Rice Hall began a push this fall for students to take more courses on the Mount Vernon Campus.
The idea behind the “Take Two” campaign was that if students took more classes on the Vern, their commute to the campus would be more worthwhile, and they could even develop an appreciation for the more pastoral landscape.
But the rebranding campaign that kicked off this fall heavily marketed the University's location in the middle of the nation’s capital. The University largely neglected the Vern and the benefits of a dual-campus model. GW missed a chance to use the new brand as a way to support the Vern.
And last week, The Hatchet reported that the “Take Two” campaign has had only minimal success. This year, 22 percent of students taking classes on the Vern enrolled in more than one course there, up only 1 percent from last year.
If the University wants to encourage more students to take advantage of the Vern, it could emphasize the versatility of its dual-campus model and work to make it attractive, not just for prospective students and freshmen, but for upperclassmen as well.
First, the University could create senior dean's seminars only available on the Vern to make it a home for more than just first-year students. After spending some time on the Vern as freshmen, finishing up senior year with a class or two on the campus would help bring the GW experience full circle.
While there are some upperclassmen who elect to live on the Vern, the University could make living there more attractive to the student body by creating more Vern-specific affinity housing options. There are a number of affinity housing options in Foggy Bottom, but aside from the Women’s Leadership Program, there are very few tight-knit specialized living communities on the Vern. Luring students to this satellite campus through specific housing opportunities, such as green living societies, cultural groups and outdoor-oriented clubs, might attract students who are looking for a unique living space.
The University could also expand dining options on the Vern to better accommodate a wide variety of students. Instead of merely offering a centralized cafeteria, the University should look to diversify the types of food options available. Students would be more likely to take courses on the Vern if there were a number of between-class dining options.
One of the advantages of the Foggy Bottom Campus is that students are not forced to eat at J Street for every meal. Students would spend more time on the Vern if there were a greater variety of dining options there as well.
The Vern is known as the place you go when the University has no room for you in Foggy Bottom, but it has the potential to be an attractive spot for all students. The University neglected to make the Vern a tenant of its rebranding campaign, but if it hopes to establish more foot traffic there in the future, it has to find substantial ways to add to its appeal.