Op-Ed: Our chance to make a lasting impact

When I ran for Student Association president last year, I promised all of you that I would fight to get more student space on campus, because I believe that our community can be enhanced by giving students more places to study and more space to excel as leaders.

Last semester, the SA submitted a proposal to the administration that evaluated existing space available to students on campus. It called for a variety of changes, like keeping academic buildings open for 24 hours and keeping J Street open on the weekends, in addition to fixing deteriorating amenities in residence halls and converting open townhouses to student spaces.

In response, the University extended the number of hours Duques and Funger halls would remain open for students and eliminated the technology fee. But administrators were hesitant to address future plans, like adding student representatives to planning committees for upcoming building projects and repurposing the Marvin Center third floor terrace into an indoor space.

Our past proposal and the results showcase what we can achieve in working with the University. However, the GW community still lacks a sense of unity. We lack a central place to hang out and meet. I want to change that.

Over the next two weeks, the SA will launch a petition for more student space on campus. I plan on taking that petition to the Board of Trustees to convince them that our entire student body is unified on this issue. We need your help. If we speak with one voice, our voice will be heard.

Over the past month, the SA has put together a proposal to convert the third floor terrace of the Marvin Center into an indoor space that allows for students to collaborate. The new space would include areas for students to study, as well as space for organizations to meet and collaborate. This space would include a coffee shop, a graduate student lounge and flexible meeting rooms that could easily be converted to study spaces – all open 24 hours and containing GW branding. Our proposal also suggests incorporating student space into Square 77A, the plot that will turn into a mega-dorm combining The Schenley, The West End and Crawford Hall, featuring another eatery option and a lounge atmosphere.

Our school has less student space than many of the institutions GW considers its peers.

I looked at numerous other universities and found that within the past eight years, New York, Boston and Tulane universities have renovated their student centers. GW, on the other hand, has only added more administrative space.

As a Colonial, the highlights of my GW experience revolve around the student organizations with which I’ve been involved, as I am sure is the case with many of you. But the hundreds of student groups here only share a small space: one floor of offices in the Marvin Center and two floors in the Marvin Center for meeting space to study, outside of Gelman and Eckles libraries. When you think about the number of buildings on campus and the number of student organizations, it’s mind-boggling that we only have two floors for meetings.

With this expansion proposal, we have an opportunity to redefine our identity as a student body. We have an opportunity to expand our student programming. We have the opportunity to be pioneers of student space. We have an opportunity to make a better GW.

I’m writing this letter because I need your help. To convince the administration that we need more space, we need to come together as a student body and rally behind this idea. This is our chance to make history as a student body. This is our chance to leave a lasting impact that will affect future students at GW and make this institution a better place.

Ashwin Narla is the president of the Student Association.

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