Students have begun a petition to protest the administration’s repurposing of the townhouse at 3616 N St. NW, popularly known as Brown House, from student housing for administrative needs.
The “Save Brown House” petition, which over 500 students have signed, was implemented on Sunday through a Facebook event created by D.J. Angelini (MSB ’17), argues the repurposing of Brown House will negatively affect undergraduates and reflects a broader tendency of the university to act deceptively in its reassignment of townhouses.
Brown House will be used for the Office of the Provost, according to the Office of Residential Living.
“The administration is removing an integral part of the community and center of social life for students, while continuing to mislead and exclude student leaders in determining the future of townhouses,” the petition states.
Assistant Dean for Residential Living Stephanie Lynch said Brown House’s repurposing is typical of the university’s housing plan. Eighteen Magis Row townhouses on 36th Street were converted from upperclassman housing to administrative offices and faculty and graduate housing in 2013.
“Each year we reassess the use of residential spaces and felt it was important to repurpose this space in support of the university’s mission. We look forward to potentially bringing an additional faculty presence into the residential community,” Lynch wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Georgetown University Student Association Deputy Chief of Staff Ari Goldstein (COL ’18) said the repurposing raises questions about the university’s motives.
“But who’s in Brown House, which is an integral part of the community, a house on the only block that is all students, which makes it a lot easier to live and party and do things that normal college kids do,” Goldstein said. “I think that this issue raises serious questions about the intention of the administration.”
Goldstein said GUSA, which has been working with the administration to avoid townhouse conversions, was not informed of the change until he read it about it on The Hoya’s blog, The Fourth Edition.
“I read in The Hoya last week that the Brown House was being converted, so the decision really blindsided a lot of us in GUSA because we had been talking about this specific issue of townhouse conversions with administrators for months, and they never once mentioned that this was in the works, and then I read it in The Hoya,” Goldstein said.
Goldstein, who supports the petition, said he hopes the petition spurs greater engagement with the administration.
“I think many students are concerned about it, which is why we see this ‘Save Brown House’ petition, which I am in full support of, if not actually for saving Brown House, then for forcing the administration to come to the table with more clear answers and with more transparency on this issue,” Goldstein said.
Goldstein said the administration’s decision reflects instability in the campus plan negotiations.
“I am also concerned because I think the lack of transparency and the sudden way that this decision was announced are indicative of a larger tone of the master planning conversation of the last few months, specifically as it relates to housing,” Goldstein said.
Mara Goldman (SFS ’19) said repurposing Brown House would hurt student life and remove one of the best housing options for upperclassmen.
“I think that repurposing Brown House would remove an important aspect of the social scene on campus,” Goldman said.
Daniel Lysak (COL ’18) said he understood the importance of Brown House to students, but that students have to try to understand the reasons behind the university’s decision.
“On the one hand, Brown House has served as a wonderful center of social life at Georgetown. That being said, if we as students want to challenge the university, we must also understand their perspective,” Lysak said.
Hoya Staff Writer Patricja Okuniewska contributed reporting.