While plans are underway for the Healey Family Student Center, some student groups are struggling with the consequences of its construction.
Construction of the student center, which will be formed partly of the existing Riverside Lounge in New South, will obstruct practice space for dance groups and storage space for other student organizations, including the Advisory Board for Service Organizations. Groups that currently use the space must vacate by June 1 and will not be able to return until the 2014-2015 academic year, when the student center opens.
With the June deadline fast approaching, however, most groups are still unsure of where they will practice and move materials throughout the upcoming year.
“They really haven’t given us alternatives at all,” Flip Dis Funk That member Mary Lim (SFS ’13) said. “Construction is going to take a while, and for groups to have to compete with other meetings and other groups … it’s going to be really hard.”
According to Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson, the university is in the process of developing plans for alternative space. These plans have not yet been made available to student groups.
“We take the issue seriously, and [Center for Student Programs Director] Erika Cohen Derr been working on it actively,” Olson said. “Clear plans are coming soon.”
In the meantime, groups are turning to options like studios in Yates Field House for dance rehearsals. Studios in Yates are also used for exercise classes, cutting into time for use by student groups.
“It’s definitely going to be a tougher year, especially because we’re not 100 percent sure if we have the weekend time, which is important to us,” Cae Maitner (COL ’15), Performing Arts Advisory Council dance representative and Georgetown University Dance Company secretary, said. “We might have to change time slots.”
Lim said that while dance groups had been consulted about HFSC, they had not been consulted about alternatives during the construction period.
According to GUSA Chief of Staff and member of the student center committee Zach Singer (SFS ’15), the committee has discussed student space.
“Dr. Olson is obviously aware of needs going on with student groups,” Singer said. “It’s not going to get lost. I wouldn’t worry about it.”
Nevertheless, Singer acknowledged that the committee has mostly focused on HFSC as a final product.
“We don’t spend most of our time talking about the intermediary steps,” Singer said. “We’re supposed to focus on making sure the building is built on time, making sure it looks good and making sure student voices are heard.”
ABSO Chair Morgan McDaniel (SFS ’13) said that moving from the New South facilities would be a difficult for social justice groups.
“Many of our groups rely heavily on the storage space in Riverside Lounge to conduct their service on a weekly or even daily basis, and some groups even use it for office space or staging areas for events,” McDaniel said. “ABSO is working with CSP and other university departments to identify unused space on campus and find an optimal solution.”
Singer said that GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) stressed the importance of finding alternative space for the upcoming year.
“It’s really a priority of the administration, of GUSA and pretty much everyone involved to find the space for the year,” Singer said. “I’m sure we will make a solution, make it work.”
Despite the difficulties for student organizations, Singer said he was hopeful for a successful resolution to the issue.
“We understand that there will be growing pains while the project is going on, but once [it’s] done, it will be better for all,” Singer said. “For the year and a bit that it’s getting built, we’re going to make the best of it, and I’m sure we’ll find a way to make sure groups won’t lose their stuff. I’m not too concerned — I’m sure we’ll find a way to do it.”