More than 50 students voiced their concerns about student housing to administrators and representatives of the Georgetown University Student Association on Wednesday night at the first Hoya Roundtable of the semester in the Healey Family Student Center.
The issues brought up at the discussion aligned with the “Let’s Not Get Screwed Again” campaign that GUSA President Joe Luther (COL ’16) and Vice President Connor Rohan (COL ’16) spearheaded in the spring semester, before discussions of the 2018 Campus Plan.
The campaign, which received over 2,600 signatures in two weeks, called on the university to not require more students to live on campus, prioritize the renovation of existing facilities over new construction projects and give students a stronger voice in the master planning process.
The roundtable began with a presentation from administrators on changes to the university’s landscape. Vice President of Planning and Facilities Management Robin Morey outlined the university’s goals for the future.
“The important principles are we want more green space on campus,” Morey said. “Another important one is to create a pedestrian-friendly campus.”
For the past five months, the Student Master Planning Consortium, which consists of students and administrators, has discussed issues of pedestrian space, student housing and deferred maintenance in residence halls.
GUSA Secretary for Campus Planning Ari Goldstein (COL ’18) said that groups like the SMPC ensure that the master plan benefits both students and the university.
“We [can] structure the master planning process now and plan for the next 20 years effectively to create a residential living learning community that is a shared interest with students, administrators, neighbors [and] graduate students,” Goldstein said.
Students and administrators then broke up into discussion groups to address questions put forward by GUSA about residential renovations, the construction of new housing and the appeal of living off campus for senior year.
Students expressed their frustration with deferred maintenance issues.
GUSA Senator Carter Rise (COL ’17) compared his experiences of dealing with maintenance on and off campus.
“I subletted a house in the Georgetown neighborhood over the summer, and I called my landlord about a problem in the house and it was fixed [that] day,” Rise said. “Living on campus, I have problems that haven’t been fixed after four weeks that I made housing requests.”
Residents of Henle Village complained that there were mice in their apartments, despite being on the top floor, while students living in Darnall Hall complained of missing kitchen appliances. In the breakout sessions, students said that the two halls are in need of major renovation.
Students also raised concerns over the impact of construction on their daily lives. Complaints included pedestrian traffic caused by the narrow pathway on Tondorf Street and noise from the construction of the Northeast Triangle Residence Hall.
Emily Belson (SFS ’18), a member of the Georgetown Admissions Ambassador Program, said that construction detracts from the image prospective students have of campus.
“A lot of times they’ll ask about the construction, and often parents will ask when the construction [is] going to be finished,” Belson said. “I think they see the campus in a more negative light than I personally got to see it when I was a prospective student.”
Other changes students called for included stronger Wi-Fi and more community spaces for students. In a discussion on the appeal of off-campus living, multiple students said that the lower costs and feeling of autonomy were attractive to them.
“For the 2010 Campus Plan, there was no infrastructure for student engagement whatsoever and that’s why the plan ended up being so controversial and inequitable,” Goldstein said.
In the past, Hoya Roundtables have been planned predominately by university administrators and were styled like presentations. However, GUSA representatives worked closely with administrators in preparation for Wednesday’s event to better engage the student body in the planning process.
“The more lines of communication we can give between regular students and the administration, the better,” Luther said.
With the development of the 2018 Campus Plan under way, Luther said that GUSA has planned more meetings with high-level administrators.
“We’re going to go over what was discussed at this roundtable and see if it’s in line with what we’ve been talking about before,” Luther said. “Going forward, how can we take what the average student is saying here and implement it into real, tangible change?”