GW Relations

The relationship between the George Washington University and the residents of Foggy Bottom and the West End is a complicated one. A great deal of negative history regarding GW’s expansion resulted in litigation and in a very strong “us versus them” mentality. It is the current FBA’s philosophy that a positive relationship between the neighborhood and the university benefits everyone.

 

As the university has grown, permanent residents have experienced challenges. These include increased noise, trash, competition for parking spaces, and – to a lesser extent – vandalism. Members of the community believe that because GW’s growth and other policies have created many of the problems we face, GW must be part of the solution.

 

That belief guided a group of neighbors to approach GW directly. We proceeded thoughtfully and consistently, meeting with a broad range of GW administrators. We also reached out for guidance to MPD leadership, and to our counterparts in other District neighborhoods where colleges and universities are located.

 

Our advocacy has contributed to the following beneficial changes to GW policies regarding students living off campus:

1. Beginning with students entering GW in September 2014, all students are required to live on campus for three years instead of two. GW’s construction of District House, the largest dormitory on campus, will help to make that possible.

2. GW’s judicial policies have been tightened significantly. Students violating noise and trash ordinances are subject to disciplinary probation after three offenses. While specific details regarding how particular students were sanctioned are not available publicly because of the federal Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA), student residents of several houses were sanctioned, and their bad behavior ceased as a result.

3. Beginning in September 2015, GW established a Community Response program, which deploys GW staff on selected weekends to verify neighbor noise complaints in real time. This is a pilot program still in progress, but it does appear to offer students a greater measure of due process, as well as a higher level of responsiveness to neighbors.

 

 

The majority of GW students are law-abiding and respectful – of one another, and of the community. Yet we need to deal with that minority of individuals who cause trouble, and we need to deal with them effectively. The challenge is that new individuals move into the neighborhood at least annually, and lessons learned by student residents one year are not conveyed to student residents the next year. GW and the neighborhood cooperate to ensure students are aware of trash and noise regulations, for example.

 

Many neighbors believe that the university can be a positive force in the community. The FBA has developed strong working relationships with members of the Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Association, and the Multicultural Greek Council, as well as the GW Student Association. These relationships have facilitated cooperation on neighborhood projects. During the 2015 Greek Week of Service, for example, students mobilized by the Greek leadership entities helped the FBA clean park areas along Pennsylvania Avenue in record time. The year before, a dozen extraordinary fraternity and sorority members cleared out one particularly nasty-looking triangle park; clad in protective white suits, they crawled under bushes and removed years-old trash and debris.

 

If you are interested in working with the FBA to ensure a strong, positive relationship with GW and its students, please email president@foggybottomassociation.org.  

 

Upcoming Renovations to Thurston Hall

GW to Renovate Thurston Hall, Temporarily Relocate Students

The George Washington University will perform substantial renovations to Thurston Hall on 19th and F streets NW beginning in fall 2020 and ending during the spring semester of 2022, university officials have announced. 

Thurston is the largest dorm on campus, housing more than 1,000 students, more than half of whom are first years.  The building has not been renovated since it was built in 1929.  The university held a design competition to select an architect who would effectively address the need for historic preservation with the requirements of a 21st century college. 

Because Thurston will be close for a period od time, GW has applied for relief from several provisions of the 2007 GW Campus Plan. The university wishes to house approximately 550 third- and fourth-year students north of Washington Circle in university-owned properties at 1 Washington Circle (the One Washington Circle Hotel) and 1129 New Hampshire Ave NW (Aston Hall).  GW also wishes to reduce the on-campus bed requirement to 70 percent of the its full-time Foggy Bottom undergraduate population for no more than two years, and to allow second-year students to reside in the residence hall located at 1959 E St NW during Thurston construction.  ANC 2A held a special meeting on Wednesday, May 29, to hear community perspectives.  Those who live north of Washington Circle voiced particular concerns regarding noise, safety, and other issues.  The community will have several additional opportunities to voice opinions in the coming months as GW begins to seek approval from a variety of entities, including the ANC, the DC Zoning office, the Historic Preservation Review Board, the federal Council of Fine Arts, to name a few.  The Foggy Bottom Newsletter will endeavor to keep you informed of upcoming meetings and important deadlines. 

 

Are you experiencing trouble because of nearby student renters?  Is your sleep interrupted?  Have you noticed more rats because trash is mishandled?  Send a note to mstreznewski@gmail.com with details – including the address(es) of the property(ies). 

(202) 810-5816 

P.O. Box 58087 Washington, DC 20037   

© 2017 Foggy Bottom Association

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