Under pressure from Foggy Bottom resident groups, the D.C. Zoning Commission agreed to hear additional testimony regarding whether Mount Vernon residents and other uncounted students should have been registered in a campus enrollment estimate. While this effort to stall GW’s development may not significantly hamper planning efforts, it represents an irrelevant point. It also highlights a poor strategy by local residents to oppose a plan that will reverse the University’s expansion into Foggy Bottom.
Under the 2000 Campus Plan, GW was held to an enrollment cap, and the newest Campus Plan hinges in part on the University’s compliance with those limits. The D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs’ decision not to count Mount Vernon students, those studying abroad and other special categories of students was a sound one.
While the Foggy Bottom Association and the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission may argue that students from GW’s Mount Vernon campus contribute to main campus numbers, these inhabitants are only in Foggy Bottom for a minimal amount of time during the day. If these individuals are to be included, then there is nothing to stop the D.C. government from counting office workers from Foggy Bottom that use GW facilities as well.
Furthermore, Mount Vernon students tend to stay on campus for classes and are unlikely to wander into the neighboring communities. While Foggy Bottom students often take classes or attend other events on the Mount Vernon campus, these students would not likely be counted for any campus plan affecting that area.
The idea that students who are studying abroad should be counted is even more ludicrous, since there is no possible way for them to utilize Foggy Bottom campus facilities.
It seems as if this obstructionist effort is just the latest attempt by residents upset at GW to block a campus plan that encourages growth closer to the center of campus. It is understandable that these residents may be upset about past GW trespasses onto their territory and the University’s lack of good faith in past dealings with residents. Even so, they must realize that the University’s current plans, coupled with the recent removal of undergraduates from the Hall on Virginia Avenue, represent the possibility for real change.
Rather than focusing on legal loopholes to trap the University, local residents should make attempts to cooperate with GW to ensure the formulation of a plan that will benefit the community. While development may bring construction and noise in the short term, in the long term it will result in a centralization of GW and a boon for Foggy Bottom denizens.