In Sudden Shift, University Opts for On-Campus Housing
Admins swayed by satellite opposition
Published: Monday, October 28, 2013
Updated: Sunday, November 3, 2013 10:11
Ryan and Mulledy halls will be repurposed as student residences, a plan that, along with Northeast Triangle Residence Hall, would meet the university’s requirement to house an additional 385 students on campus by fall 2015.
Northeast Triangle is anticipated to house 225 students. Ryan and Mulledy halls, the former Jesuit residence in Dahlgren Quadrangle that has been vacant since 2003, should house approximately 160 students.
“We have a clear plan for our 385 new beds,” Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson told THE HOYA on Monday. “That plan is a combination of the Northeast Triangle and Mulledy and Ryan halls. We are committed to pursuing both those options. We’re actively working on a timeline to bring those on line for student housing as soon as we can.”
The university plans to make Ryan and Mulledy a long-term student residence, a shift from the beginning of the month when the university announced the option as a potential temporary solution to housing demands.
Georgetown administrators explored a variety of options to meet its commitment in the 2010 Campus Plan agreement to house 385 more students by fall 2015, including a satellite residence option as far out as Clarendon in Arlington, Va., that drew significant student dissent.
The announcement of the on-campus housing plans comes a month after more than 93 percent of voters in a student-body-wide referendum expressed opposition to establishing a satellite residence outside of the local Georgetown area.
“I think it was a very significant factor,” Olson said.
The university will request zoning changes — slight alterations to the Northeast Triangle description and the addition of “residential, campus life and athletic” designation to Ryan and Mulledy’s current “academic and administrative” status — from the D.C. Zoning Commission on Nov. 25 before going before the Old Georgetown Board for approval in December.
“We’ve had support on this from our community partners on both the variance and on the change in occupancy, so we’re anticipating that both of those things will be fine,” Associate Vice President for Community Engagement and Strategic Initiatives Lauralyn Lee said.
Because the university has just recently settled on this plan, many details for Ryan and Mulledy are not yet determined, including who will live in the dorm, whether the rooms will be apartments, suites or dorms and whether the main entrance would be from Dahlgren Quadrangle or across the street from Village A.
Administrators said that the satellite housing option remains on the table, but Vice President for Planning and Facilities Robin Morey emphasized that an off-campus residence is a lower priority than it was a few months ago. He added that any off-campus option would be very different from how administrators originally envisioned it.
“At the end of the day, we felt, like the students, that that capacity should be here on campus, and so we were looking at these contingency plans to help do that,” Morey said. “To the extent that the referendum was 93-point-whatever percent it was, it just told us that students did not like that option. They’re our clients … so I think it made us better.”
Student leaders who spearheaded the “One Georgetown, One Campus” campaign that called for on-campus housing solutions hailed the announcement as a victory for student engagement. Ryan and Mulledy were among five alternatives endorsed by the campaign.
“GUSA was bold on this one. We took some risks and it paid off,” Georgetown University Student Association President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) said. “We’ve seen that that has really changed direction in a really great way. Now we’re talking about having a fantastic historic space repurposed as housing.”
Administrators had previously expressed a desire to preserve Ryan and Mulledy as part of the academic center of campus in Dahlgren Quadrangle.
“From a truly master planning perspective, we would like to think of that as an academic core,” Morey said. “Having said that, we want to try to satisfy all of our constituents, and [because] it used to be a residence, it kind of made sense to go back and visit that.”
Though administrators are hopeful this plan will allow the university to meet its fall 2015 housing requirement, Northeast Triangle has been affected by significant delays. After OGB asked to see revisions to the original design in July — a decision in line with significant student and alumni objections to those designs — the university planned to present changes at the board’s October meeting. Since that meeting was cancelled due to the federal government shutdown, the opportunity for approval was pushed to the OGB December meeting. Ryan and Mulledy will not require as extensive of an approval process because the university will be renovating old buildings, rather than constructing a new one.