The 2010 Campus Plan, drafted without student input, is widely regarded as a concession to the neighborhood. From implementing the infamous three year housing requirement to creating new dorms with the promise to further clutter an already crowded campus, the 2010 plan precipitated a number of unpopular policies that radically changed campus life. Nonetheless, it also resulted in the creation of the Georgetown Community Partnership Steering Committee, a discussion platform designed to connect students, administrators and neighbors in future negotiations for the 2018 Campus Plan.
Even so, only one student — the student body president — was represented on this steering committee, doing little more than paying lip service to student concerns and retaining a significant power imbalance. Due to popular demand, over the summer, in a significant symbolic shift to the existing steering committee structure, the number of student voices grew by two with the addition of Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners Kendyl Clausen (SFS ’16) and Reed Howard (SFS ’17) to the GCP.
These individuals field the unique opportunity to be larger representatives and advocates for student interests in the debates that surround the drafting of the newest campus plan. Their experience in the ANC will undoubtedly serve them well as they negotiate with neighbors, the city and the administration alike.
Students play an active and vital role in the Georgetown community, and their role needs to be better recognized. They are highly engaged with the issues surrounding the upcoming campus plan, including housing, student affairs and campus life. The 2,600 signatures on the Georgetown University Student Association’s “Let’s Not Get Screwed Again” petition this spring, which helped secure increased student representation, unequivocally demonstrates this determination for involvement.
The three student representatives will benefit from the GCP’s consensus-based decision making process. The addition of two more voices reduces pressure on the student body president to approve measures pushed by the members like the representatives from the Citizens Association of Georgetown or the Burleith Citizens Association (BCA) who have a history of rallying against Georgetown expansion plans and might not have the students’ best interest in mind.
It will be more difficult for administrators to deflect the voices of three students than one. The addition of Clausen and Howard, contributing their perspectives, knowledge and experience also add to the strength of the student voice in the committee.
Lastly, the additional representation should ensure that a broad range of student voices are brought to the steering committee’s table. The two new students will be able to collaborate with working groups that inform the steering committee to address pressing student needs.
Given the importance of the 2018 campus plan — as it will remain in effect for the next 20 years — a greater student voice is imperative for shaping a better one. The addition of Clausen and Howard to the GCP bodes well for the student body’s future.