Officials debut new community spaces

Media Credit: Jack Fonseca | Staff Photographer

Jack Bilancia, a freshman, plays guitar while sitting on a new bench added to the mid-campus quad.

Students may have a few new places to study this fall following an administrative push to renovate campus hangout spots.

Multiple residence halls and outdoor spaces got a facelift this summer, University spokeswoman Lindsay Hamilton said. Kogan Plaza and a new patio outside Gelman Library received new furniture, and students can now reserve part of a former parking lot for events.

“As an urban campus, our space is limited, which is why our community spaces are so important,” University President Thomas LeBlanc said in an email. “I’ve heard from students that they want places to gather, study and socialize.”

He said the updates across campus include entirely new spaces and renovations to existing areas, including residence halls and classrooms. He said he hopes the upgrades will serve as a “positive contribution to the overall student experience.”

LeBlanc included a push to expand community spaces in his goal to improve student life during his first year on campus. In his first months at GW, LeBlanc told Foggy Bottom neighbors that he would create more community spaces in residence halls to alleviate campus noise.

Hamilton said some of the updates include new tables in Kogan Plaza for students to use in an “impromptu and casual” manner. The tables, currently located in the mid-campus quad, are temporary and will be replaced with new furniture in the coming weeks, she said.

She added that officials recently completed a deck outside of Gelman Library, which currently features temporary furniture. Permanent furniture will arrive later in the semester, she said.

Students can also now reserve part of the former parking lot behind Potomac House, now named “Potomac Square,” for events, according to a University release Tuesday. A courtyard in Mitchell Hall will also open as a student community space for residents, the release states.

Student Association President Ashley Le said LeBlanc’s focus on community spaces shows the University is making a conscious effort to connect with students. Le said she spoke with LeBlanc and Events and Venues about the renovations over the summer.

“Whenever students gather that’s when they get to build a community, that’s when they get to build a home,” Le said. “We want students to be comfortable where they are.”

Le said placing tables and chairs in empty spaces on campus encourages student organizations and study groups to hold events and meetings outside.

“It is our responsibility to make sure that the ones we already have can be used to the best of their ability, whether it’s by putting in more furniture and making sure that it is usable, or renovating a space,” Le said.

Lizzie Stricklin contributed reporting.

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