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.