Online petition against tighter off-campus housing rules gains support

Updated: Aug. 6 at 3:24 p.m.

Two top Student Association leaders will meet with Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski this week after nearly 800 people signed an online petition pressing GW to abandon its plans to enforce stricter rules on students living off campus.

Greek life members have been most vocal about pressing for changes to the University’s stricter off-campus policies that administrators proposed to Foggy Bottom neighbors last week. Hatchet File Photo

The petition takes issue with the University’s lack of student input, and its sharper eye on disciplining the Greek community as GW looks to clamp down on student partying.

“GW students have played no role in the decisions that led to the surrounding community’s angst, yet they bear the brunt of efforts to repair it. Once again, GWU demonstrates its priorities are not students but rather its expanding DC empire,” the petition says.

Members of Greek life will be the first groups to have their addresses collected by the University, followed by other student organizations in the spring.

Nate Kropp, president of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity and one of the petition’s creators, said the meeting was “a good start,” but said the administration must do more to engage students once classes begin.

“We fear this is Dean Konwerski and the administration’s way of checking the box so they can move forward having appeared to consult students,” Kropp, a junior, said.“There’s actually seeking student feedback, and then there’s the appearance of doing so to avoid criticism. We hope Dean Konwerski will choose the former.”

He said he hopes the Greek community will hold a campus-wide town hall about the changes so more students can be involved.

Konwerski said in an email Monday that administrators would likely “refine our approaches to addressing off-campus student conduct with both students and the community at large.”

The University announced last week that it will create an online complaint form for Foggy Bottom neighbors to report students misbehaving off campus. Administrators also said they want to collect addresses of off-campus residences, starting with students in fraternities and sororities, and enforce quicker penalties on students who rack up verified complaints. GW had also planned to collect addresses of students in other student organizations in the spring.

“While no final policy has been developed or adopted, we are eager to have all students and community members continue to share their feedback on the initial proposals we are considering and have been sharing with various stakeholder over the past few weeks, including the community and student leaders,” Konwerski said.

Konwerski added that the policies are not “aimed solely at Greek Life; they are in fact a set of ideas we are considering to ensure that all students, including students involved in Greek Life, continue to serve as good neighbors.”

The University also announced last month that students, starting with the Class of 2018, would be forced to live on campus for three years instead of two, which also incited some student backlash.

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