Community groups form District-wide coalition to fight campus plans

In response to the contentious campus plan battles raging across the District, neighbors living near American, Georgetown, Howard, Catholic, and George Washington Universities have formed a District-wide group to advocate for neighborhood concerns.

The District-Wide Coalition of University Neighborhoods plans to incorporate as a non-profit advocating for stricter enrollment caps and neighbor-friendly housing policies at these universities.

Foggy Bottom Association president Asher Corson–a freelance political consultant, current ANC 2A Commissioner, and 2007 GW graduate–will help DCUN get on its feet. He attributes the group’s founding to the bitter battle over GW’s plan in 2007 in which neighbors spent $30,000 litigating against the university with little gains to show for it.

“GW really got away like bandits. Literally getting everything they wanted from the city,” Corson told Washington City Paper. “All these other universities saw that. You’re seeing conflict throughout the entire city, basically, because of these precedents that were set from GW.”

The Citizens Association of Georgetown, the Burleith Citizens Association, and the Foggy Bottom Association have all endorsed the new organization. DCUN wasted no time in slamming Georgetown’s Campus Plan.

“The proposed Georgetown campus plan is an example of aggressive University growth that if implemented will diminish the quality of life for the surrounding communities,” read a DCUN statement quoted in The Georgetown Dish.

Besides Corson, DCUN’s leadership includes Jacqueline Meers and ANC 3D Commissioner Nan Wells of Spring Valley (American), former ANC 5A Commissioner Phillip Blair Jr. and his wife Mary Pat Rowan of Brookland (CUA), ANC 1B Commissioner Tony Norman of Pleasant Plains (Howard), and CAG Director Cynthia Pantazis of Georgetown.

A panel of DCUN’s founding members will speak at the Foggy Bottom Citizen’s Association meeting at 7:00pm on Tuesday, April 26 in St. Stephen Martyr Church at 2436 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

h/t Washington City Paper, The Georgetown Dish

44 Comments on “Community groups form District-wide coalition to fight campus plans

  1. So, a group of students formed a coalition across DC to advocate for students in the district and call themselves DC Students Speak.

    A group of neighbors now form a coalition to fight against college students and call themselves DCUN.

    The only difference is DCUN already has political influence (half the leadership are ANC Commissioners), they have multi-million dollar homes, and a smaller/louder group of followers.

  2. The group’s got a boring name. I demand we call it the Coalition of University Neighborhoods Together.

  3. @ Copycats? Please do not misunderstand. My colleagues in DCUN and I are not anti-college student at all. All we are trying to do is protect our neighborhoods from too much University growth and expansion. As a recent grad, I believe it is a detriment to quality of life for students when a campus is being expanded. It’s good for the University and the administration, not the students or the neighbors.

  4. That’s bullshit. And at any event, GW didn’t expand through their last campus plan — they actually retreated from the surrounding neighborhoods. And Georgetown’s not expanding, either.

    The funny part is that someone like Georgetown can’t win — they got as many questions on the key feature of this plan that will IMPROVE access from elsewhere in the city (through GUTS/Loop Road) and thus permit students to live outside of the immediate area, as they did on the alleged massive numbers of students that do live in the neighborhood.

  5. “All we are trying to do is protect our neighborhoods from too much University growth and expansion.”

    Er… not so much. In the case of Georgetown, you’re actively trying to SHRINK the university, forget about “too much growth and expansion.” You complain about traffic but actively work to sabotage transit options. You complain about students overcrowding the neighborhood but are happy to allow more multimillion dollar condos in the same neighborhood (taking over a former school building, which according to CAG was inappropriate for use as… a school building). You make claims that are either unsubstantiated or actually contradicted by facts (e.g. the facts clearly show that the percentage of students living off campus is SMALLER today than it was in the 80s or 90s).

    Simply put, sir, you are dishonest and hypocritical and have no clothes.

  6. If not an organization against college students then definitely an organization against universities. After looking through the campus plan and attending the hearing last night, I can say with confidence that the plan is not the aggressive expansion that you claim.

    1. GUTS buses are being re-routed so that they do NOT go into the community and will instead loop around the campus and leave through Canal Rd.
    2. 250 new beds are being placed ON CAMPUS. This will remove undergraduate students from the neighborhood which is a problem that neighbors wanted addressed.
    3. Only 967 graduate students are to be added over the next 10 years, resulting in very few more additional houses being rented out to students in the community. Their average age of these students I believe is 30 and only 4% of all graduate students live in West Georgetown/Burleith. I don’t believe these are the types of students that the neighbors are complaining about anyways. There is no growth of the undergraduate population over the next 10 years.
    4. All other new construction is being confined to WITHIN the campus bounds.

    Now I ask you, what expansion are you speaking of? I feel that your organization, much like CAG and BCA, are just opposing the campus plan because they will oppose everything the universities do.

  7. Coalition of University Neighborhoods Together? Bonus points if you use it at Tombs trivia night.

  8. To claim that GW did not expand is just wrong. The 2007 GW Campus plan included 18 new developments and more total square footage than the Empire State building. It is simply not credible to claim that GW did not expand, especially after trying to bust the enrollment caps. From what I understand, Mary Cheh and others that are concerned with the GU plan are largely concerned with off-campus graduate students increases in the campus plan and the huge hospital that is proposed.

  9. To add: the rest of your Coalition of the Meddling is little better.

    In American’s case, different groups are bandying back and forth the location of proposed development – no one wants it in their backyard (NIMBYism incarnate). They want to live in an upscale suburb, but like having the convenience of being in the middle of the city, so they will fight any and all attempts at growth, increased density, improved connectivity, or anything that doesn’t cater to to their car-dependent, suburban lifestyle. Students and others not from the landed gentry need not apply.

    In Catholic’s case, a small group of Brookland anti-everything locals don’t want more students off their reservation and in the neighborhood.

    GW has indeed run roughshod over those trying to constrain it. However, GW went with the Mr. Saito strategy: “I bought the neighborhood. It seemed neater.” The university owns and occupies most of Foggy Bottom now, and while I don’t agree with every decision they’ve taken, the neighborhood is a heck of a lot more dynamic, engaging, and enjoyable walkable now than it used to be.

  10. Anything having to do with the hospital is a separate campus plan filed by MedStar.

  11. Just to clarify: the GU hospital which is owned by MedStar is a part of the campus plan filing. The current GU campus plan includes the density of the site, further details will follow in a future application.

  12. AC, it is dishonest for you to say that you are not anti-student. The anti-plan activists refuse to acknowledge that students have the same right to live in DC neighborhoods as anyone else. They have proposed laws that specifically limit the rights of students, no one else. When non-student neighbors are caught growing marijuana in their back yard, there is no outcry, but if a student has a party, they call 911 (compromising the safety of their neighbors) and try to ban them from the neighborhood. In the past they have tried to harass and intimidate legally registered student voters on Election Day. Repeatedly, for over a decade, they have submitted falsified documents to the DC government to try to pass laws that discriminate against students.

    I believe that most of the people in the neighborhood are not anti-student bigots and are more interested in safety, economic growth and protecting human rights than wasting time imagining ways to attack students. But a small group of activists (less than 1% of the population of the area) is claiming to speak for everyone and has tried to mislead and deceive their neighbors to promote their anti-student agenda. If you really want to protect DC neighborhoods, you’ll protect them from the corruption and lies of these extremists.

  13. I’ve already pointed out that 4% of grad students live in the neighborhood. If you do the math with the 967 student increase, there will be a growth of about 6-7 more housing units. Not a big expansion at all in my opinion. You also have to take into account a decrease in the undergraduate population living off campus due to the 250 beds being added on campus.

    As for the hospital, I understand that there is a need for an expansion or renovation of the current hospital because there is a need for it in the community. I guess the issue that the neighbors are concerned about is traffic but I value saving lives more than a little increase in the number of cars in the street.

    And if you say you aren’t anti-student, read this. The students, the ones MOST impacted by the plan, are also benefitting from it from the plan through enhancement in athletic, spiritual, scientific, and green space on campus.

  14. “Huge hospital that is proposed” – uh, the proposed new hospital will be smaller than the current one. Further, its going to be set deeper into the campus, just like the neighbors want.

    This is the reason no one believes you – because you’re incapable of making a post that doesn’t contain a misstatement of facts.

  15. Let the neighbors bitch – if last night’s meeting is any exception, this is heading for another litigation which the neighbors will lose like they did the last one.

    The universities will win – they have the money and the economic power in the district.

  16. @ asuka The GU hospital proposal consists of density (no location specified) so it could not possibly be where the \neighbors want.\

  17. **sorry, should read “if last night’s meeting is any indication”

  18. @Asher Corson

    So you’re uninformed, too? Not surprised. So, could you provide a link to the new hospital being “huge?” For example, how many square feet will it be? How many beds? I’ll wait.

  19. That wastes university resources and time. Let’s cut to the chase and get it done right away.

  20. The only proposal for a new hospital is for a location deeper into campus. But that ignores the fundamental point that there is no rational reason to oppose the potential for better healthcare within Zip Code 20007, unless you want your drive to the hospital when you’re injured to be 20 minutes instead of 2.

  21. Direct from the GU campus plan: “the 2010 Campus Plan calls for up to 500,000 square feet of new gross floor area to accommodate improvements and enhancements to existing Hospital Buildings.” The final location of this new square footage and what it will be used for (still unknown) is of legitimate concern to community members. This does not mean anybody is opposing healthcare or hospitals. Take a look for yourself at the campus plan:

    Also, take a look at the Zoning Hearing from last night where GU officials discussed the “new building.” Here it is:

    As a recent grad, I understand how you feel but because we disagree does not mean I have my facts wrong or I am being dishonest or anti-student or anti-hospital….

  22. I think that DC colleges should add an essay to their applications:

    “In five years, are you going to turn around and stab us in the back by teaming up with the crazies of the ANC? Keep your answer under 250 words.”

  23. Direct from the GU campus plan: “the 2010 Campus Plan calls for up to 500,000 square feet of new gross floor area to accommodate improvements and enhancements to existing Hospital Buildings.” The final location of this new square footage and what it will be used for (still unknown) is of legitimate concern to community members. This does not mean anybody is opposing healthcare or hospitals. Two links (to the campus plan and zoning commission hearing last night) about the hospital are awaiting moderation.

    As a recent grad, I understand how you feel but because we disagree does not mean I have my facts wrong or I am being dishonest or anti-student or anti-hospital or anti-healthcare….

  24. If you don’t believe that students have equal rights to live in DC, vote in DC, and be free from harassment or discrimination, then you are anti-student.

    If you want to clarify that you are not anti-student, state the following:

    I believe that students have the same rights as other DC residents, including the same right as others to live in the neighborhood near their school or work, or any other neighborhood that they choose.

    I believe that students have the equal right to vote in DC, including the right to vote free from harassment or intimidation.

    I believe that laws that restrict the rights of student residents only and not non-student residents are discriminatory and should be illegal.

    I support the DC Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on matriculation.

    I denounce actions that prioritize crackdown on student parties above prevention and follow-up of serious crimes such as sexual assault and robbery.


  25. It also seems like your only possible legitimate argument against the plan is this hospital, yet your organization has called the plan “an example of aggressive University growth that if implemented will diminish the quality of life for the surrounding communities”.

    Once again, I still have not seen this claim substantiated. I don’t think it is fair that DCUN can make these claims with nothing to back it up other than a bit of a hospital expansion.

  26. Yes and the university has SAID REPEATEDLY THAT the only site being realistically explored for the *new* hospital is N. Kehoe Field which is completely WITHIN CAMPUS. Second of all, what is your argument against the hospital? Is it screwing with people’s views of the Potomac? No because none of those houses had views in the first place. Is it creating more traffic? Sure I’ll grant you that. If you think traffic is more important than having a really well-equipped hospital in the neighborhood with state of the art facilities and world-renowned research and care, then I have no further words for you and you are an irrational being.

    Beyond this is the point that you have no INTEREST AT STAKE IN THE GU CAMPUS PLAN. It does not affect your life one iota. So go on enjoying Foggy Bottom, and if you want to complain to a university(which is irrational in the first place for numerous reasons that shouldn’t have to be spelled out), complain to GW who will then act RATIONALLY like they did in 20007 and do what’s best for even their ungrateful brat students like yourself.

  27. @Asher Corson,

    So, do you know what the current hospital footprint is? Do you know how many beds it has? I’m still curious as to how you’ve come to the conclusion that this new hospital is “huge.” You see, its characterizations like that – obviously made in ignorance – that tends to leave the impression that you and your organization’s positions are simply irrational.

  28. You guys seriously sound like a bunch of brats yourselves. You should learn to express yourselves without sounding like entitled children. Feel free to get as excited about the campus plan as you want, but try not to embarrass GU while doing so.

  29. No one would dispute that it’s been a bitter struggle on both sides here in Georgetown: students make noise on Vox, neighbors can be hearing audibly harrumphing at zoning hearings. I wonder if Mr. Corson could tell us what the stakes are in Foggy Bottom. I have a feeling that they’re probably very different from here in Georgetown.

  30. @ asuka: The Georgetown campus plan allows for Georgetown to include an additional half a million square feet of additional hospital space, this is in addition to the size of the current hospital which has over 600 beds. The location of this new structure and what the new 500,000 square feet will be used for are not specified in the plan. But there is no doubt that 500,000 square feet plus the size of the current hospital will mean a very large structure, you might even say it would be huge. The Vice-Chair of the Zoning Commissioner, Konrad Schlater told Georgetown at the hearing on Thursday that he needed more information about the plans for the hospital.

    @ It’s Georgetown, not GU!: I am certain the circumstances in Foggy Bottom and Georgetown are very different. However, what is similar is that ANC’s and Civic Associations in both neighborhoods have felt the need to defend their communities. In the Georgetown case, the neighbors were able to garner the support of Councilmembers which could be a big help.

    To give you some more information about Foggy Bottom: we are home to the largest dorm in the District which happens to be off campus, GW used it’s old hospital site to build an entirely commercial development that includes no academic or medical use whatsoever, and there are 18 new developments coming to campus that will create as much density as the empire state building in our small community. The stakes are very high here. I also understand why neighbors of Georgetown (who has the same legal representation as GW) are skeptical of what they hear from the University’s lawyers. Zoning Commissioner Michael Turnbull told Georgetown on Thursday that their introductory remarks sounded like an “ultimatum to the Zoning Commission.”

  31. Hi, I’m Asher Coorso0on*! My north-suburban Chicago parents bought me a condo when I graduated from GW, so I can now legitimately claim I am a Foggy Bottom homeowner! I got bitten by the political bug when after taking an “Intro. to American Government” class my freshman year–don’t we all?–and it’s taken me into hyperdrive. I want to climb up the political ladder (in this crazy city of all places!), so the best way to start is by ingratiating myself with the locals on the Foggy Bottom Association! With their support, I can make a name for myself in this great, big, shiny world we call “politics”! I sure do work hard for the community, and I’m actually pretty decent guy, but I hope people don’t realize how juvenile and undeveloped my aspirations are! If I keep this up, one day I can be a big-time political power player like Kwame! Good thing I’m giving myself a head start!

    *Some names have been changed for legal reasons.

  32. Hey Koolaid, shut up, you’re post has been the worst so far. You should learn to express yourself without sounding like a condescending douche. Entitled? From what statements? You sir, are very very stupid.

    Have a nice day

  33. @Asher Corson

    So you think this new space is in addition to the current hospital? You STILL DONT GET IT. Please stop labeling things until you do.

  34. First the GU plan does show a location – the existing hospital. Clearly shown on the plan.

    Second the GW plan calls for 16 development sites.

    Third the GW plan calls for more density but no additional students, so what’s the big deal about the density?

  35. @Corson

    I’m still sort of stunned at how misinformed you are. I mean, are you really claiming that GU is planning to maintain its current hospital as well as build and operate entirely new one? That GU will be operating two hospitals on one campus? I’m trying to give you an opportunity to educate yourself on this issue and correct your previous misstatements. Because its pretty apparent that you had no idea what you were talking about, started googling, and then made things much worse.

    You’re doing a really poor job of representing your organization. You really shouldn’t make public statements unless you have a strong command of facts and issues.

  36. PS: What does the \L\ stand for, and why don’t you use your first name? Its a fashion thing, right? Distinction and all that? \Louis\ or \Lawrence\ just isn’t as cool as \Asher?\

  37. @ asuka: Take a look at the Zoning Commission hearing and the from Thursday and the campus plan that I link above. There will not be two hospitals, there will be one that includes the density of the current one plus 500,000 square feet. The location has not yet been determined. Whether this will be on the current hospital site or a new site, is not yet clear.

  38. Take a look at the Zoning Commission hearing and from Thursday and the campus plan that I link above (is what I meant to say).

  39. You know, in these times of contention and malice-filled words, I find it’s always a good idea to look to the great poets of our time to give us perspective. For example. both the neighborhood and Georgetown might learn a lesson or two from these words: “How the hell’d we wind up like this?/Why weren’t we able/To see the signs that we missed/And try to turn the tables?/I wish you’d unclench your fist/And unpack your suitcase/Lately there’s been too much of this/Don’t think it’s too late/Nothing’s wrong/Just as long/As you know that someday I will/Someday, somehow/Gonna make it all right but not right now/I know you’re wondering when.” I’m crying in my pancakes just typing those beautiful lines.

    And wouldn’t we all benefit if both sides took a good look and told each other “This is how you remind me of what I really am.” That’s how I’ve been able to keep Quebec a province of Canada practically by myself, no small diplomatic feat. I realize a certain neighbor has misused my message to “Look at this photograph,” but that’s in the past. I truly believe there will be a day when students, administrators, and multi-generational households can come together to “[hit] from the bong like a diesel train” like good neighbors should. Thank you.

    So sayeth the Wise Chad Kroeger

  40. @Asher Corson – Sorry you were rejected from Georgetown. You have no stake in this fight and shouldn’t try to ruin the Georgetown experience for current and future students.

  41. suummddduuddy call the fire department for poor Asher.

  42. Pingback: FoBo in the News -FoBoBlo

  43. Pingback: Vox Populi » Prefrosh Preview: Off-campus news you can use

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