Editorial: Advocating against their own interest

Our View:
Foggy Bottom residents would do better to constructively engage GW on issues of expansion rather than initiating frivolous complaints.

In an ongoing exercise in frivolity, Foggy Bottom residents and their neighborhood institutions successfully lobbied the city to order food vendors in Ivory Tower to stop serving non-students. While the building’s residential zoning designation technically precludes non-student patronage from the dining establishments, it is perplexing as to why area residents would protest the existence of services in a neighborhood deprived of adequate coverage in such areas.

For years, Foggy Bottom residents have lamented the lack of adequate neighborhood services – such as dining establishments, supermarkets and other shops. This fact led residents to demand the installation of retail space in the Elliott School building at 1957 E St. and in the condominium complex being constructed on the old site of the Columbia Hospital for Women. It is clear the latest attempt by residents to protest outside patronage of Ivory Tower venues is another sinister chapter in its crusade against anything associated with GW.

While far from a perfect arrangement, the University has taken steps this year in an effort to improve strained relations between itself and the neighborhood at large. Whereas the University is trying constructive engagement with its cantankerous neighbors through its office of D.C. and Foggy Bottom/West End Affairs, neighbors continue to initiate complaints against their self-interest in an attempt to inflict damage on GW by any means possible. Employing these tactics will not help neighbors in their quest to be consulted on future plans for the development of the old hospital site or other projects. Instead, neighbors should adopt a similar position; advocating for their concerns while allowing for consultation and compromise with GW.

Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen. The sum total of neighborhood efforts against GW is to stop University growth in the short-term, without regard for its potential longer-term consequences. One exemplification of this fact centers on the current controversy of housing freshmen in the Hall on Virginia Avenue.

Foggy Bottom residents currently oppose University efforts to exempt HOVA from the ruling handed down by the Board of Zoning Adjustment requiring GW house all freshmen and sophomores in designated on-campus boundaries. Retreating to their usual defense, decrying unruly students disrupting their way of life, residents are making the situation potentially worse for themselves. There is virtually no arrangement under which upperclassmen would live in HOVA. As a result, with beds currently in use by upperclassmen being transferred to underclassmen forced out of HOVA, an increased number of upperclassmen will move off campus and encroach further on Foggy Bottom. Given this, the neighbors would be well advised to keep freshmen, most of which are well behaved, in HOVA.

Foggy Bottom residents must recognize that the ends do not justify their means in checking University expansion. Residents lose whatever credibility they cling to in the minds of students and the University by arguing nonsensically for GW to comply with the campus plan on one hand, and on the other, opposing any construction efforts to that end. This page recognizes and appreciates residential concerns about University expansion, but believes their interests are better served in constructively engaging GW on a comprehensive solution to their situation.

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