behavior—they decry our very presence,” Brandeisky concludes. “We want a stake in this community. Writing us off as a ‘student ghetto’ doesn’t even give us the chance.”

3 Comments on “Student responds to “student ghetto” blog post on GGW

  1. Nice job! And, don’t forget that Nevils, Alumni Square, 37th St Townhouses, etc are on campus, whether the neighbors like it or not. GU campus is legally defined to include those blocks and this definition has been affirmed by the DC Govt. The neighbors can argue all they want that those areas are off campus, but they have no legal grounds. The ANC, as a sanctioned elected group are required to comply with the law, so they should not be buying into or repeating the claim that those areas are off campus.

  2. Really well done – that was an excellent, cogent article that avoided the typical straw man arguments that have characterized this debate so far.

  3. im surprised at the overall lack of neighborhood response, perhaps because they blow this article off as not applying to their current strife and will go back to voicing their anger at being oppressed by the school in a week.

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