Carrying On: Off-campus, off the mark

September 12, 2013

“Since 1789, the Georgetown University experience has always included Georgetown.” This is not a comment from a student, nor an on-campus publication. This is a comment from NBC News Washington’s recent video highlighting what neighbors and university administrators have seemingly failed to grasp—the success of Georgetown as a university is inextricably linked to its location and atmosphere.

The University is considering the possible negative implications of continuing to anger our beloved neighbors in deciding on expansion measures. But there are far greater social, safety, and socioeconomic implications of a potential satellite campus.

Let’s actually think this one through, shall we? What makes Georgetown such a strong community is its compact campus filled with history, vibrancy, and advocacy. Before I made it from my room in Copley to the ICC for class, I would encounter at least six of my friends, students playing Frisbee, and club members petitioning for various causes, all within five minutes each other. To rob future students of that little pleasure would be denying them a big part of Georgetown life.

Freshmen not only bond with their floors, but with students in other nearby dorms. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I hadn’t been able to seek refuge with my VCW friends whenever my roommate sexiled me from New South. Sophomore year is when students start to really narrow down and pursue their passions. Please enlighten me how students could possibly leave production night at the Voice office in Leavey or tech rehearsal for a show in Gonda at 2 a.m. and safely return to their dorm on a satellite campus.

Which brings me to my next point: safety. College students will be college students. Even though they may live on a satellite campus, they’re still going to have friends on the main campus, and those friends will go out with them.

A satellite campus will not solve nightlife problems: it will create new ones. Students grow familiar with the Georgetown area with the help of orientation and upperclassmen. Adding an unfamiliar area to the mix will force students to either become hermits or pay for cabs every weekend, an unfair economic disadvantage to those who weren’t lucky enough to win a golden ticket to an on-campus apartment. Bottom line: our school has been based in Georgetown for over two centuries. I doubt any neighborhood residents could say the same.

Furthermore, NBC News Washington specifically noted that the University was considering sites near metro stations in Virginia, Capitol Hill, and Wisconsin Avenue. This plan would be good planning if Georgetown had a metro stop in the first place. Students could drive to class, but, seeing how we were kindly reminded last month that cars aren’t an allowed thing here, that’s not an option. Therefore students would have to take a metro or shuttle just to get to classes and to Leo’s, thanks to the mandatory meal plans.

Unless the University wants to provide all of these students with a Jesuit golf cart to even the playing field with those who can roll out of their Harbin beds and into the ICC, they should reconsider this plan.

Even studying abroad away from campus, I’ve felt the effects of how easy it is to miss something or feel out-of-the-loop when I’m not physically present on campus. Granted, I’m across an ocean rather than a river, but the sentiment is still the same. Without the camaraderie fostered by our main campus, the Georgetown community would not be as strong.

Most alarming is Todd Olson’s most eloquent comment: “Even if most students don’t like the option, to be crass about it, most students don’t need to live there.” To be crass about it, Georgetown students embrace the idea of cura personalis, and we care about the students within our community—past, present, and future. We want the best for our fellow Hoyas, even if it won’t directly impact our college careers.

I don’t know why the University is still surprised by student reactions to these plans. When topics are on the table that directly affect us, we will have adverse reactions just like any other adult would. We were accepted into this University because we are intelligent and care about the community around us. So why shouldn’t we be consulted on matters that affect us, especially when we can provide fresh insight and potential solutions? The University needs to stop protecting Georgetown University as a brand or business and start protecting it as a community where its students should be able to both learn and live.

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