GW hopes to boost number of students on Mount Vernon

The University is taking steps to increase the number of students allowed on the Mount Vernon campus, and could get approval from the D.C. Zoning Commission as soon as next Monday.

GW has submitted to the commission a revised proposal of its population caps for the 2010 Mount Vernon Campus Plan, despite not satisfying all the conditions requested by Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3D, a community group that oversees the area.

GW’s existing proposal would allow 1,650 students to take classes on Mount Vernon and 1,050 students to live there. Currently, only 1,500 students can take classes there and 1,000 can live on the campus, said John Ralls, senior adviser for communications and outreach in the Office of the Executive Vice President and Treasurer.

For limits on campus enrollment, students are counted two ways – by headcount and full-time equivalent status. Students included in the headcount are those who take any courses on the Mount Vernon campus, and FTE students are those who have a housing assignment on the campus or take all their classes there, according to the campus plan.

GW had originally hoped to increase the student population on a headcount basis by 15 percent to 1,725 students, and on an FTE basis by 10 percent to 1,100 students. But at its March meeting, ANC 3D asked that the increases be phased in, and the University responded by lowering the 2010 cap increases to 1,650 and 1,050.

Still, the University’s proposal calls for the automatic expansion of the population caps to 1,725 students and 1,100 students after 2015, and currently would not require GW to seek approval from the ANC at that time – something the neighborhood group opposes.

ANC chair Elizabeth Sandza said earlier this month that the group wants “to be able to evaluate [the proposed increases] if there is a detrimental effect.” Senior Associate Vice President for Operations Alicia O’Neil said at the ANC’s April meeting, however, that GW has shown the increase “will not have an objectionable impact.”

Sandza said the ANC is now planning on writing a letter to the Office of Zoning reflecting the commissioners’ unanimous position that GW should return in five years to discuss the proposed 2015 increases – each of which would boost caps by another 5 percent.

“The ANC feels strongly that the community should decide if the other 5 percent increases are necessary,” Sandza said.

If the Zoning Commission approves GW’s proposal at its April 26 meeting, the University will still have to wait about three months to receive its order of approval, Ralls said. The commission could request more information from GW, though, and further delay the decision.

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