Students leaders launch campaign, referendum to oppose satellite dorm

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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

7 Comments on “Students leaders launch campaign, referendum to oppose satellite dorm

  1. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if students rallied around issues of broader scope and much more significant impact than a satellite campus? Like OPPOSING WAR WITH SYRIA or SOURCING T-SHIRTS FROM DECENT FACTORIES or DIVESTING FROM FOSSIL FUELS?! Bougie Georgetown students are upset about having to take a bus to class while others struggle to simply live- I get why this is somewhat important, but it is unfathomable to me how students can be so selfish. I’d love to see us mobilize around issues that affect others, too, not just ourselves.

  2. Patricia, actually students are already involved with many other organizations with good, important, and humanitarian goals (feel free to look at the Student Activities Commission website if you need a refresher of what those are). However, just because we are involved with one group does not mean we cannot or should not have a say in the future of our campus and home. Vice versa, just because students are voicing their opposition to the satellite campus does not mean that they aren’t involved in other issues/groups. The two are not mutually exclusive.

  3. RIGHT PATRICIA! Let’s nix the busses to our new satellite campus. If they want to use busses to pollute OUR environment, then the University shouldn’t subsidize them. I’m so glad a semi-anonymous commenter could show us the error of our ways.

  4. Patricia, the impact students across the country would have on the issue of Syria and fossil fuels is laughably minuscule, and Georgetown already sources much of it’s clothing from responsible sources (although Nike is a clear exception). Put simply the Satellite Campus and other issues specific to the Georgetown and DC community stand a far better chance of positive action than national issues affecting the 300 million people in this country. When you examine Hoya involvement in charitable causes local to the area, multiple groups like DC Reads, The Red Cross, the religious charities have a tangible positive impact on our community. Besides, shouldn’t basic principles of self-determination be at play here? I’m not asking for a popular vote, but a process where all the major stakeholders, students, faculty, staff, and the administration have a say would be a major step forward compared to leaked plans of that already suggest something is in motion.

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