In April of this year, the Student Activities Commission notified student clubs with offices in the Leavey Center that their offices were under-utilized and, as a result, they were going to be converted into storage space and shared meeting rooms. Sophia Behnia (COL ’09), chair of SAC, blindsided the leaders of these clubs with an e-mail on April 12. Behnia wrote, “These offices have been more utilized in the past, but with today’s technology (e.g. cell phones, e-mail, laptops, etc.) the use of offices has become more outdated and not as necessary as it once was.” She and her comrades at SAC and Center for Student Programs understand that the necessity of a private office is seemingly passé in an era of iPhones and Internet.

The student clubs that held offices on the fourth floor of the Leavey Center were not consulted prior to receiving the e-mail, although the e-mail did invite them to respond with “any concerns about this change.” Among the clubs that lost office space are the College Republicans, the College Democrats, GU Pride, Eco-Action, the Georgetown Solidarity Commission, International Relations Club and Alpha Phi Omega. Leaders of some of these clubs tell us that they used to rely on their office spaces for day-to-day club administration and that they would have raised their concerns with SAC had there been a period of consultation.

When these students returned to the Hilltop last month, they were surprised to learn that SAC had used the summer months to empty all of the student offices and to seize property that belonged to the student clubs. Some of these items had been accumulated over the years (invaluable autographed memorabilia, for example), while other equipment was essential to a club’s day-to-day operations (a printer and scanner in one case, which SAC says were thrown away because they were broken). Many of these items went “missing,” and the student clubs have a limited mechanism for seeking compensation, which is the cause of rising disputes.

Almost six months after Behnia initially warned student clubs of these changes, there is still not a procedure in place to rent or to utilize the remaining student offices but a system for using the shared storage space has been created.

As veteran students, we have learned to temper our expectations of university administrators and campus facilities. But in a landscape where many of our peer institutions have entire buildings dedicated to student clubs, we are outraged that Georgetown cannot even provide a few active student clubs with suitable office space in Leavey. Moreover, Georgetown is running out of excuses for denying students a suitable home for their extracurricular activities. With the new business school slated to open next year, square-footage of office space at the university is about to increase by hundreds of thousands of feet. While plans are under way to expand faculty office space in Old North after the McDonough School of Business vacates, we still have not seen a plan for the old Jesuit Residence in Dahlgren Quad. Behnia says that “the idea of this wasn’t to take away, it was to give to all groups,” but with so much room for expansion, can’t we give to some without taking away from others?

On this issue, we encourage SAC to stop crushing student endeavors and to go the way of the Russians: glasnost and perestroika.

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