On Monday, University Planning and Facilities Management announced its intent to convert Ryan and Mulledy Halls, the vacant former Jesuit residences, into undergraduate residence halls to house at least 385 additional students by the fall 2015 semester. On Wednesday, University and GUSA representatives announced changes to student housing policies that require undergraduates beginning with the class of 2017 to live in on-campus University housing three out of four years. The proposed renovation and accompanying policy updates, however, represent only piecemeal and potentially problematic measures to address an issue that has plagued Georgetown for decades.
Housing at Georgetown has long been a source of contention, with neighborhood residents constantly pressuring the University to build more on-campus residences for students. The problem has been exacerbated recently by issues with dorm sanitation, a proposed—and rejected—satellite campus, and stalled construction plans for the Northeast Triangle, now scheduled for completion in 2016, far past the Campus Plan 2015 deadline. Construction delays have plagued both the Northeast Triangle and the new Healey Family Student Center, and similar setbacks could derail the University’s newly proposed measures. The University’s more recent measures present only stopgap solutions to housing woes.
The problem remains one of incentive. While the University looks to entice juniors to live on campus, building more generic residence halls is antithetical to the clear student preference for apartment-style housing. While collaboration with GUSA illustrates an attempt to listen to student voices, it still fails to interact with all students.
These new initiatives reveal only the most recent consequences of a decades-long, unresolved struggle to provide sufficient on-campus housing for undergraduates. Geographic, financial, and external constraints have effectively backed the University into a corner, leaving it with only inconvenient and incremental solutions to contemplate. Faced with these challenges, the onus will be on Georgetown over the next two years to keep to both the schedule it has set for itself and the promises it has made both to its neighbors and its students in order to ensure a permanent and acceptable resolution to the ongoing issue of student campus housing.