At an event hosted by DC Students Speak last night, D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) addressed approximately twenty students about a variety of issues facing the District and the Council, including Georgetown University’s 2010 campus plan, the use of RFK Stadium, and ethics reform.
While he spent most of the evening addressing District issues, Wells also discussed the vitriol that has defined the 2010 campus plan process. After lauding DC Students Speak for getting students involved in local politics, he compared the campus plan processes at Georgetown University and George Washington University. While GWU has an aggressive building plan that neighbors have sometimes disliked, its campus plan approval has not been a difficult fight. Wells credits this to the make-up of their leadership and their engagement with the community. ”GW has local influential people on their Board of Trustees,” Wells pointed out. GWU also employed a communications firm to interact with neighborhood groups to ease the process.
Wells contrasted this success story with Georgetown’s own efforts:
Georgetown did everything internally, and their board is not a board of local civic leaders, so they were isolated when they came out, so there wasn’t really a counterpunch to the neighbors that said, we don’t like this, guys. There wasn’t other neighbors or other influential folks to stand up and say, well we can compromise but we’re not going to give up our campus plan. There wasn’t effective pushback and the groundwork was not done.
Wells also relayed a lovely anecdote of his own interaction with the Office of Planning, which had recommended last year that Georgetown be mandated to
house all of its undergraduates on campus offer housing (on or off-campus) to 100% of its undergraduate population by 2016 if it wanted to maintain its current enrollment cap:
I asked the person who’s head of the Office of Planning, why did you say Georgetown needs to do this—this isn’t realistic, no other universities are being asked to do this in terms of the number of students to be housed on campus and she essentially said, we just don’t like their attitude. And I said, well you don’t get to have that opinion, this is about planning. You can’t change based on attitude.
Wells’ take on luring the Redskins into the District, ethics reform, and Kwame Brown’s Lincoln Navigator after the jump…