Administrators dispute what constitutes a satellite “campus”


Update, 6:07 pm: Vox received statements from Nate Tisa and Zach Singer (SFS ’15), GUSA chief of staff.

Tisa didn’t take the accusation that he was mistaken lightly. “With all due respect, the university administration should stop playing word games and start working on options that will keep the Hilltop intact,” he wrote.

Singer took issue with Todd Olson’s characterization of what the opinion of “majority” of students would mean. “Dr. Olson should strongly consider apologizing for his indication that the majority of student voices don’t matter in this discussion,” Singer wrote.

Original Post: Three administrators held a press conference late this morning in response to last night’s news that an off-campus dorm site was being considered as an option to help fulfill the housing requirement mandated by the Campus Plan.

It was made clear to Vox before the conference began that the administration had a problem with the characterization of any potential developments as a satellite “campus”, as it was phrased by GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) yesterday. The administrators made the distinction between a “satellite campus” and a satellite dorm, or “off-campus housing,” in their words. “Nate Tisa is absolutely mistaken,” said Stacy Kerr, associate vice president for communications.

This difference in word choice makes all the difference for University officials—a remote group of academic buildings? Terrifying. Students having to cross state lines to sleep? Not so much.

Lauralyn Lee, associate vice president of community engagement and strategic initiatives, confirmed that there have been conversations regarding off-campus housing. Last week, a select group of student leaders met with administrators to discuss the option to create an off-campus dorm, but the discussion has been active among University officials for the past 18 months since the Campus Plan was passed.

The student response to an off-campus dorm was clear, even last week. “There was a majority feeling in the room that an off-campus solution is not preferable,” said Vice President for Planning and Facilities Management Robin Morey.

Despite the initial feedback, administrators are currently considering potential sites for off-campus housing, in locations such as Arlington, Rosslyn, and Capitol Hill. “Even if most students don’t like the option, to be crass about it, most students don’t need to live there,” said Todd Olson, vice president for student affairs.

Morey did confirm whether or not any off-campus site would include mandatory housing.

Otherwise, the administration absolutely refused to offer specifics. When pressed for details about which on-campus possibilities were still open for discussion, Olson said, “Just all the buildings. Just looking at all the facilities on campus and trying to ask the question creatively.”

“It’s really the early stages of thinking about a whole range of options,” Lee said.

The three administrators repeatedly stressed the importance of student engagement. Lee said, “The reason you guys have this information is because we told you. What I want to push back on … is the suggestion that we haven’t engaged students in the conversation. Because we have.”

And by “you,” Lee means “a handful of students in a closed meeting,” which isn’t to say that they would never bring it up at upcoming forums this semester.

The role of students in the decision-making process remains murky. Students’ voices are one of many clamoring for the University’s attention. There are many stakeholders involved in the planning process, including the Board of Directors. “If we’re being good stewards of our footprint and our campus infrastructure, we need to think about all those options. … These are all things that we have to do to really satisfy all of our constituents and stakeholders. Our Board of Directors is a constituent, we have to manage our financial resources in the right way,” said Morey.

As for student action on the matter, the University was clear: “I would encourage student leadership to think as to whether [a referendum] the best course of action,” Lee said.

Stick with Vox as we follow the bureaucratic throwdown of the year.

Photo: Kirill Makarenko/Georgetown Voice

19 Comments on “Administrators dispute what constitutes a satellite “campus”

  1. Can students please organize a protest on campus. This would a terrible idea. Those students would basically be isolated and miss out on lots of campus life– not to mention how they’re going to get home every night after drinking in georgetown.

  2. The quotes from administrators are horrifying.

    “Even if most students don’t like the option, to be crass about it, most students don’t need to live there.” If this is how Todd Olson feels about students, then he doesn’t deserve the title of Vice President of Student Affairs.

    And what a silly comment from Stacy Kerr. If the university forces students to live in a satellite dorm, that constitutes a satellite campus. Call a spade a spade instead of lying to students that they’re “mistaken.” If that’s the best the Associate Vice President for Communications can go, then maybe she needs a new title too.

  3. Someone should let the administrators know that they should refrain from using the word “steward” if they don’t want people to make asinine comments like this one.

  4. The University continuously manages to paint themselves as completely out of sync and out of touch. Shipping students off-campus affects every single Georgetown student and the Georgetown community as a whole. Wow.

  5. Thanks to the administrators quoted in this article for mansplaining the difference between a satellite “building” and a satellite “campus” to Nate Tisa! Perhaps they forgot that Georgetown students had to score pretty high on the verbal section of the SATs to get here, and thus we can spot a synonym when we see one.

  6. This just in…. administration also disputes the word “community”

  7. The dramatic journalism from the Voice and Hoya really adds to what would have been an otherwise dull story. Basically the reality of the situation is simple:

    1) Not enough money for new buildings
    2) Not enough money for new real-estate

    No amount of student protest, engagement or outrage are going to fix those two issues. It’s not some evil conspiracy to tear apart future hoya friendships and create social outcasts by means of inconvenient commutes, it’s just reality. At the end of the day, the administration is going to do what they have to on this issue regardless of student input. At the end of the day no one is going to withdraw from georgetown because there’s an apartment building across the river.

  8. I have an idea!

    Let’s make a satellite bureaucratic building then turn Healy and Leavey 5 into dorm rooms. Win-win! The administrators got themselves into this mess, so they should be the ones forced to commute to Rosslyn. Believe me, no one would miss them.

  9. And what about Kober-Cogan? Buy it back from the Med Center. Those options would be expensive due to the needed renovations, but I don’t see how it could be that much more expensive than buying/building in a different part of town.

  10. These administrators came off awful in their ‘press conference.’ Not just bad, not just off-message, but, “I just rolled out of the wrong side of bed and have to explain away a John Kerry gaffe in 10 words or less” bad.


  11. First they ship off JJ to a new “home”, then they want to ship off students to a new “campus”… what’s next? Shipping off the Jesuits? Good Lord.

  12. @Catholic with a Heart

    I believe the next logical step is invading Poland.

  13. @Babs and everyone who keeps saying that the administration should move off campus, you do know that a significantly large number of employees work in locations off campus, right? Comments like that are asinine and pointless; come up with actually constructive ideas of what the university could do instead.

  14. Believe it or not Northern Virginia is very much part of the post-Georgetown experience. Many students who stay in DC end up working in Rosslyn, living in Arlington, Clarendon etc.. Students should look at this more as an opportunity to branch out in the DC area. I bet in Virginia you could park a car for a reasonable price, and hell, DC is waay better with one. And do all the international kids know how cheap tobacco is over the Potomac?????? Silver linings guys. How else do you get through 4 years in yuppie-ville USA.

  15. @Facts

    You’re right, I do know that a good number of employees work off campus. You know who else is off campus? Students. But the administration is only trying to move one of the aforementioned populations.

    And since moving some employees off campus didn’t have much noticeable impact on campus cohesiveness, why not increase the proportion of administrators who work off campus? Seems like a good solution to me.

    But no, comments like mine are pointless because this isn’t a …real… solution. I think we should go with your solution instead, since you seem to be the final arbiter of internet comments.

  16. if this is really the only option they have, then just cut back the number of students. It would be better to only have 6000 kids on campus than 6600 with some of them second class citizens living in a ghetto.

  17. The versions of the Olson & Lee quotes appearing in the Hoya seem to more fully express what they were saying. The versions here seem more inflammatory.

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