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Board approves co-ed MVC

GW’s Board of Trustees approved a proposal Friday that will expand the Honors Program to the Mount Vernon Campus and allow men to live there.

The Honors Program plans to house 100 freshmen members and 50 current members on the Mount Vernon campus next fall, said David Alan Grier, director of the Honors Program.

Next year we will certainly have a major presence at Mount Vernon campus, Grier said.

Grae Baxter, dean of Mount Vernon Campus, said two residence halls on the campus will house men and women and the other three will continue to be all-women.

Men who are not members of the Honors Program can also apply to live at Mount Vernon, Baxter said.

The plan is an attempt to tie the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses together, GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said.

I hope what we bring to (Mount Vernon) will improve the University as a whole, Grier said.

The Honors Program anticipated the Board of Trustees’ approval and has already produced marketing brochures with the concepts of Mount Vernon expansion, Grier said.

But Baxter said the proposal does not change the structure of the Honors Program. The Honors Program is not moving to (Mount Vernon), Baxter said.

Instead, the program will expand to have a presence on both the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses, Baxter said.

Baxter said the University will attempt to draw more students to Mount Vernon by expanding the Honors Program to Mount Vernon and increasing the number of upper-level undergraduate classes held there.

The University is in the process of deciding which classes will have sections at Mount Vernon and how many additional faculty members will be needed, she said.

Additional faculty will be hired to teach additional courses, Baxter said.

Even though there will be a co-educational living option, the women-only option at Mount Vernon will remain intact and the University will continue the all-women tradition of Mount Vernon, Grier said.

The Women’s Leadership program will remain, Greir said. (The University) hopes (it) can carry on the legacy of Elizabeth Somers.

Elizabeth Somers founded the Mount Vernon Seminary and College in 1875.

Trachtenberg said the new plans go against the University’s original commitment to keep Mount Vernon’s all-women tradition when it bought the campus in October 1996.

When we associated with Mount Vernon, the University said we would attempt to keep the campus single-sex, Trachtenberg said. However, we cannot allow ourselves to be so hypnotized that we don’t deal with contemporary issues.

Baxter said the option of co-educational living could draw more students to the Women and Leadership program.

She said she has found that most women who choose the Women and Leadership program live at Mount Vernon because of the strength of the program, not because the campus is restricted to women residents.

There are strengths in single-educational programs, she said. But this change is preserving the (benefits) while creating a new model.

Trachtenberg said he hopes more students will decide to stay on the campus after their freshman year now that men are allowed to live there.

He said a number of students said they were happy living at Mount Vernon but chose to move to Foggy Bottom because of Mount Vernon’s single-sex environment.

Students said they believe the plan will benefit Mount Vernon.

I think it’s a good idea, especially if they’re still offering single-sex dorms, freshman Emily Gabriel said. Why shouldn’t men have the option of living here?

Gabriel said she will leave Mount Vernon next year because of the long commute to Foggy Bottom, not because the campus will house men.

Freshman Shahana Shaikh said she believes implementing a co-educational living option will benefit Mount Vernon.

Now that we’ve incorporated with GW, it’s time for a change, she said.

Grier said he anticipates it will take about three years before the Honors Program is fully integrated at Mount Vernon.

As the plan is currently structured, 300 members of the Honors Program will live at Mount Vernon by 2003, Grier said.

The Mount Vernon campus can house up to 440 students, Grier said. Currently, there are only 200 students living at Mount Vernon, Trachtenberg said.

This is going to be great for students and faculty, he said.

Grier said expanding to Mount Vernon will allow the Honors Program to increase its enrollment.

The Honors Program enrollment has been capped at about 600 students since 1994, while the University’s undergraduate enrollment has steadily increased.

The program has only been able to admit about 120 incoming students annually since 1994, Grier said.

We want to incorporate a larger number of students (in the program), Grier said. It’s difficult to expand with a cap. . It makes it more difficult to get into the program.

Grier said the University has been discussing the future of Mount Vernon for two years. Serious conversations about plans for the campus have been ongoing since March, he said.

Since the beginning of the school year, (the University) has been making serious decisions, Grier said.

Grier said these decisions included talking to deans about the possibility of the Honors Program moving to Mount Vernon, designing marketing brochures and making financial decisions.

Students in the Honors Program said they are not happy with the change.

This is not a good idea, sophomore Kastle Cannon said. Students in the Honors Program should be at the (Foggy Bottom campus). It should be a benefit of the program.

But Trachtenberg said he disagrees.

Anything that is good for Mount Vernon is good for the University, Trachtenberg said.

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