About 4,000 students and their parents arrived on campus last weekend to move into residence halls and off-campus apartment buildings, momentarily disrupting the lives of Foggy Bottom community members who enjoyed a quiet neighborhood during summer break.
A number of Foggy Bottom residents have been complaining about the University’s rapid expansion into the local community, and one ever-present gripe is the process of move-in. While the University said that it prepares for move-in with minimal disruption to its neighbors, Ron Cocome, a member of the Foggy Bottom Association, said the efforts come short of alleviating the problems of move-in.
“You can put a skirt on a pig but it’s still a pig,” he said.
Cocome said some area residents have come to resent the influx of thousands of students. Complaints during move-in range from used parking spaces to increased traffic to blocked pedestrian access.
“The people resent that they are made to feel, in a residential area, that they’re in the middle of a campus,” Cocome said.
Other residents complained of move-in paraphernalia blocking neighborhood sidewalks, especially the cargo pallets used by campus storage companies.
Ron Kreuzer, whose house sits shadowed by Ivory Tower on the corner of 23rd Street and Virginia Avenue, said he was concerned about these “pods” that house students’ belongings on the sidewalk. He said these large boxes are remaining in front of residence halls for too long and causing a nuisance.
“These ‘pods’ are at meters, in no parking zones and on streets that are designated rush hour arteries, all of it public space,” Kreuzer explained in a complaint letter to the University. “If a car was left in place on 23rd Street during rush hour, it would be towed.”
Kreuzer also said that the pallets are a violation of the Campus Plan, an agreement between GW and the community to ease town-gown relations.
“It is yet another objectionable effect created by the presence and turnover of thousands of transient students attending GWU, which is a guest, not a lawless nation state, as long as it is located in our residential neighborhood,” he said.
The Foggy Bottom Association, a local neighborhood group, has recently said that they are reviewing GW’s compliance with the Campus Plan to determine if they would use recently acquired funds to sue the University. FBA President Joy Howell said, however, that she has no formal complaints about move-in.
Michael Akin, GW’s director of Foggy Bottom/West End Affairs, said he tried to ease community concerns about move-in this past weekend by communicating with local residents. He also said that street closings were kept at a minimum and community groups were notified in advance about such closings.
“We understand that it can not only be a stressful day for students, but also the community,” he said.
Brian Hamluk, GW’s director of the Office of Off-Campus Student Affairs, added that a special meeting was set up with the city to coordinate move-in, and local community agencies were also notified along with select apartments and area establishments.
“During meetings regarding the closure of F Street, the community was helpful in communicating the nature of move-in and its impact on the Foggy Bottom area to the city,” he said.