Stepping off campus: A look at other District universities

In about 30 minutes, GW students can travel to five other D.C. universities via the Metro: American, Georgetown and Howard universities, Catholic University of America and the University of the District of Columbia.

Although most students said they primarily socialize at bars, clubs and parties with students from their own school, some said they have found D.C. to be a place where students can meet and mingle between campuses.

American, Catholic and UDC are all in the Washington Research Libraries Consortium with GW, allowing students at any of these schools to check out materials from their libraries. In addition to the last three schools, Georgetown and Howard are in a class consortium with GW enabling GW students to take classes at these universities for credit.

Living close to the Metro and having consortium resources available, GW students can easily meet other college students and visit other campuses in the District.

American University
Tenleytown/AU
Red Line

About half the size of GW, American has 5,000 undergraduate students. Its campus is a 20 minute ride on the Metro’s Red Line to the Tenleytown stop. American has a “real campus” feel that’s missing from GW – its 34 acres are separated from the city streets.

Although some GW students refer to American as a “big parking lot” rather than the picturesque campus the university’s brochures depict it as, and call it “a safety school,” incoming freshman Jamie Lutzky said American’s campus was a “major seller” of the university.

“One of my biggest dilemmas when choosing a school was that I wanted to be in a city and have a campus, so that American was a campus right outside of an amazing city was perfect,” Lutzky said.

American students said they either go to fraternity parties at night or clubs and bars in downtown D.C. and Friendship Heights.

Edythe Cook, who graduated in May and now works for Housing Services, said fraternity parties are a part of the American nightlife, but students go to Adams Morgan and Georgetown for “bar hopping” even more frequently.

She also said Clyde’s in Friendship Heights, the counterpart to the popular restaurant for GW students in Georgetown, is “great on Thursday nights for two-dollar drinks.”

Cook said she sees students from other universities out at night, but they are mostly American students socializing with high school friends who go to other D.C. universities.

American is ranked as a tier-two school along with GW in U.S. News and World Report, meaning neither are considered one of the top 50 universities in the country. According to the magazine, American accepts 72 percent of its applicants and has a 2.9 out of possible five-point reputation while GW has a 48 percent acceptance rate and a 3.4 reputation. Students at American had an average 1100-1290 SAT score last year and 28 percent of incoming freshmen were in the top 10 percent of their high school classes.

The Student Union Board, which is similar to GW’s Program Board, organizes most concerts on campus, and most are open to the public.

Ernie Kimlin, who works at the American information desk, said although American had “big-name” bands like Weezer and Papa Roach in Bender Auditorium two years ago, the University hired smaller bands like moe., Phat Farm and Nickel Creek this past year.

“Some students were asking for smaller bands,” Kimlin said. “So this year we tried to have a bunch more smaller events.”

Kimlin said he didn’t know what would happen for the upcoming year because there are new Student Union Board members.

Catholic University
Brookland/CUA
Red Line

Because Catholic is “kind of a strict campus in terms of alcohol policies and drug policies, students unfortunately are forced off campus,” senior James Asci said. However, this gives Catholic students the chance to meet other college students in different areas of the city.

Asci said he often sees GW students at bars and clubs downtown and some GW students said they have met Catholic students “out on the town.”

Asci also said although Catholic’s campus is “beautiful,” it is located in Northeast D.C., about 10 blocks from the Capitol, so there aren’t many off-campus venues for college students there. Asci said Catholic students travel to Northwest for fun.

There are, however, two places near Catholic that students often frequent: My Brother’s Place, a bar, and Cup of Dreams, a coffee house.

Asci said Cup of Dreams “blows Starbucks out of the water” because it is “a neighborhood place” and “less pretentious.”

“I think (being less pretentious) characterizes Catholic as a whole,” Asci said. “We’re the ‘other’ Catholic institution in D.C., and we’re less pretentious and better in many ways than Georgetown.”

Although it is the only national Catholic center of learning in the United States with a papal charter, “hundreds of students whose personal beliefs encompass virtually every other faith imaginable are living proof that you need not be Catholic” to go there, according to the University Web site.

However, 88 percent of undergraduates are Catholic and the University’s motto is “God Is My Light.”

Asci said there is definitely a religious feel to the campus but “there’s a huge tolerance” for other religions.

Catholic is a tier-two school with a 2.8 out of five reputation. Eighty four percent of students who apply are accepted and 28 percent of students accepted were in the top 10 percent of their classes last year. The average SAT score for last year was 1060-1270, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Catholic’s 144 grassy acres can be reached by taking the Red line to the Brookland stop, minutes from Union Station.

The Catholic Program Board is in charge of large-scale programming like concerts and had an active past year, President Laura Kutner said.

The Pat McGee Band came to campus in the fall on the CUA mall, with $10 tickets for students and $15 for non-students. In October, CUA had Rocktoberfest, featuring Bongo Jones, ebo and Smartbomb, and in the spring the Charlie Mars Band performed

Students and non-students attended Catholic’s concerts.

Kutner said other popular campus-wide activities are Movies on the Mall, which always get a “good turnout,” the annual Christmas Mistletoe ball and a weeklong Spring Fling with barbeques, guest performances, “inflatable fun games” and prizes.

University of the
District of Columbia
Van Ness-UDC
Red Line

Enter UDC, where District residents can take summer classes for $75 per credit and non-residents for $185 per credit, compared to GW’s steeper $676 per credit in the summer.
If working during the steamy D.C. summer months, GW students can hop on the Red line to Van Ness to take advantage of UDC’s deal.

While some students think they can “outsmart the system” and claim residency because they attend school in D.C., Admissions Officer Charles Gafney said UDC requires students to be legal residents to receive the discount.

Gafney said students qualify as residents if they live in the District for 12 months and pay D.C. taxes.

Surrounded by private universities, UDC is the only public university in the city. Its open enrollment policy makes it quite different from any other school in the area.

Gafney explained that “(UDC) doesn’t (mandate) any qualifying examinations or SAT scores” and that all interested students are admitted to the university after they fill out an application.

Although students are not required to take any qualifying exams, high school grades and transcripts are reviewed. Gafney said UDC looks “for a 2.0 preferably, and if you have less than that you’re coming in on probation.”

UDC founders thought UDC was “critical to the success of its students as well as the future financial health and well-being of (D.C.).”

Gafney also said despite accepting all students, there has not been an overcrowding problem.

About 20,000 students attend UDC’s main campus at Van Ness and smaller, satellite campus in Southeast D.C.

Georgetown University
Main Gate: 37th
and P Streets

Stereotyped as the school many GW students were not able to get into, 23rd-ranked Georgetown University is about a 25-minute walk from the Foggy Bottom campus.

Although the University provides a shuttle, its only Metro stops are at Dupont Circle and Rosslyn. Shuttles stop running at about 11 p.m., so students who travel between the two universities said they usually walk.
Eric Engelman, who graduated from Georgetown in May and visited GW frequently during college, said one of the biggest differences between the two universities is that marijuana is more prevalent at GW.

He said many incoming Georgetown students were valedictorians of their classes or very “straight-laced” in high school and “getting exposed to drugs at first is pretty shocking” for them.

However, Engelman said, “everyone drinks a lot” at Georgetown, and the two main night-time social scenes are parties and bars.

Although there are no fraternities on campus, Engelman said that is “good because that means that if you want to meet people you go into student organizations based around common interests.”

Students said student groups host off-campus parties, and the bars most frequented by Georgetown students are Champs, Chadwicks, Rhino Bar and Pumphouse, Third Edition, Mr. Smith’s and Tombs.

Recent graduate Elizabeth Balkan said Tombs is “the Georgetown bar” and seniors frequent it for “cheap beer early in the night,” and Champs is the “big Georgetown bar for late night, drunken dancing.”

Engelman said he usually doesn’t see GW students out at night but once in a while sees someone from American.

Balkan said occasionally ” the Georgetown student will make their way to American, but this is unusual since it requires expensive cab rides, planning and ends up isolating you from the action near campus.”

GW students said they don’t see many Georgetown students out either, but junior Erica Merson said she sees Georgetown students at Boogeymongers, “the best restaurant ever,” on the Potomac by the Georgetown.

Georgetown also has an on-campus bar, Hoya’s, which is located in the Leavey Center, Georgetown’s student center. Although students must be 21 to purchase alcohol, all students are allowed to hang out in the bar.
Associate Vice President of Auxiliary Services Margie Bryant said that because Georgetown has a Marriott hotel on campus, “you can’t exclude” guests from having a bar to go to. Both visitors of the hotel and students attend the bar.

Administrators said 21 year-olds must wear wristbands at all times and if anyone under 21 is seen drinking they are asked to leave, but students said Hoya’s Student Bartender Night on Thursdays is not strict.

“This is a good venue for freshmen and sophomores, who can enjoy the lax ID checking,” Balkan said.

Students cannot buy liquor on their meal plan or with debit dollars.

This past November, singer and songwriter Billy Joel performed at Georgetown’s Gaston Hall. The sold out concert seated 690 students at 25 dollars apiece.

According to a November article in the Hoya, students enjoyed Joel’s concert because Joel performed, spoke and answered questions, which is not traditional at a concert.

According to U.S. News, Georgetown is rated 4 out of 5. Seventy-eight percent of incoming freshmen were in the top ten percent of their classes and the average SAT score last year was 1280-1450. Georgetown’s acceptance rate is 22 percent.

The University’s most popular majors in recent years have been English, finance and government.

Howard University
Shaw-Howard U
Green Line

Howard University is situated on a three by six block campus, right off the Green Line but is rarely visited by GW students.

Although Howard is located in D.C., a major reason many GW students came to school here, most GW students said they did not consider attending Howard because of the student makeup. A traditionally black private school, Howard’s student body is more than 90 percent black.

Senior Alex Dixon, winner of this year’s Mr. Howard pageant, said school spirit and sports are major parts of Howard’s student life. He said homecoming and the concert that coincides with homecoming are events students look forward to. This year Bilal, Tank, Mos Def and Cool G Rap played at homecoming.

“From the time you step on campus you’re talking about homecoming,” Dixon said.

Dixon said the Mr. Howard pageant was campus-wide and similar to a Miss America pageant, with talent and evening wear competitions and a question and answer portion.

This past year the Student Activities Center put on three major concerts besides homecoming. In the fall, Fabulous, Foxy Brown and DMX played at Yardfest; several groups performed at a reggae concert, and in the spring, Kindred, a new husband and wife team on the same record label as Jill Scott, performed.

Some concerts students pay for are open to the public.
Other events on campus this past year included plays and dance concerts put on by Howard’s Theatre Arts Department.

With 10,500 undergraduates, Howard has more than 120 areas of study. Its most popular major is biology.

According to U.S. News, Howard has a 2.9 out of five reputation, is a tier-two school and 21 percent of incoming freshmen were in the top 10 percent of their high school classes. Fifty-six percent of students are admitted and the average SAT score for last year’s incoming freshmen was 830-1350.

Dixon said he likes Howard because of the “sense of community that’s prevalent” and the many opportunities available.

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