Georgetown University filed an appeal in district court Wednesday petitioning the review of a Board of Zoning Adjustment decision made earlier this week.

On Tuesday, the BZA declined a stay submitted by the university. If granted, the stay would have allowed the university to disregard certain BZA orders, including the release of private information of students living off campus. Issued last April, the orders also included an enrollment cap on full-time undergraduate students and mandated that the university staff a 24-hour telephone hotline to receive complaints, maintain records of student misconduct and provide quarterly summaries to several local associations.

According to the appeal, Georgetown’s compliance with the BZA orders directly interferes with the university’s ability to fulfill its educational mission.

“They [the BZA orders] regulate Georgetown’s `business’ rather than its use of the land and impose regulatory obligation on Georgetown that should properly be administrative or police functions of the District of Columbia,” wrote attorneys from Shaw Pittman, the university’s outside council.

The appeal also claims that the BZA’s orders are inconsistent with obligations under federal law, specifically the policy defined in the 1976 Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. Georgetown’s student privacy policy, as described in the Student Code of Conduct, forbids the release of personal student information.

Sheri Pruitt, secretary to the BZA, said the board denied the university’s stay because it did not see a conflict between the obligations and privacy constraints.

“The board stands on its ruling, but it does not see the two concerns in conflict with each other,” Pruitt said.

A decision from the D.C. Court of Appeals could take up to 18 months, according to Assistant Vice President for Communications Julie Green Bataille.

“We’re taking care of procedural things now,” Green Bataille said. “It could be several months before there is actual legal action.”

Green Bataille said this issue will have no impact on current construction projects, such as the planned performing arts center or the Southwest Quadrangle Project.

“Essentially, the big picture is hard to remember, but the BZA has already approved our 10-Year Plan, enabling our development plans to move forward,” she said.

The Southwest Quadrangle Project includes plans for a new residence hall with 780 beds, 1,200-person dining hall, a four-level underground parking facility accommodating approximately 815 vehicles and a new Jesuit living community. The project is scheduled to be completed in fall 2003 and is expected to cost more than $120 million.

First presented to the BZA on June 13, 2001, the 10-Year Plan proposes several new buildings such as a science building, graduate business school facility administrative/academic building and a physician’s office building. Extensive renovations to existing structures are also planned, including St. Mary’s, the Ryan Administration Building, Lauinger Library and Walsh. The plan also endeavors to improve community relations with the university through the creation of an enhanced off-campus student affairs program.

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