The Foggy Bottom Association gave University President Steven Knapp a warm reception Tuesday night as GW’s top official began his second year working to improve relations with the surrounding community.
When Knapp spoke at his first FBA meeting a year ago, the mood was one of hostility and hesitation. After a year, many in the community organization said Knapp represents a marked departure from former University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg and his penchant for development.
“This year there was no hostility. Last year was much more combative,” said FBA member Lateshia Combrinck. “This is a different tone than Trachtenberg.”
Knapp outlined some of the more significant plans for urban and campus sustainability, as well as the University’s new Community Concern policy. The policy addresses how the University Police Department will more proactively respond to student noise disturbances on and around campus.
“We want no ambiguity over when UPD can approach students and when they can not,” Knapp said. “We want a proactive response, not just a reactive one.”
While some area residents are still wary of GW and its expansion, many said they feel more comfortable that Knapp and his wife, Diane, are aware of their interests.
“Right from the outset he made a conscious effort to be a part of the community and listen to what the concerns of the community are,” Combrinck said.
Earlier this year, Knapp and his wife moved into the former Alumni House on the corner of 20th and F streets – a positive sign for residents at the meeting.
“It really makes a difference to be in the heart of the campus, to really hear the issues that people are talking about,” Knapp said.
Empathetic laughs arose when he said that he too hears a “certain rhythm on the weekend” from his house across the street from Thurston Hall, referring to the freshman residence hall’s reputation for noise and boisterous student behavior.
Audience applause became much louder by the end of Knapp’s address. Of the six questions that were asked of him, only two reflected modest concerns about student noise.