GW to drop third-year on-campus residency requirement next fall

Media Credit: Rachel Schwartz | Assistant Photo Editor

Officials said approximately 2,500 students choose to live off-campus per year, with 25 to 35 percent of the third-year class requesting off-campus housing exemptions annually.

Updated: Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023 at 1:35 p.m.

Officials announced GW is dropping its on-campus residency requirement for third-year students during the monthly meeting of a local governing body Wednesday.

Seth Weinshel, the associate vice president of business services, said officials are “rolling back” the requirement next academic year due to some students’ disapproval of the policy, adding he doesn’t believe the number of students living on or off campus will be affected by the policy change. Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners also voted to re-elect Joel Causey as chair of the commission and approved the liquor license of a new bar in the Western Market Foodhall.

Here are a few of the meeting’s highlights:

Officials to drop GW’s on-campus housing requirement for third-years

Weinshel said officials are dropping the on-campus housing requirements for third-year students because officials are not expecting the number of students living off campus to change due to demand for on-campus housing from fourth- and fifth-year students in the “past few years.” He said officials made the policy shift in an effort to be “responsive” to housing market data and students who have opposed the requirement in recent years because they felt it presented a “forced choice” about whether or not to remain on campus.

“We have every intention of keeping our students on campus,” Weinshel said. “It’s just about it’s a choice versus a policy.”

Weinshel said approximately 2,500 students choose to live off-campus per year, with a steady 25 to 35 percent of the third-year class requesting off-campus housing exemptions annually.

He said officials are planning to add 150 beds to Guthridge Hall this summer to provide more space for students as demand rises, and will “reconfigure” the amenities of the residence halls to make it cheaper and more “desirable” for students. He said officials want to continue pushing for more affordable on-campus housing after GW’s housing rates increased by one percent last year, down from the three and four percent one-year rises over the past ten years.

“Our intention as we move forward is to try and maintain that one percent, or no percent increase, to also try to get students to stay on campus,” Weinshel said. “We do understand that cost of attendance and affordability are our challenges.”

But some constituents and ANC commissioners expressed potential concerns over the dropped requirement and its effect on Foggy Bottom residents and neighborhood housing affordability and noise.

Commissioner Yannik Omictin, who represents the southern end of Foggy Bottom, including Mitchell and Thurston halls and apartment buildings like The York and the Statesman, said three rent-controlled buildings sit in his district, and he wants to understand the data behind the requirement’s removal and its effect on affordable housing in the neighborhood.

“Having transparency about what that looks like, what the actual number of students is, that they would forego housing at GW and would move into the community is my number one concern,” Omictin said.

John George, president of the Foggy Bottom Association, encouraged the University to be “transparent” and control “behavioral” issues that arise when students live off-campus, like loud noise or other disruptive incidents at late hours. One constituent suggested GW officials start patrolling areas around popular, off-campus buildings.

“I just want to represent that many communities are apprehensive about this policy change,” George said.

Kevin Days, GW’s director for community relations, said officials may ramp up “training” for students as they prepare to live off-campus.

“The University understands that there may be unintended results from the policy, and the University is committed to minimizing the impact of that change,” Days said. “We will work with you to do that.”

Days said officials are also expanding access to University libraries and Lerner Health and Wellness Center via Friends of GWorld cards for community members after suspending facility offerings for nonstudents during the pandemic. Officials said community members can apply for a Friends of GWorld card to access some University facilities starting Jan. 30.

ANC commissioners elect Causey, Malec, Comer and Bandy as new officers

Commissioners re-elected Joel Causey, who represents 2A02, the uppermost Northwest quadrant of West End, as chair of the ANC 2A in a 5-3 vote against Omictin. Commissioners Ed Comer, Jim Malec, Jordan Nassar, Evelyn Hudson and himself voted for Causey, while Trupti Patel, Dasia Bandy and himself voted for Omictin.

“I’ll serve even harder than I did last time,” Causey said. “I’ll look forward to continue protecting our community and our neighborhood and, hopefully, getting more funding and grants and money.”

Omictin nominated Patel for vice-chair, but she rejected the nomination, and the commission instead elected Malec in a 7-0 vote, with Patel abstaining. Commissioners elected Comer as secretary and unanimously elected Bandy. a third-year GW student, as treasurer.

“I’m really excited to bring high energy and new innovative ideas to the entire 2A,” Bandy said. “It’s just a high, distinguished honor to be here tonight and to use my skills to the best of my abilities to serve in this role.”

Commissioners approve liquor licenses for new bar in Western Market

Sean Morris, an attorney representing Chavo Enterprises Inc, said his clients are opening a twelve-seat upscale bar with small plates in Western Market alongside a small bottle shop that sells alcoholic beverages like packs of beer and bottles of wine.

Commissioners unanimously voted to approve liquor licenses for the store and bar sections of the property.

Morris said his clients wanted to open the bar and store in Western Market because they saw an opportunity for a new type of business, citing the food hall’s lack of cocktail and alcoholic offerings. He said the bar and shop envision “young professionals” as their primary market.

“The opportunity to sit and have a drink was something they felt was missing for the surrounding area,” Morris said. “This opportunity for people who go in because there are a great number of food offerings.”

This post has been updated to clarify the following:
An earlier version of this article said officials said Friends of GWorld card holders could reactivate their card after it got put on hold based on Director of Community Relations Kevin Days’ statement at the meeting Wednesday that cardholders could “reactivate” their Friends of GWorld card at the GWorld Office. Officials later clarified that Days’ comment was incorrect and said local residents interested in a Friends of GWorld card must apply. This post was also updated to clarify that the new on-campus housing requirement policy affects only third-year students.

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