The growing list of GW’s off-schedule construction projects now includes the Somers Hall addition at the Mount Vernon Campus. But unlike with past construction projects, the University is taking laudable and responsible steps to notify students early and implement a plan that promises to satisfy both the housing crunch and students’ needs.
The expansion of Somers Hall, originally slated to open in fall 2001, will still be under construction when students return from summer vacation in August, which means the University will be lacking the 180 anticipated beds the new facility will provide. During the past few weeks, GW officials have worked diligently to come up with a solution to yet another housing crunch. Their plans are innovative.
Reducing the number of residents without beds would be accomplished by sending more than 100 students to study abroad for the fall semester. Under the plan, the University would waive the normal study abroad fee assessed to students who venture overseas. Plus, students in the program, which is open to all returning students, including first-semester sophomores who would otherwise not have the chance to go abroad, would receive a travel stipend that could amount to as much as $1,500 depending on the destination.
The only stipulation is that students who participate must live in a living and learning community housed in the new expansion at Mount Vernon when they return in spring 2002. In the past some students have expressed reservations about living at Mount Vernon because of periodically unreliable transportation, and concerns about social opportunities when living at a separate campus. To make it a successful program, the University must alleviate those concerns.
With the advent of co-educational living at Mount Vernon and part of the Honors Program on the formerly all-female campus, this new program adds another incentive for students to consider living there. Students should credit administrators for working to notify students of construction delays early, and creating a unique and imaginative plan to work around unexpected campus changes.