Decision on new location for health centers coming by May

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo

Student Association president Julia Susuni

GW will announce new locations for Student Health Service and the University Counseling Center by May, the top student advocate said this week.

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo
Student Association president Julia Susuni said a committee of students and administrators will decide on the new Student Health Service and University Counseling Center location by May.

Student Association president Julia Susuni said a group of administrators and students will spend the spring finalizing the plans after University President Steven Knapp agreed to relocate the offices last fall.

Susuni said relocating the offices would likely cause a “domino effect” around campus, forcing other offices to relocate or downsize because there are no locations currently available. But she declined to comment on specific locations because the committee is still discussing possible options.

Both the campus health and counseling centers are housed in offices on K Street, which Susuni and other advocates say sometimes deters students from seeking help.

Officials, such as Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski, have floated the lower floors in the soon-to-be-built “superdorm” project on H Street. Another option is the basement of the Science and Engineering Hall, which will open in 2015. Knapp has said the move will not take away any space that is used for academics or student activities.

Administrators have also mulled opening a joint office in Tompkins Hall, which will be mostly empty after classrooms and labs move to the Science and Engineering Hall, though it would require millions of dollars to renovate.

The committee hopes to begin working with a firm to design the space by the end of this academic year. Staff from both health centers and students will meet with architects to pitch their needs for the space, Susuni said.

Susuni added that she was surprised at how quickly the University committed to moving the offices.

“It was very unexpected,” she said. “But I’m really happy that the announcement came from President Knapp’s office.”

Sen. Ryan Counihan, SoB-U, said he was not surprised by how quickly Susuni’s plans to move student health took hold because she had worked on the pitch throughout the summer.

He added that just getting commitment from the University on certain topics is an accomplishment itself in most cases.

“At the end of the day, we don’t have any direct power to announce change. We have to go to them and enact the change that we want to see,” Counihan said.

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