About 40 students wearing buff and blue pins reading “Grow Up, Not Out” – the University’s catchphrase for proposed development – traveled downtown Thursday night to attend a D.C. zoning hearing to support the University’s proposed 20-year Campus Plan.
Campaign GW, a group founded by last year’s Student Association administration, bussed the students from campus to the meeting. The organization’s purpose is to inform undergraduates of the University’s development plans and how they affect students.
SA President Lamar Thorpe and members of the Student Association Senate joined Campaign GW activists for pizza in the Marvin Center before heading to the office of zoning.
During the hearing, Thorpe cheered to rouse support for GW.
“It went spectacular . I think we exceeded our goal,” Thorpe said of the student attendance at the hearing.
Gina Fernandes, director of Campaign GW, said she expects similar attendance at the zoning hearings this fall. She said that the Sept. 25 hearing should garner higher student interest because that meeting is focused on public input.
“I’m just really excited. It’s fun to be involved with something like this and to know – in some small way – I’m impacting the future of the school,” said Fernandes, a junior. “Twenty years from now . I’m going to walk down campus and I’m going to know that I had a hand in this building getting up.”
Fernandes said the group’s focus on publicizing GW’s development plans around campus will make students feel more connected to the University.
“I feel sometimes we lose our sense of community at G-Dub because we’re in the middle of the city … and I really feel that this is something that can bring the campus back together,” she said. “In the long run, it’s developing a campus that pulls the University together.”
Casey Pond, a directing member of Campaign GW, said current campus construction has a long-term effect for students holding GW degrees.
“Students need to understand what GW does on campus,” Pond said. “When students go out into the professional world, the reputation of their university is extremely important. The Campus Plan really depicts where GW will go in the next 20 years.”
Pond said many students he has talked to about Square 54, the old hospital site across from the Foggy Bottom Metro station, have supported GW’s decision to construct retail space. Many Foggy Bottom residents have opposed the University’s plan for the space, saying it should be used for housing or academic needs.
Nick D’Addario, SA vice president of undergraduate student policy, said the 20-year Campus Plan could greatly strengthen GW’s reputation.
“We want a campus to foster strength and unity,” D’Addario said. “The revenue from Square 54 could greatly increase the worth of our degrees in the future.”
-Kaitlyn Jahrling contributed to this report.