Org seeks new home with demolition looming

When the small gym next to Fulbright Hall is demolished at the end of the semester, exercise science and exercise and sports activities classes won’t be the only entities looking for a new home.

Building K, which houses the Department of Exercise Science, is also home to student organizations like GW Taekwondo, which trains participants in the Korean martial art. But the group, which has offered three or four practices a week since its inception in the early 1990s, will need a new setting this summer after the building is knocked down to make way for the planned Science and Engineering Complex.

The demolition of the building will not occur before spring Commencement, University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said. The University is currently working on finding space to accommodate the displaced programs.

GW Taekwondo has started moving events to Lloyd Gym on the Mount Vernon Campus as it and other groups try to replace the Building K space. But while other groups may be able to handle scaled-back programming, the demands of taekwondo’s long-term instruction process require a short interval between practices, professor Brian Wright, the group’s faculty adviser, said.

“[Practicing] once a week is just dabbling. We’ve had 19 years of training, not just dabbling,” he said, adding he thinks the group needs to train three times a week to be successful.

The group has known about the looming demolition for about 2 years, but Wright said the exact timeline wasn’t known until last semester, giving the group little time to find a new space to fit its needs.

To tackle the problem, Wright suggested his students start a letter-writing campaign to University President Steven Knapp that highlights how the martial arts have translated to professional success.

“A lot of people came through and learned a lot and it has made an impact on their student experience,” Wright said. “They don’t remember the brand new building they had class in, they remember the stuff they did.”

The Lerner Health and Wellness Center and Smith Center may serve as the new homes for many exercise groups, but GW Taekwondo is composed of community members and students from other schools as well as GW students. Problems may arise because those members lack easy access to the building, sophomore Stephanie Caluag, the organization’s president, said.

“We’d hate to have to look for off-campus space, just because it’s more convenient to be on campus,” Caluag said.

Caluag, a black belt, said taekwondo can be a form of stress-relief and catharsis.

“I’ve been doing [taekwondo] since I was 7 years old, so I can’t imagine stopping,” Caluag said.

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