Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Divide the Pie Accordingly

There is no greater monument to the rapidly diminishing amount of available academic space on campus than the Bunn Intercultural Center, the building now used to house what could be an entire university in and of itself.

No fewer than 12 academic departments (including all of Georgetown’s modern languages, except The Arabic and Islamic Studies department*), seven programs, eight centers, the deans’ offices of the College, the School of Foreign Service and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the office of the provost must coexist inside the ICC. Oh, and a coffee shop.

Professors in those departments – which include some of the largest at Georgetown, like government and history – have long felt the squeeze of overcrowding. Alfonso Morales-Front, the chair of the Spanish and Portuguese department, says that between professors, adjunct faculty and teaching assistants, his department can barely breathe in the space allotted to it on the fourth floor. Across departments, professors have noted that teaching assistants must increasingly use public spaces to work with students. As for the College, the deans simply didn’t have room and split offices between the ICC and White Gravenor.

As students of the liberal arts see more and more of their classes assigned to one building, it’s getting to the point that Georgetown might as well just build new gates around the ICC and declare that the entire campus to save on its utilities bills.

To be fair, the university’s planners were acutely aware of the space crunch when they drew up a 10-year campus plan at the end of the last decade. The plan made the best possible use of Georgetown’s limited open space to alleviate the strain in existing buildings. The construction of the Davis Performing Arts Center and the planned McDonough School of Business Center and science center will assuredly trigger a domino effect that will free up space in buildings across campus.

Beset by endless legal challenges from citizens, the red tape of city bureaucracy and the slow pace of fundraising, it looks as though the university’s faculty will ultimately be forced to wait out the entire decade for which that plan was meant to be effective – if not longer – to see those plans realized.

But once they finally are, the university must approach the reapportionment of space judiciously. Departments and programs that serve the most students must be given priority in new assignments once most of the business and science programs have moved to their new homes. And consideration must be made for the comprehensive needs of each department – not just faculty offices, but also study spaces for professors and TAs to meet with students outside of regular class hours. With these considerations met, maybe we can once again have the university stretch beyond the doors of ICC.

The editorial “Divide the Pie Accordingly” (THE HOYA, Oct. 30, 2007, A2) incorrectly stated that all of Georgetown’s modern languages departments are housed in the Bunn Intercultural Center. The Arabic and Islamic Studies department has its offices in Poulton Hall.

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