GW revokes student leases

Students living in the 2109 F Street apartment building are being told to vacate May 31 after the University sent a letter Feb. 1 informing them of plans to convert the building into a residence hall.

GW owns the building, which neighbors Guthridge Hall, and reserves the right to end leases at any time. Housing Services will add nearly 100 beds in the building to upperclassman options in the March housing lottery, said Andrew Sonn, director of Housing Services.

“In the license agreements students signed, the University has the right to terminate residence at our discretion,” said Michael Peller, managing director of the office of Property Management and Real Estate. “We tried to make the date beyond exam times and give the residents ample notice so they can make alternative plans for next year.”

Some residents, which include undergraduate and graduate students, said the decision will raise their cost of living.

“Basically, this is the cheapest building left in Foggy Bottom and I think its very unfair to the people who have a couple semesters left,” senior Daniel Calamuci said.

Residents are being asked to leave at the end of the semester to allow the University time to wire the building for ethernet and phone lines and furnish the double-occupancy units, Peller said.

The building also houses residents unaffiliated with the University, who will be allowed to stay in the building because they are not subject to the same conditions in their leases, Peller said.

“We don’t want to make this a difficult situation,” he said. “We are doing everything we’re allowed to legally.”

Under D.C. tenancy laws, residents of a building are allowed to remain in the building as long as they do not violate their lease, but the same law does not protect students.

Peller said a similar system instituted last spring to vacate The Schenley ran smoothly.

Some students in the building said they are not fighting the decision because GW is not likely to change its mind.

“I’m looking for somewhere to live in the Foggy Bottom
neighborhood,” said Guillermo Santiago, a second-year law school student. “I’m going to lose any fight, so there is no reason to argue with the University.”

Junior Devin Sawyer said he lived in The Schenley last year when the University turned the building into undergraduate housing. Sawyer said petitions against the changeover did not help the residents’ cause.

“GW is a corporation and conglomerate and there is nothing you can do to fight it,” he said.

Sawyer said he hopes he will have a chance to re-enter the housing lottery system but is waiting for Housing Services’ approval.

A 10-year resident of the 2109 F St. unaffiliated with the University, expressed his desire to stay after the building becomes a University residence hall.

“As long as they (the students) behave themselves, I will be fine,” he said.

The Schenley, Aston, West End and Munson Hall still house non-student residents who lived in the buildings before GW took control.

GW added the building to create more on-campus housing, something the University will need more of to house 70 percent of its undergraduate students on campus as required in its newly passed campus plan.

“It appears as though the University is doing all it can to accommodate the students and though it’s an unfortunate situation, hopefully all the students that need the housing will have it,” said Jeff Marootian, ANC Commissioner for the neighborhood that includes 2109 F Street.

The SA Senate unanimously passed a bill Feb. 13 encouraging GW to allow residents to live in the building until August of their graduation year.

“We’re trying to do all we can so the students can stay,” said Navah Levy, a law student on the SA’s Rules Committee and author of resolution.

“I don’t think it’s fair to replace one student with another,” Levy said. “Many of the students are law or med students who have boards and bars in the summer and housing isn’t that easy to find. Hopefully the University can see that the students favored the SA resolution and we can come to a compromise.”

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