It was only a week ago students and community members alike believed the University was attempting to fulfill the Board of Zoning Adjustment’s requirements to house 70 percent of students and all freshmen and sophomores within campus boundaries or outside of Foggy Bottom. It seemed as if it might actually happen as the University purchased residence facilities in Virginia, assigned upperclassmen to live in the Hall on Virginia Avenue and forced students planning on studying abroad to live in less desirable residence halls. All these changes were intended to help GW come into compliance.
How quickly things change.
With the announcement that GW will attempt to admit 2,400 freshman next year, 150 more than previously announced, it was clear that the University was beginning to give up the idea of compliance with the BZA order. Soon, the illusion that GW would even come close to fulfilling the mandate came to an end. GW basically gave up and reversed its policy, bringing changes that will benefit students in the short term.
The plan was for GW to come into compliance, or at least make a “good faith effort” to do so, to convince the city to approve permits to build the new business school and other changes, like later Health and Wellness Center hours. But the city has yet to recognize any of GW’s provisions to comply with the BZA restrictions, and the only way the University will ever be able to comply is by drastically reducing the student population, which is more than unlikely.
So if the University cannot come into compliance and the city does not give brownie points for trying, then it is understandable the administration reversed recent housing policy changes that agitated students. Freshmen will return to HOVA, where they belong, and the ridiculous clause requiring students planning on studying abroad to choose from HOVA, The Aston or Mitchell has been revoked.
While it seems the University has responded to student concerns in these instances, the long-term effect of these changes remains to be seen. The University’s defiant stance on noncompliance foreshadows a showdown with the city that might force the University to make even more drastic changes. Blatantly turning its back on a city mandate could have damaging consequences for the University in the future, forcing students into even more undesirable situations.