(Updated at 9:35 a.m. 03/23/21) Most college seniors spend spring break tossing back cocktails somewhere warm and inviting — a last hoorah before graduation.
But one Marymount University student did pretty much the exact opposite. He traveled to his birth country of Ukraine, which Russia invaded nearly four weeks ago, to help some of his family members flee their homes and resettle in Poland.
A.C. — who asked the college to abbreviate his name fearing his safety and that of his family — has family members living in the capital, Kyiv, and Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city. The war has caused a massive refugee crisis, and 10 million people have fled their homes in Ukraine, either for more remote parts of the country or for neighboring countries, chiefly Poland.
“It’s a lot worse of a situation than even what’s being shown on TV. When I was in Lviv, every five to 10 minutes the sirens would go off, warning anyone and everyone to find shelter or evacuate,” A.C. said in an interview with his school. “Near the edge of Lviv, I saw several bodies just laying outside buildings because there aren’t really any spots right now to bury victims. It was all very nerve-wracking.”
Some of his family resettled in Warsaw, Poland’s capital, but others told him they plan to stay in Kyiv — along with an estimated two million others sticking it out, either because they do not have a place to go or the means to get there, or in defiance of Russia.
“I pleaded with them, begged them to leave… told them, ‘you will die if you stay here.’ While I admire their patriotism for Ukraine, it’s inevitable what will happen and I would rather them be alive than sacrifice their lives,” A.C. said. “They’re attacking churches, hospitals, apartment complexes. They’re just openly targeting civilians because of their nationality — it is genocide, and there’s no other way to describe it.”
The Marymount senior predicts that if he is not thwarted, Russian president Vladimir Putin will target neighboring countries, a concern shared in particular by many Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians — all of which were formerly under the control of the Soviet Union.
A.C. left Ukraine at six years old and has since become an American citizen, but he stays in touch with his roots through the Ukrainian embassy in D.C. and nearby Ukrainian churches, which offer volunteer opportunities, language classes and festivals.
Now, he’s tapping into his patriotism in a different way. He has attended protests outside the Russian embassy as well as at Lafayette Square, joining other demonstrators calling on the U.S. government to hold Russia accountable. He is also raising awareness for Ukraine on his campus.
During a recent interfaith prayer vigil for peace, he delivered a poem he wrote entitled “My Ukraine.” In it, he contrasts the country’s war-torn history and present-day circumstances with depictions of it as “a land of innocence and prosperity… filled with fields of sunflowers glistening… with magnificent churches and cathedrals.”
“I stand by my nation of Ukraine,” A.C. told Marymount.
Addressing his birth country and its people, he said, “I love you. Fight for our land. This is our land. This is our home. Slava Ukraini.”
"Let us be true peacemakers. Let us make a difference so that it may spread."
Today, our #MUSaints⚜️ united to show support for the people of Ukraine. Through interfaith prayers, our students, faculty and staff acknowledged the tragedy of war and called for peace. pic.twitter.com/VCd7shV80s
— Marymount University (@marymountu) March 17, 2022
Marymount University is seeking Arlington County Board approval to convert some of its student housing in Ballston into hotel rooms permanently.
The conversions would occur at “The Rixey,” an apartment building Marymount owns and operates at 1008 N. Glebe Road as graduate student housing. Marymount intends to repurpose 133 of the 267 units into hotel rooms to give students studying hotellery practical experience.
“The addition of hotel units to the Rixey building will be used to support and enhance Marymount University’s Hospitality Innovation Master of Business Administration (MBA) program by providing students with hands-on experience in the hotel industry,” a county report said.
This request follows several other recent proposals to temporarily convert apartment units into hotels during the initial leasing of these buildings, the report said.
For example, to recuperate revenue losses from pandemic-era vacancies, Dittmar asked the Arlington County Board last summer to allow three- to 30-day stays in 75 furnished units that are typically used for longer residential stays.
Some worried these conversions would harm rental housing affordability, but the County Board ultimately approved Dittmar’s request. County planners intend to study these conversions “in the next few years” to inform a potential hotel conversion policy, according to the report.
Staff say Marymount’s proposal, however, is “distinctly different” because the conversions would be permanent, would figure into a hands-on learning program and would add hotel rooms the county needs.
“The proposed conversion would also establish a concentration of new hotel rooms to help counterbalance the loss of 1,600 hotel rooms in Arlington over the past two years and would allow Marymount University to broaden its offerings as an anchor institution in Ballston,” the report said.
Marymount purchased “The Rixey” for $95 million in 2019 after it had purchased the land underneath in order to lease it to local real estate developer The Shooshan Company, which built the apartments. Marymount also owns the Ballston Center office building next door, using some floors for office and educational space and leasing other floors.
The Board is slated to review the proposal this Saturday.
Wet, Windy, Snowy Saturday on Tap — “A powerful storm system will cross the region Saturday. We are likely to see winds gusting over 50 mph Saturday, along with very low wind chills by Saturday night. We remain uncertain about snowfall, as the cold air will be chasing the precip — a wide range remains possible.” [Twitter, Capital Weather Gang]
Firefighters Union Wins Vote — “For the first time in more than FOUR DECADES — a public sector union will have the right to negotiate a contract with Arlington County. And it wasn’t just a win — it was a BLOWOUT.” [Facebook, Twitter]
PSA: Don’t Leave Keys Inside a Parked Car — An auto theft near Upton Hill park: “At approximately 12:40 a.m., a witness observed three unknown suspects rummaging through a vehicle. The witness yelled and the suspects fled the scene on foot. The suspects then entered into the victim’s car, located the keys inside and drove away from the area. The vehicle is described as gray in color, 2015 Honda CRV bearing VA license plate VKX2844.” [ACPD]
Marymount Adding Wrestling Teams — “Marymount University is moving forward on plans to add both Men’s and Women’s Wrestling as varsity sports, expanding the institution’s athletic offerings to 22 different varsity-level teams. Men’s competition will begin in the 2022-23 academic year, as Marymount currently searches for a head coach who will begin recruiting for the program immediately. Women’s competition will debut during the 2023-24 academic year.” [Marymount University]
How Arlington Landed HQ2 — “If you’re interested in how Amazon could reshape our region, it’s worth understanding what our region had to build to land them. It’s an underdog story that starts with a small team of local business-improvement officials who had neither the clout nor the cash of most of their competitors. Instead, they figured out what Amazon was really looking for and quietly began the process of shaping a city to fit those needs.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]
An Irish Tale on a Local Stage — “Tis the time of the year that everyone wants to be Irish, if only for a wee while, and Encore Stage & Studio has joined the celebration of all things Eire with the world-premiere production of ‘Riley O’Brien and the Lost Leprechaun.’ While aimed at the younger set, the show is inventive in its conception and solid in its execution, making it a treat for all ages.” [Sun Gazette]
Fairfax County Local News — ARLnow’s latest sister site, FFXnow, is providing up-to-the-minute coverage of Fairfax County following its recent official launch. Sign up for the email newsletter or follow on Facebook or Twitter. [FFXnow]
It’s Friday — Sunny most of the day, then rain overnight. High of 59 and low of 37. Sunrise at 6:27 am and sunset at 6:13 pm. [Weather.gov]
Prison for Convicted Drug Trafficker — “An Alexandria man was sentenced today to 14 years in prison for conspiracy, possession, and distribution of fentanyl and Eutylone, and being a felon in possession of a firearm during drug trafficking… Pills distributed by the conspiracy twice on December 20, 2020, contributed to the mixed drug overdose death of a 20-year-old female in Arlington, whose blood was later determined to contain fentanyl.” [Dept. of Justice, Twitter]
ACDC Lowering Participation Age — “Seventeen-year-olds would be able to participate in operation of the Arlington County Democratic Committee under proposed bylaw amendments. The change, part of a larger swath of amendments to be voted on in April, would allow those under 18 to participate in ACDC activities, including caucuses, if they would turn 18 before the next Election Day.” [Sun Gazette]
History of Columbia Gardens Cemetery — “Columbia Gardens, long run by the Thomas family, is the resting place of historic personages: car dealer Bob Peck, Sen. Robert Byrd, guitarist Roy Buchanan, and a host of prominent locals with names like Ball, Marcy, Mackay and Lyon. Retired superintendent Ned Thomas Jr. confirmed the story his great-grandfather (a co-founder) relayed: ‘Someone in the War Department knew World War I was coming and that Arlington cemetery was basically full,’ he told me. So the partners thought a new cemetery in Arlington would make a lot of money.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Marymount Boosts Local Economy — “A new study suggests Marymount University pumps $236 million annually into the local economy, directly and indirectly, and is responsible for a cumulative payroll of about $90 million. The study, released by the university, looks at both the direct impact of the university on local economic conditions, and indirect impacts, such as spending by students.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s Monday — Rain in the evening. High of 75 and low of 57. Sunrise at 6:33 am and sunset at 6:09 pm. [Weather.gov]
Man Tased After Columbia Pike Assault — “The suspect was inside of a business, acting disorderly and aggressive towards other patrons, when he allegedly approached the victim and struck him in the face. The victim sustained minor injuries and did not require medical treatment. Responding officers located the suspect, who continued to act disorderly and resisted arrest. A brief struggle ensued, during which the officer deployed a TASER, and the suspect was subsequently taken into custody without further incident.” [ACPD]
Library Reads on the Ukraine Conflict — “Ukraine and Russia are top of the headlines around the world. Dig deeper into the two countries and their history in these books.” [Twitter, Arlington Public Schools]
Marymount Going Mask Optional — “On Monday, Marymount University announced to students, faculty and staff that the institution’s indoor mask requirement will no longer be in effect starting this Tuesday, March 1. This decision is based upon low COVID-19 metrics in Arlington County.” [Press Release]
On to States for W-L Boys Hoops — “The host South Lakes Seahawks played a part in the Generals’ failed attempt, winning that Feb. 25 boys 6D North Region tournament boys high-school basketball title contest, 56-47… Next for Washington-Liberty is the Virginia High School League’s Class 6 state tournament, with a first-round quarterfinal game against the undefeated Hayfield Hawks on March 4 or 5.” [Sun Gazette]
Beyer Wants to Nix Stadium Tax Break — “A Virginia congressman wants to sack a financial incentive package aimed at luring the Washington Commanders’ new stadium to the Commonwealth. U.S. Representative Don Beyer, a Democrat who represents Virginia’s 8th Congressional District in the heart of Northern Virginia, said stadium bond packages like the one working its way through the Virginia state legislature takes needed tax revenue out of the pockets of taxpayers all to benefit people who have more than enough money to build new stadiums on their own.” [WUSA 9]
Cherry Blossom Bloom Prediction — From the National Park Service: “We’re projecting cherry blossom peak bloom to fall between March 22 – 25 this year!” [Twitter]
It’s Wednesday — Sunny skies in the morning become partly cloudy. High of 60 and low of 40. Sunrise at 6:40 am and sunset at 6:03 pm. [Weather.gov]
APS Test-to-Stay Date Set — “Arlington County Public Schools, in Virginia, is planning to launch its test-to-stay program Feb. 14, a school spokesman said. The coronavirus testing will initially be offered to students only, for free, at Syphax Education Center from 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on school days.” [WTOP]
Police Probe Particularly Problematic Pothole — “Scanner: Police responding to intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Sycamore Street in East Falls Church for multiple reports of a large pothole damaging passing cars.” [Twitter]
Another Guy Arrested With Gun at DCA — “A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer stopped a West Virginia man from bringing a loaded handgun onto a flight leaving from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) early Tuesday morning, according to a TSA release. The TSA officer detected the .40 caliber gun while searching the Bunker Hill, West Virginia man’s carry-on items at a DCA checkpoint.” [Patch]
ART Performance Is Best in Region — From MetroHero: “Our January 2022 regional bus performance reports are now live! ART: B. DASH: B-. Fairfax Connector: B-. MTA Local Bus: C. Metrobus: C-. Ride On: D+.” [Twitter]
Marymount to Host National Event — “Marymount University has been selected by the Center for Excellence in Education to host the national finals of the 2022 USA Biolympiad, to be held on campus May 28 to June 9. The USA Biolympiad is the nation’s largest cost-free biology-education testing and training program for high-school students in the U.S.” [Sun Gazette]
Photos: Church’s Lunar New Year Celebration — “Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated Mass in honor of the Vietnamese New Year at Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Church in Arlington Jan. 30. Tet, or Vietnamese New Year, is celebrated Feb. 1 this year. Following Mass, Bishop Burbidge blessed a shrine to Our Lady of La Vang in a courtyard outside Holy Martyrs.” [Arlington Catholic Herald]
It’s Groundhog Day — Patchy fog today before 8 a.m. Otherwise, Groundhog Day will be mostly cloudy, with a high near 46. Sunrise at 7:12 a.m. and sunset at 5:31 p.m. Rain likely Thursday, mainly before 1 p.m. Otherwise cloudy, with a high near 56. [Weather.gov]
Preservation Bill Proposed After Rouse Razing — “Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) has introduced legislation that, if enacted, could give preservationists more of a fighting chance to retain properties they deem worth saving. Hope’s bill makes several changes to the state’s historic-preservation laws, most notably prohibiting a local government from permitting the razing of a proposed historic property until 30 days after a final decision on the matter has been made.” [Sun Gazette]
Students Getting At-Home Covid Tests — “Last week we received a large shipment of rapid at-home Covid-19 test kits. These kits are in the process of being delivered to our schools for distribution to students, beginning toward the end of this week or early next.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Dorsey to Lead Regional Board — “Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey will chair the board of directors of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments for 2022.” [Sun Gazette]
Old Home Gets Rocking Aesthetic — “The white-stucco, black-shuttered exterior of this 1871 center-hall Colonial in Country Club Hills belies its rock-and-roll interior. That’s part of the fun. A century and a half ago, the stately home was likely built as a summer residence for a wealthy D.C. family. Today, it’s owned by Ben and Dina Hitch, a pair of concert-going music and art aficionados whose vast collection of original record albums and American artwork spans decades.” [Arlington Magazine]
Marymount Junior Stands Out on Court — “As a result of helping the Marymount University women’s basketball team improve to 5-0 and first place in the Atlantic East Conference, junior Symantha Shackelford recently was selected as the league’s Player of the Week in women’s college basketball.” [Sun Gazette]
Snow Incoming — “A major winter storm is set to slam parts of the Northeast on Saturday, with heavy snowfall, strong to damaging winds and coastal flooding all possible… For D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia, the storm probably gets going too late to drop more than a couple inches of snow, but areas just to the east have a chance to see more substantial amounts.” [Capital Weather Gang, Twitter]
It’s Thursday — Today will be sunny, with a high near 37. Sunrise at 7:18 a.m. and sunset at 5:24 p.m. A low around 27 Thursday night. Friday will be cloudy, with a high near 37. Light snow possible in the morning, then probable in the afternoon, perhaps mixing with rain. Expect snow and wind gusts as high as 26 mph Friday night. [Weather.gov]
(Updated on 1/7/22) Residents of Arlington’s northern reaches will have a new Covid testing option starting next week.
Marymount University announced today that it will host an appointment-only, walk-up testing booth, for use by students, university employees and the general public, on its main campus.
The booth is set to open on Monday, Marymount said. It will be operated by Curative, the same company that runs the three Arlington County-sponsored testing kiosks in Courthouse, near Pentagon City, and along Columbia Pike.
Those testing sites have attracted massive lines amid the latest Covid wave. Currently, the Pike testing location is closed due to staffing shortage, while the Courthouse and Pentagon City kiosks show no available reservations through next week.
Marymount officials say they hope the new Curative booth, near the Reinsch Library, will add testing capacity for the university and its neighbors.
“The sky-high demand for COVID-19 tests during the holiday season due to the Omicron variant has resulted in hour-long wait times at clinics near and far, as well as diminished inventory,” Barry Harte, Vice President for Finance & Operations and Treasurer at Marymount University, said in a statement today. “But our important partnership with Curative will deliver critical access to COVID-19 tests not just for our community members on Marymount’s campus, but the surrounding Arlington area and even beyond.”
The booth will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Last year the school and Arlington County brought a mobile testing unit to campus for a couple of weeks in the spring.
Shot Fired in Buckingham — “At approximately 3:04 p.m., police were dispatched to the report of shots heard in the 4200 block of 2nd Road N. Upon arrival, it was determined that the male victim exited an apartment, encountered the two suspects in the hallway and confronted them. A physical altercation ensued, and one suspect produced a firearm. During the struggle, a shot was fired, causing damage to the door of an apartment. The suspects then fled the scene. Responding officers recovered the firearm.” [ACPD]
Driver Strikes Child in Falls Church — “At approximately 4:15 p.m., Falls Church Police and Arlington County Fire and Medical units were dispatched for a report of vehicular crash with injuries involving a pedestrian, approximately 3 to 4 years old. The victim was taken to Fairfax Hospital and is currently listed in critical condition. The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene. The preliminary investigation is still underway with no additional details at this time.” [City of Falls Church, Twitter]
Fairlington Fire Station’s Future in Flux — “The Arlington government three years ago closed Fire Station #7 over concerns about the structural integrity of its flooring. It has since been determined that it would be too costly to upgrade the facility to resume its original function, but competing planning priorities coupled with the COVID crisis have left the building’s future unclear. A community process to determine the future of Fairlington’s 1940s-era, one-bay fire station has been on hold during the COVID crisis, but may be tackled in early 2022.” [Sun Gazette]
Fire Departments Struggling With Staffing — From public safety watchdog Dave Statter “Alexandria isn’t alone. Area fire department staffing is impacting the number of fire & EMS units available at a time when Covid is surging. There’s also significant impact on EMS availability due to hospital staffing leaving ambulance crews stuck at EDs with patients.” [Twitter]
Local Scholarship Application Now Open — “Arlington Community Foundation (ACF) launched its 2022 scholarship application today, providing Arlington high school students with an opportunity to compete for more than 70 scholarships worth over $525,000 in student aid. A single, common application gives students an easy way to apply for an award from more than 55 individual scholarship funds.” [Press Release]
Marymount Now Requiring Booster Shot — “On Monday, Marymount University administrators shared with its community members an enhanced COVID-19 vaccination policy that will require a booster shot for all students, faculty and staff who will be physically present on campus during the upcoming semester, a precautionary measure designed to ensure the best possible protection against the virus.” [Press Release]
It’s Tuesday — Today will be mostly cloudy, with a high near 46. Sunrise at 7:23 a.m. and sunset at 4:49 p.m. Tomorrow will be sunny, with a high near 48 and wind gusts as high as 24 mph. [Weather.gov]
Candidate Questioned About Age — “Arlington County Board candidate Audrey Clement, who previously told news outlets that she is in her early 50s, appears to be two decades older, according to government records. When asked about the discrepancy, Clement, a perennial candidate who largely has self-funded her independent campaigns for local office, said that asking for her age amounted to discrimination and violated her right to privacy.” [Washington Post]
Road Closures for Biden Event — “On Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, President Joe Biden will attend a special event at Virginia Highlands Park, located at 1600 S. Hayes Street in Arlington. The event will take place from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. The public can anticipate large crowds and increased pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the area related to the event… All road closures are anticipated to be lifted by 10 p.m.” [ACPD]
DARPA Building Sold — “The home of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is under new ownership. An affiliate of Cleveland-based Boyd Watterson Asset Management has acquired the 13-story, 355,000-square-foot building at 675 N. Randolph St. in Ballston for $196.5 million, according to public records. An affiliate of the Shooshan Cos., which developed the building a decade ago, was the seller.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Name Change Celebration — “It’s now been 101 years, but that’s not going to stop the Arlington County government from celebrating the 100th anniversary of its current name. County officials expect to hold a celebration of the switch from ‘Alexandria County’ to ‘Arlington County’ on Friday, Nov. 19 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Lubber Run Community Center.” [Sun Gazette]
Marymount to Promote ‘Racial Healing’ — “In the latest example of Marymount University’s commitment to raising awareness of diversity, equity and inclusion issues, the institution has been selected by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) to host a new Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Campus Center.” [Marymount University]
County Seeking Design Award Nominees — “Arlington County’s biennial design awards program, DESIGNArlington, is accepting submissions for great design in architectural, historic preservation, landscape and public art projects through December 6, 2021.” [Arlington County]
It’s Tuesday — It’s going to be a windy day. A slight chance of showers between 8am and noon today. Partly sunny, with a high near 65 and a northwest wind 10 to 15 mph increasing to 18 to 23 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 37 mph into the evening hours. Sunrise at 7:29 a.m. and sunset at 6:14 p.m. Tomorrow it will be mostly sunny, with a high near 68 and more gusty winds.
(Updated, 12:30 p.m.) Some Marymount University students say they can’t afford a new housing policy that will require them to live on campus all four years.
Last week, a group of 15 students demonstrated outside of the Catholic university on N. Glebe Road in protest over a policy that will take effect next fall, requiring most students to live on campus during their entire stint at the school.
“Beginning in the Fall of 2022, all current and new undergraduate students who do not live with family members in the local [D.C] area will be required to live in University housing,” a university spokesperson told ARLnow.
A Change.org petition in response to the new policy calls for it to be rescinded, alleging that it’s a “blatant money-grab.” Plus, notes the petition, some off-campus leases have already been signed for next year, leaving students “to choose between breaking their lease or breaking university policy.”
The petition has more than 650 signatures.
The university tells ARLnow that this policy came from “input” they’ve received from students who say living on campus helps them have a “more engaged and fulfilling Marymount experience.” It also eliminates “problems with landlords and local housing laws, a growing trend that has been brought to our administration’s attention in recent years,” according to the spokesperson.
Those students who disagree with the policy say this makes attending Marymount University unaffordable for them when they could find lower cost housing options off-campus.
The lowest priced on-campus housing option is Rowley Hall, a dormitory on campus offering double rooms (as in, shared with another student). It costs $4,743 a semester, according to 2021-2022 housing rates, which works out to be more than $1,100 per month, per student. However, that option is only open to freshman and sophomores.
“We feel like we’re being priced out,” Giancarlo Ganzaba, a second-year Marymount student, tells ARLnow. “Not all of us can afford to keep [paying that]. We have to take out loans to be able to pay for on-campus living. We just can’t afford it.”
It was just announced last month that some of the student housing in the Rixey is going to be converted into hotel rooms. An attorney for the university noted that “student housing availability on site has consistently exceeded demand for student housing at Marymount,” according to the Washington Business Journal.
Ganzaba current pays $6,500 a semester to live in a two-bedroom, two-bath unit with three roommates at the Rixey. That’s about $1,600 a month.
“While that may be competitive with average rent levels, it is still incredibly expensive housing,” he says. “I could afford to live somewhere else off campus a few miles away and be a commuter. But they are taking that option away from me.”
Marymount, however, says that student who need it will have access to financial aid for housing.