Student leaders meet with University officials to consider empty Marvin Center space

University officials are working with student leaders to decide how to use a 5,000-square foot vacant space in the ground floor of the Marvin Center.

No official plans have been made for the area that District Market used to occupy, but members of the Student Association and the Marvin Center Governing Board met with the Marvin Center’s managing director, Michael Peller, Tuesday to discuss possibilites.

“A lot of options are on the table,” said Josh Lasky, executive vice president of the SA, after the meeting. “The University is very open to ideas from students . we just need to commit ourselves seriously.”

After GW’s former food service provider Aramark left last spring, Sodexho replaced Aramark and decided to downsize and relocate the grocery store that was previously located in the ground floor of the building. The University said last year that the space would probably be available for student use.

“With all of these possibilities – enhancing student experiences and life at GW is at its core,” said Helen Cannaday Saulny, assistant vice president for Student Academic Support Services.

Student leaders have compiled a “wish-list” for what they would like to see done with the space based on student input.

Lasky said that the University has proposed numerous preliminary options for the space including moving the Theater and Dance department, which is housed on the second floor of the Marvin Center, and relocating the Student and Academic Support Services Financial Services to the space.

The University has also proposed moving the Disability Support Services from the second floor of the Marvin Center, or creating a space for student entrepreneurial activities in conjunction with the School of Business, Lasky said.

“I just know people are working on various scenarios,” said Robert Chernak, senior vice president for SASS. “All it is at this point is brainstorming.”

“I don’t think we want to race to judgment just because the space is there,” he said.

“The intent is to . make the Marvin Center more accommodating to students,” he said.

Lasky and Chairman of the Marvin Center Governing Board Charlie Leizear said some students are interested in an area that includes 24-hour access, wireless Internet, a stage for performances and forums, and a projector and screen.

Lasky said he believes the space could also be utilized as a meeting place for student organizations on campus. Another option Lasky mentioned is a Greek store that would sell paraphernalia for Greek-letter organizations.

“In my opinion, the space is large enough that it can be divided up,” he said. “There are a lot of opportunities for multiple uses.”

Relocating offices from elsewhere in the Marvin Center would free up other spaces in the Marvin Center for alternate uses. Senior Chris Heffron, the executive producer of Forbidden Planet Productions, said he thinks the space should be made available to theater groups.

“Even an informal, flexible space … with some sort of stage lighting, it would be invaluable for us,” he said.

Cannaday Saulny said the cost of renovating the space depends on what will be done with it, and no figures are yet available.

Meetings between student leaders and Peller are scheduled to continue on an ongoing basis. Lasky said Peller has expressed an interested in having a concrete plan for how to use the space complete by the end of the semester.

-Andrew Ramonas and Lizzie Wozobski contributed to this report.

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