Residents of GW’s two new residence halls said they are concerned about their safety living off campus in buildings that offer less protection than other GW living.
University Police Department officers will not staff the Pennsylvania House and have not decided whether GWorld card scanners will be installed there, said Dolores Stafford, director of the University Police Department.
In residence halls such as Thurston Hall and JBKO residents must swipe their cards before gaining entry to the building.
Stafford noted that GW will only occupy the Pennsylvania House for three years and Pennsylvania House staff sits at the front desk 24 hours a day. Residents use front-door keys to enter.
City Hall, which was formerly St. James Suites, does not have GWorld scanners or a blue light nearby for emergencies, but Stafford said her staff is working to install both.
“They’re in the process of putting equipment in at City Hall,” Stafford said. “I don’t know how long it will take.”
Currently, UPD officers conduct three sweeps per eight-hour shift, officers stationed at City Hall said. However, once GWorld scanners are installed and running, UPD will no longer maintain a permanent presence in the building and students will scan in like any other residence hall, they said.
GW signed a 15-year lease with St. James Suites this summer.
Residents of the Pennsylvania House, which include freshmen, said they worry about the building’s distance from campus, although they said front-desk security should help.
“I’m kind of worried,” said junior Jordan Vendetti. “I guess I’ll have to call 4-RIDE more now.”
City Hall residents said they feel safe at their new home, despite its distance from campus.
“I do feel safe, but I felt safer last year at Thurston.,” sophomore Julie Gordon said. “(City Hall) seems more isolated and closer to Georgetown.”
While a UPD officer does man the front desk of City Hall, some students said it easy for non-residents to enter the building.
“Basically any GW student can get in,” Gordon said. She said students just had to flash a GWorld card, instead of swiping it. More recently UPD officers have made sure a student’s name on a GWorld card is on a list of residents.
Stafford said blue lights were added to other off-campus areas during the summer, including one on the corner of 22nd Street and Pennsylvania Avenue on the way to The Aston.
“We actually have plans for a couple more this year, but I don’t have them memorized,” she said.
UPD plans to place a blue light between the edge of campus and the Hall on Virginia Avenue and between the edge of campus at Pennsylvania Avenue and The Aston.
Despite the increased pedestrian traffic between the Pennsylvania House, City Hall and campus, which requires crossing multiple busy city streets, neither students nor Stafford appear concerned.
“I did not have a problem with traffic. It didn’t really bother me,” Gordon said.
“In all, it’s a pretty pedestrian city,” Bartlein said.
Stafford said the city is responsible for solving any traffic problems from an expanded student population.
“We’d have to recommend it to the city and it’s not something we’ve recommended to the city as of today,” Stafford said. “If we deem it to be a safety issue we could certainly look at it.”