Students leaders launch campaign, referendum to oppose satellite dorm
Update, Tuesday, 10:00 a.m.: The petition by the One Georgetown, One Campus campaign has received 412 signatures, according to an email from Zach Singer. As 300 signatures are required in order to push through a referendum, the question of whether students truly want a satellite dorm will be up for a vote on the same ballot as GUSA Senate Elections on Sept. 26.
“We want to engage every corner of campus on the unacceptability of a satellite campus and we intend to continue door knocking, tabling and asking students to sign our petition over the coming days,” Singer wrote.
Original post: A frenzy surrounding the news that the University is considering several off-campus options as potential sites for a new dorm has descended on this campus in the past 24 hours. It has now evolved into a fierce battle of press conferences between the administration and several GUSA members and other student leaders.
In their matching blue-and-gray outfits, an array of student leaders met near the front gates this evening to hold a press conference in which four campus leaders and GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) spoke against the administration’s consideration of student residences outside this zip code.
The conference also served as a launchpad for the One Georgetown, One Campus campaign, headed by Zach Singer (SFS ’15), Tisa’s chief of staff, several days ago after Tisa informed him of the issue. The campaign is seeking signatures on a petition to bring the issue to a referendum vote, which will finally decide whether students actually approve or disapprove of the idea of a satellite residence. The campaign opposes the entire idea of building outside the zip code rather than any specific plans the University has made.
Rachel Pugh, director of media relations, said students find that off-campus housing “could be appealing,” while Tisa and One Georgetown, One Campus members say that students have a “gut reaction” opposing the idea. Neither have spoken to enough students to say one way or the other.
“I don’t have a poll, I can’t talk to every person on campus,” Singer said. “That’s why this referendum, this petition-signing will help gauge that student vote.”
Tisa and Singer hope the referendum will show the University it must present other options, which can only include renovating and building on-campus, even though it hasn’t yet made plans to build residences outside this zip code.
“Our concern is that if we didn’t do this, we didn’t call student attention to it, and we didn’t call a campaign now that we’d get to a point where, as the University has done in some other situations, they’d give us three options out of the original 20, and it’s too late to do a lot of the things they can do now,” Tisa said.
Tisa said the architecture firm in charge of designing the Northeast Triangle dorm is helping the University look for other on-campus options.
“Sasaki has laid out specific sites they can look into moving into the future,” Tisa said, though he refused to name any specific sites that could be built on or renovated.
In discussions with student leaders, this idea has been discussed to a greater extent than other options, according to Tisa.
Peter Prindiville (SFS ’14), a student Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E member, who attended the meeting last Wednesday between University officials and select student leaders on housing options, said that the questions the administrators were posing, such as what amenities to include, makes it seem as though the University is already far along in the planning process and that it was “considering this option strongly along with other options.”
Prindiville also said the University must consider other options, since a satellite residence will not reach the 2010 Campus Plan goals on its own, though up to 400 extra beds would certainly help.
“Our concern is that it’s also an easier option,” Tisa said. “It’s quicker to do than new construction or renovation, and in some ways it can be cheaper.”
Stick with Vox as the story develops.
Photo: Lucia He/Georgetown Voice