The first in a two-part series of “news you can use,” Vox here provides you with the a few of the many important off-campus issues of the past year.
Campus Plan Comes to an End
Every ten years, Georgetown must submit a campus plan to the DC Zoning Commission discussing its plans for construction and land use for the next ten years. Before the Zoning Commission can approve the plan, it must hold hearings with neighborhood associations from Burleith, West Georgetown, and Foxhall Village.
The neighbors have many issues with Georgetown students, seeing us mainly as loud drunken nuisances. They would prefer that all students were forced to live on campus and not disturb the neighborhood streets. The campus plan did not adequately address this issue so the neighbors came out in full force against it by speaking out in public forums and putting up yard signs.
These activists also have recourse to a unique form of hyper-local government called the advisory neighborhood commission. There are 38 ANC’s throughout the city that provide official community input on everything from liquor licenses to traffic and land-use planning. In keeping with its history, Georgetown and Burleith’s ANC 2E opposes the 2010 Campus Plan. During the campus plan debate, Georgetown only had one commissioner, Jake Sticka (COL ’13).
The plan has some good and bad elements.
Mentioned earlier in this post, the ANC is a neighborhood advisory council made up of residents of Georgetown and the surrounding areas. Along with discussions of the disagreements between the neighbors and the university, the ANC also covers local business, public space, and transportation. The university has only had one representative in the past, the most recent being Jake Sticka (COL ’13).
Craig Cassey (COL ’15) announced this week his intention to commence a write-in campaign to be a student representative for the SMD 4 seat. Cassey initially missed the deadline, which was August 8, and thus resorted to creating a write-in campaign. This fall, elections for ANC will be held and two seats will be open to Georgetown students. One will represent the Southwest Quad, Village C West, and New South while the other will represent Henle, Harbin, Copley and some townhouses. Darnall, LXR, and Magis Row will all be parts of different districts with the neighbors.
Student candidates will be running for two-year seats on the council. Elections will take place on November 6th and winners will take their seats at beginning of 2013.
In the fall of 2011, Occupy Wall Street originated in New York City, hoping to make the voices of “the 99%” heard in national politics. Other Occupy movements soon sprang up around the country and Occupy DC began in October. They have camps in both McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza.
Some Georgetown students became involved in the movement, planning a march on McPherson Square to show support for Occupiers. However, there was little consistent involvement from Georgetown students causing a student from nearby American University to criticize, saying that ”Georgetown as a community benefits from the current (economic) system”. This feeling was not helped when a Georgetown student decided to hand out job applications to the Occupiers.
While not all Georgetown students were involved with Occupy, a group called Occupy Georgetown was formed. Along with organizing the first march on McPherson Square continued, GU Occupy continued to do other activities throughout the year such as a panel discussing both sides of the Occupy debate in December and a “teach-in” in February.
The Occupiers are still around in DC, though the Wall Street protesters were evicted, and Georgetown students are expected to continue involvement in the movement.
Many Georgetown students bemoan the “Georgetown bubble” created by a lack of easy transportation from campus to the rest of the district. Without easy access to the Metro (the closest stations are in Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom – both at least 20 minute walks) students turn to buses and taxis.
For those who utilized buses, the bubble closed a little tighter last year when WMATA proposed changes that would reduce late weekend night bus service in Georgetown. In addition, many Circulator stops in Georgetown were eliminated in early October. Fortunately, the late night bus service remained the same, and the Circulator stops in Georgetown are now back to their original routes. The G2 bus service will also return to its normal service after the construction projects on O and P streets are finished, which is to be expected this coming fall.
Cab and metro fares rose slightly this summer, so transportation is not only more difficult to find but also more expensive. In addition, if taking the metro, Dupont Circle’s southern metro stops will be closed for the next few months as the escalators are repaired.
Current DC Mayor Vincent Gray was elected in 2010 but in the past few months, certain campaign scandals have come to light. In early July, the Washington Post reported that there was a “shadow campaign” illegally bringing Gray $653,000 of paid staff, apparel and consulting work. Politicians and many members of the public called for his resignation. Gray has denied any involvement in the scandal but was apparently aware of it by January of this year.
It was also discovered that Gray’s campaign had a list of public housing residents with private information such as addresses and phone numbers. While voter lists are technically public information, it is illegal to use them for a political campaign. Once again, Gray denied knowing about these lists.
Previous version of this post failed to include the latest update on transportation changes.