Margie Bryant, the Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Services, faced increased criticism on Tuesday when the Hoya published an editorial urging her to resign.
The Office of Auxiliary Services, which Bryant has headed for 11 years, manages student dining facilities and meal plans, among other issues. Some students, including the Hoya’s editorial board, fault Bryant for failing to open a new eatery to replace the Darnall Dining Hall, which has been closed since 2005, in a timely fashion. They also criticize her failure to expand meal plan access to Hoya Court, another perennial student issue.
“The board felt pretty strongly that Ms. Bryant’s performance merited the admittedly unusual action of calling on her to step down”,” Steve Santulli (COL `08), Editor in Chief of the Hoya, said. Santulli does not expect Bryant to resign but hopes that the editorial will encourage dialogue about her performance among students and University administrators.
The administration continues to support Bryant, who refused repeated requests for an interview with the Voice.
“She has made and continues to make invaluable contributions during her time at Georgetown,” Senior Vice President Spiros Dimolitsas, Bryant’s direct supervisor, said in an e-mail statement.
Dimolitsas recognized Bryant’s work in several areas, including implementing the GoCard system and opening Leo O’Donovan Dining Hall. He also praised her efficiency and noted her efforts to “regularly consult with students, faculty, and staff.”
But Bryant’s detractors, and even some of her supporters, see her as a poor communicator.
Former Student Association President Twister Murchison (SFS `08) and former Student Association Secretary of Student Housing and Facilities Jake Styacich (COL `09), who expects to join the administration of current President Ben Shaw (COL `08), praised Bryant’s efforts but criticized her public relations.
“Based on my experience with Ms. Bryant, I have confidence that she is working for the students,” Styacich said. “A lot goes on behind the scenes, which is perhaps a source of criticism.”
Santulli contradicted these claims, saying that, in his experience, “[GUSA leaders] would make all these statements about what was being done on these various projects and none of it seems to be true.”
Murchison believes that, aside from questions about Bryant’s performance, brining transparency to the process could be a solution to her problems.
“People are upset about progress in Darnall, in Vittles and in Hoya Court,” he said. “Part of their discontent would be negated if she would just be more public on the status of their projects.”
Murchison also said that students are unaware of the progress that has been made.
“A lot of administrators struggle to deal with communicating clearly to the entire student body, because it’s hard and they’re afraid of criticism of their projects and policies, many of which have a longer shelf life than most students spend here,” Murchison said.
Though Epicurean and Co., the vendor chosen to provide dining services in the former Darnall Dining Hall, was originally forecast to open its new dining hall in October, it has yet to finalize its relationship with the University.
Epicurean and Co. and the University are now working to secure the necessary permits to move into Darnall.
In addition to her position at Georgetown, Bryant also works full-time for RE/MAX as a licensed realtor, according to her broker, David Palmer.
“She may be working more hours in real estate than she is in Georgetown,” Palmer said.
Though realtors do not measure their workload by the hour, and their work is often done on nights and weekends, Bryant’s second job has raised questions about her commitment to Georgetown among some students unhappy with her performance on campus.
“Is Ms. Bryant’s top priority her position as Associate Vice President of Auxuliary Services, or is it her real estate business?” asked Matt Smallcomb (COL `09), a former Voice editorial board member.
Georgetown spokesperson Julie Green Bataille said that Bryant has saved the University money by handling some of its real estate transactions, and that her free time is her own.
Most students remained ambivalent about the issue, expressing little or no knowledge of the controversy.
“It’s not worth someone losing their job,” Vincent Balzano (COL `10) said.
Additional reporting by Anna Bank and Michael J. Bruns.