For GW students, springtime exposes the blatant lack of “green space” on campus. Before I came to the East Coast, spring, summer, winter and fall didn’t mean anything drastically different. However, in my two years of exodus from the land of the eternal summer, California, more important than a change in temperature is that spring also brings a change in attitudes. Yet as the GW population tries to gather in outdoor space and enjoy the nice weather, the lack of space available is almost humorously obvious.
One can’t help but chuckle at the frat boys trying to pass Frisbees across the whole ten yards of cement in Kogan plaza, or rows of students who line up on the 2.5 inches of grass to try and get some color on their skin. Perhaps GW is just trying to revert to the 18th century, where being pale is a sign of wealth, meaning we might then be able to afford the outrageous tuition – but that’s an idea I’m not going to buy into. While there is a lot more natural imagery up at Mount Vernon, down here at Foggy Bottom, I often wonder if I’m getting any pure oxygen circulation. Especially since the amount of parked cars outnumbers the amount of planted trees.
Despite the criticism I throw out in my column each week, I always like to offer some sort of suggestion as to how to change things. This time, I’m going to explain my “vision” for a greener GW. Now, unlike my request to make the campus more green-friendly with regard to recycling, this is a literal request, as in straight up crayola green, on this campus.
One idea, which I believe has been previously addressed on this op-ed page, is the thought to pave H St. and give us a more appropriate student quad. With the Marvin Center being run over by random conventions and non-student groups, space for students to just “hang out” has become rather obsolete. The constant flow of taxis, cars, trucks, and ambulances are valid obstacles from making GW a friendlier, more unified place. And to be honest, beyond the entrance to the Marvin Center Parking Lot- what good is H St. between 21st and 22nd anyway?
It has been brought to my attention that the University and I actually see eye to eye on this issue, but the real stumbling block in making this a reality is the DC City Council. Apparently, H St. is still considered a street, for cars and such to pass through, despite the fact that students pay absolutely no attention to the other practical purposes paved cement with hyphenated white lines might serve. Whether it is in an effort to try and to get to class, make conversation with a friend, or run away from a one night stand who looked a lot better with beer goggles on; GW students successfully hijack any real use to H Street on a daily basis, making it no longer needed for street purposes.
After meeting with the Foggy Bottom Association about how to improve the quality of life for students and residents of Foggy Bottom, I feel that if this issue was given a chance, both parties could come to an agreement. Instead of having the loud music, Frisbee tossing and tanning with small scraps of clothing on occurring in their front yards, I’d think that the residences would be happy to give students a centralized location to communize instead. Perhaps, a joint venture between the FBA and GW could be achieved to address the DC City Council and tell them this is what we want as a community, in much need of well, community. After speaking with Committee Clerk, Christopher Murray of the Legislative Branch in the DC Council, he said that at least in the past six years he has not seen any legislation introduced about this from GW. He did not know whether it had been brought to the Executive side first and shot down, but said that it could happen providing that all the other DC agencies, such as the Department of Traffic and Planning, also approve.
So, if legislative action is what it takes to please our lack of oxygen, our psyche and our pale, pale skin, it would be great if the University could put that in motion again to give the students an uninterrupted space to loiter without getting in some person’s or vehicle’s way of passage. It was so great this past weekend seeing people outside, enjoying each other’s company at Spring Fling, and watching the bands and new hairdos at Buzzing for Change. Yet, the space for these outdoor events is still rather limited. Why not show us urbanites what life can be like, “where the green grass grows?”
-The writer, a sophomore majoring in journalism, is a Hatchet columnist.
This article appeared in the April 14, 2005 issue of the Hatchet.