Student club space cut from Marvin fifth floor plans

Student organizations’ offices will not be moved to the Marvin Center’s fifth floor as part of the building’s larger reorganization to improve the student hub.

Student leaders from the Marvin Center Governing Board said they will continue to fight for community space and a share of the $2 million slated for the fifth floor project, despite the University’s decision to leave the fourth floor offices intact.

Chair of the group, Dylan Pyne, and Aria Varasteh, who represents the office-less German Club, will lobby to revamp part of the fourth floor to meet the needs of more clubs.

“Just because the University has seemingly given up on its commitment to creating collaborative space for student organizations doesn’t mean we won’t continue to fight for the ever-growing needs of all student organizations,” Pyne said.

The proposed plan to create a community space on the fifth floor for GW’s more than 400 clubs was both lauded and criticized by students. Many groups that hold offices on the fourth floor did not want to lose their individual spaces, while smaller office-less organizations praised the proposal that would create open spaces for everyone.

The College Republicans, vocal dissenters in adopting a community space model, were pleased to learn they would be keeping their private offices. Chris Wassman, public relations chair for the CRs, said the group’s members “utilize office space constantly, and taking that away would be detrimental.”

If the Center for Student Engagement moves from the fourth floor to the fifth, Varasteh and Pyne hope student organizations can lay claim to the vacated space.

GW aims to incorporate on the fifth floor the soon-to-be overhauled Career Services, located in Old Main, and the International Services Office, which is housed in leased space on K Street. Contenders for the space also include the Office for Study Abroad, the Center for Undergraduate Fellowships and Research, Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Education and the Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service.

Chris Deering, a political science professor who was charged with coordinating the fifth floor renovation project in early January, noted that a limited number of departments could fit into the 22,000-square-foot space.

Deering added that the final design for the floor, which will be fashioned by a stakeholder group and approved by top administrators in the next few months, could include meeting rooms that would be accessible, but not exclusive, to student organizations.

The University declined to provide details on the membership of the group supervising the Marvin Center project.

The professor said he was tapped by Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Planning Forrest Maltzman to oversee the project, which was previously under the direction of Michael Peller, assistant vice president for events and venues, to ensure the project “proceeds at a reasonable pace.”

Peller faced fire from student leaders last month for failing to include them in key talks about the project. He did not return requests for comment. Senior Vice President of Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak said Peller “is still very much involved in the discussions.”

GW announced its efforts to create a “one-stop shop” for student services on the Marvin Center’s fifth floor in October, five months after announcing the Hippodrome would close. The centralization of services will model Colonial Central, which brought together the registrar, student accounts and financial services in the lower level of the Marvin Center four years ago.

The project is still expected to be completed by fall 2012.

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