Saxa Politica: A space to call our own

October 23, 2008

At the end of last year, the Student Activities Commission notified nine clubs that shared three offices on the Leavey Center’s fourth floor that their space was being taken away.

Since then, the three rooms have been converted into a storage unit and offices that the roughly 90 campus clubs can reserve, according to SAC chair Sophia Behnia (COL ‘09).

Behnia said that the change in allocated club space has increased the space available to all of the clubs on campus, not just a select few—International Relations Club, College Republican, College Democrats, EcoAction—that has been previously granted a permanent office for the year. SAC received some criticism for the move—the Hoya recently ran an editorial on September 23 entitled “Clubs Deserve a Place to Work.”

It is a shame that some of Georgetown’s major clubs do not have their own permanent space, but the change SAC made is not a problem in and of itself. Instead, it is indicative of a larger issue at Georgetown: a dearth of space for students. Not only is there not enough room to house student organizations, but the gathering places are scattered across campus; the closest things Georgetown has to a student union are Sellinger Lounge and the second floor of Lauinger Library. When did we become the marginalized members of this University community?

Enter Jared Pilosio (COL `09), an editor-at-large for the Federalist who became interested in unused or underutilized space at Georgetown after he wrote a story about the vacant Ryan and Mulledy Halls (or the ‘old Jes Res’). Spurred to action after SAC’s changes earlier this year, Pilosio has started a group to advocate for more student space on campus, called the “Georgetown Student Space Working Group.”

At the end of the decade the University will have to submit a new ten-year campus plan, and Pilosio wants Georgetown students to advocate for the plan to include space specifically designated for extracurricular use.

Looking to the completion of the new McDonough School of Business building, which will house new offices, leaving currently-occupied offices in buildings like New and Old North vacant, Pilosio wants students to claim a stake in that prime real estate, a veritable land grab.

Pilosio says that the University would not exist without its students, and he’s right. It’s time we were treated as valued members of the community, not nuisances to be pushed to the outskirts of campus to make room for the already-bloated administration.

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