City Desk

Georgetown Students to Pressure University Over Campus Plan

Just when Georgetown University’s administrators and the school’s neighbors finally came to an agreement on the 2010 Campus Plan last week, a new faction wants its demands met: the students. Angry about the concessions made to neighbors, students say they’re going to fight the plan when school starts again.

The plan presented by Georgetown and the neighbors calls for the university to add on-campus housing for 450 more students by fall 2015, and house 90 percent of students overall by 2025. Under the plan, the university would be able to force juniors and seniors who run afoul of the off-campus disciplinary system to move back on-campus (freshmen and sophomores are already required to live on-campus).

The plan will trigger student opposition when the school year begins, says Nate Tisa, a representative in Georgetown’s student government. But it's not entirely clear that either the university or the neighbors will listen; there's no formal mechanism to get student input in developing or implementing the plan. UPDATE: University officials say they will solicit student input in the future, as the plan is implemented and as longer-term portions of it get developed.

“I think we’re going to view ourselves as our own party in the negotiation,” Tisa says. “Before, we were very behind the university and we just looked to them. Now I think you’ll see the students pursue their own interest.”

For some students, living in the townhouses by campus has been a way to transition from the coddling environment of dormitories into the real world.

“Once you’re getting older you want to move off Georgetown,” says Alex Rice, a sophomore. “It’s cool to be closer to M Street to feel more independent from school to be a part of the city.”

Residents who call them noisy, messy, and untrustworthy isn’t fair for the majority of undergraduates who follow the rules, Tisa says.

“They’re almost using segregationist language when it comes to students,” he says.

The plan also forbids undergraduates from parking anywhere on or around campus, with few exceptions. The severity of this part of the plan is quite problematic, student government president Clara Gustafson says.

“D.C. is also our community and we are large contributors to its vibrancy,” says Gustafson, a senior.

Although she doesn’t agree with several aspects of the plan, certain elements—like fewer restrictions for on-campus parties and food trucks on campus—will make a positive impact on student life, Gustafson says.

Besides on-campus improvements, the plan requires that students living off-campus attend a program about the behaviors of good neighbors.

“It’s a hard situation because you have to understand that the neighbors are there,” says Rice. “You can’t expect them to totally be OK with us being loud and partying every night. I understand where they’re coming from, but we are college kids and want to have fun.”

While students weren’t invited to the discussion for the Campus Plan, Gustafson says she wants a student representative on the Georgetown Community Partnership, the body that’ll implement the 2010 Campus Plan and create another in 2018.

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