Signs burned on front lawn in Burleith in GU expansion controversy

Photo by The Georgetown Dish
Glen Harrison examines a burned sign on his doorstep
Glen Harrison examines a burned sign on his doorstep
Vandals ripped out yard signs opposing Georgetown University's proposed expansion plan and set them on fire on the front steps of a Burleith house Sunday night between 11:00 pm and 8:00 am, according to D.C. police.  The plastic red-and-white signs were taken out of hedges, a flower bed and the front lawn of at least two houses and burned. No witnesses have been identified. 
Metropolitan Police filed a report on the crime and took photos. 
The burned sign near Harrison's doorstep (Photo by: Burleith Citizens Association) The burned sign near Harrison's doorstep
Tensions in Burleith have escalated as residents' frustration with the University continues to mount. But Burleith Citizens Association president Lenore Rubino said the burning of the signs is unprecedented. "We've had signs disappear and vandalized, but we've never had signs that were burned. There are legitimate ways for people to express their oppinions, but when you have burning of the signs it takes it to another level," she said. "The symbolism of burning something on someone's front lawn is not to be lost. It's intimidation and it's meant to incite fear."
Georgetown University officials could not be reached for comment.
Glen Harrison, whose signs were burned, fears his community is at the “tipping point,” on the verge of losing its diversity to cheek-by-jowl student group houses. The proposed GU expansion will “increase the number of students without any [on-campus] housing for that growth,” he said.


"I put this squarely at the University's feet, because if the University took responsibility for housing of its students, we wouldn't see these types of things," Rubino said. "To go trespassing and vandalizing someone's personal property is a crime."

The Georgetown ANC expects to vote on the expansion plan at its next meeting Monday, Feb. 28. ANC Chairman Ron Lewis said a draft position will be posted on the ANC 2E website this week. "We've gotten the comments from the community organizations and the University, so it's time for us to take a position."
Glen Harrison replaces the burned sign (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Glen Harrison replaces the burned sign
The first planned hearing by the D.C. Zoning Commission is April 14, following a recommendation by the D.C. Office of Planning. Two further hearings are scheduled in May.
D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans has expressed "disappointment" with the expansion plan, saying, “I was disappointed to learn that the University’s proposed campus plan does not include any significant action to move more undergraduate students onto the main campus."
GU administrators have identified four guiding principles for the upcoming plan: academic quality, on-campus community life, civic engagement and sustainability.

“This campus plan reflects Georgetown’s ongoing commitments to enhance our academic mission and the quality of campus life while also contributing positively to our environment and the community beyond our gates,” said Spiros Dimolitsas, the university’s senior vice president in a statement.
But after two years of dialogue with the University that seems to have resulted primarily in increased frustration in the community, residents say talks have broken down. "We look forward to presenting our facts and recommendations to the Zoning Commission,” said CAG President Jennifer Altemus.
Harrison quickly replaced the burned signs. Last summer, after signs were slashed by unknown persons, Harrison and his neighbors replaced them. 

0 Comments For This Article

Foxhall Village neighbor

A perfect example of the reason of why Burleith and other property owners need the university to manage their growth, and their student body! A sad act of inmaturity!


The signs are so foul, I really wish they'd get rid of them. The neighbors put them up to incite anger against school, and I'm not surprised by this reaction from supporters. That they want to blame this vandalism on the school is typical: These neighbors blame all their issues on the school, whether its that they can't find a parking spot, or if there's traffic on their commute, if rents are going up, or if property value falls, its all the school's fault. Try getting to know neighboring students, rather than put up signs protesting their existence!


What great journalism.... "Georgetown University officials could not be reached for comment." There is an entire office dedicated to responding to these sorts of questions. Who did you try to contact that wouldn't reply?

And, more importantly, why do you imply that this was Georgetown students? At least provide evidence if you plan to publish such specious claims in the future.

Good article

Burning signs on someone's doorstep is absurd, but if you don't want to live amongst students, don't move into a neighborhood where a university has existed since 1789.


The university has existed since 1789, but the size of it has changed substantially, especially in recent years. The current size and configuration of GU then was nowhere near what it is today--or when the bulk of the houses in the surrounding residential neighborhoods were built.

Burleith Resident

Patrick, you are absolutely wrong. Who else but the school is bringing in floods of students without providing places for them to live? It's about money, and GU's attempts to grab as much of it as possible without any real concern for the quality of life in the neighborhood. Clearly, someone who vandalized these signs had a vested interest in doing so; who do you think that might be? Conjecture for us. And where DO the parking spots go when one house is rented out to six people? Instead of two cars belonging to the residents, you instead have 4-6 cars. Property values fall when potential buyers see the constant rubbish and parties thrown about by students and renters. So it is the students, the never-ending flow of students, and we can look to GU for bringing them here without putting them in some kind of space other than forcing them to overflow into the homes around (not on, but around) GU's campus. Getting to know the students hardly does any good when by virtue of their overpopulation, students bring noise, garbage strewn around, and hundreds of cars into a small, quiet neighborhood.

John Kenchelian

"Getting to know the students hardly does any good when by virtue of their overpopulation, students bring noise, garbage strewn around, and hundreds of cars into a small, quiet neighborhood."

This kind of sentiment is exactly why your points are so invalid. Come back when you want to talk like men and women, instead of acting like this is the Community episode called "Modern Warfare".


The neighborhood is on the verge of losing its diversity? Last time I checked it was mostly caucasian people around here... #subtlebutnotsosubtleburleithracism?


I am yet to know of ANY group of 4-6 students living in Burleith that each has a car here with them. Burleith Resident, your assumptions make it oh so clear that you do not have even the slightest understanding of student life (the large majority of students do not have cars here) and that you would rather make uneducated accusations than try to get to know your neighbor.

Besides, if there was such a group of students where each could afford to have a car here, I assure you- they would not be living in Burleith.