It is unfortunate that members of the GW community are so quick to judge our Foggy Bottom neighbors, when few actually take the time to meet these people and listen to their side of the story. Our neighbors are an invaluable resource of information that everyone, particularly students, should take advantage of.
The residents of Foggy Bottom can help provide context for many decisions being made at GW today. As the president of the Residence Hall Association, I’ve spent the last year seeking the input of the community to help me understand the various issues contributing to our constant housing crunch.
There is a much more complex story behind residence halls being acquired outside of campus boundaries, the new Elliot School of International Affairs and, particularly, why the neighborhood is so adamant that the University provide housing for 70 percent of the undergraduate population within campus boundaries under the Campus Plan. If one depends on information from the University, the result is a biased story. The same is true if your information is provided solely by the neighbors.
However, it has served RHA well to seek out information from both sides and arrive at an independent conclusion, and I would advise my fellow GW students to do the same.
Last semester, the GW community lost one of its most treasured members, Olga Corey. Corey was not a student but a permanent resident in Foggy Bottom. She loved GW students, often attending University events and student organization meetings to deliver the message that Foggy Bottom cares.
Contrary to popular belief, the neighbors do not hate students. If you believe that, you have bought into the one-sided rhetoric. If we all took the time to be more like Corey – to go out of our way and make the effort to live as one harmonious community – then we would all be better off.
I would challenge students and University administrators alike to stop ignoring, condemning and making fun of the neighbors. A little effort goes a long way. Attend an Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting. Become a member of the Foggy Bottom Association. Run for a position within either one of these bodies. We would never be in the debacle we are in today had a little bit more effort been made by the University community to just be good neighbors. It is my hope that we attempt to reverse some of the wrongs of this complex relationship and move forward with actions benefiting all members of the Foggy Bottom community.
-The writer, a senior majoring in political communication, is the President of the Residence Hall Association.