Will Schmidtz (COL ’25) felt frustrated about the university’s new housing plan. “It feels like we could have been informed of this a lot earlier in order to plan and accommodate for it,” he said in an interview with the Voice.
The university is planning to renovate the Henle housing complex over the next two years, creating a dearth of apartment style residences for the students who are eligible—primarily rising juniors.
In order to mitigate this lack of housing, the university plans to renovate the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center into a residential community of single, double, and triple private-bathroom units. These dorms will be available for upperclassmen to self-select during the upcoming spring 2023 housing selection process.
The university also announced plans to provide the class of 2025 with the option to live off campus during the renovation period provided they live outside a set boundary, which includes most or parts of West Georgetown, Burleith, and Foxhall. Students can also choose to live at Georgetown’s new apartment style residence hall at 55 H St. NW, which will include free bus transportation to the main campus.
Unfortunately, students have found these off campus options highly unappealing, given their distance from campus and the lack of flexibility that leases provide.
“The junior off campus option is unappealing to begin with, just with the required radius that the school has—putting you a mile off campus just isn’t practical. It kinda turns you into a commuter,” Schmidtz said. “ I [also] want to go abroad. I don’t want to and can’t get locked into a lease for twelve months that I would only spend four months occupying.”
Given that the number of students who are allowed to live in the Georgetown and Burleith neighborhoods is capped by the Advisory Neighborhood Committee (ANC), however, this boundary seems unlikely to change.
“University leadership has been working closely with student leaders since the spring, including GUSA and the two student [ANC] commissioners, in their effort to address the university falling below its minimum number of legally required on-campus beds during the two years when Henle will be redeveloped,” a university spokesperson wrote in an email to the Voice.
Additionally, students felt further frustration given the difficulty in finding a lease in the competitive Georgetown housing market. The new housing plan will also result in the competition increasing, as rising seniors—many of whom have signed or are looking to sign a lease given Georgetown’s three-year housing guarantee—will now be competing over leases with rising juniors.
“If you were going to go off campus to find a lease with barely a year’s notice, it is really tough here when most people sign them two years in advance,” Schmidtz said.
This difficulty has led to concerns about housing equity and what the housing for rising juniors will look like. “More than anything, I’m just scared because I don’t trust Georgetown to provide us with enough housing. I know they’re renovating the hotel, but that’s not adequate to Henle,” Matt Shin (COL ’25) said.
With the limited number of apartments on campus, it appears as though the majority of rising juniors will not be able to access apartment style living.
“The vast majority of juniors are going to end up in Phase Two housing, which is all dorms that are not exclusively freshmen dorms,” Camber Vincent (COL ’24), the current GUSA Speaker of the Senate and incoming Executive President, said. Vincent noted that he was heavily involved in developing the new housing plan.
According to a university spokesperson, conversations between administrators and GUSA emphasized the goal of avoiding underclassmen living at a temporary satellite dormitory away from the main campus, which is why the hotel will be renovated. However, students are also worried about what living in the hotel will look like.
“I feel a bit worried about ending up living in the hotel. Even if it is nicer than some other areas on campus, it feels distant,” Rohan Patel (COL ’25), a current sophomore who is worried about his housing prospects for next year, said.
The hotel has been previously used as quarantine housing for students who tested positive for COVID-19. Furthermore, approximately 100 students last year lived in the hotel as their permanent housing.
Despite the precautions administrators are taking, students are worried about equity and how the lack of housing will affect students looking for accommodations. “It’s already been a struggle for those people who need housing accommodations, and I know that removing Henle is just going to make getting accommodations that much more difficult,” Shin said.
Student in GUSA and university administrators, however, have taken steps to ameliorate equity issues, including preventing sophomores and freshmen from living in Nevils and closing a loophole that previously allowed for something called “water-falling” (when seniors would pull juniors and sophomores into apartment style housing and then drop out, allowing the remaining underclassmen to choose someone to replace them).
“They made that decision in the name of equity,” Vincent said.
Despite these changes, students are concerned about the quality of housing for next year and the year after. “Putting juniors in a forced triple in the hotel seems a little bit wrong if you have freshmen in, say, Copley,” Schmidtz said. “Are they going to restructure it so that the quality of housing kind of reflects your grade and time spent at Georgetown?”
Ultimately, the general census amongst students appears to be wait and hope.
“My plans right now are to form my housing group with my current roommate and two friends and just hope that we are afforded on campus housing,” Schmidtz said.