Two years after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgetown University’s reopening of the Healey Family Student Center’s (HFSC) Great Room serves as a step towards restoring a lively student presence in the space.
As of the beginning of this year, only current juniors and seniors could recall the former vibrance of the HFSC before it served as a COVID-19 testing center throughout the pandemic. Though events have been held in the meeting and social rooms, the Great Room was sealed off for testing since the first COVID-19 outbreak. Previously well-lit, open and filled with tables, chairs, and couches, the empty interior of the HSFC’s Great Room represented just another visible consequence of COVID-19 over the past few semesters to those who remembered its former role as a study center and a hub for student life at Georgetown.
The Great Room of the HFSC reopened as a functional study space for students on March 14. According to a university spokesperson, in order to provide more study and community space for students on campus, all testing will now take place at the current Leavey Center testing site. Additionally, repairs to the HFSC will continue throughout the spring semester.
The HFSC’s transition into a testing center during 2020 marked a loss of a social space as well as a favored study center for students. Jack Stiefel (COL ’24), a worker at the Corp location Hilltoss, contrasted the HFSC’s quiet atmosphere during the pandemic with its reputation as an animated space of student interaction.
“I’ve only ever worked at Hilltoss since the HFSC’s been closed,” Stiefel said, “Since COVID has happened, and the HFSC’s been closed, not as many people come to Hilltoss as they used to.”
Nevertheless, he remains optimistic about the reopening. “The HSFC is going to be an awesome spot to hang out with your friends and do homework,” he said, “There’s nicer architecture, there’s a fireplace, and an awesome view of the Potomac.”
Steifel’s excitement about the reopening is mirrored by Jessica York (COL ’22), who said, “I didn’t think it would stay for as long as it did. I just sort of thought it was a makeshift testing center. I’m glad they’re transitioning it now to being a study space again.”
This makeshift status felt far more permanent for freshmen and sophomores who had never experienced what York claims was one of the best study spots on campus.
“It was just in a really convenient spot, and I liked it a lot. There’s comfortable chairs, good lighting, and a good location,” York said.
A spokesperson for the university has released that the hours of operation will remain the same: Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.