Officials still unsure of Marvin Center’s empty space

Students and University officials are in the early stages of planning a student service center to fill the empty 5,000 square-foot space in the ground floor of the Marvin Center.

Officials said a one-stop student service center is likely to fill the space, which has been vacant since September 2006, but there is no timeline for when a final decision will be made.

“This service center would dramatically cut the red tape at GW, providing a central resource for the registrar, financial aid, student accounts and several other departments,” said senior Charlie Leizear, chairman of the Marvin Center Governing Board, in an e-mail.

Managing Director of the Marvin Center Michael Peller stressed that the details of the service center are still being discussed, and he plans to share specific information with the GW community once a final plan is confirmed. Peller also said that this is the primary option being evaluated by officials at this time.

The basement space in the Marvin Center has been empty since the District Market was reduced in size and relocated to J Street, one floor above the empty space. In October 2006, Marvin Center officials said they hoped to have a plan for the space by December.

“Our high expectation is to involve students and solicit suggestions as we get further down the road,” Peller said. Some students have already been involved in planning for the space including Leizear and senior Josh Lasky, executive vice president of the Student Association.

The Hatchet reported last October that Lasky and Leizear were examining the possibility of using the space as a type of student space with Internet access, a stage for performances and forums, and a projector and screen.

At the beginning of this semester, Leizear said that he and Lasky were notified by administrators that all other plans had been put aside in order to consider the possibility of a student service center.

“This is an exciting option for students, and could totally reshape the way GW students think about customer service at this University,” Leizear said.

Peller said that the center would streamline many of the service processes and place offices that do business with students in one easily accessible location. Peller specifically mentioned the cashier and student accounts as possibilities.

Lasky stressed that maintaining a focus on student interests was important to the project.

“The Marvin Center is our student union; as the student body evolves so should the building’s spaces to reflect the most current needs of the students,” he said.

Peller said that one of Lasky and Leizear’s early plans, relocating the Student Association office to the space, had not been ruled out. He said the SA office, which is located on the fourth floor of the building, could be part of the student service center.

“I happen to think that moving the SA office to the ground floor is a great idea, and I think it would be beneficial to the student community and the SA,” Peller said, adding that there are still many possibilities being considered.

“This has been something the University has been looking to do for a long time,” he said. He did not have a specific timetable for the creation of the service center, but he expects the planning to take time because of the many University departments that would be involved.

Leizear said he hopes that students will understand that it is a lengthy process.

“We understand the frustration surrounding the fact that the student body has not yet seen any progress downstairs,” he said.

“Hopefully students can understand that all options are being explored extensively to make sure the space is utilized in the best possible way.”

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