Students opt for “Vern”

When freshman Simone Smith visited GW on a campus tour last spring, she decided almost immediately that Mount Vernon was the place for her.

“Visiting the Vern is what made everything click for me,” she said.

Smith is one of 376 students who listed Mount Vernon as a first or second choice for a housing assignment. That number is up almost 25 percent from last year’s 302 students. About 90 percent of this year’s residents at Mount Vernon are freshman, said Robert Snyder, director of Mount Vernon Campus Life.

Associate Vice President and Dean of Freshmen Fred Siegel added that more students are attending Mount Vernon events. He estimated that last year about 300 freshmen attended the first Wacky Wednesday event at Mount Vernon, with about one third of the students coming from Foggy Bottom. This year 459 students attended, half of them from the Foggy Bottom campus, he said.

Snyder believes that increased attendance at events is a sign that students’ perception of Mount Vernon has changed in a positive direction. He said that the number of people riding the Vern Express shuttle is up 35 percent from last year.

“Students are seeing it as more of a resource,” he said.

A traditional campus feel, smaller residence halls and events are main reasons for increased interest in Mount Vernon, Snyder said.

This year, each freshman House at Mount Vernon also has its own theme and programming budget in addition to campus staples such as the Women’s Leadership Program and the Dean’s Scholars in Globalization.

The Science Village is located at Mount Vernon as well as the Media and Public Affairs House at Somers Hall, according to the GW Housing Programs Web site.

Students living at Mount Vernon have also created their own Living and Learning Cohorts. Director of Residential Life and Education James Kohl said that so far students at the Mount Vernon campus have created three LLC’s, with topics including chemistry in cooking and the role of science in politics and religion.

“So far, there is a core group of students involved in LLC’s in the Houses at Mount Vernon and they are working with the Residential Advisory Councils to increase their membership,” Kohl said.

Mount Vernon also has its own Programming Council that coordinates all events at the campus. MVPC Coordinator Shireesha Jevaji said that the events and programs are specifically geared to freshmen such as Octoberfest, Fountain Day and the Vern Cup.

Not all freshmen agree that “the Vern” is the place to be. Freshman Justin Snyder ranked the Mount Vernon campus somewhere near the bottom on his housing application.

“There’s really not much going on at the Vern at any given time,” he said. Justin Snyder said that he still likes living at Mount Vernon because the quiet atmosphere is nice for getting work done.

Smith said that she and her roommate are the only people she knows who ranked Mount Vernon No. 1on their housing application, but she said that most people seem happy to live there now.

She said, “I’d live there again next year if it weren’t almost all freshmen.”

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