Op-ed: Leave communal furniture where it belongs

Ari Massefski and Mike Massaroli are the president and executive vice president, respectively, of the Residence Hall Association.

Nobody likes a lounge that doesn’t have any furniture. Across the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses, our residence halls have dozens of common spaces that we can use for studying, hanging out with friends or planning events, but sometimes these lounges are startlingly empty. In some buildings, a large common space only has one or two chairs, a couch and a small table.

As your advocate, the Residence Hall Association has spent the last several months working with staff in the Division of Student Affairs and the Division of Operations to point out lounges and lobbies that could use more furniture. And we have seen notable successes: A lounge in the basement of Thurston Hall recently opened and has become a popular study spot during midterms, and new furniture will soon grace a newly constructed student lounge in Amsterdam Hall.

But too often, furniture that is placed in residential common areas doesn’t remain there. The furniture “disappears” of its own accord – usually because a resident has decided that a couch from the lounge would make a nice addition to his or her room.

If you were at home, and you thought that the kitchen table would look better in your bedroom, would you just take it? No, because the kitchen table is for communal use, and dragging it into your bedroom would take it away from the rest of your family. Even when we’re not at home, the same principles should apply.

Campus resources are finite, and we all share the responsibility to maintain the condition of our communal lobbies and lounges. When furniture is removed from common spaces or when we abuse the lounge by breaking or mishandling furniture, it takes away from everyone’s opportunity to use those amenities. As residents of the buildings throughout campus, it’s important for all of us to contribute to ensuring these halls remain our homes away from home.

Last fall, several GW departments and student organizations like the RHA and the Student Association put together community standards to ensure the halls remain in good condition for current and future residents. But on paper, standards can only do so much – they need the effort and buy-in of the entire community to truly make a difference.

As we all hunker down with our Oreos and Red Bulls to study for midterms, students across campus are looking to use these common spaces for quiet studying or to work on group projects. Administrators are open and willing to work with students on refurbishing lobbies that need furniture. Please do your part by leaving the lounges the way you found them, and give your hall councils feedback about the furniture you would like to see in your lobbies and lounges.

If we all chip in, we can make sure these are spaces that the community can enjoy together.

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