For the first time in the five-year history of the Mount Vernon Campus, every freshman living there listed the locale as a housing preference, and more non-freshmen are living there than ever before.
“Every freshman on our campus right now selected Mount Vernon as a first or second choice, or were placed on Mount Vernon because of their choice of living and learning communities,” said Fred Siegel, associate vice president, dean of freshman and the campus’ administrator.
While some of the 500 students who live at the Foxhall Road campus still complain of the shuttle-ride, GW is attempting to promote the positive aspects of the campus.
“The (Community Living and Learning Center’s) whole philosophy is to try to give people as close to their top choice as possible,” said Siegel, who lives on the campus. “My whole marketing model is a campus of choice rather than a campus of assignment.”
In addition to the 300 freshmen the campus houses, approximately 50 transfer students and participants in living and learning communities make up the rest of the student population, including 90 non-freshmen.
Despite the freshmen who chose to live at Mount Vernon, some non-freshmen are living on the Vern not by choice, rather as a “what-was-left” option after housing selections ran out on the Foggy Bottom campus, Siegel said.
Sophomore Matthew Spencer wanted to live with his roommate, but because of his low housing lottery number was placed on Mount Vernon.
“I had a really lousy number, and by the time it came up, the dorms remaining were Mitchell, Strong and ones on the Vern,” Spencer said.
Since move-in Spencer has gotten used to the campus but said he would still prefer to live on Foggy Bottom.
Some Vern residents said while the campus was only their second choice, they’re happy to be there. But others disputed Siegel’s assertion that all freshmen want to be at Mount Vernon.
“I applied for all the dorms down at the Foggy Bottom campus, and for whatever reason I ended up here,” freshman Dan Doty said. “It turned out okay though because I like the people, it’s fairly quiet during the week and it’s not hard to get downtown when I want to do something interesting.”
With plans to build a new residence hall on Mount Vernon to replace Pelham Hall, a mostly non-freshman dorm with singles, the University is promoting the positive aspects of the campus. Mount Vernon Campus Life programming has already attracted a variety of students for events such as World Market, Cinema on the Lawn and regular Wacky Wednesday events. Yoga and dance classes are planned into October and regular schedules of events are posted on the Mount Vernon Campus Life Web site, http;//www.gwired.gwu.edu/sdc.
“Our philosophy is that the Mount Vernon Campus is a resource for the entire George Washington community,” Siegel said. “Mount Vernon Campus Life has worked tirelessly to provide activities and events to attract students up here.”
Siegel said he ultimately hopes the campus population becomes two-thirds freshmen and one-third upperclassmen.
“It needs to be a campus of leaders along with students who have never lived there before,” he said. “It should just be a community that represents George Washington.”