GUSA lectures freshmen on future perils of 2018-2038 campus plan
On Sunday night, outgoing Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Craig Cassey (COL ’15), GUSA president Trevor Tezel (SFS ’15), GUSA Undersecretary for Disability Affairs Lydia Brown (C’15), and incoming ANC Commissioner Reed Howard (SFS ’17) briefed a bustling meeting room of freshmen in the Healey Family Student Center on campus plans and the University’s continued failure to create accessible on-campus facilities. GUSA appears ready to rally students for the University’s upcoming plan–and ensure that the neighbors don’t drown out students’ voices.
The Georgetown Community Partnership, an institution created by the 2010 campus plan, is led by both neighborhood association representatives and University administrators. It group is currently drafting the next campus plan, which is slated to take affect in 2018 as a legal document for main campus’ development for the next 20 years. Tezel, as GUSA president, is the only student that sits on that forum.
According to Tezel, the GCP will deliver a conceptual plan in June 2015. It will then present a draft to the relevant D.C. governing bodies, including the ANC, with a public hearing scheduled for September 2017.
This time around, Cassey said, students will have more opportunities to turn campus plan negotiations in the favor of the students. He stressed the importance of registering both to vote in D.C. and to run for ANC commissioner in the district consisting of Darnall Hall and Burleith. Georgetown students could potentially run against a neighborhood candidate and win a third seat on the ANC to gain more influence in campus plan deliberations.
“We do have a new commissioner who’s very sympathetic to student needs, who’s on the other side of town, and we get three students and her, that’s enough to down vote any campus plan that would negatively impact us,” he said.
Tezel said that the 2010 campus plan has damaged University finances and harmed students. In addition to spending funds for the expansion of SNAP and the Office of Neighborhood Life, the $150 million Northeast Triangle project and the $15-17 million Jesuit Residence renovations have forced the University to defer other critical projects such as Henle Village and Kehoe Field renovations because of the legal the requirement to add 385 more beds on campus by fall 2015.
“Those two most costly projects prevent every other one, to which the safety and health of our students is entirely dependent, have to be pushed to the side until we have the money available,” he said.
The 2018-2038 campus plan, Tezel vows, will be different. “If you see what we’ve had in a seven-year plan, what are we going to get in a 20-year plan? This is why student engagement is important, and it’s why everyone in here who’s part of the class of 2018 has a vested interest,” he said.
During Planning 301 last Thursday, instead of focusing on renovating existing infrastructure, the University presented potential plans to build on Harbin Patio, the Leavey Esplanade, the lawn outside of Regents Hall, and to create a retail strip near Leo O’Donovan Dining Hall.
Howard said that the University’s show of engagement with students over the master planning process is inadequate and that students should be more active watchdogs over the University’s plans.
“In Robin Morey’s presentation at [Planning] 301, he talked about the potential of using Kober Cogan [Hall] as new student space on campus, so like students living there, and then in the same presentation, MedStar got up and explained their vision for the place, and Kober Cogan was completely demolished, and they had a medical facility there,” he said. “So in terms of the authenticity of some of these aims, we have to question it.”
Photo: Kenneth Lee/The Georgetown Voice