If you ask just about anybody who’s been following the campus plan debacle (if you read this blog, we’re willing to bet that you’re one of them) to sum up the process in a word, you’re going to get a variety of not-so-nice answers. So when Georgetown resident and University alum Jacques Arsenault (COL ’01, GPPI ’07) posted yesterday on Greater Greater Washington saying that planning between the school and its neighbors can be more constructive, we all thought that was a pretty gross understatement.
But Arsenault’s post goes deeper than just pointing out the glaringly obvious. He takes a position about students in the area that we haven’t really heard from those neighbors who have vocalized their opinions about the campus plan—that, for the most part, having us around makes Georgetown better.
“The opponents’ position suggests that the very presence of students in the neighborhood is an insurmountable problem,” Arsenault writes. “This ignores the many positives that students bring to the community … My wife and I feel safe walking home at night knowing there are other people walking about. Without the presence of so many students in the neighborhood the streets would be emptier, and would feel darker and less safe.”
While we await the completion of the H Street streetcar line, now expected to begin running by mid 2013, some area blogs are drooling over the idea of extending the line into Georgetown.
Last week, Georgetown Metropolitan ran a historical post about Georgetown’s cable car history, through the architecture of Georgetown’s own Car Barn.
A day before, Greater Greater Washington drooled over the idea of extending the as-yet-unfinished H Street Streetcar line into Georgetown, ending at the GUTS bus stop at Southwest Quad. In addition, GGW offered the idea of building a satellite campus in Northeast Washington, since the University built its School of Continuing Studies in Claredon.
GGW believes that the extension would create better access to jobs for District residents, and that a campus in Northeast D.C. would create GU jobs in Washington, as opposed to moving out of the city. Streetcars in Georgetown could also bring more shoppers into Georgetown and improve retail business. The post also posts that a Streetcar wouldn’t harm historic preservation, and would decrease congestion.
Getting a Streetcar line to actually run through Georgetown would be quite the feat, given the way that many Georgetown residents reject the idea of a Metro line, and didn’t even want GUTS buses going near their parks.
[Editor's Note: Kara Brandeisky is features editor for the Voice]
In a post on Greater Greater Washington, ANC Commissioner Jake Sticka (COL ’13) and rising junior Kara Brandeisky (COL ’13) take aim at the controversial Office of Planning recommendation that the University house 100 percent of its undergraduates on campus.
The pair claim the move would cripple University finances and caused cramped living conditions (like those at American University) as the University attempts to comply with the onerous conditions.
“Freshmen should not be forced to live in 170-square-feet triples while paying for some of the most expensive University housing in the country,” Brandeisky and Sticka assert. ”Reducing enrollment by nearly 25 percent would represent a huge blow to the University’s already constrained financial resources. These losses could lead to layoffs at the District’s largest private employer.”
They then propose what they think is a more proactive response to community outcry over student misconduct: bring student life back on campus by moving forward on the proposed Healy Pub and reducing on-campus party restrictions.
“In the long run, holistic solutions that aim to improve campus and community life will be far more effective than draconian mandates, which will mire us in legal battles for years to come,” Brandeisky and Sticka write.
[Editor’s note: Kara Brandeisky is the head of business for the Voice.]
Kara Brandeisky (COL ’13) has come to the defense of the Campus Plan following the recent post on Greater Greater Washington by Georgetown resident Ken Archer that referred to the area around Georgetown University as a “student ghetto.”
In her post, Brandeisky takes a look back at the history of student housing, both on and off campus, exposing the flaws in the 2010 Campus Plan opponents’ logic and the repetition of arguments that have been used against a number of plans.
In his post, Archer claimed that the neighborhood has become a student ghetto that did not exist in 1980. However, Brandeisky notes, “a 1979 Hoya student newspaper article reported that only 3,058 students were offered on-campus housing in 1980, or 58 percent of Georgetown’s 5,293 undergraduates. Today, the University houses 84 percent of its undergraduates. In 1980, 2,235 students lived off-campus. Last semester 1,077 students lived off-campus, not including those studying abroad.”
Why does Georgetown need a shuttle from campus to Dupont Circle at all? Right now, there’s a bus that goes right from the Reservoir Road side of campus to the same intersection of 21st and Q that GUTS uses: the D3 and D6 buses. The route is identical, except the D buses stop on Reservoir instead of looping around Lot A just inside campus …
We could improve transit for all if Georgetown applied the money it spends on the Georgetown-Dupont route to WMATA to add service to the D3 and D6, and subsidize students’ rides on them. If the D buses stop too often along the way, we could even create a D9 express bus … Besides, the GUTS schedule estimates a 15 minute trip from Georgetown University to Dupont Circle, while the WMATA schedule actually claims it’s even less than that.
It’s an interesting idea in theory, but there would be some major hurdles. Setting aside concerns about how mind-numbingly complex and the occasionally unreliable D.C.’s bus system is, would the University really be able (or willing) to negotiate with WMATA to create a suitable express route?
And, if we managed that, how would bus rides be paid for? Would the University provide SmarTrip cards to everyone and, if so, how would it be administered? If the stalled Student Metro Discount campaign is any indication, negotiating large-scale deals with WMATA isn’t quite as easy as it might sound. And if the University doesn’t subsidize the trips, would riders have to pay out of pocket?
If the University eliminated GUTS buses but worked with WMATA to augment the D line, would that do anything to pacify the neighbors? Also, GGW’s suggestion doesn’t take into account any GUTS lines besides Dupont. Even if we could work something out for that route, what about the others?
But what say you—would expanded D line coverage be an acceptable GUTS substitute?
The absurdity of the new, potentially permanent Dupont GUTS bus route, discussed at the 10 year campus plan meeting, caught the attention of Greater Greater Washington, a wonky, “smart growth” blog about D.C. The issue, mentioned briefly at the top of a list of links, has provoked a 57-comment debate. Here are some of the more interesting ones:
Most commenters, like Jasper, agreed that the neighbors are being unreasonable, saying the proposed route would add to congestion and create a parking nightmare:
Oh, you’re objecting to the a private university offering free transportation to its students, employees and visitors? Would you rather subsidize WMATA through your taxes? And where exactly, would all those cars be parked? Do you realize that there is a two-year waiting period before employees can actually apply for a (ridiculously overpriced) parking permit?