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To date, D.C.’s higher education lobby—-the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area—-has made the case that trying to restrict the growth of the city’s college student population would run counter to the push for economic development. But no one’s said that the city talks from both sides of its mouth when it yammers on about fostering innovation, while at the same time backing strict enrollment caps on schools like Georgetown University. Until yesterday’s Post editorial page:
Imagine a city telling its largest private employer—-one that pays millions in taxes and salaries, strives to hire local residents and voluntarily does community service—-that it can’t grow anymore, that it might have to cut back. That seems far-fetched in light of today’s scary economy, but it’s essentially what D.C. officials are telling Georgetown University by insisting it either house all its students or cut back enrollment. The District seems distressingly disinterested in promoting a knowledge-based economy.
What’s most troubling about the city’s posture is the notion that an increase in young people, particularly those in search of an education, is somehow undesirable. What happened to the idea that these are the very kind of people that should be lured to make the District their home?
Can’t disagree with the ed board here. Requiring a university to house all of its students on campus is unrealistic and unreasonable, not to mention counterproductive to the goal of getting them involved in District affairs, which Mayor Vince Gray has explicitly pushed. At the same time, Gray says he “supports the community” against the “creeping presence” of universities into neighborhoods. But does the administration really want those jobs to be housed at satellite campuses in Arlington? If so, it’s done a pretty good job so far.