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

GU 10-Year Plan Partially Approved

The D.C. Board of Zoning and Adjustment approved Georgetown’s 10-Year Campus Plan Wednesday, but postponed a decision on the university’s requested enrollment cap increase designed to finance operating costs for the facilities. The BZA’s decision enables the university to move forward with construction projects ranging from renovating athletic facilities to creating a performing arts center.

The university’s plan to finance the operating costs for the new facilities depends heavily on an enrollment cap increase of 389 students after the Southwest Quadrangle is completed in fall 2003. Although the BZA must now draft and argue compromises to the plan’s undecided aspects, the university declared the 4-1 vote for approval a major victory in the campus growth initiative process.

“Those hearings can be very difficult,” University Architect Alan Brangman said. “It’s hard to obtain completeness. Often, not all the physical aspects stay as a whole. All the facilities are critical within the plan.”

Because the plan, excluding the resolution of student affairs issues, was approved, the university may proceed knowing construction of planned buildings will ensue.

“Georgetown gets the clarity of knowing what it can do,” Vice President for Communications Dan Porterfield said. “They didn’t say, `Come back in three to five years.'”

First presented to the BZA on June 13, the 10-Year Plan proposes several new buildings such as a science building, graduate business school facility, administrative/academic building and a physician’s office building. Extensive renovations to existing structures are also planned, including St. Mary’s, the Ryan Administration Building, Lauinger Library and Walsh. The plan also endeavors to improve community relations with the university through the creation of an enhanced off-campus student affairs program.

Securing approval of the facilities aspect of the plan was vital to securing funding for their construction, Porterfield said. “How do we fundraise if we can’t tell the donor it will be built? It’s a lot harder to fundraise without security about long-term possibilities.”

The board delivered the vote after discussing various compromises it plans to draft with assistance from university counsel Maureen Dwyer and the district attorneys in upcoming weeks. The BZA’s grievances with the plan stemmed from unresolved conflicts between neighbors and students, leading the board to delay their decision on increasing the enrollment cap.

The university promised not to phase in the 389 additional students required to fund the 10-Year Plan until after the Southwest Quad Project is complete, according to Porterfield. The university was granted an enrollment increase under the 1990-2000 10-Year Plan, under which 111 additional students have not yet been admitted. Brangman said the university intends to add the allotted 111 students in three years.

Brangman said the 389 student increase would be implemented incrementally to offset costs and estimated that adding 80 to 110 students would be necessary to fund running the performing arts center, as an example of the university’s needs. “The number of students depends on fundraising and establishing an endowment,” he said.

Using the information technology rush of the ’90s as an example, Brangman said economic flexibility for unpredictable future contingencies is a necessity for an institution like Georgetown. “It gives you another source of revenue,” he said.

Overall, the BZA focused on an improvement in student behavior as paramount to the success of the plan and vital to the university. “Students’ behavior must be reflective of the institution they are attending. Georgetown has a high moral reputation and reputation of character,” BZA chairperson Sheila Cross Reid said.

Reid noted the university’s efforts to reconcile opposition in relations with neighbors by implementing new programs designed to curb offensive student behavior and the unpleasant side effects of the university’s large presence in the community. Specifically, Reid commended the university’s move-in initiatives, hotline and hiring additional staff in the off-campus student affairs office.

Reid said she found the 2E Advisory Neighborhood Council’s position paper on the 10-Year Plan conciliatory and said she hoped the paper marked “a move toward a peaceful existence in the neighborhood.” Some members of the board expressed hesitancy in opposing the university’s proposed increase to the enrollment cap, citing the ANC’s endorsement of the plan as a representation of the neighborhood’s opinion. “Why should we go beyond the ANC and community?” Reid said.

The university expressed optimism about working with newly elected ANC commissioners on the project. “Given who won and lost this time, it will be very interesting to see what happens,” Assistant Vice President for External Relations Linda Greenan said. “It will be interesting to see if the majority changes, if the tone of the body is different or not.”

Two Georgetown students were elected to the Georgetown 2E ANC Tuesday. Justin Kopa (COL ’03) and Justin Wagner (COL ’03) are the fourth and fifth students to be elected to the ANC. Both students ran on platforms promising to bridge the gap between the university and community. Despite their positions as students, both councilmen-elect maintained during their campaigns they would not become tools of the administration. “We expect them to be balanced and objective,” Porterfield said.

Wagner praised the BZA’s decision. “It exemplified how things should work in that it was a compromise everyone can work with,” he said. “The off-campus affairs program is a strong statement, and I think it was a concession that allowed the ruling.”

Kopa said he was happy with the decision, but said the enrollment cap posed problems that needed to be addressed. “There are so many people in opposition to the increase. Clearly, it needs to be worked out.” Kopa said he thought the enrollment increase would be handled best within the local political structure.

The BZA applauded many of the university’s efforts to smooth town-gown relations and address student transgressions but called for more proactive approaches.

“The major irritant to the community is the off-campus housing,” board member Herbert Franklin said. Franklin proposed several additional conditions to the student life portion of the plan, including clarifying the student code of conduct and addressing complaints concerning unanswered hotline calls.

“We have no information that the hotline is really hot. It seems to go cold.” Franklin also motioned to enforce disclosure of university-imposed sanctions and community complaints to inform the community of action taken by the university in response to complaints.

Despite Franklin’s motion, Director of Off-Campus Students Jeanne Lord said the information cannot be released, citing federal laws prohibiting the release of the disciplinary information. The university’s student privacy policy, as described in the Student Code of Conduct, closely mirrors the 1976 Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. Commonly known as the Buckley Amendment, the policy forbids the university from disclosing students’ grades to parents without student consent.

Lord said it may be possible to provide sanction information in an aggregate statistic, preventing connections between sanctions and students. Lord said thought would have to be given to what constitutes an appropriate time period for determining an aggregate.

Franklin applauded the university’s efforts to educate and persuade students to register their vehicles in the district but asked the BZA to enforce registration of students’ vehicles with the university. Franklin suggested that the university track students’ outstanding violations and unregistered vehicles and revoke parking privileges for offenders.

Board member Anne Ranshaw wanted the BZA to charge the university with monitoring the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs’ enforcement of penalties for housing violations. Group houses with illegal numbers of inhabitants, waste violations and health code violations have been attributed to houses occupied by Georgetown students and designated as areas requiring restructuring, according to Ranshaw. She said currently “there is no way of giving the neighborhood any feeling that anyone is taking hold of this problem.”

Adding more considerations to the pool, board member Robert Sockwell recommended streamlining the hotline and asking students to sign upon receiving a copy of the student code of conduct indicating they will read and understand the code. “This would send a message that there is a university resolve that students must abide by it,” Sockwell said.

Aside from student life considerations, Franklin advocated restricting the designated use of the new facilities made available by additions to Harbin Field and McDonough Gymnasium and the future BNA Performing Arts Center. The BZA discussed prohibiting non-university sponsored commercial functions from being held in these facilities. While Franklin and Sockwell agreed that the university should not hold strictly commercial venues, Sockwell was careful about the limit placed on the university saying he feared preventing the inadvertent prohibition of events which enhance student life.

According to Brangman, construction will begin next summer or fall, beginning with the performing arts center to replace the Ryan Administration building and renovations to St. Mary’s Hall.

Related Links

 Ten Year Plan To Be Voted On Tomorrow (11/7)

 Neighbors Claim GU Inaction (11/3)

 ANC Finalizes Proposal to BZA (10/31)

 Forum Addresses Off-Campus Housing Issues for Students (10/24)

 GUSA V.P. Submits Proposal To Help End GU-Neighbor Relations Problems (10/20)

 Neighbors Seek Disclosure Of GU Student Information (10/17)

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