The University expects to see an increase in summer residents at its two District campuses, after targeting more conference groups and interns to bring in more money and expand its reputation among non-GW students.
Director of Housing Programs Seth Weinshel said the anticipated climb in summer residency is partially a result of the upcoming presidential election, but declined to say how much revenue the University raked in from summer housing last year, or his expectations for this year.
“It is an election year. You tend to see, in an election year, intern numbers be up overall,” Weinshel said.
Previously targeted toward congressional interns, University representatives have ramped up networking with the White House, the State Department and law offices to spread the word about on-campus housing facilities.
“We’ve realized there’s an opportunity for more than just Capitol Hill,” Weinshel said.
Last summer, both campuses of the University were home to a record 22,000 people – the bulk of whom were conference attendees who stayed between one and 33 nights. That figure also represents about 4,500 interns and 500 GW students.
The University is pushing the Mount Vernon Campus among conference attendees, publicizing it as a hub for housing, meeting space and dining facilities.
About 250 interns and conference attendees have registered through the summer housing portal, which officially opened last week. Weinshel estimated that figure was about 8 percent higher than this time last year, while noting that most government agencies notify successful applicants in April.
To further increase conference housing enrollment – located in Thurston Hall and throughout the Mount Vernon Campus – the University has reached out to national organizations that hold summer meetings in the District, including the Boy Scouts of America and People to People, a student travel provider.
Conference housing is often attractive, because it’s cheaper than nearby hotels, Weinshel said, with some options as low as $32 per night.
Associate Provost for Academic Affairs at the Mount Vernon Campus Shelly Heller said she hopes the Vern will become the “go to” place for conference housing.
“This will take time to take hold, but I believe that this will benefit everyone,” Heller said.
Gender neutral summer housing will be offered for the first time this year, Weinshel said. Summer applicants who have taken advantage of the option this year are often friends from another organization who would “rather live with a person they know than a complete stranger,” he said.
Just 10 applicants have registered for mixed-gender rooms so far.
About 92 percent of halls for interns were filled last summer, Weinshel said, a number he hopes will grow to 93.5 or 94 percent this summer. Conference housing saw lower occupancy rates, hovering between 50 and 60 percent.
Lafayette Hall will be open to GW students this summer after renovations throughout last academic year. Because the building does not feature private kitchens, it costs less than housing options in Ivory Tower.
“We make sure that we offer some lower price options,” Weinshel said, noting that many government internships are unpaid.
Munson Hall will be closed this summer for routine safety upgrades.
The University “gets pretty creative” with placements to avoid having to turn summer applicants away, although peak time from mid-June through July – when Colonial Inauguration students occupy half of Thurston Hall – can be difficult, Weinshel said.
Chelsea Radler contributed to this report