Ryan Last: Make Gelman a priority

As we embark on a new semester of work and leisure, we must ask ourselves once again: When will the University realize that it is time for Gelman Library to be updated? Students will agree with me when I say a university library is the focal point of a school, yet GW’s library is far from that. “Get Gelman Going” is a movement at GW that aims to get the University aware of how students, staff and faculty are extremely upset with the way the University has handled Gelman. This group has hit GW hard with students contributing their feelings and views about our library. The priority of making Gelman better needs to be on the top of GW’s list.

Yes, we have computers and data bases where we can look up information for our class research papers, but what about the facility that is run down with bathrooms needing major repairs, ceilings needing to be updated, and the entire electrical grid to be upgraded so that more electrical outlets are available for students? The University should be ashamed when students have to sit on the floor in the hallways because there is just no room for them to sit. Not to mention the amount of old and graffiti-strewn furniture that is used in Gelman. I must praise Gelman for adding more outlets to the fifth floor this year, but other floors are without and the outlets are just an eighth of the problem.

The current fundraising campaign to support renovations to Gelman is not as successful as it should be. We are in a bad recession, which has likely caused many potential donors to rethink giving donations to the library. The senior gift is a major help to making Gelman a better place, but it’s just not enough. Still, Gelman should not have to find donations to fix the building – the University should allocate a certain amount of money each year for upgrades and remodeling. The library is trying to raise $5 million to renovate the first floor, and they have not even gotten close to that.

What continues to bother not just me, but thousands of students, is the fact that the library has seen too many crimes in the past year. I am not talking about assaults, but rather about robberies, which the University Police Department has not done enough to try and prevent. They are able to place security cameras in academic buildings, but the library, where students are more likely to be, only has cameras on the seventh floor and front entrance doors.

The University should be ashamed of how they have let this building get to its present state. I do agree that the third and sixth floors are great in the way they have been remodeled, but the rest of the floors have been left in bad shape. And still, those remodeled floors are not maintained to the best of the University’s ability. What most students do not realize is that Gelman Library receives limited funds from the University that only support its operation. The money needed to remodel and upgrade the library must be acquired purely through donations, raised by Gelman’s own development office.

I went around asking GW students, both graduate and undergraduate, their feelings on the library. The responses I got included: “I do not get how we can have such high tuition and have such a crappy library,” and, “The University should be embarrassed on how they have handled the upkeep of Gelman Library.” I took a rough survey of 100 people walking into Gelman and asked them if the University is doing enough to better the library, and 98 percent of the students said no.

It is time for the University and its Board of Trustees to finally realize that Gelman Library, where students are every day, is due for a major makeover. To get involved, join the organization’s Facebook Page or e-mail GetGelmanGoing@gmail.com. If you feel the library needs a major upgrade then you should get your voice heard.

The writer, a junior majoring in political science, is the leader of “Get Gelman Going,” an organization that supports Gelman renovations.

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