Andrew Siddons: Hands off Alumni House

There’s a not-so-great rumor around campus that you might have read about on this page. In her March 1 column, “Beating the ‘buff and blue’ blues,” (p. 4) Hatchet Contributing Opinions Editor Diana Kugel mentioned the possibility that President-elect Steven Knapp might be moving into Alumni House.

Kugel likes the sound of this, arguing that it will help Colonials spirit by unifying the school. With all due respect to the writer, her vision of “school spirit” must contain a new game for drunken Thurston residents that might include any combination of ringing/running/peeing/puking/hooking up on the president’s house.

What’s worse than these potential “Animal House” antics is that if Knapp moves into Alumni House, student organizations will no longer be able to use one of the nicest buildings on campus for functions when they are looking to class it up a little bit. And since our other options for location, advertising and catering are not exceedingly abundant, not having access to Alumni House would be a severe loss.

In the interest of full disclosure, you must know that I help organize meetings of the Enosinian Society, a recently rekindled group that’s devoted to clever debate on interesting issues. This past year we’ve had every one of our meetings at the Alumni House, which looks delightful while lit up at night. Its cozy interior is also quite comfortable.

The best part is that it’s free for any registered student organization. Knapp’s possible desire to move in certainly couldn’t stem from disuse. It’s almost impossible to schedule time in the Alumni House unless you do it months in advance. I think I speak for plenty of student organizations when I say that we want to keep using this space.

Thankfully, Knapp’s residency in Alumni House is but a rumor. It’s alleged that he could settle down in President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s University-owned mansion, so long as Trachtenberg doesn’t get squatter’s rights. And there is the chance Knapp may take up residence in a yet-to-be-determined location.

Unfortunately, not all space is in demand like the Alumni House, but finding event space even without Knapp as the newest campus resident is difficult. While it is relatively easier to schedule time in the Marvin Center, restrictive advertising and catering policies may discourage groups from holding events there.

As far as advertising is concerned, we student groups had it nice for a while. At the beginning of fall semester, to get posters up in residence halls, all one had to do was drop them off at the housing office, and house staff members would put them up on their bulletin boards. But now, student organizations have to request to sign out a GWorld card with all-hall access, and do it all themselves.

The old advertising method was never an extraordinary burden on individual House Staff members who were each responsible for a few posters, but the new way presents a much larger time commitment for student organizations.

After merely finding a location for an event and advertising it, student groups must use one of GW’s catering subcontractors, Colonial Catering or Catering Solutions, for food. Prices include $1.50 per can of soda, $1.75 per bottle of water and $1.95 per person if you want some chips and salsa. Say you’re expecting 30 people for a lightly catered event, and that’s already more than $100. You could have done it yourself for about $20.

I said “almost mandatory” because if you’re willing to jump through hoops, it is possible to obtain a “food waiver,” which is still subject to approval from the catering bullies in Marvin Center. The fact that Colonial Catering gets away with Kennedy Center prices is yet another disgraceful, if unfortunately representative, example of objectionable GW excesses.

If the Student Association really wants to advocate for students, it might do what it can to start trust busting our food service providers, return to the old advertising system and push for more student space. And please, don’t take Alumni House off the table. It would be a loss for students and student organizations and a win for nobody. And really, the curtains don’t truly complement Knapp’s eye color, and vomit is awfully slippery.

-The writer, a senior majoring in international affairs and anthropology, is a Hatchet columnist.

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