The recent debacle between GW student theater groups and the University administration has become the latest example of mismatched priorities in Foggy Bottom. This disconnect between the two parties has left student concerns unaddressed with no end in sight. The University must not only fix this theater issue but also begin to shift how it interacts with student organizations on campus.
While student groups have previously used the cramped Lisner downstage theater, University administrators told the performers that the space would no longer be available to host musicals because of sound “bleeding” into the main stage area. For the University, who as a business rents out the lucrative Lisner main stage, it is its right to provide a quality venue for their high-paying clients and guests.
However, the simple solution here is for the University to appease both student artists and maintain their commitment to student life by soundproofing the downstage area in a timely matter. Currently, the University has been ambiguous in its commitment to addressing the noise issue at all. It is crucial that the administration realize that meeting student needs is not an option, but rather an obligation. Instead of forcing a semester’s worth of student production cancellations, the University should accommodate a mid-semester attempt to soundproof the downstage and allow student productions to continue as planned.
Unfortunately this is the most recent disappointment concerning GW’s relationship with crucial components of student life, namely the arts. In 2006, the music department was threatened with steep budget cuts. Other student performance groups, like dance and a capella to name a couple, constantly vie for performance and practice space on campus. A strong commitment to the arts is valuable for both GW students and the institution.