Point/Counterpoint: Georgetown's Campus Plan
Town and Gown. Where Do the Two Sides Stand?
Since November 2008, Georgetown University has met with community leaders and residents more than 10 times to discuss ideas and share information relative to the University’s proposed 2010-2020 campus plan. Unfortunately, and to the disappointment of everyone engaged in this process, the proposals discussed at the latest meeting on April 26 yielded little agreement on two primary points: graduate enrollment proposals, and on-campus housing for full-time traditional undergraduates.
The University’s 10-year plan does not propose any enrollment growth for full-time traditional undergraduates or medical students — the two student groups most likely to live near campus. It does propose modest growth of 104 nontraditional undergraduates — a group that includes students not likely to live near campus, such as commuters, veterans, students over 25years old, and second-degree nursing students who have returned to school.
The plan also includes targeted growth of 2,475 graduate and professional students. Critics of the plan have predicted dire consequences if this growth is approved. They claim this will lead to a new market for graduate group housing. We believe these concerns are unwarranted.
1370 of the new graduate students would come from the School of Continuing Studies which attracts professionals with full-time jobs, families and homes outside the surrounding area. The average age is 31 and, in 2009, only 77 SCS students lived in ZIP code 20007.
The other graduate programs are projected to grow by 1095 over the 10-year period of the plan. The total number of graduate students living in ZIP code 20007 has remained relatively constant since 2000, even as enrollment increased. In West Georgetown, the number went from 75 in 2000 to 58 in 2009. Again, in 2009, only a fraction of the graduate students in these programs reported living in ZIP code 20007. Their average age is 28, and many live alone or with one other person.
Our decision not to build additional on-campus undergraduate housing came after serious study and consideration. Because we can currently house 84 percent of the traditional full-time undergraduate population on our campus, and we aren’t proposing to increase this population, we felt that our resources are better focused on athletic, library and student activity facilities. Moreover, the last few 10-year plans have focused largely on additional student housing, adding nearly 3,000 beds to campus.
In relation to these proposals, our plan acknowledges and includes proposals to address traffic caused in the area by graduate students arriving after 4 p.m. It also includes proposals to strengthen off-campus programs to enhance the University’s ability to manage the impacts of students who live near campus.
Georgetown University’s campus plan is an honest and informed assessment of the institution’s needs and objectives that reflects a genuine interest in collaborating with our neighbors toward the betterment of our community. Over more than two centuries, the University has made significant contributions to the economic, cultural, intellectual and social fabric of both local neighborhoods and the larger Washington, D.C. region. These relationships are an important part of our identity and tradition and we take our role as good citizen seriously. It is with this in mind that we have developed our 2010-2020 campus plan. We invite everyone to read it and contact us with questions or concerns.
For more information, visit community.georgetown.edu/campusplan.html.
Associate Vice President for External Relations
On Monday, April 26, Georgetown University presented their final campus plan for 2010-2020. Without substantive changes, the plan is bad for the community and the District of Columbia.
GU’s 2010-2020 campus plan doesn’t resolve existing objectionable conditions and will continue to negatively impact the surrounding communities. Specifically, GU states it plans to add 3,205 additional graduate students from 2009 to 2020, reaching a total graduate enrollment of 8,750. Currently, approximately 1,130 graduate students rent in ZIP code 20007 and, using GU’s numbers, we can reasonably project that at least 465 more students will seek housing in the nearby communities. This enrollment increase is likely to result in an increase of rental group homes and further compromise the housing stock and character of Georgetown and Burleith. We also have significant concerns about the University’s enrollment projections, since GU has greatly exceeded the enrollment numbers that it presented to the community and to the D.C. Office of Planning back in 2000, when it predicted a graduate student total of 3,873 in 2010 versus 6,275 actual students today. Nothing in the plan addresses the impacts of the wrong projections set forth by GU in the 2000-2010 campus plan submissions.
Community improvements and neighborhood conservation are nowhere to be seen in the plan. Instead, GU is planning to build 80 apartments and demolish townhomes on the 1789 block. This block was added to the campus in 1973. Finally, most issues raised by the community have been ignored or addressed by palliative solutions.
The D.C. city council adopted a new Comprehensive Plan in December 2006; it became effective in March 2007. According to the Comprehensive Plan, D.C. encourages the growth of universities in a manner that 1) supports community improvement and neighborhood conservation, 2) discourages university actions that would adversely affect the character or quality of life in surrounding residential areas, 3) requires campus plans to address issues raised by the surrounding communities, 4) encourages on-campus housing in order to reduce impacts on the housing stock in adjacent communities, 5) promotes the development of satellite campuses to relieve growth pressure on neighborhoods.
Georgetown University has been an integral part of Georgetown for many years. It’s an important and reputable academic institution. They plan for longer than just 10 years. The question for all to consider is how we, as residents and voters, GU, the city council and mayor envision the future of our neighborhoods.
GU cannot grow to the west or south and they are left with only two options: comply with the Comprehensive Plan and help improve our neighborhoods, or keep increasing growth pressure on adjacent communities, which could ultimately turn Burleith and Georgetown into college towns. GU should reduce the number of students in the residential areas (starting from GU-owned homes outside of campus), re-adopt their goal of housing 100 percent of undergraduates on campus, desist from demolishing houses on the 1789 block, limit new construction to administrative offices, commit not to increase emissions from their smokestack, limit the traffic and parking impact on the neighborhood and link all enrollment increases to housing availability on campus.
Visit www.cagtown.org to learn how you can help ensure responsible growth for our neighborhood.
GU Relations Committee
Citizens Association of Georgetown