Yesterday, the Office of Planning issued its report on Georgetown University’s ten year campus plan. And it’s a doozy. The screaming highlight is that OP is recommending that GU house 100% of undergrads in GU-housing by the fall of 2016.
In case you’re just joining us, in GU’s proposed campus plan, it proposes to cap its traditional undergrad at 6,652. In addition, it proposes to increase its overall cap (i.e. undergrad plus grad) to 15,000. This would represent an increase of approximately 1,000 (they originally proposed 16,133, but pulled it back in its pre-hearing submission).
OP supports GU growing its overall caps, however with graduated (no pun intended) increases. The reports calls for the total to remain at current numbers for the next two academic years. In 2013 it would rise by about 500 and then afterwards, if GU meets certain conditions, the total would rise by another 500 or so. So the end result would be about 1,000 new graduate students, which is roughly what GU was requesting, minus the phase in.
If GU is mildly perturbed about the overall cap conditions, they’re probably livid about the undergrad requirements. As stated above, OP wants GU to house 100% of traditional undergrad students in GU-housing by the fall of 2017. This would also be phased in.
As previously agreed to by the university, OP calls for the school to build an additional 250 beds on campus by the fall of 2014. By the fall of 2015, OP calls for GU to house 90% of its undergrads in GU housing. By the fall of 2016, the requirement is 100%. If GU doesn’t meet that requirement, OP wants GU’s undergrad cap to be cut annually by 25% of the difference between the cap and the number of beds until it meets the 100% mark.
Oh, and that additional GU housing? It can’t be built east of 37th st. (i.e. the campus gates, which is not the campus boundary). No housing can be in the 20007 zip code. GM believes there are about 1,500 GU undergrads not living in GU housing. So after GU adds the 250 that it has already agreed to, it needs to build roughly an additional 1,250 beds by 2016.
GU would have a couple options to satisfy this. First, it could find space for more beds behind the gates (one idea GM heard was to build a dorm on top of Leo dining hall, but he doesn’t know if that is feasible). Second, GU could buy housing for its students outside the 20007 zip code, in other words: Rosslyn.
All in all, it’s a pretty devastating report for GU and GM is simply floored by it. But there are still a lot of “ifs”. Most critically, while the Zoning Commission is often deferential to the Office of Planning, it’s not a guarantee they’d go along with this severe of a proposal. One factor that is definitely not an “if” is the question of what happens if the Zoning Commission adopts OP’s report: years of litigation.
And that’s not exactly home court (pun also not intended) for the anti-GU crowd. They eventually lost GU’s last appeal. Further, while the courts have rejected various universities’ claims that student caps violate the DC Human Rights Act, the court hemmed and hawed a bit before reaching that conclusion. The court might reach a different conclusion if presented with these more severe conditions.
Either way, this is a huge bombshell in this battle, and it fell squarely on GU.