Team aims to improve Smith Center

As the District nears a final decision on GW’s proposed health and wellness center, an advisory committee is exploring the equipment and procedures at the Smith Center, hoping to find ways to improve the current facilities.

The Smith Center Advisory Team, which is comprised of 14 appointed students, is charged with recommending changes to the Smith Center regardless of the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment’s decision Dec. 3, said Student Association undergraduate Sen. Patrick Macmanus (at large), who helped originate the group.

“We realize the Smith Center is grossly inadequate. Whether or not (BZA) decides to (approve the health and wellness center) Dec. 3 . the Smith Center has to be improved,” Macmanus said.

The proposed health and wellness center would house squash, racquetball and basketball courts, weight-training facilities and a refreshment stand.

The facility, which would take about 20 months to build, would stand next to St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on the corner of 23rd and G streets.

A report by Macmanus on the state of the Smith Center, entitled “Students First,” was sent to the administration. It listed problems with the building’s free weight room, fitness center and hours of operation.

The solutions listed in the report included posting Smith Center schedules on the Web and GWIS2, expanding Smith Center hours to accommodate students’ schedules and knocking down the walls of two of the six racquetball courts to expand the free weight room.

“The Smith Center is an athletic facility, a fitness center, (and) a student center. It’s definitely over-utilized,” SA Executive Vice President and SCAT member Tony Sayegh said.

Freshman Jennifer Swenson, a SCAT member who works in the Smith Center, said she hopes the health and wellness center will be approved because the Smith Center’s free weight room is too small.

Swenson said SCAT offers students a chance to suggest changes to the Smith Center and helps bring attention to problems that would not otherwise be addressed by the administration.

“I think for what we are paying for (at this University), (Smith Center facilities) could be better,” Swenson said.

The team has held one meeting so far and will reconvene after the city’s zoning board makes its decision. The team also includes Smith Center Operations Supervisor Jason Wilson and Executive Director of Student and Academic Support Administrative Services Mike Peller, who oversees Smith Center operations.

Macmanus said he is confident that the proposal for the health and wellness center will pass Dec. 3. However, Sayegh remains skeptical.

“You never know in D.C. politics what will happen,” Sayegh said.

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