More students decide to live in Vern housing

The number of students selecting to live on the Mount Vernon Campus next fall climbed by more than 40 percent, a trend the University sees as a reflection of efforts to promote the campus as a destination for students.

Fifty students ranked the Vern as their top choice during this spring’s housing application, up from 35 last year, Seth Weinshel, director of GW Housing Programs, said this week.

He called the trend “significant,” signaling the positive attention the new academic building, Ames Hall, has brought to the campus.

“The campus is more vibrant. There is more happening on the campus now than ever before,” Weinshel said.

Despite the uptick, students still overwhelmingly favored Foggy Bottom living options. Out of this year’s 5,184 housing applicants, just under 1 percent of students selected the Vern as their top pick.

Weinshel said 105 students ranked the campus as one of their top three housing choices this year, about 46 percent of whom are currently living there.

Most of these students designated West Hall as their top residence hall, Weinshel said. The residence hall, which includes a dining hall, gym and blackbox theater, is less than two years old. It includes about 270 single bedrooms in four-person suites.

Weinshel said 10 students opted to live in the all-female Merriweather Hall located on the Vern, which he said was “phenomenal” to see.

In the spring of 2010, with the completion of West Hall, about 100 students selected to live on the Vern, Weinshel said. The figure was an outlier, he said, because there was “so much buzz about the new building.”

In its first year, nearly one fourth of the building consisted of upperclassmen, though their interest tapered off the following spring.

A breakdown of the preferences by class years was not available for this year, Weinshel said.

Upperclassmen who do not rank the Vern as one of their top three preferences are not placed there.

Freshmen are given housing assignments based on available space, which includes Vern residence halls. In past years, about one-fourth of freshmen living on the Vern did not preference the campus as one of their top three choices, Weinshel said, adding that this year’s figures will likely be about the same.

Tim Miller, director of the Center for Student Engagement, said he is not fazed by the slow growth in Vern housing popularity.

As GW continues to expand programming on the campus, like Wacky Wednesday events and theater performances, more students will be drawn to it, he said.

“When [the Vern] is seen as successful, people will want to go there,” Miller said.

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