Office of Planning: Georgetown should house 100 percent of undergrads by 2016

Update: The full report of the Office of Planning is now available after the jump.

The District Office of Planning filed its report to the D.C. Zoning Commission today, recommending that Georgetown University house 100 percent of its traditional undergraduate students on-campus by the fall of 2016, according to the Georgetown Dish.

The Office of Planning recommends that the University accomplish this by “incrementally reducing the [traditional undergraduate student] enrollment […] until the TUS enrollment equals the university-provided housing.” The report obtained by the Dish stated concerns about the “adverse impact and objectionable conditions due to the number of students” in Burleith and West Georgetown.

Unsurprisingly, Advisory Neighborhood Commission chair Ron Lewis told the Dish, “This is a strong, thoughtful, well-documented report.”

This outcome seems to support Georgetown Metropolitan writer Topher Matthews’s theory that the University made last-ditch changes to the plan—including the addition of 250 beds on-campus and reducing the total student cap from 16,133 to 15,000—in an attempt to win over the Office of Planning, and by extension, the Zoning Commission.

If so, it didn’t work.

Vox will have more on the Office of Planning’s recommendations as soon as we get our hands on the report.


Report of the Office of Planning – 05/05/2011

49 Comments on “Office of Planning: Georgetown should house 100 percent of undergrads by 2016

  1. This is, quite literally, an unprecedented restriction. Not a single university in the country is imposed on in this manner. Fenty may be gone, but it looks like Fentyite Harriet Tregoning has been bought.

  2. Let’s house students in the Healy Pub!

  3. I’ll have something about this tomorrow, but I just wanted to point out that the Dish read the report wrong. It doesn’t call for the undergrad enrollment cap to be reduced unless GU doesn’t meet the 100% requirement. If by 2016, X number of students don’t have a GU bed, then the cap is reduced by 25% of X over four years until they do have 100%.

  4. 1)Seriously? We specifically added beds, and reduced enrollment, to win over OP, and they meet us with an absolutely insane restriction? Like Madness said, this restriction is simply unprecedented.
    2) How poor a job did the administration assess the situation? They apparently though OP was the margin, but when they finally release a report, it’s to say that they want everyone on campus within 5 years? What, if we hadn’t shown good faith in making the concession, would they have recommended 4? There’s a reason these are submitted as ten year plans.
    3)Do they really think it’s just a matter of reducing enrollment? Georgetown’s faculty, staff, and facility sizes are designed to operate at the present population. Especially given tenure constraints, those aren’t the sort of things you can immediately downsize on a whim.
    4)Will other universities, all but one (Gallaudet) of which currently house less students on campus, and have not been around as long, be subject to the same restrictions?

    This will almost certainly end up in the courts. If the zoning board goes through with this, there’s no way the University will allow it’s student, human, and property rights to be so ridiculously trampled on.

  5. @Topher: penalizing us if we fail to meet the 100% target is basically the same thing as imposing the restriction right away: when the neighbors complain when we *do* propose to build more housing, there’s no way we can reach 100% without reducing enrollment

  6. So they oppose the plan to create more housing on university land on o and now they levy a ridiculous mandate of 100% housed on campus. This is truly asinine. How can any outside objective observer not see how insane this situation is

  7. This is a joke. I can’t imagine Georgetown can legally force all undergrads to live on campus and I can’t imagine the zoning board can legally force Georgetown to force it’s students to live on campus. Students are a protected class and can’t be discriminated against from living in a certain community.

    If the zoning board rules against Georgetown they will go to court, and they will hopefully win like they did last time.

  8. @Topher–this X-factor doesn’t address students who choose to live outside 20007. If someone wanted to live in Columbia Heights or Tenleytown or even Rosslyn, would they then forbidden to do so because, by math, GU will never reach 100% on campus, short of leaving hundreds of beds around campus vacant to meet the statute?

  9. This is patently absurd, both in terms of the demand and the time during which they need to complete the task.

    So does this mean Georgetown just has to follow it then? Or does it all go before Zoning and they decide? And what are the chances Zoning takes them up on this offer?

  10. The recommendation is given to the Zoning Commission and they decide. There is a good chance they will rule in favor of the Office of Planning but it will all eventually end up in court where I think the university has a good shot of winning.

    Students should really get together and do something about this if the Zoning Commission does in fact mandate 100% on campus housing. We have a right to live off campus.

  11. Out of curiosity, what happens if we don’t meet these requirements?

  12. @Hoya – Under D.C. law, Georgetown University is a special-use “guest” in a residential zone. If we fail to meet the conditions of what is essentially a zoning variance, we could face fines and a freeze on construction permits.

  13. John is jumping the gun a little bit — Nothing is binding yet. The Office of Planning is asking the Zoning Commission to adopt these recommendations. If the Zoning Commission comes to the same conclusion, then we’re in trouble, and we’re likely facing a long legal battle. For now, the Zoning Commission is just gathering information.

  14. This is absurd. It’s not just the university’s rights that would be trampled on, but the students. This is patently ridiculous. Where does the OP propose that the university house these students? On the limited green space left?

    Complete and utter bullshit.

  15. Must be freaking out right now. Say this actually happens- it won’t, mind you- how many properties in Georgetown are rented by students? Furthermore, what’s the economic hit that landlords will take? Will they sell the piece of shit houses that they provide students? We all know they’re disgusting. And if that happens, won’t the property values probably be driven down with all the houses on the market? And with that in mind, won’t the values of the rest of the neighbors houses will all decrease? So kick us out of your neighborhood. I hope the effects on the real estate market in Georgetown are worth the hassle of a few drunk college students walking the streets and night. You reap what you sow.

  16. Students have a right to live anywhere and everywhere. I don’t think anybody would disagree. You could get a nice rental in Rockville and go to Montgomery College (Harvard on the Pike) and save some big bucks. But when you chose to go to Georgetown, then you agree to play by their rules, and the rules they are subject to. If they say undergrads must live on campus, then you are free to seek your education elsewhere if you disagree. That doesn’t infringe on any of your rights.

    But that isn’t the issue here. The University does not have the right to operate in a residential zone unless it meets the zoning requirements. And it seems to me that makes sense and would be upheld by the courts. I mean really, how would you feel if McDonald’s was entitled to open up a 24 hour a day operation next to your house? Convenient, I suppose, if you crave a Big Mac and fries at 2AM, but probably a nuisance if you need a good night’s sleep before a test or need to get to work early. That is what zoning is all about.

    IMHO, it would be a big mistake to think that after a protracted court battle Georgetown would “win.” There seems to be a little “We are Georgetown and can do whatever we want” attitude. I read somewhere that it was said “Whatever is good for General Motors is good for America” (or something like that–not a History Major!). Well, we know where they ended up.

  17. Problem is, these rules are absurd, and the zoning requirements are entirely unprecedented. This could cripple the university if they are forced to build where there is no real space anymore (and won’t the neighborhood LOVE that).

    Now, even assuming that there were enough beds provided, the truth is that the university could not force people to live on campus. Georgetown would arguably be in compliance if the beds are there, even if they are unoccupied (yet that becomes a waste of space, which is the problem here). Students would still be able to live off campus if they wanted, but there will be some major conflicts in the future if this is approved.

  18. If I was Jack D. I’d go buy the Key Bridge Marriott, turn it into a top-flight dorm, and use the parking garage for satellite parking connected to campus by GUTS or an easy stroll or bike ride over the bridge. We missed out on the Mount Vernon College opportunity. Those folks at GW are pretty savvy when you think about it. They not only got Mount Vernon, but bought the hotel across from the Watergate. Think outside the box boys and girls!

  19. Pingback: OP releases report; DC Students Speak launches letter writing campaign | DC Students Speak

  20. Your analogies and understanding of the law are both faulty. Please leave.

  21. @Thinkin’ out loud

    This is indeed ridiculous. We should not forget that this university has been here since 1789. While “Thinkin’ out loud” says that we should consider other universities (as if housing should factor into this life-changing choice), those same residents have the choice to live somewhere else. Why not take your money you spent on your Burleith/West Georgetown townhouse and move to Capitol Hill or Glover Park?

  22. We’re not fooled. You’re clearly a resident. Why don’t you move across the bridge and see what an easy stroll it is? Then maybe you can leave our university in peace.

  23. Glad to see the Office of Planning knows how to use the copy and paste functions in Microsoft Word.

  24. i’m pretty sure that no one under the age of 45 has ever used the abbreviation “IMHO,” and we do not say “not a History major!”

    in my humble opinion, president degoia (or jack d. if you’re in the know like this guy) should encourage the residents to realize they chose the wrong place to live if don’t want foot traffic past 7 pm.

  25. Oh, I am most certainly a “resident,” registered to vote in DC, have a DC driver’s license, pay DC taxes, etc. Do you?

  26. Registered to vote, check.
    Driver’s license, no.
    Pay taxes here, check.

    Meatloaf would say I’m a resident.

  27. Yeah actually. I’m registered to vote. You know why? Because I care about this place, and I’m tired of you all pushing us around.

    And there’s more students like me, as you can see from this comment thread, so stop with this nonsense about how we’re not invested in this community.

  28. I’m afraid you misconstrue my position. I’m delighted to have a vibrant community fueled by responsible University students as part of the mix. What strikes me as absurd is that some seem to think that living off-campus is a license to have loud parties, drunk guests, etc. Why don’t all of you join the Burleith Citizens Association and show your support for the community? If you believe the stats, students could control the BCA. Put your money where your mouth is…..

  29. Sorry, it’s the law. Oh, and by the way, GU already forces students to live on campus the first two years. Are you OK with that?

  30. Oh please, Thinkin’, I’m sure a student take-over of the BCA would last one second before the old folks on it made up some trumped-up rule change to exclude students.

    The crazy thing about your satellite campus idea is that neighbors would immediately strive to strangle any bus service with outrageous routes and short hours, just like they try to do with GUTS.

  31. You’re full of it. You’re not delighted, and this isn’t about “loud parties.” Thanks to CAG and the ANC, our buses can’t run on direct routes, we can’t park on the streets, and now the Office of Planning is trying to literally banish us from the zip code, just because we’re students. If a party is too loud, call your neighbors and ask them to quiet down. Or better yet, consider that noise is a side effect of living in a dense urban environment, and if you don’t like it, move to the suburbs. Don’t just try to zone us out of the neighborhood and then act patronizing when we get politically involved.

    @DC Citizen: Actually it’s not the law, it’s a recommendation to the Zoning Commission. Upperclassmen still have the choice to move off-campus. GU doesn’t have space to house 100% of students without building a satellite campus.

  32. @Thinkin’ out loud
    Sorry bro I don’t have the money to buy off the mighty BCA. Instead, I’ll just watch as you all make fools of yourselves for the rest of my lifetime. Don’t get me wrong I won’t be amused by it, but it will be tomfoolery(awesome word).

  33. Apparently the Office of Planning has the fact-checking skills of a 3rd grader. According to MIT’s own undergraduate housing office (, “more than 70% of all MIT undergraduates live on campus.”

    This invalidates the claim on page 17 that “many universities of competitive standard to Georgetown house 100% of their students on campus. Harvard, MIT and Princeton are among other universities that require all of their undergraduate students to live on campus.”

    I wonder how many other errors are contained in the report? As far as I am concerned, it is a faulty document that cannot be entered into evidence until it is corrected.

  34. here’s the thing: you don’t have a problem with only loud parties or drunk guests, you have a problem with parties and guests in general. if you don’t want noise, why did you move here? I don’t understand it.

  35. Independent estimates like College Board say Princeton is 93%. Fact is that the OP did not conduct an open or honest process in formulating their report.

  36. Duke, which has a three year living requirement, still just houses 85% of its students on campus — only 10% more than Georgetown (~75%).

    Just running the numbers, the OP would require that Georgetown provide beds for 1,599 students to meet the 100% cap. The Southwest Quad, by comparison, only has 750 beds. This would require constructing essentially two more buildings the size of SWQ — and the only reason SWQ can fit so many is because it has dorm-style housing. There is simply no space on campus for this, and even if there were, no junior or senior would want to live in it.

    I certainly hope GU fights this to the end. The OP has made so many rudimentary errors (see above) and displays a tendentious line of reasoning that is clearly biased against students. If students are forced to live, triple-bunked, in shitty dorms, for all four years, I can assure you the donation rate will sink even lower than what it is already.

  37. Btdubs Vox, they just formally announced a new University President. Thought you might appreciate the scoop, as I didn’t see a posting.

    Loved your extensive coverage of the Tombs trivia names and cute puppies though!

  38. a new holy cross president, not a new georgetown president. still fairly important though

  39. You are so ignorant. You chose to live near a college campus, and you reap the benefits of doing so. However, you feel so entitled that you wish to have all of the pros without the cons. Do you not realize the ramifications of the OP’s recommendations. Your housing values are going to go down significantly when no one wants to buy a shitty house that has been rented for the last 10 years in the middle of a “Our Homes, Not GU Dorms” battlefield. There is simply no way to house 1550 students on campus in the next 5 years. If you disagree with that statement you probably have the same intelligence level as rainman himself (although he was a good gambler).

    And I would be glad to be part of the BCA if the membership wasn’t so high and the leadership so militant. Its like you are all waging a jihad on Georgetown. You live in a city, get used to a little noise. I think you should be more concerned with armed home invasions and other SERIOUS crimes. No doubt the crime rate will increase if students (who are out at all hours of the night) weren’t patrolling the streets.

    Get off your high horse and be reasonable. That is all we are asking.

  40. Put their sorry butts on campus or in jail. Let decent people with money move into the homes. Hosing prices will go up after the slime students move back on campus.

  41. That is one of the most ignorant comments I’ve ever heard in my life. Yeah, let’s put students at a top tier university in jail. They are the delinquents ruining society and they need to be stopped because most Georgetown students are actually criminals and/or uneducated. How about providing an argument that makes sense instead of some outlandish generalization?

    And we’re the immature/incompetent ones?

  42. “But when you chose to go to Georgetown, then you agree to play by their rules, and the rules they are subject to. If they say undergrads must live on campus, then you are free to seek your education elsewhere if you disagree. That doesn’t infringe on any of your rights.”

    Except that when we chose to go to Georgetown, that wasn’t the rule that we agreed to play by.

    And I haven’t heard the argument “if you don’t like it, you can leave” be used seriously since elementary school, much less in a talk about actual legal rights. Again, we did NOT agree to being forced to live on campus (although it’s true that these changes will not be made until most of us have graduated)

    Your logic allows the university to do anything it wants. “Because you chose to go to Georgetown, if they say undergrads must submit to daily anal cavity checks, then you are free to seek your education elsewhere if you disagree. That doesn’t infringe on any of your rights.” Because you are saying that Georgetown can make you do anything once you’ve agreed to go there, even if you didn’t agree to it, right?

  43. you very likely went to a shitty university in virginia or maryland. i’m sorry that all of us are intelligent and ambitious enough to go to a top tier school – but actually i’m not. what makes you so miserable? young, intelligent people who also are able to have fun?

  44. Hey everybody,

    Please try to avoid personal attacks in the comments. Also, as a reminder, here is our Comment Policy:

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  45. So stick to the homeowners. Move back on campus and make our property values plummet.

    Back in the cradle kids. Why has this happened? It’s because SOME of you cannot control yourselves. Not you maybe but enough of you to hurt the university and its students. It has been getting much worse for many years. Oh I know, you’ve been here since the 80s.

  46. @Beltway Greg
    It does NOT hurt students. For the umpteenth time, we are not being forced into Burleith by the university. It only hurts the university because it “hurts”(and I say this with all sarcasm) the obnoxious neighbors, like yourself, who are willing to voice their meaningless and irrational opinions on blogs like these, as well as in “public-representative”(again with all sarcasm) forums, like the ANC2E.

  47. Pingback: Georgetown University Campus Plan Details Released - City Desk

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