The official opening of the renovated New South lounge occurred on Tuesday night as students celebrated the re-opening of the interim-use facility after over a year of planning and months of repairs, construction and anticipation.
Entertainment for the ceremony was provided by Mike Pearsall (MSB ’06), with The Mike Pearsall Project, as well as a cappella music from Grace Notes and The Phantoms. The symbolic ribbon was cut by Todd Olson, interim vice president for Student Affairs, shortly after 9 p.m.
Olson dubbed the new area “Deep South,” after the name won an online poll on my.georgetown.edu. The former New South Dining Hall includes a large lounge space as well as a free meeting room for campus groups, two new dance floors, surround sound systems and new restrooms.
“I’m very pleased at what we have accomplished tonight, what our dancers have to work with, what our student groups have to work with,” Olson said. “All our class committees worked together to make this event happen.”
The official opening of Deep South for interim use is the result of a long and often trying series of meetings, negotiations and briefings over the last year, according to GUSA President Brian orgenstern (COL ’05).
Morgenstern, whose major campaign goals included the creation of a new student center in New South, said that the renovations had been a “major project” and a “huge priority” during his tenure.
“It’s satisfying to say the least that we have the use of this facility,” Morgenstern said. “It’s extremely encouraging.”
Craig Kessler (SFS ’07), Freshman Class Committee chair, said he was pleased with the new student space.
“I think that [the area] provides a unique opportunity for Georgetown students to have a space for culture nights, dances, singing, concerts and club meetings,” Kessler said.
Victoria Otarola (NHS ’05), Junior Class Committee chair, said she hopes to see a new student pub added to Deep South, with food, drinks and frequent live performances.
Morgenstern said that he hopes to acquire new furniture for the lounge and meeting areas, which currently use cafeteria furniture from the old New South Dining Hall, in the near future. He also believes the addition of a new student pub is a “very viable idea.”
Morgenstern envisions the area becoming a “vibrant” locale on campus, which students can use for meeting friends, listening to music, holding meetings or picking up something to eat. “Part of the beauty of it is its versatility,” he said. “Students can do with it what they please.”
Deep South has been opened only for interim use and proposals for the permanent additions include an academic resource center, offices for GUTV and WGTB, food service, lounge space and dance practice space. The New South Planning Committee will present permanent-use plans to students within one week.
The permanent-use facility will require $7 million for renovations and construction cannot begin until all the money has been raised.
Olson predicted a “shiny and much, much larger student center” that would stretch from the current lounge area to the Leo O’Donovan Dining Hall.
“[The interim facility] is preliminary for how New South will take shape for the future. It’s by no means the final step,” Morgenstern added.
Georgetown dance groups are especially excited about the prospects for the newly-opened facility, which includes new spring-enhanced wooden dance floors.
“The old dance floor in Yates was made of concrete. It was hard to jump on,” Kristin Thorne (COL ’04), a member of the Georgetown University Dance Company, said. “After our first performance here, everyone’s morale was up, there was a lot more space, you just wanted to dance.”
The planned upgrade of the lounge area coincides with an extensive $21 million project that will revamp the entire New South residence hall this summer.
Students can use their GOCards to access Deep South until 12 a.m. on weekdays and 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays from the southern entrance near Village A. The doors leading directly into the residence hall will be locked to separate students in the lounge from New South residents.
Overall, students and staff at the ceremony were thrilled by the opening of a lively and versatile community space, as well as plans for its future.
A cake at the opening festivities underscored the mood with four large words written in blue icing: “Welcome Back New South.”