The Georgetown University Student Association unanimously passed a resolution Feb. 2 concerning the disruption caused by the ongoing construction of the Healey Family Student Center to New South residents.
The bill, which was introduced and passed in the GUSA Senate, details how the construction is disrupting the lives of the freshman dormitory’s inhabitants and calls for various proposals, including updates on the construction efforts. The proposal also calls for a published schedule of times during which construction will occur, a request to delay the start of construction to after 8 a.m. and potential future compensation for New South residents, including a boost in future housing standing or a pizza party.
“Basically this year, I sent out a poll to New South residents and overwhelmingly, it showed up that this is something that could be tackled, this is something that I could do,” GUSA Senator Tyler Bridge (COL ’17) said. “Really, it was the voice of New South and the voice of my constituents that pushed me to do it.”
For some New South students, the construction has created early morning inconveniences.
“Since I do wake up for my classes pretty late compared to last semester, I do usually end up being woken up by the construction noises at some point,” Nicholas Werner (MSB ’17) said.
To accrue student support for this issue, Bridge gathered 312 paper signatures. After Monday’s bill signing, Bridge created a post on Georgetown Roundtables, the IdeaScale platform. Within two days, the post was ranked 48th and had 158 up votes.
“We just want to show administration that before we go to them, there are enough people who support the proposal. I didn’t want to walk in a room and not have any backing, not have any place to bargain from,” Bridge said.
Bridge expressed that he will be setting up meetings with the administration next week, and that he will work mostly with the Offices of Planning and Facilities Management and Residential Living.
The bill’s focus excludes Village A, which is also located near the construction zone. Chairman Ben Weiss (COL ’15), who represents Village A, described a discrepancy between the effects on the two housing clusters.
“While the construction is in some ways an issue for Village A residents, its not like what it is for New South students, some of whom have construction going on in the wall adjacent to their rooms,” Weiss said. “Unlike freshmen, who are randomly assigned their housing, for the most part Village A students are upperclassmen who knew that there would be construction here this year, and chose to live there this year. One of the main points in Tyler Bridge’s bill is that New South students had no choice but to live in a construction zone.”
While the bill seeks to address some current issues, it also attempts to set a precedent for the future.
“There will be more construction happening here in the future, with the Northeast Triangle dorm and the [Old Jesuit Residence Project]. We just want to make sure that in the future of the construction process, that there’s a council in place, that there are methods in place that would prevent what happened in New South from happening again,” Bridge said.
As for potential compensation for New South residents, Bridge mentioned that an additional housing boost is an option.
“What my constituents want more than anything else, is a boost in the housing selection process. Some have said that that’s unfair. Personally, I have to fight for what the constituents of New South want. We struck that section out of the bill, but I would like to fight for it again with the administration,” Bridge said.
Other ideas include monetary compensation or a pizza party, though those are less viable options.
“There is some idea out there by some that would like to offer a pizza party for the people of New South, for what we’ve lived through and I don’t feel like I need to go back to fifth grade for 25 minutes. While I respect that they’re trying to do something, that’s something that I don’t think we could accept,” Bridge said.
Fellow senators and New South residents alike have praised Bridge’s efforts.
“This is one of those big things where you see a problem and you want to fix it and … Bridge is really going about this the right way,” GUSA Senator Ken Nunnenkamp (MSB ’16) said.
“I think it’s really good that the bill is advocating for students’ voices in a way that I don’t think we’ve achieved with the construction workers. I think it’s going to be more effective than just the emails that they’ve been getting because I don’t think they’ve changed all that much,” New South Resident Assistant Kendyl Clausen (SFS ’16) said. I think that it should hopefully open up the line of communication between students and those who are causing the disturbance.”
Members of the administration continue to work on this issue.
“The Office of Residential Living and other campus partners will continue working with students to address concerns regarding the Healey Family Student Center construction. We recognize the residents of New South are most directly impacted and we remain grateful for their patience,” Assistant Dean for Residential Living Stephanie Lynch wrote in an email.