While us undergraduates are battling it out on the sidelines for our compromised interests in the Campus Plan, we tend to forget that graduate students are affected by these provisions too. At tonight’s advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting on the campus plan, ANC Chair Ron Lewis mentioned that “graduate students will be parking ‘downtown’ in the next few years.” A cursory statement like that holds a lot of weight for these adults who live and study at Georgetown but also have families, children, and established lives.
For graduate students, on-campus housing is not provided as an option. Many students live in Foxhall and West Georgetown to decrease their commute, especially given Georgetown’s lack of access to a Metro station.
“Basically the first year of grad school I was on Connecticut Ave. and I would commute by Metro and shuttle bus and it really made it difficult to schedule time,” Alison Thomas (MSFS ’13) said. “You end up wasting a lot of time in transit or waiting for transit. This year, living near campus made a huge difference to my quality of life.”
Some graduate students point out the lack of affordable housing. “DC is one of the most expensive housing markets in the country, Georgetown is most expensive in DC, if you’re a doctoral student, this year, you make 20,000 dollars. You should figure at a minimum that you’re paying at a minimum 1,000 dollars in rent and utilities. Off the bat you’re pretty far down,” Paul Musgrave, a fifth-year PhD student studying Government and International Relations, said.
The idea that graduate students, who are often much older, are restricted from bringing cars to campus strikes many students as simply unfair. “Having a car in D.C., especially as a graduate students, is crucial. We have places to go, we have internships. It makes a huge difference especially since Georgetown doesn’t have a Metro stop. It makes a big different to the opportunities we can accept in D.C.,” Thomas said.
Peter S, a PhD student and three-year Georgetown resident, points out some of the adverse affects the campus plan has on selecting future PhD candidates. “I know from the perspective of the professors in the PhD programs…each department can only send out so many offers to candidates as a result of these on-campus restrictions. The pool of people you can potentially get for your incoming class is limited,” he said.
Peter added that restrictions on enrollment become particularly frustrating for PhD students who already work within a limited pool of scholars. “We have really, really small classes, and the people who come in your class are very helpful to you. It’s a huge advantage to having someone who is doing something similar to what you do.”
The power the ANC possesses to control the way students behave and live in a neighborhood is beginning to push the limits. “It’s interesting to see that we are a University committed to men and women for others, but we’re surrounded by a community that are only men and women for themselves,” Musgrave said.