While the majority of the student body drained off-campus soon after final exams were finished last May, a certain duo were just getting into the swing of things. GUSA President Clara Gustafson (SFS’13) and vice president Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS’13) spent the summer hard at work on developing the Campus Plan and other aspects of their campaign to make the campus a more welcoming space for students.
Despite the numerous challenges over the past year to create a Campus Plan that appealed to students, administration, and neighbors, Gustafson and Kohnert-Yount insisted that the revamped agreement over the summer “allowed more leverage in certain areas to create change in terms of student conduct, which will hopefully be one of the big focuses this year.”
Working on plans for the New South Student Center was one of their major priorities, as they met with architects to create a floor plan with the promise of an ideal gathering space. Emphasizing the need to “stay vigilant and involved with the design process,” the GUSA executive brought up ideas that would have staying power with students of all ages.
The concept of a terrace that extended from the pub out onto the Potomac for students of drinking age was one of those ideas, though “there was some resistance to that from the administration.” Persisting for the implementation of the terrace, however, the two stressed the “need to have something unique” for older students so they don’t just stick with the Tombs staple. For the younger demographic, the GUSA executive suggested having 18-plus nights so everyone can benefit from the communal space. Overall, the vision for a student center that “reflected the character of Georgetown” was the primary issue in meetings with architects that enabled student feedback.
During the D.C. Zoning Commission’s speedy meeting last Monday, the expansion of the Georgetown Hotel & Conference Center was briefly mentioned in discussions over the campus plan. As part of the revised agreement, the University will house an additional 450 students on campus by fall 2015. Sixty-five of those beds will come from relocating the townhouses on the 1400 block of 36th street, but a whole 385 beds will come from the conversion of the Leavey Center into a dormitory.
According to University spokeswoman Stacy Kerr, the building as it stands now can only house an estimated 250 beds, so the remaining 135 beds will come from an extension of the building to the East. “There is no finished design,” Kerr wrote in an email to Vox. “We’ll begin design work in the next few months. Our goals with the addition are to keep the height equal to the current building, and to build eastward from the hotel tower – toward the bookstore.”
The campus plan agreement allows Georgetown to add on and renovate the Leavey Center without further approval from the Zoning Commission, even though there are not yet any definitive plans yet for its construction. The commissioners were initially unsure about whether they should allow the University to bypass zoning procedure without knowing any specifics about the building.
Last night, Georgetown administrators and neighbors gathered before the D.C. Zoning Commission to discuss the 2010 campus plan for the final time as the University, ANC 2E, and neighborhood groups submitted a revised version of the original campus plan that they hammered out last month. The commission voted 3-0 with one abstaining to accept the proposal in its entirety.
After the Zoning Commission voted last February to postpone any decision on the campus plan until the parties reached an agreement, neighbors and administrators restarted negotiations. The commissioners were highly pleased with the result. “We don’t always get the results we would like to see, and, in this case, I feel like we got everything and more,” Commissioner Peter May said. “And so I really am very, very happy with this result.” The other commissioners agreed: “I think that what’s happened in this case is no less than exceptional,” commissioner Michael Turnbull said. “To see Georgetown and the neighborhood come together like this is just wonderful.
The room erupted in cheers after the commission voted without opposition to approve the agreement, and Georgetown administrators joined in the sentiment. “What this process has made clear is that there is great strategic advantage for the University to align ourselves with the city,” University spokeswoman Stacy Kerr said. “I think you’re going to see from this a lot of opportunities for us to find new ways to engage deeper with the city and engage beyond just Northwest D.C. and beyond that historical 37th and O street. And, really over the long term, we see that as… [an opportunity] to strengthen the residential undergraduate experience at 37th and O street.”
A few years ago, ANC Chair Ron Lewis said at a meeting: “They’re still in our communities and on Reservoir Road in our neighborhood and that is unacceptable.” If you can’t already guess who the “they” is in that sentence, well, it’s us, the students. And we just won’t stop living and transporting ourselves around the city. Shocking.
After escalated pressure from neighborhood groups, the University tested out a different, longer route for the Dupont GUTS buses in 2009. Now we’re back at square one with a proposed route in the new Campus Plan which uses Canal Road instead of Reservoir to get to Dupont.
“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,” GUSA President Clara Gustafson (SFS’ 13) and Vice President Vail Koehnert-Yount (SFS ’13) said in a press release to all students last night. This was one of the several provisions the GUSA executive agreed was a disappointing result of the campus plan.
The route change has the potential to offset students’ trips to their internships and jobs in the city. This decision will affect undergraduate students but also graduate students living off campus, faculty, and staff. Some of the most frequent users of GUTS bus are in fact staff working for the Georgetown hospital and other parts of campus.
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.
Last week, Vox reported on a few of the finer points of the campus plan agreement, from what future student housing will look like to what the plan might mean for graduate students. At the same time, CHARMS began for incoming freshmen, which started off this summer’s line of prefrosh previews. The week ended with the ANC rubber stamping the campus plan agreement, clearing the way for the proposal to go into effect.
Beltway Greg feels that Georgetown is doing the right thing to rein in our excessive reveling.
The plan is long overdue. Georgetown is not sleep away camp in Maine where you can earn a badge in boozing and property destruction. Undergrads have become increasingly immature so this is the solution. Next.
While that may be true, it doesn’t have to be. Coming soon: The College offers two new minors teaching students how to get their drink on and how to destroy public property.
d00$h has a different idea about how the University could have fought back against the neighbors.
The real issue isn’t that the students are having their rights infringed. It’s that the school is too weak to stand up to a bunch of over entitled neighbors. We need a stronger administration who isn’t afraid of turning the entire city against us as we gradually expand to encompass the entire NW quadrant and Rosslyn. But it’s not really their fault. We also need enough money so that we can bribe or intimidate anyone who tries to stand in our way. And possibly to mobilize the ROTC and just invade. But, since this is Georgetown and we have no money, maybe we could just hire some convicted felons and put them in the “faculty/staff” housing and let them loot West Georgetown. The neighbors will come begging to have the students back.
Yesterday evening, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E held a special meeting to consider proposed revisions to the Georgetown Campus Plan. The ANC commissioners in attendance voted unanimously, 6-0, to endorse the revised plan. Then the floor opened up to residents (to complain more about student behavior) and students (to attempt to maintain our dignity).
“The university is very encouraged – the members of the community and the students here echoed a lot of sentiments that were expressed in the negotiations and through this process,” university spokesperson Stacy Kerr said to Vox. “This isn’t a victory for one side or the other, but for everybody, and it’s a path to move forward.”
The next step entails filing the plan with the DC Zoning Commission by June 18. According to ANC Chair Ron Lewis, the Zoning Commission should have a decision by July, setting off a series of processing deadlines for both the University and ANC. But, as Lewis noted during the meeting, “If the Zoning Commission says ‘OK’, this [remainder of the process] becomes a formality.”
While us undergraduates are battling it out on the sidelines for our compromised interests in the Campus Plan, we tend to forget that graduate students are affected by these provisions too. At tonight’s advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting on the campus plan, ANC Chair Ron Lewis mentioned that “graduate students will be parking ‘downtown’ in the next few years.” A cursory statement like that holds a lot of weight for these adults who live and study at Georgetown but also have families, children, and established lives.
For graduate students, on-campus housing is not provided as an option. Many students live in Foxhall and West Georgetown to decrease their commute, especially given Georgetown’s lack of access to a Metro station.
“Basically the first year of grad school I was on Connecticut Ave. and I would commute by Metro and shuttle bus and it really made it difficult to schedule time,” Alison Thomas (MSFS ’13) said. “You end up wasting a lot of time in transit or waiting for transit. This year, living near campus made a huge difference to my quality of life.”
In the campus plan agreement, a clause devoted to parking indicates that undergraduate students “shall be prohibited from bringing cars to campus or parking their cars on the street in Georgetown, Burleith, and Foxhall.” And that’s not all, violations will be a part of the Code of Conduct and there will be “very limited exceptions” to this rule.
This concession, intended to mitigate parking congestions in the Georgetown area, is directed at undergraduate students who presumably don’t often bring cars to campus. However, as undergraduate students are completely banned, even graduate students will end up privy to these regulations:
The University shall implement plans as well for mitigating the transportation and parking impacts from graduate students who travel to the Main Campus, with the goal of achieving significant improvements over current conditions.
Vox is curious about the effect this will have on students, whether you’re undergrad or graduate.
A relatively under-explored topic throughout Vox‘s coverage is on the question of expansion. In the agreement, there is a brief reference to establishing a satellite campus for School of Continuing Studies. This change is projected for next December (2013), with the intent to move 1,000 SCS students “at one or more satellite locations not within zip code 20007. The exact phrasing is to “identify and develop next 100 acres” as one of the long term goals for the university.
Inspired by a recent GM post, our minds began to tinker. Where will Georgetown find these 100 acres? Not only that, but who’s moving? Presumably students in SCS, but the vague language indicates the possibility of pushing other graduate students out as well.