Students living at the Mount Vernon Campus said they look forward to some big changes to their campus next year, but with coed housing, new athletic fields and ties to the Honors Program, they hope the campus can keep its intimate setting.
“I think making the campus coed will help it,” freshman Kimberly Gray said. “Mount Vernon has a negative stigma attached to it, so having more people here will make it more accepted in the GW community.”
Mount Vernon, acquired by GW in 1996, will house male students for the first time next year. The campus has been a single-sex environment since its founding in 1875. Part of the Honors Program will move there, although details have not yet been finalized. The campus will also host the GW World Community, a living and learning program that will send students abroad during the fall to return to Mount Vernon in the spring. New athletic fields are also scheduled for completion by September.
“I believe the campus will be socially enriched by the presence of men,” Mount Vernon Executive Dean Grae Baxter said. “At the same time the legacy of Mount Vernon continues in our growing and extremely successful women leadership programs. We will have the best of both worlds on one campus.”
Some students said they are happy about the changes but concerned that they would hurt the relationship between Mount Vernon and its alumnae.
“The alumnae association is really involved in Mount Vernon life,” freshman Kristin Cummings said. “It is an all-women consul that has deep relations with this being an all-women campus. Adding male students changes the dynamic of that relationship.”
Baxter said alumnae have expressed mixed emotions about the campus becoming coed.
“Some felt the change was inevitable, others were sad and worried that the traditions with which they identify with would be lost,” Baxter said. “At the same time many are reassured by the women leadership programs to maintain the traditions.”
Other students said they are concerned that bringing the Honors Program to the Mount Vernon would isolate the campus further from the Foggy Bottom community.
“I hope that bringing the Honors Program does not give MVC a worse name,” freshman Katy O’Meara said. “It’s a nice place, but it already gets a bad rap because people believe that MVC students are not able to socially adapt to the city, and that is not what it is at all.”
Freshman Jessica Forres said that she feels isolated living at Mount Vernon, and is worried Honors students will feel detached from Foggy Bottom.
“I don’t understand why (the University has) to house the Honors students together,” she said. “Very few of them leave Lafayette right now, if they are at Mount Vernon they will never leave.”
While social aspects of the Honors Program integration concern some students, many said the program could enhance the academics of the campus.
“This will definitely raise the level of classes because right now most of the classes offered here are intro level,” Cummings said. “Being coed, along with the Honors Program, will bring more upper level classes here, which will be good.”
Gray said that she enjoys having classes at Mount Vernon because small class sizes allow her to get to know her professors better. She said she also has more free time because she does not have to sign up for discussion sections.
“Offering more classes will be good for the campus and improve relations with the Foggy Bottom campus,” she said.
Freshman Laurie Davis said she thinks bringing more students to Mount Vernon will help the campus, but she hopes it will not change what she called a “close-knit campus atmosphere.”
“These are positive changes because they will bring more people to the campus,” Davis said. “More people will find out that there are a lot of cool things that they can do out here that they can’t do in the city.”
Students also said additional sports facilities, including lacrosse and soccer fields and tennis courts, will bring more students to the campus to use the fields and watch games.
“I think it is a good idea and I like the changes, but I wish they had closed off the campus during these transitional years so we wouldn’t have to live through the construction,” freshman Cassie Heyne said.
Most students interviewed said they are more likely to live on Mount Vernon next year because of the changes to the campus.
“I am definitely more likely to come back next year, and I probably would not have done that if it would have stayed the same,” O’Meara said.
Davis said she plans to join the GW World Community next year.
“Mount Vernon has a lot to offer and I’m glad to see it expanding while maintaining small classes,” she said.
Cummings said she looks forward to the benefits next year’s changes will bring to the campus.
“I think when all the construction is done and along with the addition of the Honors Program it will make this a really strong campus,” she said.
Baxter said students can expect an active year for Mount Vernon next year.
“MVC next year is going to be beautiful and alive with athletics, and we hope the arts as well,” Baxter said.