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The Healey Family Student Center, located below the New South Residence Hall, opens today after years of planning and months of construction.

The university is celebrating the inauguration with tours and free food from noon to 5 p.m. today and a casino night from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Although today marks a soft opening of the center, targeted toward students, an official dedication ceremony featuring the donors and a blessing of the new space will take place Oct. 8.

Currently, the HFSC features a great room, with two fireplaces and a dais for events and performances, along with 12 study rooms and three larger conference rooms. The student center also has four music practice rooms, each of which has a piano, and two dance studios for use by student groups. The great room overlooks the Potomac River.

“Chairs will be lined up toward the window to take advantage of the views and all the natural light. There’s a lot of natural light from the skylights and also from the windows,” Center for Student Engagement Director Erika Cohen Derr said.

Cohen Derr said that building’s incorporation of natural light allows for the minimization of fluorescent lights. Additonally, some rooms within the HFSC include automatic lights operated by motion sensors in order to minimize excess power use. The university is striving to attain LEED Gold Certification for the HFSC, although the application for the certification can only be submitted once the center is complete.

The other main attractions of the center will open later in the semester. The opening date for the newly-named pub, Bulldog Tavern, is set for Oct. 31, while Hilltoss, the new Students of Georgetown Inc. storefront, will open Nov. 1.

The name for Bulldog Tavern, which was chosen through a student-wide vote, was announced Thursday. Another student-wide vote will be held at the end of the month to select the pub’s logo, which will be student-designed.

The HFSC is two stories, and its elevators allow those with physical disabilities to access New South without ascending the steep hill on Library Walk.

A yet-to-be-built terrace financed by a $2.2 million allocation of the Student Activities Fund is planned outside the great room. It should be open within four to six weeks, according to Cohen Derr. Another deck is located outside the pub.

“All of this in the original design wasn’t there. It was all because of student activism and work to reform the endowment process that they had a campus referendum, everyone voted and they voted in favor of giving $2.2 million to create this terrace,” Cohen Derr said.

For the time being, the center will be open from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekdays and from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. on weekends. Once the pub opens, the hours will expand to match the later hours of Bulldog Tavern, which will stay open until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Cohen Derr said the Center for Student Engagement plans to keep the center open 24 hours during final examinations. Longer hours will be considered once student interest is assessed.

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