Staff Editorial: SMPA almost finished

The new building that houses the School of Media and Public Affairs is not ready for the start of classes despite administrators’ previous assurances that the Jan. 16 deadline would be met. While students will wait two weeks to take advantage of the high-tech facility, they should not have to be shuffled to temporary quarters, most lacking proper desks, after being promised a new building this semester.

The University has obtained temporary occupancy permits for three floors of the six-story building, but by no means are those floors ready for students. Legally GW could hold classes in the four classrooms closest to completion, but students would instantly notice the lack of such niceties as properly hung doors, wood paneling on the walls and usable sidewalks. Some walls need painting, seats in a lower-level classroom need to be installed and projectors are not hooked up. University officials are correct not to hold classes in such a space. The building may be functional, but at this stage, it certainly is not an environment conducive to learning.

The larger problem, though, lies in the repeated assurances GW officials gave anxious students as the deadline for opening the building approached. According to site managers, the schedule employed by the University for completion of the SMPA building as a usable academic space was unrealistic. Administrators apparently realized this when, in October, they began planning for the likely contingency that the building would not open as scheduled. But rather than set a workable schedule for construction and keep students fully informed as to the status and progress of construction projects, administrators appear to have embarked on a strategy of hollow assurances and empty promises

Students are justified in feeling annoyed at having to shuffle to temporary quarters when just more a month ago, administrators said the SMPA project was on schedule. SMPA joins the Health and Wellness Center on the list of projects languishing behind schedule as administrators continue to set and then revise completion dates. GW students are bright people capable of understanding that construction projects are sometimes delayed by various uncontrollable factors. Administrators should respect students enough to tell the truth about such delays and not continue to misrepresent the status of new facilities.

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