MVC students make the move

Many students living on GW’s Mount Vernon campus this year have decided to live on the Foggy Bottom campus next year, according to information from the Community Living and Learning Center.

Motivations for their moves vary, but many say they feel moving to Foggy Bottom will be more convenient and enhance their social lives.

Megan Johnston, a freshman participant in the Women and Power program, a living and learning program unique to the Mount Vernon campus, said she is going to live on the Foggy Bottom campus next year.

I loved living at Mount Vernon for the past year, and I do not regret it at all, but it’s inconvenient to have to commute to classes and work in the Foggy Bottom area, Johnston said.

Johnston said there were more resources available at the Foggy Bottom campus compared to Mount Vernon. She cited the greater options of food available at the Foggy Bottom campus.

Johnston also said the Foggy Bottom campus has a greater diversity of students and more convenient access to social and career-oriented activities. Johnston said she feels social factors and the co-educational environment of the Foggy Bottom campus may be a big reason that many students are moving from Mount Vernon to Foggy Bottom next year.

I suppose some people move for the nightlife, Johnston said. Foggy Bottom is definitely a more fast-paced campus.

Johnston said she originally decided to live at Mount Vernon because she was accepted into the Women in International Leadership program, one of the four Women and Power programs. She said she felt the greatest advantages of Mount Vernon were its natural beauty, the helpful nature of faculty and students and the quiet atmosphere, which she found suitable for studying. Johnston said she would not recommend incoming freshmen who were interested in living in a highly social environment like Thurston Hall to live at Mount Vernon next year.

People who are more academically oriented would be better off at Mount Vernon, Johnston said.

The University conducted a study of students’ experiences on Mount Vernon from fall 1998 to spring 1999. One-third of women living at Mount Vernon said they preferred living at Mount Vernon to Foggy Bottom, according to the study.

Students reported better communication with their instructors at Mount Vernon compared to their instructors at Foggy Bottom. The study also said the proportion of Mount Vernon campus students earning As was higher than the proportion of Foggy Bottom campus students earning As.

During the typical week, those living on the Mount Vernon campus studied about two-and-a-half hours more, watched one-half hour less television and worked for pay two hours less than their Foggy Bottom cohorts, according to the study. Many students on Mount Vernon said they felt isolated from the main campus and downtown Washington, D.C., according to the study. Many also expressed a desire to live in a co-educational environment.

The study also reflected positive feedback from residents on Mount Vernon. About half the students indicated they enjoyed living on Mount Vernon after their first semester.

According to the study, the number of students who enjoyed Mount Vernon increased to three-fourths at the end of their second semester. The study said 59 percent of students felt isolated at the end of their first semester, while only 39 percent of students felt isolated at the end of their second semester.

Marie-Joelle Bourgeois, a freshman at the Mount Vernon campus and a member of the Women in International Leadership program, said she is going to continue living on Mount Vernon next year.

Bourgeois said the reason she chose to attend GW was the option of living at the Mount Vernon campus. She said the beauty of the campus and its accessibility to Foggy Bottom is what attracted her. Bourgeois said she knew living at Mount Vernon would be a challenge for her since she usually had trouble getting along and being friends with girls. She said the Women in International Leadership program was also a great factor in attracting her to Mount Vernon, since she had been involved in leadership activities throughout high school. Bourgeois said she likes the interaction with her professors and her program coordinators that living on Mount Vernon provides.

Bourgeois said she plans to stay on Mount Vernon next year because she likes the cleanliness and the quality of the residence halls, the quality of the food, the friendliness of the staff and the small classes available only at Mount Vernon.

But despite her praise, Bourgeois said students must carefully examine their lifestyle and decide whether they would enjoy living in the quiet and studious atmosphere of Mount Vernon.

I like coming to Mount Vernon because it’s different, and I am different, Bourgeois said.

Mount Vernon’s executive dean, Grae Baxter, said she felt many students were moving to Foggy Bottom because they were looking for a change. She said there was never the expectation that students would live on Mount Vernon for more than one year. Baxter said other factors, such as transportation, are also reasons students are choosing to move to Foggy Bottom.

Many of them (students), although they’ve liked the experience on this campus, want to try something different, Baxter said. Each student needs to find her own balance.

Baxter said about 30 to 40 students who live at the Mount Vernon campus are planning on living on the campus next year. Just more than 200 freshmen live at Mount Vernon. About 170 of those students are members of the Women and Power program, Baxter said.

There is a small contingent of upperclassmen that live on Mount Vernon as well. Baxter said she felt students chose to live at the Mount Vernon campus for a variety of reasons. She said many students chose to live at Mount Vernon because of the intimacy and natural beauty of the campus, as well as the strong sense of community on the campus.

Baxter also said some students specifically wanted to live on Mount Vernon because of its single-sex environment. She said some students feel more relaxed in an all female environment. Baxter said student feedback has told her some of the greatest benefits of living at Mount Vernon include the quiet study environment, the sense of community that allows people to form strong friendships and the small classes.

Baxter emphasized that Mount Vernon is an equal part of GW. She said although there has been increased understanding as to what the Mount Vernon campus is and what its mission is, the people of the Foggy Bottom campus still need to be further educated on matters concerning the Mount Vernon campus.

What Mount Vernon is, is another option within the University that enriches the options for students, Baxter said.

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