Yesterday night, GUSA President Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) and Vice President Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13) released a statement on the campus plan agreement. The executive indicated that certain aspects of the plan will need to change and committed to lobbying for student interests. ”We will fight for student spots on the Georgetown Community Partnership, which will have broad power to mediate town-gown disputes,” the statement read.
While praising the plan for provisions that increase quality of on-campus student life (e.g. potentially eliminating party registration), the executive said in the statement that they were “extremely disappointed” by compromises in the plan that have the potential to hurt student life.
The group came out against converting the Magis Row townhouses into faculty and administrative offices. “While the Magis Row houses will be located elsewhere, administrators should not have agreed to remove great on-campus housing options at a time when they have also promised to increase the percentage of students living in university housing.” GUSA also voiced disapproval over the GUTS bus rerouting changes.
Housing has become one of the most bemoaned aspects of the campus plan, and the GUSA executive commented that students have a right to decide whether or not they will live on or off campus. “The University will only be able to house 90 percent of students on campus if students want to live there, so students and administrators need to work together to improve on-campus life for future generations of students.”
The statement also stressed that “now more than ever” Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson must accept the Disciplinary Review Committee’s resolution to change the Code of Conduct’s burden of proof from “more likely than not” to “clear and convincing.”
After last week’s ANC meeting to approve the campus plan agreement, University spokeswoman Stacy Kerr said that the result was an all around success for all. ”This is not a victory for one side or the other but really for everybody.”
Ken Archer , 10-year Georgetown resident active in campus plan discussions, thought that the members at last week’s meeting expressed “all around support for the plan…I’m thrilled that, instead of spending the next five years in court, we’re going to spend the five years in committee meetings with the Georgetown Community Partnership.”
On housing 90 percent students on campus, Archer stressed that the number itself is not important to the overall goal. “I’m convinced that setting that 90 percent number will be unnecessary, that it will happen naturally. I personally think…the University is not providing enough university housing,” Archer said. He said that once the University provides adequate on campus housing options, students will be interested in utilizing that space.
Some neighborhood commissioners seem ready to include students in future GCP negotiations. ”I’m sorry that students weren’t included in the past discussions…but I hope that in the future students absolutely will be included,” ANC commissioner Jeff Jones said last Thursday.
Here’s the full press release:
June 17, 2012For Immediate Release
Two weeks ago, we were glad to hear that University administrators and neighborhood leaders finally reached an agreement on the 2010 Campus Plan. After years of negotiation, administrators and neighbors have finally found a more productive way to resolve their differences, avoiding what could have been years of litigation.
But while the agreement outlines some broad areas of compromise, many specific student life policies will need to be rewritten, allowing an opportunity for major changes in housing, social life, and disciplinary policy. As your GUSA representatives, we are committed to advocating for student interests and demanding an active role at the bargaining table as the University implements the campus plan.
In the agreement, we were glad to see administrators recognize something students have been telling them for years: neighborhood relations can only improve if the University makes an active effort to improve on-campus student life. In recent years, on-campus party restrictions and bureaucratic event-planning processes have pushed much of Georgetown’s social scene into off-campus homes. Administrators have expressed an intent to change the on-campus environment to encourage a more vibrant campus life, which is an encouraging sign for many potential policy changes.
For example, in the agreement, the University has promised to repeal on-campus party registration, loosen other restrictions, and retrain Residence Life staff and Department of Public Safety officers to “manage student parties on campus in ways that allow those parties to continue whenever it is reasonable to do so (acknowledging that safety is still a primary concern)” (pgs 9-10). We are very encouraged to see administrators strike this tone, and we will work to ensure that these changes are implemented in a way that strengthens our campus community.
However, other parts of the campus plan agreement are not in keeping with the goal of improving student life. Instead, we worry that some compromises will negatively impact students’ ability to live and work at Georgetown.
We are extremely disappointed that the University agreed to take Magis Row townhouses away from students, instead turning them into faculty residences and administrative offices. Magis Row groups have contributed a lot to our community, so it is disappointing to see them negatively impacted as a campus plan concession. While the Magis Row houses will be located elsewhere, administrators should not have agreed to remove great on-campus housing options at a time when they have also promised to increase the percentage of students living in university housing.
The campus plan will also negatively impact transportation options. The new circuitous GUTS bus routes through Canal Road will lengthen the commute to Dupont, making it more difficult for students to access the city. At the same time, increased restrictions on student parking are unnecessary and discriminatory, further cutting off reasonable transportation options.
Though the administrators have promised to improve on-campus student life, we worry about the effects for students living off-campus. Perhaps now more than ever, it is critical that Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson accept the Disciplinary Review Committee’s recommendation that the standard of proof in the Student Code of Conduct be changed from “more likely than not” to “clear and convincing evidence.”
For these reasons, we will fight for student spots on the Georgetown Community Partnership, which will have broad power to mediate town-gown disputes. We will also continue to negotiate with administrators to ensure positive outcomes in the creation of new student life policy. The University will only be able to house 90 percent of students on campus if students want to live there, so students and administrators need to work together to improve on-campus life for future generations of students.
Have a great summer!
Clara Gustafson, GUSA President
Vail Kohnert-Yount, GUSA Vice President
Additional reporting by Kevin Joseph and Heather Regen
Vox thinks its time for a new GUSA blingee. Contest to come soon.