In a new spin to an old dispute, Chris Shea’s April 7 article “Building the Imperial University” appeared in The Washington Post Magazine Sunday discussing resident’s quips in the dispute between GW and Foggy Bottom over GW’s expansion.
In an ongoing dispute, residents in the article contend that the University has become an “objectionable” presence in the community and has eaten up Foggy Bottom through many real estate purchases and construction projects. This seemingly small group of residents have been so persistent that they have been able to get the zoning commission to pass tough new rules on GW that the administration feels jeopardizes GW’s “academic mission” such as housing 70 percent of its undergraduate population on campus by next year.
If anything, GW’s presence and expansion has dramatically improved the area. This is most clearly demonstrated by the strip formally known as Red Lion Row, the 2000 block of I Street, which has been transformed from dilapidated to magnificent as a result of GW’s 2000 Penn project and has brought many new services to the surrounding community.
GW, its students, faculty and staff should not be at the mercy of fanatical residents. Cities and communities change over time, and it is understandable that this might be difficult for members of the community who have been here for years, but nothing can stay the same forever.
One resident in the story argues that GW is hurting tax revenue in the city because when the University purchases real estate it does not pay taxes on it. This, however, is more than outweighed by the amount of tax revenue GW contributes in other areas. GW has grown to be the city’s largest private employer and second overall only to the federal government. Furthermore, the thousands of students enrolled at GW contribute sales tax revenue around the city.
The article attempts to make readers feel sorry for residents because they have to walk a little further for groceries or that they now have to live among us depraved students. The author was quick to point out GW’s elimination of an old restaurant in Francis Scott Key Hall, but it failed to even mention GW’s construction of a state-of-the-art hospital that will dramatically benefit the entire community, especially Foggy Bottom’s elderly residents.
Residents of Foggy Bottom have no right to control the lives of students. Their attempts to get GW students out of local apartment complexes are shameful and discriminatory.
It is time that the community, The Washington Post and the zoning commission realize how out of touch these people are and allow GW not free reign over Foggy Bottom but the leeway necessary to become the University it promises to be.
-The writer is a freshman majoring
in international affairs
and Hatchet staff writer.