The University is pushing juniors and seniors to campus boundaries and beyond in its attempt to comply with a city zoning ruling requiring 70 percent of undergraduate students to live on campus or outside Foggy Bottom. GW is also in the final stages of purchasing an upperclassman housing option outside Foggy Bottom as far as 15 minutes from campus, senior University officials said.
In order to comply with the Board of Zoning and Adjustment order mandating the University house all freshmen and sophomores within campus boundaries, GW will offer most on-campus buildings to underclassmen. Among changes for next year is the move to make the Mount Vernon campus exclusively freshmen, as well as housing incoming freshmen in some re-configured Fulbright Hall quads in addition to Madison Hall. Rising sophomores will also be able to choose top housing, including portions of Francis Scott Key, Guthridge, JBKO and New halls.
“Given some of the campus plan directives, we’ve done the best we can to have some good options for juniors and seniors while reserving beds for the freshmen and sophomores who are required to live in halls within the BZA-defined boundaries,” Director of Housing Services Andrew Sonn said.
Juniors and seniors will have first choice of the Aston, City Hall, the Hall on Virginia Avenue, Pennsylvania House and 1957 E Street. The University will also hold portions of JBKO as well as Mitchell, New and Strong halls for upperclassmen based on the number of Intent to Return forms upperclassmen fill out and the number of sophomores who request exemptions from living on campus, Sonn said.
He said students can expect to get the breakdown in the “coming weeks.” “Mixed” halls will have separate floors for sophomores, and juniors and seniors. Sophomores will have community facilitators supervising them while upperclassmen will not.
The Aston, City Hall, HOVA and Pennsylvania House, which can house up to 1,400 students collectively, are outside campus boundaries, according to the BZA ruling, forcing officials to house only upperclassmen in the four residences.
Another change is a University requirement that students who plan to live on-campus for just the fall semester (graduating early or studying abroad) can only choose between the Aston, HOVA or Mitchell if they want to pay for only half a year’s housing. If they choose to live in other residence halls, they will incur costs for the full year.
Officials said they specified three residence halls outside BZA-defined lines to “maximize the number of on-campus beds” for those living on campus for the full year.
“The departure of many more students during the spring
term, compared to the fall term, leaves numerous vacancies at a time when on-campus beds are at a premium,” Sonn said.
Sonn noted the variety in room size for the three halls – the Aston offers apartment-style doubles, HOVA contains one-room doubles and triples and Mitchell provides a single-living option.
Officials are currently contemplating various ways to make traditionally freshman residence halls appealing for upperclassmen. Dean of Students Linda Donnels said GW cannot turn HOVA’s studio-hotel rooms into apartment-style rooms but is considering adding “cooking” equipment. She also said reconfiguring the rooms is a possibility, which includes making some rooms singles, but the University is “accepting proposals,” and nothing is finalized.
HOVA currently houses 444 freshmen in doubles and triples. Sonn said the number would drop to 160 students if HOVA became all singles.
The University is also planning to offer “upscale apartment-style housing” outside Foggy Bottom for primarily juniors and seniors, Sonn said. Although details have not been released, administrators have said the new residence hall could be in Virginia and will be about a 15-minute Metro ride away from Foggy Bottom.
Donnels said she cannot comment on whether the new residence hall, which will hold about 500 students, is a permanent or temporary solution. She also declined to comment on amenities planned for it.
Donnels said details about the new residence hall will probably be released between the time Intent to Return forms are given to students, March 24, and the housing lottery, which takes place April 26-27.
Donnels noted the University will still be “short” on housing, even after the “Ivory Towers” at 23rd and G streets, which will house about 770 students, is finished in fall 2004.
Sonn said he doesn’t expect more juniors and seniors to move off campus because of the “excellent amenities” and “sense of community” in residence halls.
However, some students said they plan to move off campus if they get housing they don’t like.
“I understand that GW is in a tight spot, but they can’t expect upperclassmen to live in HOVA while they give (underclassmen) New Hall,” freshman Ruth Link-Gelles said.
-Andrew Novak and Kate Stepan contributed to this report.