Free Space Off Limits To Students

By Andreas Andrea Hoya Staff Writer

The management of the Georgetown University Conference Center has moved a sign into the entranceway of the South Gallery, the long hallway that begins at Sellinger Lounge and ends at the Athletic Hall of Fame, informing students that the popular study spot is reserved for guests of the conference center.

GUSA Vice President-Elect Jacques Arsenault (COL ’01) said that the problem is not that the space is reserved for a few hours but that Marriott employees are kicking students out at all times – going against established university policy.

Arsenault said that he has previously placed signs by the entrance of the South Gallery explaining students’ rights to use the space, but said that they have been torn down.

There currently are two new signs posted by the entrance explaining the rules regarding the South Gallery.

However, the policy regarding the use of the space has not changed, according to William Wright, the general manager of the conference center. “The South Gallery is not part of Sellinger Lounge,” he said, but it is part of the facility used and maintained by the conference center.

Wright said that the conference center staff frequently needs to show the space to potential customers and that students were frequently leaving debris, sleeping on benches and putting their feet on the tables that conference center guests use for dining. “I have no problem with students studying, but too often they have no respect. We are just trying to create a nice environment and protect the space,” he said.

The dilemma is drawing the lines about when the space can and cannot be used by students, he said.

Doug McCloud (COL ’03) said that he has seen students asked to leave during the day, especially when Hoya’s is busy, but has not seen students kicked out during the evening or late night.

Christopher Roedell (GRD ’01) likes to use the South Gallery for studying instead of the library or Sellinger Lounge because it is convenient and can be quieter than some portions of the library. He also appreciates its close proximity to Uncommon Grounds and, during the day, the sunlight that comes in through its big windows.

Roedell was asked to leave the South Gallery about two weeks ago and has not ventured back since. “I know a lot of graduate students like to study there. This is my sixth year at the university, so I was surprised when someone came out of Hoya’s and told me I can’t study there,” he said.

Roedell said that he didn’t think students had ever been kicked out of the South Gallery before these latest incidents, and he said that he does not understand why Marriott is choosing to do so, especially when he does not see students causing disruptions or leaving messes. “It makes me feel that some of the school is so tightly controlled by Marriott that the needs of the students are overlooked.”

This new initiative has caused some students to resent arriott’s presence on campus. “I think I don’t like Marriott very much,” said Margaret MacLeod (SFS ’02).

“I think it’s stupid because how often during the day is this place full? No one wants to go to these restaurants anyway,” said Karla Giuliano (SFS ’02).

Eric Rivers (COL ’02), who has spoken to Margie Bryant about the issue on behalf of GUSA, said that the conference center management decided to restrict the space from students because they were eating food set aside for guests. “She wants us to go there, but not eat the food,” she said.

Wright said that the conference center needs the space because of recent renovations and changes in service that call for “conference dining.” This arrangement means that instead of having food brought into events, guests go to a general location, in this case the Faculty Club, to eat their meals. The conference center needs to reserve the gallery space because the Faculty Club only seats 90 people and larger groups, such as Presidential Classroom, can number 400. He said that at times, as many as 900 people are in the corridor.

“We have twice as much seating outside now that we have expanded the dining services. The nature of the business has changed,” Jeannie Quirk, director of food and beverage for Georgetown.

She said that the changes came after holding a series of focus groups including the main patrons of the space – staff, students and faculty from the medical center and the main campus.

The hallway is “not really a student gallery space,” she said.

But Wright said that it is a “small, small minority” of students that use the space inappropriately and said “we are not anti-student . we like students.”

Wright said that the space in the North Gallery, on the opposite side of Leavey is “all for students.” The space has new furniture and extra money has been sent upgrading the space near the North Gallery beverage station, Wright said.

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