The statement “GW has no sense of community” is so mainstream that students hardly notice it anymore.
But the issue really does exist, and a small solution to that major problem once sat on the corner of 22nd and G streets.
By day, the Fishbowl is the comfortable area for students to study or eat their GW Deli sandwiches with friends. By night, it serves as a venue for open-mic events and watch parties.
Of course, the Fishbowl never quite lived up to its potential as a gathering ground, but its purpose to provide a space for students to meet and create community is an important one.
That’s why the University’s move to replace the Fishbowl with administrative offices is so concerning.
Michael Peller, assistant vice president for events and venues, said in, “Marvin expands study, lounge space,” page 3, students will be able to use the new Marvin Center rooms and lounges for the events once held in the Fishbowl.
But the to-be-built Marvin Center rooms only hold up to twelve people each. Dozens of students show up to each open-mic night or poetry reading at the Fishbowl, so the new rooms won’t be able to provide the same size performance venue for students who seek a creative outlet.
The importance of a designated community space that has the feel of the Fishbowl cannot be understated, and our campus is in need of such a defined area.
Now that Wow! Wingery is shut down and the Hippodrome is slated to go at the end of this semester, the University has an opportunity to use the fifth floor of the Marvin Center to create a better, more integrated community space for students.
A multi-platform venue with a coffeehouse, performance area and lounge would allow students to come together in the University’s student union for events that help instill campus pride.
Closing the Fishbowl and moving it to the Marvin Center provides an opportunity for the University to recreate a space with the same purpose and atmosphere as the Fishbowl, but even more successfully. Rather than allowing the Fishbowl’s objective to fall to the wayside – which is what will happen if students are asked to reserve small rooms in the Marvin Center for student events – the University could use this time to make it bigger and better.
Without a Fishbowl-like space, the University is going backward in its efforts to increase companionship among students in a common space. The University should provide an open, welcoming venue for students to come together and foster the sense of community that they so often lament GW lacks.