Administrators, lawyers and impassioned community activists have spent thousands of hours promoting Square 54 and the 20-year Campus Plan, but many students and local residents are unaware of the details of the proposals.
The University has been pushing development proposals on the vacant lot across from GW Hospital since the old hospital was demolished three years ago. Additionally, officials have been working on a comprehensive plan for GW’s construction and vertical growth over the next two decades. The D.C. Zoning Commission approved both sets of plans earlier this year.
But several residents in Foggy Bottom – undergraduates and longtime locals alike – said they know little to nothing about the upcoming reshaping of campus.
Sophomore Nicole Bochner did not know what Square 54 and the Campus Plan entailed. She said the University should be doing more to inform students of its spending.
“I think we should know about it,” Bochner said. “That’s where all of our money is going.”
Her friend, sophomore Rebecca Lederman, was also frustrated that she did not know about GW’s plans for its future. She said important information the University wants to communicate to students should be relayed in e-mails sent to all students, faculty and staff.
Several community members interviewed said they were struggling to understand the ramifications of GW’s two developments.
Foggy Bottom resident Zelda Kapner, 75, said she approves of the plan but is unhappy that it expands into Foggy Bottom.
“GW seems to be expanding and expanding and expanding,” Kapner said. “I mean, I love GW … but it can be a little much.”
The University has been promoting the Campus Plan as anti-expansion with their slogan “grow up, not out,” meaning sacrificing outward expansion into new buildings for upward growth in buildings. Kapner said she still felt like it was expanding after hearing the slogan.
Local resident Ann Hyde, 70, said she supported the plan and hoped it would reduce animosity between community groups and GW.
Hyde said, “I think there are a lot of good things that could come out of it if everyone stops fighting.”