Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Campus Plan Opposition Mounts

Burleith: the neighborhood north of campus distinguished by its tree-lined streets, rowhouses and, as of this summer, dozens of small yard signs displaying the slogan “Our Homes, Not GU’s Dorm.”

As Georgetown officials seek zoning approval for the university’s 2010 Campus Plan, many residents of the surrounding neighborhoods have made clear their disapproval.

Five neighborhood organizations, including the Burleith Citizens’ Association and the Citizens Association of Georgetown, stated their opposition in a joint letter published Aug. 11 in The Georgetowner.

“Unfortunately, being the university’s neighbor . has major disadvantages, such as group-house noise, alcohol-fueled student misbehavior, traffic and parking congestion, trash and blighted, unsafe housing stock,” they wrote. “We stand together in opposing the GU plan.”

Although little has changed since Georgetown officials announced several concessions to community opposition at a public meeting in April, many residents are gearing up for a fight.

In addition to the yard signs springing up in Burleith, community organizations are writing letters, circulating petitions and raising money, hoping to pressure city officials and prepare a case against the plan.

The administration expects to officially file its plan with the District of Columbia Board of Zoning Adjustment this fall, although it maintains that the details are still being refined.

“We continue to seek input from the community about provisions in our plan,” university spokesperson Julie Bataille said. “We take community issues seriously.”

The campus plan, which the university must develop for city approval every 10 years, calls for a loop road to connect the north and south sides of campus, a 120-bed dormitory for graduate students in the center of the block that holds the restaurant 1789, an addition to Lauinger Library, and the renovation of the first floor of New South Hall to create new student space, among other projects.

The most controversial element is a proposal to add nearly 2,500 new graduate students by 2020. Although the plan foresees no increase in undergraduate enrollment, many residents already feel overrun by unruly students and think that the changes will only exacerbate an intolerable situation created by the university’s lack of on-campus housing.

Residents maintain that the need to live off campus hurts students themselves.

“We are concerned not only about the impact on the neighborhoods but the safety of students, who are forced to reside in group houses that are not safe. Walking along Prospect Street underscores the need for more and better on-campus housing,” said Jennifer Althemus, president of the Georgetown Citizens Association. CAG, one of multiple resident coalitions, has over a thousand members.

The opinions of students about the residents’ concerns and their own behavior tend to be mixed.

“There were a few loud houses on my block, but it’s pretty easy to tell the difference between the backyard of a student and the backyard of a permanent resident, and it seems like there are more permanent residents than students,” said Bill Nelson (COL ’11), who rented a house in Burleith with friends this summer.

He added that he had no serious trouble with neighbors.

The incoming class of freshmen seems to echo most students in their general disagreement with the residents’ complaints.

“I appreciate their concerns,” said Nathaniel Tisa (SFS ’14), who hopes to live off campus during his senior year, “but the residents need to understand that the university culture is part of the neighborhood. … Denying GU students the opportunity to live off campus because of their age-associated behavior is unfair, discriminatory and short-sighted. Not all college students are raucous and disruptive.”

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