Evans Changes Tack on District Universities
Published: Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 21:01
Mayoral candidate and D.C. City Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) hasn’t always had the best relationship with Georgetown — most notably when he lobbied for 100 percent of the student body to live on campus during negotiations of the 2010 Campus Plan agreement — but as Evans vies to be D.C.’s next mayor, his tone has changed to one of cooperation and engagement with the District’s universities.
While Evans clashed with the university over the development of the campus plan, which eventually called for 90 percent of students to be housed on campus by 2025, he pointed to the final agreement as an example of how he would work with Georgetown if elected.
“I think considering how far apart [Georgetown] and I started on the 2010 Campus Plan, it was a good sign that we were able to come together and figure something out,” Evans said in an interview with The Hoya.
This language stands in stark contrast to the attitude Evans displayed toward Georgetown during early campus plan negotiations.
“Even if students who live off campus in our neighborhood are well behaved, it is too much of a strain on residents. When you have houses and tenants that are not well behaved, the burden becomes impossible,” Evans wrote in a Jan. 2011 op-ed in The Georgetowner.
Trevor Tezel (SFS ’15), who authored a viewpoint in The Hoya last summer urging students to take a second look at Evans and his relationship with the university ahead of the mayoral race, said the episode showed Evans’ lack of concern for student voices in the debate over the university’s future.
“He never showed any sort of the same outreach to the university and especially not to the student body and groups that were really trying to get the students’ voice heard,” Tezel said. “In order to show that he’s an ally, Councilmember Evans needs to listen to all voices in the District.”
Now, as the mayoral campaign enters its formal stages following the Jan. 2 deadline to gather signatures for ballot access, Evans said he hopes to work as a partner with the city’s universities in accomplishing their mutual goals.
“As mayor, I would assign a liaison to be in charge of communicating with universities and surrounding communities. I think it is critical for us to reach out to students because they are our most valuable resource,” Evans said.
Evans also emphasized the role the D.C. government can take in providing employment and internship opportunity to university students.
“I would push for-credit internship and summer jobs programs to get people more involved in the community,” Evans said. “Students at Georgetown and other area universities demonstrate a real interest in social justice issues and helping out. I believe the city government can be a big resource to D.C. students who are looking for internships and need information on prospective employers citywide so that they can get work after graduation.”
Evans also told The Hoya that he believes the relationship he has built over the years with the university as well as with the residents of Georgetown will allow him to act as a mediator in any conflicts that arise.
“I think there has to be a good balance struck in any major decisions that get made that affect the community,” Evans said.
Tezel said he welcomes the idea of a more communicative mayor’s office and added that outreach to the university should be much greater than it has been in recent years.
“Showing that kind of commitment to reach out, not just in the context of a mayoral campaign, but for the actual day-to-day governing would be very much appreciated and is sorely needed,” Tezel said.