University considering satellite campus to meet Campus Plan requirements
University administrators are considering establishing a satellite campus to help fulfill the requirements of the 2010 Campus Plan, according to GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ‘14).
“We know they’re considering it. We know it’s on the table,” Tisa said. “Other options should be considered.”
Administrators are examining adding a new location for undergraduate life in order to reach the goal of housing 385 additional beds on campus, or outside the 20007 zip code, by fall of 2015. The campus could be located in Rosslyn, Glover Park, or near the Capitol, Tisa told Vox.
The University has floated the idea at several meetings with select campus leaders beginning last semester, according to Tisa and Peter Prindiville (SFS ’14), a member of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E.
“The formation of a satellite campus has the possibility of absolutely changing what it means to be a Georgetown undergraduate,” Prindiville said. “I’m not happy with the idea. I don’t think it’s a good way for the University to develop.”
Rachel Pugh, director of media relations, stressed that there is no plan to move students off the Hilltop. However, she confirmed that the University is exploring a satellite campus among other alternatives and said the administration has heard that some students find this option “appealing.” Tisa, on the other hand, said the University has not spoken to enough to students to make this statement, and he believes once more of the Georgetown community is engaged in the issue, many will oppose the option.
“They haven’t done wide enough student engagements to say that,” he told Vox.
The GUSA president said he is coming forward with this information because he believes the University needs to have a more open conversation with more of the Georgetown community before plans are in place. According to him, administrators are already discussing facets of a satellite campus like transportation and amenities like swimming pools, rather than engaging the community in the process from the beginning.
Tisa said the discussion shouldn’t focus on “what or where,” but rather “whether or not.”
Pugh noted that the University has planned several public forums this semester that will allow students to weigh in on whether or not they approve of creating a satellite campus.
Until this point, administrators have not publicly acknowledged that establishing a satellite campus for undergraduates is an option. In fact, after the campus plan was resolved in summer 2012, University President John DeGioia assured students that undergraduate life would remain on Georgetown’s historic “100 acres.”
“We believe that our undergraduate experience best can take place on this historic campus,” DeGioia said. “Our vision prioritizes development of an enhanced living-and-learning campus focused on undergraduates on the main campus, on this plot of ground.”
Tisa told Vox that he believes a satellite campus would stand in contrast to the University’s goal of building a cohesive living and learning community on the main campus.
“Having a [satellite] campus, whether it’s optional or mandated … is, in a lot of ways, giving up on the idea that we can have an engaging and truly vibrant community on this campus,” Tisa said. “It directly contradicts … what students saw as the most positive part of the campus plan.”
The administration must look to additional options that are viable in the short-term, since the plans for the tentative Northeast Triangle dorm site would only create 223 beds. Under the 2010 Campus Plan, ratified in 2012, Georgetown must add 385 beds on campus, or out of the 20007 zip code, by 2015.
In a statement, Pugh cautioned that no plans are definitive and the University is still weighing a wide range of options to meet this goal. “We are in the process of considering a number of housing alternatives, including new construction on campus, renovating current space on campus, and housing off campus, in order to have as many options on the table to consider as possible as we work toward this goal,” Pugh wrote. “We are also open to considering changes to the housing selection process, and other related housing policies.”
Tisa warned that renting an existing apartment building is easier and faster than renovating or building more dorms on campus. He hopes that after announcing this information, a satellite campus will no longer be an option.
Aside from the distance between the campuses, Tisa also worried that moving up to 400 students away from the main campus could create more issues with diversity. Discounted housing away from the Hilltop, for instance, could move students of lower socioeconomic status further away from the rest of the student body.
Top University administrators are holding a press conference at 11:15 a.m. on Monday to discuss the developments, while GUSA and other student leaders take to the microphones Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the front gates.
Vox will keep you posted with updates as the story develops.
Photo: Kirill Makarenko/Georgetown Voice