Schools face similar setbacks

Universities in cities around the country are facing problems housing students and building campus projects as a result of city-imposed limitations.

Like GW, American and Georgetown universities are required to submit campus plans every 10 years for approval before the D.C. Board of Zoning and Adjustment and the D.C. Zoning Commission.

The BZA passed Georgetown University’s campus plan March 29, placing a cap of 5,637 on its full-time undergraduate student enrollment.

Georgetown’s freshman class increased the school’s enrollment about 350 students to 6,418 from last year, but GU officials have no plan to seek the abolition of the cap, according to an April 6 article in The Hoya, Georgetown’s student paper.

GW is suing the city over the enrollment cap requiring it to restrict its undergraduate enrollment to 7,380, its enrollment as of last February. GW claims the cap is a violation of the school’s rights. A D.C. District Court judge granted a temporary injunction June 15 allowing GW to house its record number of freshmen.

Georgetown officials said they would attempt to abide by the BZA conditions even though it will severely restrict funding for a new housing project, according the Hoya.

American University is currently waiting for a final decision by the Zoning Commission for its campus plan, said Jorge Abud, AU assistant vice-president for Facilities and Administrative Services.

Abud said the campus plan, if passed by the commission, would require AU to house at least two-thirds of undergraduate students on campus. It housed 59 percent of undergraduates on campus last year, according to U.S. News and World Report.

American proposed a cap of 9,800 full-time students in the campus plan. It currently enrolls 10,050 full-time undergraduate and graduate students, according to the university’s Web site.

“We intend to observe the cap,” Abud said.

American also changed building plans to compromise with its local Advisory Neighborhood Commission.

“We had made a number of concessions the on the development of some buildings,” Abud said referring to a re-design of its visitors center. The building was originally planned to be 50,000 square feet, but was reduced to 15,00 square feet, he said. It is also decreasing the size of the proposed Katzen Arts Center by 10,000 square feet, according to an April 30 American Eagle article.

The city of Boston does not require the submission of campus plans like D.C. Boston University spokesman Kevin Carleton said BU was the first school in Boston to voluntarily submit a 10-year campus plan. It submitted the first on in 1986 and is currently following through with the second plan, passed in 1996.

BU is not restricted by imposed campus boundaries, nor is it required to cap its undergraduate enrollment, Carleton said. BU set a goal of housing 75 percent of its students on campus and it has exceeded that goal with more than 10,000 campus beds, he said.

“The relationship with the neighborhood organizations and the city has gone from heated to positive,” Carleton said.

He said the good relationship comes from sitting down with city and community officials, initiating a student judicial process and taking responsibility for students who live off campus.

Chapel Hill Town Council officials passed the University of North Carolina expansion plan Wednesday to add more than 6 million square feet of new space in the next 10 years, according to an Oct. 4 Associated Press article.

North Carolina state legislators threatened to take the council’s power to regulate the university’s construction projects because they felt the town was being too hard on the school, according to the story.

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