GCP Releases Draft Campus Plan

COURTESY GEORGETOWN EXXON The Georgetown Community Partnership released a draft of the 2017-2036 Campus Plan on June 6.

COURTESY GEORGETOWN EXXON
The Georgetown Community Partnership released a draft of the 2017-2036 Campus Plan on June 6.

The 2017-2036 Campus Plan will prioritize upperclassman student housing renovations, as well as athletic and academic facilities, according to a draft of the plan released by the Georgetown Community Partnership on June 6.

The draft also outlines plans for an expansion of the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital to include a new surgical pavilion, reinforces transportation and student conduct policies established in the 2010 Campus Plan and continues the 2010 student enrollment cap, which limits the undergraduate population to 6,675 students.

The draft plan is currently available online for a month-long period for public comment before the Old Georgetown Board reviews it on July 1 and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission votes on it in August. The final version is expected to be submitted to the District of Columbia Zoning Commission at the end of the year.

In Washington, D.C., campus plans are the formal structure for universities in residential areas to plan anticipated growth and development.

The GCP serves as a forum for consensus-based decision-making among university administrators, students and members of the community to develop the framework for the 20-year plan. Georgetown University Student Association President Enushe Khan (MSB ’17), Advisory Neighborhood Council 2E Commissioner Kendyl Clausen (SFS ’16) and Advisory Neighborhood Council 2E Commissioner Reed Howard (SFS ’17) serve on the GCP.

The GCP was formed in 2012 as part of the implementation of the 2010 Campus Plan, following a lengthy legal battle between several Georgetown resident associations and the university during the plan’s negotiations.

Khan said the plan includes a housing commitment from the university that ensures renovations are prioritized over construction of new housing. The university had to build new housing, including the Northeast Triangle and Ryan Hall and Freedom Hall, to meet the last campus plan’s 90 percent on-campus housing goal.

“The housing element was hands down the most important issue to students regarding the campus plan because that’s what hurt us last time. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a strong student voice last time. So this time we really tried to hold our ground on the fact that renovations are priority number one,” Khan said. “We really tried to paint the picture that we can’t build new beds until we have quality housing on campus.”

According to GUSA Deputy Chief of Staff on Master Planning and Community Engagement Ari Goldstein (COL ’18), the draft plan ameliorates several housing concerns students raised after the last plan instituted a three-year housing requirement and a goal to house 90 percent of students on campus by 2025. Goldstein said the draft plan will enable the university to improve existing housing to encourage more students to live on campus voluntarily. The university currently needs to house 244 more students to meet the 90 percent on-campus housing goal.

“We do not say anywhere that we are going to build 244 new beds. Consistent with the principle, we’ve tried to introduced to the process that it is better for students to want to live on campus than to force them to live on campus, we want to renovate and make housing nice enough that 244 students move from the neighborhood onto campus voluntarily.”

The plan extends the time the university will have to meet the 90 percent on-campus housing goal from 2025 to 2030, and clarifies three ways to house 244 additional students on campus,  including increasing occupancy levels of available existing beds to reach a 95 percent occupancy minimum, new program initiatives which would move students out of the neighborhood and additional on-campus beds through the renovation of existing on-campus buildings or the construction of new housing facilities. The draft specifies Reiss Science Building, the Leavey Center and St. Mary’s Hall as options for future housing locations.

Goldstein said that even with increased occupancy levels, the university will likely have to construct new housing in order to meet the 90 percent on-campus housing goal.

“This means that our entire housing requirement is hinged on the fact that we have to renovate first,” Goldstein said. “Ideally, you can get to 244 through occupancy and other programs. Probably, that’s not going to happen. I would guess that we will probably have to build 75 to 100 beds by 2030. But having to build 30 beds in 14 years is a lot better than the last campus plan, building 385 beds in three years.”

Vice President for Planning and Facilities Management Robin Morey said housing renovations will be determined once the results of a housing study commissioned this spring are completed.

“The housing study is expected to be completed this fall. The results will be used to strategically guide our housing program and the associated priorities of the residence hall renovation program,” Morey wrote in an email to The Hoya. “But I can say that the university will focus on making student housing more competitive and attractive — especially for juniors and seniors.”

The draft also ensures students will be included in future decisions about potential townhouse conversions. The university received pushback from students after it announced plans to convert 3616 N St., NW, popularly known as Brown House, to university administration use without consulting students.

“The campus plan does address that students will be engaged in conversations regarding town house conversions, unlike the Brown House situation we saw earlier this year where there was zero student input and the decision was made,” Khan said. “That is something that should hopefully not happen in the future, based on the draft.”

The draft campus plan will not change the current transportation and student conduct policies set by the 2010 plan, including the new bus turnaround at McDonough Arena and presence of the Student Neighborhood Assistance Program, which addresses off-campus conduct violations including noise violations.

Khan said GUSA will continue to advocate for student interests in these areas, and will look to introduce access to weekend Georgetown University Transportation Shuttle services.

“This is something we continue to engage the neighbors and the university on, that we need something to ameliorate the impact of the bus turnaround on students. Students are not happy with the new bus turnaround,” Khan said. “We need to see weekend GUTS bus access. We will continue to push through the GCP. That is something we can also address outside of the campus plan, which is something the neighbors are supportive of.”

Vice President for Government Relations and Community Engagement Chris Murphy (GRD ’98) said the GCP has proved effective in drafting the new campus plan.

“University, student, and community leaders have worked hard over the past three years to understand, respect, and address each other’s goals. As an active member of the Georgetown Community Partnership, GUSA has had an important voice at the table when the plan was drafted — and I think you see that reflected in the plan,” Murphy wrote in an email to The Hoya.

“Because the plan was developed as a consensus document by the Georgetown Community Partnership, we are seeing broad support for it from stakeholders.”

GUSA Vice President Christopher Fisk (COL ’17) said the campus plan demonstrates the important role students have in shaping policy.

“By working with University administrators and neighborhood leaders, students have significantly shaped and informed these conversations, making for a draft agreement that firmly prioritizes student asks like much-needed housing renovations,” Fisk wrote in an email to The Hoya.

Khan said the increased student engagement during these negotiations resolved many of the problems students saw in the 2010 plan.

“I’m very pleased to say that we were able to have those discussions and come to a consensus, because the last time around the campus plan was such a disaster. Student engagement wasn’t really there. This time around it’s good to see that as students we were partners in the process and equal members,” Khan said. “It’s not like 2010.”

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3 Comments

  1. Trevor Tezel says:

    One of the most troubling aspects of this new Plan is the procedure for changing it. The Plan allows both the “University” and “Community Parties” to seek “unilateral amendments” that would be submitted to the Zoning Commission. Nowhere in the Plan are “Community Parties” or “University” defined. While the student representative is sometimes regarded as a representative of the University, they have no formal role in the administration’s decision-making process. Under this plan, any party in the GCP except for students will having standing to submit amendments to the agreement on issues related to enrollment caps and undergraduate housing. Make no mistake, this mechanism will allow the neighbors or the university to subvert the consensus-oriented approach of the GCP in order to institute new requirements on student life.

    It is worth also noting that this plan makes further commitments to housing students onto an already-crowded campus. Housing an additional 244 students on campus was a “goal” in the prior 2010 Campus Plan. This Plan etches that “goal” into stone. Instead of adopting a wait-and-see approach to whether the university really commits to its Housing Renewal Program, this Plan commits the University to building even more beds on campus without firm commitments toward existing deferred maintenance and capital renewal projects like Henle and Village A. Approval of this Plan would be tacit approval for various new construction projects, included in Exhibit K. This includes a building south of Regents Hall and another dorm on top of Harbin patio. Time and again, students have made clear that they want to see a demonstrable commitment towards renovating existing residence halls before the construction of any new ones. Additionally, students deserve to know the purpose/function of an academic building in a traditional undergraduate campus corridor before allowing this spare remaining green space to be gobbled up.

    On the same topic of student housing, this Plan leaves the door open for several other “solutions” to student housing that would be detrimental to campus life. First, it considers the possibility of raising the occupancy rate of student beds required under the 2010 Campus Plan above the 95% rate. This would only constrain already-limited resources. Housing optimization has led to the conversion of many residence hall common rooms to dorm rooms and to the creation of triples out of doubles under the previous Plan. By holding the university to a higher occupancy rate, this may force the administration to continue and possibly expand on these “optimization” strategies even with the opening of the Former Jesuit Residence and Northeast Triangle residence halls. Second, it leaves open the possibility that the university would house the additional 244 students “on campus or outside of Zip Code 20007.” Students fought tooth and nail in the fall of 2013 to prevent a university “satellite campus” option. If administrators had coincided this Plan with another announcement, say, a pilot program through Designing the Future(s) to locate some students downtown for their senior year for an integrated academic/working experimental learning experience, then I would be able to swallow a “satellite campus.” Barring that, students have roundly rejected that proposal in a previous student body referendum.

    In all, the Plan calls for an additional 1,246,688 gross floor area, which would be a 23.24% increase on existing gross floor area. Some of this increase will be good – the plan for a new building where Reiss Science is located and an addition to Leavey Center that has potential. In a campus already tight on space, however, construction of this size will radically transform Main Campus and eliminate much of the open air.

    Some of the most concerning aspects of the Plan, however, are what is not included. For example, why can’t the Plan include a re-articulation of the on-campus social policy changes for which students successfully advocated? The end of the party registration system, the implementation of the open container policy, the raising of the student conduct evidentiary standard to “clear and convincing” and many other common-sense on-campus social life policy improvements all came through a desire to successfully implement the 2010 Campus Plan and bring student life on campus. Students should demand that these policies be included in the 2017 Plan’s “Proposed Conditions of Approval” section in order to solidify the gains that were made.

    Along the same lines, the Plan bends over backwards in order to reduce the amount of vehicular traffic into the University. One such demand is that the number of single occupancy vehicles does not rise above 8% less than the actual population growth that the area receives. While these Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plans are not fully formed in the draft version, they will undoubtedly reinforce recent restrictions on GUTS bus routes. Why can’t students have similar performance commitments based around metrics that include University demand for transportation access to other parts of D.C.? The immediate and 20-year needs of the university community to accessible transportation out of the Georgetown neighborhood should receive equal consideration from the GCP as traffic mitigation concerns.

    Along with on-campus social policies and student transportation concerns, the Plan should make other commitments among the “Proposed Conditions for Approval” including the foreclosure of any possibility for a fourth-year housing requirement and an agreed-upon appeals procedure for students found in violation of the Student Code of Conduct because of SNAPS. If SNAPS is to be included in this Plan, then students’ remedies for abuses of this system by neighbors and administrators should be included as well and not left up to the whims of the VP for Student Affairs.

  2. Wise Fool says:

    What about accessibility?

  3. Nick Smith says:

    This is what happens when you elect a GUSA President who disappears for the summer.

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