Olson addresses student concerns on Campus Plan in tele-town hall
At 6 p.m. on Monday evening, GUSA held the first-ever conference-call town hall, providing students with the opportunity to voice their concerns and ask questions on the recent campus plan agreement. In an effort to make up for the lack of student representation in campus plan negotiations, GUSA President Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) and Vice President Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13) organized the discussion as a formal way to provide information to students about the effects of the plan on student life. Gustafson began by introducing President John J. DeGioia, followed by remarks by Vice-President of Student Affairs Todd Olson. After a brief presentation, students were asked for their questions. Here are the highlights.
DeGioia: The undergraduate program will stay on the main campus. We learned of the long-term plans for Georgetown to build a satellite campus from the agreement last week. According to the documents, the University will locate at least 1,000 students in the School of Continuing Studies at one or more satellite locations “not within the zip code 20007” by the start of 2014. It was unclear, however, whether undergraduates would eventually be housed or take classes at another location. DeGioia explained that, for Georgetown to grow, it would need to expand past the main campus, but he emphasized that the main campus would be the locus for undergraduate life at Georgetown. “We believe that our undergraduate experience best can take place on this historic campus,” he said. “Our vision prioritizes development of an enhanced living-and-learning campus focused on undergraduates on the main campus, on this plot of ground.”
Olson: New noise rule not a radical departure. According to the campus plan agreement, the University will adopt a policy for off-campus conduct by fall 2013, which adheres to the standard that if noise can be heard across the property line, it’s too loud. Olson, however, said that he regards the new policy more as a change in specificity more than in substance, saying that both the new policy and the current one are based on principles of being respectable neighbors. He noted that George Washington University has the same standard.
Off-campus housing “privilege, not a right” rule in practice. Dr. Olson took the time to emphasize that recognizing that off-campus housing is a “privilege, not a right” will not be a monumental change in practice. He noted that students with conduct violations can already face on-campus housing sanctions, such as apartment living suspensions. According to him, in the future, those sanctions might also extend to living off-campus.
Leavey Center rooms will be like “spacious Village C” rooms. As part of the campus plan agreement, the Leavey Center hotel will be converted into student housing, primarily intended for sophomores, by fall 2014. Lisa Frank (COL’13) asked Olson if the new housing could be anything other than a dormitory. Olson responded that planning for Leavey will not begin until this fall. Olson did say that the rooms in Leavey will probably be like “a spacious Village C,” although he did leave the possibility of a suite-style complex open.
Future student housing construction will focus on apartments. After the Leavey Center renovation, Georgetown will have to construct more locations for student housing to meet its goal of housing 90% of students on campus by 2025. Olson indicated that the University will try to make those locations apartments instead of dormitories. “As we move forward in pursuing that 90% housing goal, we certainly plan for those additional beds to be appealing to juniors and seniors,” Olson said. “Apartments are clearly the way we’re thinking about those future beds.”
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