Academic Space Gets Reviewed
GUSA report analyzes the dearth of intellectual space found on campus
Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 02:01
The Georgetown University Student Association has begun research for an Intellectual Life Space Report, which will offer recommendations on how to improve students’ academic experiences on campus.
GUSA Secretary of Academic Affairs Jon Askonas (SFS ’13) said that it is important to draw a distinction between social and intellectual spaces.
“There definitely is often a fuzzy line between the two,” Askonas said. “The point is that viewing it only as social space hides and disguises the intellectual component.”
“The problem is that the Georgetown administration sometimes talks about space as a student life issue but not as educational issue,” he added.
The new report will contain an introduction detailing the background of the report, a history of how intellectual space has been used at Georgetown and a set of recommendations for spaces on campus. It will also feature a comparison of intellectual space usage at five peer institutions: University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, The George Washington University, the Catholic University of America and Fordham University.
“Each [of these universities] share some similar characteristic with Georgetown, perhaps being urban, being in the same city or being a Jesuit school,” said Chris Mooney (COL ’13), chair of the report.
According to Askonas, GUSA is drafting the report after several of its senators overheard discussions about intellectual space on campus. GUSA published a similar report in 2010, which was conducted by the Student Space Working Group.
“This report is more of a follow up of the 2010 report on a smaller scale,” GUSA Chief of Staff Jake Sticka (COL ’13) said.“The idea instead is to have a full study of what our spaces inventory on campus look like, especially the space students used in private life other than classrooms for intellectual discussions with both professors and fellow students.”
Mooney acknowledged that the Student Life Report and Intellectual Life Report compiled by the Main Executive Campus Faculty in 2008 both dealt with this issue, but he stressed that the upcoming report has a more specific focus.
“Looking at space is a way that we can look at one unique element of that intellectual life that is both meaningful and manageable,” Mooney said. “It’s like taking the big, broad picture of intellectual life and recognizing how large it is and taking a little chunk of that and working on that.”
GUSA will consult with the university administration to implement the report’s recommendations.
“We hope we can provide a broad set of recommendations that will show to the university that we’re thinking about this reasonably, whether it’s small changes to the way rooms are structured with a few extra chairs or big suggestions in new ways the university can organize some aspect of itself in the next five to 10 years,” Mooney said.
Mooney added that the central goal of the report is to base its recommendations on locations where students already gather.
“We want to think about where students are, which leads us to consider spaces such as the ICC Galleria, which is next to the most trafficked spot on campus,” Mooney said. “We also want to think about what impact will the New South Student Center have on spaces, where students will be, where the traffic will be flowing.”
“Without the right kind of spaces, students can’t have the kind of intellectual experience they should have,” Askonas said.