Nestled away in a quiet section of D.C. near Georgetown, the Mount Vernon Campus may seem a distant trek for students accustomed to Foggy Bottom.
But over the past few years, more and more student organizations have embraced the location as a meeting place, University officials and student group leaders said. This year, Mount Vernon Campus Life, a group formed last summer, has been reaching out to student organizations to attract more events to the shuttle-accessible location.
“Mount Vernon, like Foggy Bottom, is George Washington,” said Robert Snyder, director of Mount Vernon Campus Life, who said he has noticed a surge in new events, activities and meetings at a place some students dub “The Vern.” “We’ve been doing a lot more outreach lately.”
Snyder said that through a three-pronged approach, his organization plans to promote the smaller locale and bring more student groups for events. The first two phases include utilizing the offices of Special Services and Event Services for Mount Vernon and promoting the former women’s college at annual meetings between University officials and student organizations. GW acquired the campus in 1999.
The third aspect of the group’s plan involves advertising Mount Vernon’s often-unutilized facilities to various groups unable to find space in the Marvin Center, which usually requires reservations three weeks in advance.
“We offer the same thing Foggy Bottom offers,” Snyder said. “If you are a registered group, space and equipment are free.”
Snyder said many groups are already taking advantage of the space available at the campus. The Chinese Performing Arts Troupe and Balance: The GW Ballet Group, hold their weekly meetings away from Foggy Bottom.
Sandra Wu, head coordinator for the Chinese Performing Arts
Troupe, wrote in an e-mail that her group was first drawn to Mount Vernon because of its open schedule.
“The facilities are not as ‘state of the art’ as those in the Health and Wellness Center,” Wu said. “However the Vern makes up for it because it is very quiet and private, which is ideal for practices and retreats.”
Josh Hartman, a graduate student and assistant coordinator of spirit programs, said Mount Vernon was a prime location for the Student Activities Center’s Colonial Idol singing contest held in October.
“They have great attendance (and) … great facilities there,” said Hartman, who added that SAC has been utilizing the campus for more and more events.
Buildings and rooms on the Foxhall campus are used by students because of their accessibility and intimate settings, Snyder said.
“For a fraternity initiation which requires privacy and quiet, the Hand Chapel is great,” he said. “For something formal … you don’t get much more formal than Post Hall.”
Mount Vernon’s dining facilities are also open to various organizations, said Snyder, who noted that a cultural group called AIESEC sponsored a sleepover at Eckles Library followed by a brunch at Ames Dining Hall.
Hartman said the process of obtaining space and time at Mount Vernon was extremely easy.
“I think it’s reflective of Mount Vernon becoming a part of the George Washington community,” said Snyder, referring to what he called a surge of new events, activities and meetings at the campus. Every week, Mount Vernon holds a “Wacky Wednesday,” a series of events this semester that included Salsa dancing and a beer goggle obstacle course.
Some students, such as junior April Meyers, said they “noticed more events and club activities on the Mount Vernon Campus.”
“I just went to Mount Vernon for an event last night,” senior Ben Spears said in an interview last month. “I think overall it’s better to have events on Foggy Bottom, but I like the Vern a lot and don’t mind going up there.”
-Noah Kramer contributed to this report.