RHA plans to add or furnish common rooms in residence halls

Media Credit: Kiana Robertson | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Ali Belinkie, the president of the Residence Hall Association, is making it a priority for every common room to have furniture.

The Residence Hall Association wants students to have common space in every residence hall.

RHA president Ali Belinkie said the association is working with Facilities Services, GW Housing and the Center for Student Engagement this summer to stock every common room on campus with furniture. She said RHA members hope that every residence hall on campus will eventually have space for students to hold events, socialize and study.

She said the spaces will help residents build friendships with each other and will offer students places to study outside their rooms.

“We want students to be meeting each other,” she said. “We want students to be as social as possible. We don’t want them shut up in their room all the time with only their roommates – no good can come from that.”

Belinkie said RHA members are talking with CSE staff about installing more common spaces, which could include converting one or two rooms or putting up walls in building lobbies to create a common room. She said they will make headway over the summer, but “can’t say for certain it will happen by the fall.”

Belinkie, who was elected to her position last month, said RHA distributed a survey to its members last week to identify how many halls lacked community spaces. She said RHA will show the results to members of the CSE to find out which halls currently don’t have common rooms and which rooms are in need of new furniture.

At least 13 of GW’s residence halls currently have common rooms or spaces.

Within a month after summer move-out, Belinkie said Facilities Services will finalize which halls need new furniture and install it.

“It’s just a priority to get furniture in there now and work on other stuff later, like getting old, broken things out and getting new things in,” she said. “We want to have everything be full so it can at least be used in the fall even if it’s not at optimum utility level.”

University spokesman Kurtis Hiatt said all residence halls have at least one “lounge,” and he said the CSE and Division of Operations are working with RHA to determine “furniture needs” for each lounge.

He said District House, which is slated to open in the fall, will “bring even more common area space to campus.”

Hiatt declined to comment on whether the University plans to install more common rooms and how much those projects would cost.

Two years ago, officials committed to renovating every residence hall on a seven year cycle. Last month Mike Massaroli, the former RHA president, said the group would call for more funding for summer renovations because a seven-year cycle would not be attainable with the current budget.

Massaroli also said last month that officials are considering adding new furniture to Thurston Hall this summer.

With new furniture in place for the fall, Belinkie said the RHA is working on ways to make sure students don’t take the pieces into their rooms, which she said is a common problem.

“If we put all new furniture in a hall and then after a week it’s gone because someone wants that couch in their room,” she said. “We can’t just every single week put in more furniture.” she said.

Belinkie said RHA will put up signs in common rooms, encourage residence advisers to monitor furniture and require hall councils to frequently hold events in common rooms, so residents know when furniture goes missing.

“I think students will hold each other accountable – that’s the goal, anyway,” she said.

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