As fall blows into the District, students will congregate on benches in University Yard and Kogan Plaza. But the crisp weather and sun are not the only reasons students crowd the outdoors.
It is a struggle to find adequate indoor space to study or just hang out, which becomes especially problematic during the winter.
But now that the first floor of Old Main lies vacant due to the Career Center’s move to the Marvin Center, and the former Office of Study Abroad at 814 20th St. waits to be occupied, the University has a chance to reaffirm its commitment to student space by allocating these spots for student use.
Student Association President Ashwin Narla has been lobbying for these spaces to be allocated for student use. He – alongside each of his contenders during the election last spring – illustrated the desire for increased student space on campus while campaigning to represent the student body.
And Narla is not the first campus leader to call attention to this issue. Recent years have seen similar cries from the student body and SA leaders for increased student space on campus.
Last year, the debate largely centered on the Marvin Center’s fourth and fifth floors. The University allocated the fifth floor for Colonial Crossroads and most of the fourth floor for student organizations.
Last fall also saw the Fishbowl on 22nd and G streets turn into University office space, depriving the student body of a small but popular study space. Buildings such as Duques Hall, where students meet to study and work on group projects, are closed to students after midnight.
It is unrealistic to expect a traditional “student union” at the center of campus. Since that is impractical, administrators should take advantage of the open buildings throughout campus, like Old Main and the former study abroad office, for student space.
This move will not only send the message to students that the University is in tune with their needs, but it would also help alleviate some of the space constraints felt by all on campus.
And while it is ultimately up to the administration to delegate the new space as it sees fit, there are a multitude of ways the space can be used that will be in the best interest of students. Whether it is performance space for theater groups, conference rooms for student organizations and group projects or quiet space for students to study, there are various options that will address students’ repeated calls for more places on campus to convene.
Seasons may change and summer will roll into fall, but complaints over space will remain until the University meets students’ needs.