Breaking down the Office of Planning report

As we’ve previously reported, the Office of Planning recently filed its report to the DC Zoning Commission regarding Georgetown University’s 2010 campus plan. While the report ultimately recommends that the plan be approved, it sharply criticizes certain aspects of the campus plan in a similar manner to the recommendation filed by ANC 2E earlier this year.

The report proposes several restrictions on the University in order for the plan to be approved, most notably:

  • On-campus housing: Most infamously, the report proposes that the University provide on-campus housing for 90% of traditional undergraduates by 2015 and 100% by 2016. If the University hasn’t accomplished this by 2016, it would be forced to cut undergraduate enrollment by a quarter of the difference between the number of students and the number of beds until housing was provided for all students.

    While the OP concedes that Georgetown houses a greater percentage of students than most universities in the district, it states that “many universities of competitive standard to Georgetown house 100% of their students on campus [including] Harvard, MIT and Princeton.” Of course, these schools’ endowments respectively total $27.4, $8.3, and $14.4 billion compared to Georgetown’s $1.01 billion, and each of them have substantially larger campuses than Georgetown. The report justifies the restrictions by stating that “housing one hundred percent of the undergraduate students on campus has been found to be the most effective means of controlling student behavior.”

  • Undergraduate and total enrollment caps: The report proposes mandatory (rather than voluntary) enrollment caps be placed on the University both for undergraduate students and the campus as a whole. While the report’s proposed traditional undergraduate enrollment cap of 6,652 is only slightly lower than the University’s proposed cap of 6,675 students, the report proposes that main campus enrollment be capped at 13,941 students, substantially lower than the University’s revised proposal for a cap at 15,000 students.
  • Measuring enrollment: The report also recommends a far stricter standard for measuring enrollment than either the University’s proposed headcount or the Full Time Equivalency system promoted by the ANC2E. Instead, the OP recommends that “maximum total enrollment shall included TUS enrollment as capped and all other students taking a minimum of one class at the main campus regardless of program or status.”

    The report disputes the University’s assertion that non-traditional students such as “non-degree seeking students, students in the School of Continuing Studies (SCS) and second degree nursing students” would have a minimal impact on neighborhood life, arguing instead that “there has been no evidence provided that these students do not socialize with other traditional students, participate in university related activities adding to noise and traffic.”

  • SNAP: The OP report states that the University’s proposed expansion of the SNAP program, including increased patrols, reimbursable MPD details and neighborhood community advisors are unlikely to improve the program’s effectiveness, citing complaints from Burleith and West Georgetown residents. According to the report, “Adverse impacts on the community by students are not limited only to their actions and behavior, such as rowdiness, partying and lack of upkeep of properties, but also from the number of students living within a community.”

Overall, the report justifies putting significant restrictions on enrolling and housing students by arguing that Universities and students in particular have “adverse affects” on surrounding neighborhoods.

“The number of students living within a community has an adverse impact due to the transient nature of students, their orientation to the university and university events, their involvement and socialization with other students and likelihood that they are not living year round within the community,” asserts the report.

Image: the Office of Planning map of off-campus residences.

37 Comments on “Breaking down the Office of Planning report

  1. I am firmly against the University reimbursing extra MPD patrols. This would make the community safer which the BCA opposes because GU supports it. Also, the size of the endowment should not make a difference because I am a real estate agent and I know what is best for the community (which by definition does not include the students or school)…..

    God I wish I had enough time on my hands to complain about the most insignificant points in the context of the current issues facing this district, nation, and world.

  2. As commentators in the other post point out, the OP has it factually wrong regarding the “universities of competitive standard to Georgetown.”

    Princeton houses about 93% of its students on campus and MIT only about 70%. Duke also only houses 85% of its students on campus (just 10% more than Georgetown).

    Further, neither MIT, nor Harvard, nor Princeton, nor Duke require students to live on campus. for all four years, which is really the key issue here and the crux of the OP’s faulty argument.

    The idea that GU would be able to create beds for about 1600 more people (the bridge between the current number of beds and total students) by 2016 is ridiculous. And the idea that people would live in them is equally more ridiculous.

  3. Not to mention that Harvard, Princeton, MIT and Duke all have fraternities, final clubs or eating clubs that are the main areas of socialization — and are located off-campus. Should we emulate these traditions of the “universities of competitive standard to Georgetown”, too?

  4. One scarcely knows where to begin addressing this monstrosity.

    housing one hundred percent of the undergraduate students on campus has been found to be the most effective means of controlling student behavior

    I’m sorry, since when is it part of the DC Office of Planning’s mission to control the behavior of DC residents? Can you imagine what would happen if they included a line like that in a report on a public housing complex, arguing that a certain design was proven to be the most effective means of controlling residents’ behavior? DOJ Civil Rights would be opening an investigation faster than you can say “the real estate agents got the Harriet Tregoning.”

    “there has been no evidence provided that these students do not socialize with other traditional students, participate in university related activities adding to noise and traffic.”

    Demanding that the university prove a negative, eh? Seriously, who wrote this report, Sulaimon Brown? In any case, what concern is it of OPs that non-traditional students “socialize” with other types of students? Are we trying to inhibit socialization now?? A big chunk of SCS students are in Clarendon anyway and the rest are being moved off to Dupont Circle. Besides, what noise are we talking about here? Are second-degree nursing students talking too loudly on their way from St. Mary’s to Dahlgren Medical Library? Do we think the 25+ crowd is really hitting up Burleith house parties???

    The traffic part is most insulting, given that GUTS is by far the most intensive public transit system offered by any university in the area. The vast majority of graduate and non-traditional students use GUTS – or some other form of public transit, like the Circulator, 38B G2, D2, D6, or just walking from Rosslyn – to get to campus. Meanwhile, it is the local residents with their multiple cars per household, as well as commuters going over Key Bridge or going out on Canal Road/Clara Barton Parkway, that cause most of the traffic problems in the neighborhood. Students are a miniscule drop in the bucket.

    The number of students living within a community has an adverse impact due to the transient nature of students

    What about the transient nature of Capitol Hill staffers and congressmen, military servicemembers, deployable government agents from CIA, FBI, NCIS, etc., or just plain people who travel a lot for work. Should we be advocating for discriminatory policies to limit their numbers in neighborhoods?

    their orientation to the university and university events

    As opposed to what? What should acceptable residents be oriented toward? The Georgetown cocktail party circuit? Church? What business of OPs is it where residents spend their free time? Absurd and obscene.

    their involvement and socialization with other students

    Seriously, replace “students” with ANY other group and see if it doesn’t sound offensive or, at the very least, ridiculous an completely outside the bounds of government interference.

    likelihood that they are not living year round within the community

    You cannot be serious? Do you know how many Georgetown residents have vacation homes in Rehoboth Beach, the Carolina cape, the Hamptons, Florida, etc. When John Edwards lived here, do you think he lived in his home year round? What about Kerry or Lieberman or any other political figure who lives in Georgetown? I guess it’s ok for them, but not for students who are not part of the most privileged 1%.

    This report is, quite possibility, the stupidest thing the District of Columbia government has ever produced.

  5. This is the clearest attempt at violating my civil rights I have ever personally experienced.

    Forget replacing “students,” just add a modifier. Is it the black students? The foreign exchange students? What exactly are they saying here? This report is predicated on its assessment of the 18-22 years olds at Georgetown as being second-class citizens. If the Burlieth/Georgetown neighborhoods weren’t so homogeneously upper class white, they might have noticed that they’re language mirrors justifications for segregation and discrimination in the ’60’s.

  6. “This is the clearest attempt at violating my civil rights I have ever personally experienced.”

    Really? If this is the worst violation of your civil rights you’ve experienced, consider yourself incredibly privileged.

  7. >“This is the clearest attempt at violating my civil rights I have ever personally experienced.”
    >Really? If this is the worst violation of your civil rights you’ve experienced, consider yourself incredibly privileged.

    I didn’t realize it was a privilege to have your rights assaulted on any level.

    Next time I hear blacks, Jews, gays, women, men, pigeons, etc. complain about being discriminated against, I’ll give them a gentle reminder of how privileged they are to only have their rights violated on the level they experience in America.

    Feel fortunate to have the most affluent blocs of residents, who innocently took advantage of the security and higher property values of near-campus living, now want your kind to leave.

  8. Well, it’s pretty easy to guess your profile…white, upper class, middle-aged.

    So you’re saying just because the discrimination (of any group) is not as bad in the US as it is in other countries around the world, that it is still acceptable?

    To use this line of thought, you could argue that making fun of someone because of their sexual orientation is alright, because at least it’s not as bad as in other countries where you may go to jail for not being a heterosexual.

    Your line of argumentation is completely absurd. The US is based on values of equality for all–complete equality–and no one should have to feel that they are being discriminated against in any way.

    Furthermore, why would residents feel safer living next to a university? Moreover, the whole basis of the anti-campus plan supporter’s argument is that the university is driving down property values. I do not feel fortunate at all, and the hypocrisy and idiocy displayed by those advocating for 100% on-campus housing is very disconcerting.

  9. Stop acting like a victim and then people will take your arguments seriously.

  10. You misread my reply to @Really? We’re on the same side, brah.

    First, I think dismissing someone based on being white, upper class or middle-aged undermines our argument. There is nothing wrong with any of these things.

    Second, you asked why residents would feel safer: college students aren’t out mugging residents, though maybe they should start if they ever want to pay off their student loans before they retire.

    I also think it’s key that we stop treating the terms ‘residents’ and ‘students’ as mutually exclusive. We’re all here together regardless of the circumstances.

    The true privileged people are those who would not experience any economic loss with the departure of a major university from the area, and might even benefit. Few college towns would be able to claim that in the longrun they would be better off with the departure of their college. Many cities would fight to have a major university move to their area.

  11. Yeah, good points. It does look like I misread your argument

    @@@Seriously, really?: Your comment provided absolutely nothing in terms of discussion

  12. If you want this to stop, register to vote. If you want to fight back, register to vote.

  13. Don’t you realize how much you are insulting people who have been genuinely oppressed when you invoke their hardships to complain about having to live in a dorm for two more years? Listen, you can be mad and you should organize to prevent the change, but no one who doesn’t already agree with you is going to be swayed when you try to clump yourself in with genuine victims of civil rights abuses. Get some fucking perspective.

  14. I believe the OP said “my life,” and feel free to post a link to a more striking example of housing discrimination that isn’t already being obliterated by state and national anti-discrimination organizations.

    Their logic isn’t “live in a dorm for two years,” their logic is, “We can use the powers of government arbitrarily to control the daily lives of a specific group of citizens based purely on their socio-economic status as students.” Its a dangerous way of thinking, and I’ve heard some of these “neighborhood” leaders take it to the same levels of prejudice that racists used against blacks, Jews, and immigrants in the past through assumptions about behavior, desirability concerns, etc.

  15. “Not Lenore Rubino says” This isn’t funny nor even reasonable. The VOX should make more of an effort to make sure readers understand that Lenore really didn’t say what the commenter says she does. It should make a difference to the VOX that their readers are getting opinions of original sources, not their critics.


  16. @George – Thanks for your contribution. Please note our Comment Policy:

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  17. Two blocks south of my house isn’t far enough, but I’ll take what I can get.

  18. 100% on campus. Students behaved during the 70s and then things fell apart in the 80s, 90s, and now things are completely out of control. Back in the cradle kiddies.

  19. Thanks George. I was confused. I thought “Not Lenore Rubino” meant “Lenore Rubino.” Thanks for clearing that up for me. If only “The VOX” were so incisive.

  20. As @George said I clearly said “Not Lenore Rubino.” Also, I assumed that anyone with at least half a brain (which I would imagine includes all Georgetown students and hopefully Burleith citizens) would be able to pick up on the blatant sarcasm. I was making a satire of the often insignificant and unreasonable demands of the BCA. For instance, the BCA said that they were against the University resurfacing the athletic field on top of Yates Field House, which is literally no where near Burleith (or Foxhalls if you want to make that argument). God how dare the University resurface a preexisting athletic field that is in disrepair (catch the sarcasm George). You would think that a group of such wealthy and presumably powerful residents like the BCA would be more concerned with issues plaguing the district, nation, and world. You know like AIDS, poverty, homelessness, mental illness….ISSUES THAT ARE IMPORTANT.

    @Beltway Greg My uncle went to Georgetown in the early 70s and has told me multiple times that hard drug use was rampant. I assume you are referring to parties when you reference the “out of control” behavior. Interesting that you mark the change in behavior as corresponding to the time when the drinking age was raised from 18 to 21 in the District. Maybe just maybe this could be the problem… Seems like every other country in the world has a law of 18. The end of the story is that alcohol is part of the college (and american) lifestyle. You can try to push us onto campus (which I think we can both agree will never actually happen; well at least not in the next 5 years) but until the University laxes its drinking policies parties off campus will still exist. Unless you move to keep any young professional from living near campus. See how these things just don’t seem reasonable.

    @proud burleither Glad you live 2 blocks from campus. Just remind me: that line hasn’t changed from the time you moved in, right? Maybe you should complain to the real estate agent that sold you the property without pointing out that you were moving into a house 2 blocks from a major university, but I’m guessing you knew that when you moved in.

    To All Burtleith Citizens: Can’t we just live together? We have different cultures, way of life, hours, and responsibilities, but isn’t that why most people choose to live in a city. There are pros and cons to every community. Communities evolve. I think you all have good arguments with enrollment caps however.

  21. Enrollment caps are bordering on just as absurd as these proposals from the OP.
    It’s ironic that someone who uses complete black magic to back up their arguments would complain when someone gets the facts wrong by slightly exaggerating what Lenore Rubino I’m sure thinks.

  22. Hard drugs? Drinking age? I don’t give a damn about either. How about you vomit in your own toilet and shut the hell up at night? I don’t care if you party like Keith Richards and you started drinking at the age of ten. Just pick-up your trash and keep the noise to a minimum.

  23. dude… you’re arguing with a bunch of 20 year olds … on a blog … at 2 am on a monday. how does that make you feel?

  24. “Two blocks south of my house isn’t far enough, but I’ll take what I can get.”

    Where the f**k do you want us to live? You don’t want us to live in your neighborhood, you don’t want us to live on campus. That comment was possibly the most idiotic thing I’ve ever seen. I often reject the comment that the school was here first so students should get to do what they want. That being said if you didn’t want to live near students you shouldn’t have moved by a university. I don’t know if you are just a complete idiot, if your life is terrible, or you are just a bitter person, but really you don’t want us to live on our campus. Get over it or move.

  25. Honestly I don’t get why neighbors are so obsessed with preserving their precious burlieth. It’s essentially a place for those too poor to live in Georgetown to reside, yet want to achieve a level of class that Georgetown evokes. Well guess what, if you are pathetic enough to live in such a boring and uneventful place you A) don’t have the resources to live in Georgetown or B) are too dumb to notice. Burleith has small houses that lack any level of architectual integrity. The yards are boring and quite frankly devoid of any sense of creativity.

    Honestly your neighborhood sucks. It looks like a lame suburb. I honestly think that the people that can’t stop complaining about Georgetown students should just move out to some tract home in Virginia. They all look the same. Neighbors don’t talk to each other. No annoying students. You can just sit at home, watching Biggest Loser on the jumbo TV you bought on sale at Best Buy and enjoy your boring, pathetic life.

  26. Hey now, nothing against getting a TV on sale at Best Buy.

    And nothing against living in Burleith, I certainly couldn’t afford Georgetown (couldn’t afford Burleith either, but thats beside the point). Its their neighborhood and they should take pride in it. However, as you correctly point out, this does not give them the license to unequivocally, immorally, and illegally attempt to use civic devices to disenfranchise and dispossess students of their living and social rights just because they don’t approve of our conduct.

  27. Look, the truth is that both sides have a point. On the one hand, the burleith residents knew or should have known what they were getting into when they bought houses within a five block radius of a major university: there were going to be young people and these young people were going to be partying- enough said. But at the same time, as a resident of any neighborhood, nobody wants to deal with people screaming down the street or puking in your bushes at 3 AM in the morning.

    The real fault lies in Georgetown University’s cheapness. Unlike major urban universities like GWU, NYU, Boston U, Columbia U, Georgetown did not invest in real estate when it should have. GWU has two undergraduate campuses, NYU has apartments all around the city as does BU. But what did Georgetown do when it had the chance to buy the now GWU owned Mount Vernon campus, they passed on the deal and now the students are paying the price.

    I’m sorry to say that the residents have the long-term interest, the organization and the money to get what the want as the students who would need to fight today aren’t willing to because they know that they’ll be out of here by the time any of this comes into affect. The only one’s that will suffer are current and future Georgetown students who will be forced to live on campus with ridiculously strict alcohol policies. So sad.

    In saying all this, I still have to say that I find it disturbing and pathetic that middle-aged burleithers are spending so much time on a college blog – seriously people – get a life!

  28. @ Beltway Greg: “Students behaved during the 70s?”

    As old man John McEnroe would say, “You cannot be serious!”

  29. please, @proud burleither 2, continue to outclass me.

  30. As far as the times that I post? I’m an air traffic controller and I need help staying awake.

    Yes, my friend students were much more mannerly in the past. When we had parties, in Georgetown, (80s-90s) we told them what we were doing, invited the neighbors, and shut everything down by 11 pm. One of the problems now is that with Facebook and e-mail, everyone invites pretty much everyone they know and many they don’t. Also, you need a dress code. All of the girls would wear dresses and the gents would don blazers and pressed slacks with a tie. No strapless dresses, or tube tops. No hoochie mamas at our suppers and everyone would bring a covered dish. Now don’t think we didn’t know how to get down. No sir, some close dancing and a couple of light pecks on the cheek can really get the old motor revving. When we finally dropped our dates off at the dorm perhaps a light unintentional (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) brush against the mams and we were good to go.

  31. @Beltway Greg

    When you had parties, where did you park the horses? Did any duals ever break out? Did anyone ever have their whig knocked off? Were those triangle chairs invented so you could sit down while wearing you sword, or is that just a myth?

  32. Asuka we actually called them “duels” and yes a few “wigs” were sent akimbo periodically.

    And I never take my sword off so I’m always ready to rip it from its moorings and thrust it deep into the object of my affections.

    You should learn from us. Get rid of those droopy drawers, shave that six months growth of fuzz on your face, take a good shower, don those khakis, pop that collar, and perhaps you’d wake-up with something other than a hangover.

  33. If only the residents of burleith spent half as much time or effort on maintaining a nice real grass (not the nasty weeds they think replaces grass) a well-kept yard, non-peeling paint on the house, I would not feel so inclined to puke in the shrub that hasnt been trimmed in 10 years at 3am in the morning.

  34. That’s what your girlfriend said.

  35. Was that a… never mind.

    Oh, and your post is gender biased.

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