Howard wants to increase campus housing 28%
Last month Howard University’s Board of Trustees agreed to proceed the planning process to build 1,300 beds of student housing in two new dorms on campus. This marks a 28% increase from the current 4,609 beds the university controls. This is smart move that will aid academic success and reduce commuting pressure through the surrounding neighborhoods.
View Howard University’s future development in a larger map
The university’s goal is to create a “Freshmen Village” on 4th Street just north of LeDroit Park. Ms. Maybelle Bennett, Howard’s community outreach director, said that enhancing academic performance and graduation rates is the university’s motivation for concentrating housing and services for new students in Freshmen Village. Since a student’s first year is critical to a student’s success during an undergraduate career, the university wants, as Ms. Bennett adoringly put it, “to bring our babies home.”
The university will add these two new buildings to their forthcoming campus plan proposal that they will submit to the Zoning Commission in the coming months. Each university in the District is required to submit a campus plan for the commission’s approval every ten years.
We think this is a smart move on the university’s part and will benefit everyone.
National social benefits
Universities serve a unique social mission: they exist to educate America’s youth. As such, we must remember that a university’s success is in the national social interest. The university’s goal of improving academic performance is laudable and its reasonable measures should be supported on social grounds.
Traffic and environmental benefits
Furthermore, by bringing more students onto campus, the university reduces the commuting pressure currently placed on students and the surrounding neighborhoods. More students walking from bed to class means fewer students driving from home to campus.
As it stands today, hundreds of students commute from housing in Prince George’s Plaza alone. Though most of them probably take the Metro, many will undoubtedly drive on occasion, thus adding traffic and pollution to surrounding neighborhoods. Carpooling in a Prius still has a greater environmental impact than walking, which is mankind’s oldest, cheapest, cleanest, quietest, and most universal form of transport.
Economic development benefits
With 1,300 more people within a short walk of Florida Avenue, the new dorms will increase the economic viability of the commercial spaces along LeDroit Park’s southern edge. All of the properties along Florida Avenue are zoned for both residential and commercial use, even though most are solely residences at the moment. In fact a century ago the 400 block of Florida Avenue (across the street from the Post Office) hosted numerous prominent black-owned businesses and doctors’ offices.
What do you think? Are you supportive of the university’s desire to add more housing on campus?
Ms. Bennett will present the plan for Freshmen Village to the LeDroit Park Civic Association. The meeting is open to the public and residents are encouraged to attend. The meeting will be at 7 pm on Tuesday, March 22 in the basement of the Florida Avenue Baptist Church (enter through the back at U and Bohrer Streets).