A recent survey of students found that 53 percent were not satisfied with student space on Georgetown’s campus, prompting a series of recommendations by the Student Space Working Group intended to augment on-campus quality of life.
In its suggestions, the report recommends both that the university boosts the quantity of space by taking advantage of unused or underused areas, and also that it improves the quality of existing spaces.
The report sketches out four “main projects” aimed at achieving these goals. Two would create more space by creating a New South Student Center (a construction project included in the 2010 campus plan) and by reorganizing the Leavey Center to create more spaces for student collaboration. The two other projects would improve space quality by developing a unified system for students to reserve student space and by renovating Yates Field House.
In the report published last week, the SSWG revealed the results of two years’ worth of research in an attempt to realize their goal of expanding the size and quality of student space on campus, which included their student survey.
Jared Pilosio (SFS ’09) started the group in 2008 to get students’ opinions on the student space in a town hall movement after recognizing the general dissatisfaction with student space on campus. After two years of research, the group recently released the comprehensive report. In light of their findings, organizers said they felt a demand for change was necessary.
“At the heart of the space issue is the humanity of each student, present in the conviction that a Catholic and Jesuit undergraduate education adds a deeply human richness to life through the community formed on campus, that the relationships we develop with each other and with our school have a value beyond networking and a diploma,” the report stated.
Fr. Kevin O’Brien, S.J., executive director of Campus Ministry, said in the report that Georgetown “cannot meet the Jesuit ideal of caring for the whole person – in mind, body and spirit – without space to do it.”
Of the 1,001 students surveyed from 2008 to 2009, 59 percent of students thought Georgetown’s student space was worse than at other universities, while 4 percent thought it was better.
“There are two reasons why students think that student space is worse here: its quantity and its quality,” said SSWG Communications Director Fitz Lufkin (COL ’11). “There are a number of spaces that we just don’t have, and the spaces that we do have aren’t as great as those at other schools.”
Students surveyed were asked to select three types of spaces that needed the most improvement: The majority of students marked a need for study space (64 percent) and social space (56 percent).
A further examination of study space shows that although 46 percent of students are “satisfied” with study space at Georgetown and 8 percent are “very satisfied,” still 25 percent of students are “dissatisfied” and 5 percent are “very dissatisfied.”
“It is alarming that a substantial percentage of students, 30 percent, or about one in three students in the undergraduate population, rate themselves as dissatisfied with study space at an elite university like Georgetown,” stated the report.
Such dissatisfaction with study space may be the reason why even though 33 percent of students surveyed considered Lauinger Library to be the center of student life on campus, only 4 percent wished it to be. The survey also showed that 45 percent of students wanted student life to be centered on Healy Hall and Dahlgren Quadrangle, yet only 5 percent felt this model was the case.
Exposing such discrepancies in student desire and reality, the report stated its purpose is “Ideally, this report is a launching
pad for change.”
Lufkin said, “We want to make sure that students are at the table with administration regarding student space concerns.”