University dismisses bulk of Student Association space plan

Administrators rejected the two largest Student Association strategies to expand student space on campus last week.

After two years of lobbying and rhetoric, SA executives submitted a 22-page proposal laying out 10 ways administrators could open up space on campus for students. The University fully agreed to just one proposal, calling the plan’s centerpieces – opening up academic buildings for 24 hours and scrapping all fees for student organization events – impractical.

Provost Steven Lerman and Executive Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz agreed through a formal letter to open up seven conference rooms in the Marvin Center for student use after business hours.

The University also agreed to extend Funger and Duques halls’ hours by four hours, to 2 a.m., starting Oct. 1.

GW will also begin splitting room reservation and technology fees with the SA to lift the burden off individual student groups.

Administrators cited security, housekeeping and energy concerns while dismissing SA President Ashwin Narla and Executive Vice President Abby Bergren’s call for 24-hour academic buildings. They also rejected the SA’s call for dining halls to open on weekends and for GW to renovate the Marvin Center third floor’s terrace into an indoor space.

“The short-term recommendations were all met, but a lot of the future recommendations are to be decided. We’re going to have those conversations,” Narla said.

The senior, whose campaign platform last spring largely emphasized increasing student space on campus, said he is not discouraged that the University did not commit to the plan’s long-term goals.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Narla said. “But we’re going to continue the conversation, continue the work. This is great, but we still have some ways to go in the conversations.”

Under Lerman’s and Katz’s plan, the SA, instead of individual organizations, would shoulder an $8,000 annual fee, allowing groups to rent rooms and equipment for the entire year. Narla said he hopes to lower the cost to $4,000 so the SA can keep more money for allocations to student groups.

Narla and Bergren said they will keep pushing the University to share more of the costs related to room rentals, like the $80 microphone and $120 DVD player fees.

The administrators’ letter also outlined how they would use the vacant office spaces across campus that Narla identified as potential student hubs.

The International Services Office will leave its K Street office next month and move into Old Main, left empty after the GW Career Center moved over the summer. The old study abroad office, known as the Parsonage Building, located at 812 20th St., will undergo repairs.

Narla said he and Bergren want the 20,000-square-foot former study abroad office to go to students.

“They’re not going to necessarily include us in that conversation unless we really push for that,” Narla said, adding that he would like to advocate for the building to take on the Office of Veterans Services or become another hang-out space for multicultural students.

Bergren said the administration’s formal acknowledgement of the plan was a key achievement for the SA.

“It’s one of the more recent in our history where we brought up a student driven idea that wasn’t piggybacking onto a previous University initiative and seeing it though,” Bergren said. “It’s a great win for us and for students.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.