In a secretive bait-and-switch this month, the university administration quietly took the famous Brown House — 3616 N St. NW — out of the housing lottery, assigning it for renovation and repurposing it as faculty housing in the coming year. Over 500 students have reacted strongly to this cloak-and-dagger move, which is all too consistent with the university’s decisions in recent years to remove beloved housing policies, such as ones that permitted juniors to live off campus, and repurpose traditional student space for administrative use. We applaud the decision by D.J. Angelini (MSB ‘17) to start a petition — later endorsed by the Georgetown University Student Association — to protest the university’s decision and push back against its encroachment on student housing.
The removal of Brown House is a particularly worrying step, given its centrality to the social experience of many students, and the tradition of the 3600 block of N Street as a center for off-campus social life. As one of the only houses with enough space to support student social life, taking Brown House from students is a disappointment to students, and putting a faculty home there will remove the last neighborhood block comprised of all student homes in the Georgetown area. The 2010 Campus Plan removed 18 student townhouses in Georgetown — one of the most contested moves in the plan — and the repurposing of Brown House threatens to continue this deeply unpopular pattern.
But perhaps what is most offensive about this move by the administration is the way the removal of Brown House was slipped under the rug — violating prior promises to the student body to be transparent about housing modifications and inform the student body in advance. Furthermore, it is unclear why the university is spending money renovating Brown House for administrative use when much-needed renovations to Village A, Darnall Hall and Henle Village go unheeded. We urge the university to reverse its decision to take Brown House, and further urge it to commit to a transparent process when repurposing student townhouses in the future.
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