Female students on the Mount Vernon campus will be allowed to live in Pelham Hall, GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said in a letter to Mount Vernon students Thursday.
“I’m persuaded by your argument and will ask GW Vice President Robert Chernak to work with the administration of Mount Vernon to bring about the outcome that you seek,” Trachtenberg wrote.
Trachtenberg’s letter was a response to a petition from Mount Vernon residents who asked for the building, designated a men’s residence hall last week, to be coed. About 90 women signed the petition asking for access to the hall, which contains mostly single rooms.
“Pelham Hall is composed almost entirely of singles and is arguably the best residence hall on the Mount Vernon campus,” the women wrote in the letter. “Not allowing the women who have made Mount Vernon such a success this past year the opportunity to live in Pelham Hall would be doing them a grave injustice.”
In both letters, students and administrators agreed that men need to be housed in Pelham. GW administrators have said an expected overload of students who want to live on campus and expected vacancies at Mount Vernon made the decision unavoidable.
“While some may argue that the integrity of the single-sex campus will be compromised by the introduction of male residents, we understand the necessity of dedicating at least half of Pelham Hall to men,” the women wrote. “We are confident that Pelham Hall has enough space to house both men and women who desire to live there.”
Mount Vernon Executive Dean Grae Baxter said the women brought a strong, thoughtful case to Trachtenberg.
She said the administration does not want to hurt the continuation of a women’s education environment at Mount Vernon. And she said no men will be housed in other Mount Vernon residence halls.
Trachtenberg said in the letter he was grateful to the women for “lending GW a portion of Pelham.” He said he plans to continue to provide women’s education at Mount Vernon with the GW affiliation, which he described as “the grand experiment.”
“We cannot predict with certainty that sufficient numbers of qualified women will always want what we offer at Mount Vernon,” he said. “But we’re trying our very best to bring in a wonderful class of new students next fall.”