Foggy Bottom residents said they are concerned about losing their “quiet summers” if the University adopts a mandatory summer session.
Under a proposed calendar change, students would be required to spend the summer between their sophomore and junior year taking courses at GW.
The change would keep more than 2,000 students on campus each summer, in addition to interns and students who stay at GW during that time. Last summer, 650 people stayed in GW residence halls, according to housing services statistics.
Relations between GW and residents, which are already strained because of the University’s growth in Foggy Bottom, could be further exacerbated by the calendar change, residents said.
“We’re not as crowded a neighborhood over the summer,” said Ron Cocome, president of the Foggy Bottom Association, adding that the summer serves as a “respite” for residents who claim students disrupt the community’s quiet, residential character.
Cocome said GW would increase demand for off-campus housing and drive prices up by enrolling more students.
“The University is going to keep expanding at any cost,” he said. “We think this is just a ruse to increase the student body in a neighborhood that’s already overcrowded.”
FBA member Jacqueline Lemire said GW has not kept residents informed about the possible change. She said she is concerned about “quiet summers not being so quiet anymore” if a mandatory summer is instituted.
Cocome said he suspects that having a mandatory summer session would allow the University to enroll more students and circumvent a city housing order.
The order, enacted by the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment in response to residents’ concerns about a surge in undergraduate enrollment and GW’s expansion, requires GW to house 70 percent of its undergraduates on campus by August 2006.
GW currently houses less than 60 percent of its students on campus. A mandatory summer session would decrease the number of students on campus in the fall and spring semesters, making it easier for the University to comply with the order.
Gerald Kauvar, special assistant to the University President, said while the University hopes to increase enrollment to 10,000, officials “didn’t even think about the BZA order when putting together the report.” In fall 2002, the University enrolled 8,883 full-time undergraduates.
He said GW would meet the 2006 deadline regardless of any changes in enrollment or to the calendar.
A mandatory summer would also affect the School Without Walls, a local high school that runs tutoring programs with GW and allows its students to intern in University departments.
A change may cause difficulties in coordinating the school’s schedule with GW’s, Walls principal Sheila Harris said. The high school, which runs on a semester system similar to GW’s, has adjusted its bell schedule to prevent Walls students taking classes at GW from being late.
“It’s going to have a great impact on our scheduling, but we won’t be able to see whether the impact is positive or negative until we see what it would be like,” she said.
Harris said University officials have not solicited her opinion about the proposed changes.