University to improve residence halls’ common areas

GW spent $3 million on renovating residence halls and updating fire and life safety equipment over the summer, and it has allocated an additional $1.5 million for improving common areas in GW’s oldest and largest dorms.

The renovations come largely as a result of a Student Association initiative called the Residence Hall Renewal project, which helped the University prioritize the most pressing issues for dorms. Former SA President Omar Woodard, along with Residence Hall Renewal Director Thane Tuttle, submitted a 30-page report detailing the most pressing problems facing dorms.

SA President Audai Shakour said earlier this month that he will push for the University to continue to renovate residence halls and said every GW residence hall will have had renovations by 2015.

“There were many areas of concern regarding several of the residence halls, and we really wanted to focus on areas of critical concern,” said Tuttle, now a first-year GW law student.

Of the $3 million, $750,000 was used to bring fire and life safety equipment up to code, and an additional $600,000 was used to improve the sprinkler system in the West End, Executive Vice President and Treasurer Louis Katz said. About $130,000 was spent on painting the interiors of several dorms over the summer. An additional $1.51 million was spent on other projects and repairs.

“We continually refresh and repair our housing system. This year we are focusing on public areas of our dorms. Over the summer the focus was on fire and life safety equipment updates,” Katz said.

The University will be working this academic year to determine exactly how $1.5 million will be spent on repairs to be completed in summer 2006. The University is looking at targeting residence halls’ common areas. Renovations are traditionally done in the summer months to disrupt the least number of students possible.

“We are focusing on improvement of common areas, breakout space and leisure areas, improvements in lighting, adding soft seating to enhance lounge areas and adding DVD players to common rooms for the buildings,” Katz said.

Matt Nehmer, assistant director of media relations, said the University plans to extend sprinkler systems in residence halls and will renovate sprinklers in The Dakota in summer 2006.

Tuttle said his reaction to the University’s renovations was mixed – while he was pleased to see the money spent on GW dorms, he said more can be done.

“I feel that the University’s response to the projects was good, as they were very receptive,” Tuttle said. “However it did take a long time for the concerns to be addressed.”

A key campaign initiative for Woodard, the Residence Hall Renewal project was a major endeavor for the entirety of his administration.

“I believed then, as I do now, that students deserve to live in the highest quality housing and residential services possible given the amount of money we spend,” said Woodard, now a GW graduate student and University employee.

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