Yesterday evening, the details of the agreement between the ANC, the civic groups and Georgetown University were finally made public. The parties had announced a deal Wednesday, but were still hashing out the finer points through Thursday.
Before getting into the details, the highest level takeaway is that while the agreement is a genuine compromise whereby neither side got 100% of what it wanted, the respective parties are very happy with the outcome. That we could actually get to this point seemed impossible just a few months ago. So kodus to all the parties involved and the power of mediation!
Now to the details:
- GU agrees to move 450 students from off-campus to on-campus. This is up from the 250 it had come up to in its most recent offer. This number will be met by moving 65 students out of Magis Row by the fall of 2013 (Magis Row is a row of university-owned townhouses on the 1400 block of 36th St.) and then constructing 385 new beds by the fall of 2015.
- The bulk of those 450 new beds will be found by converting the Leavey Center hotel to dorm use.
- A new Georgetown Community Partnership will be formed by reps of the ANC, civic groups, and GU. This committee will hopefully provide the sort of periodic pressure release that GM has supported before. It will serve as a forum for addressing issues without waiting for the next ten year plan.
- Living off-campus will be a privilege not a right. If students don’t meet certain disciplinary or academic standards, they will not be permitted to live off campus the Junior or Senior years.
- The university is promising to put a genuine effort into creating a more campus-oriented experience for students. The goal is to make the students want to live and hang out on campus. This is an idea that was espoused by ANC commissioner Jake Sticka and Kara Brandeisky, both GU students. One key element is the construction of a New South student center with a pub.
- Another key element of this is to make having parties on-campus easier. The idea is to ease up on students who want to throw parties in dorms so that they won’t just go off-campus.
- By 12/31/2013, the School of Continuing Studies will be moved to a new downtown campus (if GM had to bet, it would be Capitol Crossing next to GU law). This will free up 1,000 slots that GU will be permitted to reassign to other grad programs.
- On top of those 1,000 slots, the school will add another 1,000 grad students. The undergrad headcount will be capped at 6,675. This will bring total campus enrollment to 14,106.
- Georgetown will explore the construction or acquisition of housing units for grad students outside Georgetown and Burleith.
- Georgetown will seek to obtain a new 100 acre campus, likely as the location of a new hospital. Which is still moving forward despite Medstar’s denials.
There are some more details you can find here.
The overall message here is that amazingly the recent negotiations have developed a sense of trust between the parties. Moreover, there appears to have been a sea-change among the senior leaders of the university who recognize that genuine campus planning is needed, particularly once the hospital leaves. GM’s still uneasy about the hospital leaving, but if and when it happens, it will give the school a huge new canvas to fill in. Just getting rid of the huge surface parking lot will be a significant improvement.
The best part of the whole agreement is that it is works towards rebuilding a genuinely good relationship between the school and its neighbors. In fact, if there is one idea central to the whole agreement, it’s that this framework has seven years to prove its worth. If it goes well, the neighbors have promised to support the school in drafting not a ten year plan in 2010, but a twenty year plan. This will give the school way more room to make truly transformative changes to the campus. The school is already off on a good foot by promising to hire a campus planner.
It’s crazy, but if the next seven years goes well, the campus plan process in 2020 might result in a plan that is in effect until 2040. GM’s infant daughter could grow up, go to Georgetown, graduate, go to Georgetown Med School, and graduate from that and it still wouldn’t be 2040 yet.
This is a result that all sides want. And in the short run, the fact that we are not about to face years of litigation and have a plan that both sides are behind is a fantastic accomplishment.
All along, GM has said he just wants this behind us. Now it is, but better still, the road forward is already being forged.