Most students will never come to know Margie Bryant during their time on the Hilltop. As with many university administrators, her work takes place largely behind the scenes and out of the public eye. But as the associate vice president for auxiliary services, Ms. Bryant oversees an office with broad influence over many of the most basic aspects of student life at Georgetown. Meal plans, GOCards and mail service are all under her purview, and she negotiates the business deals that determine who operates the university’s dining hall, Hoya Court and the bookstore. In the most tangible ways, the decisions that Ms. Bryant makes touch the lives of virtually every Georgetown student every single day. It is all the more distressing, then, that the Office of Auxiliary Services has solidified a reputation among many students as the albatross of the university administration. In instance upon instance of squandered opportunities and sub-par services, Ms. Bryant’s office has left much of the campus community that it is unresponsive to student concerns, inept at handling its workload and incapable of meeting deadlines for projects. Even those aspects of Ms. Bryant’s record that can be termed successful ultimately leave much to be desired. She helped oversee the transition of the university’s main dining facility to O’Donovan Hall in 2003, vastly broadening the scope of dining services afforded to students. But in 2005, she closed the cafeteria in Darnall Hall, and progress toward reopening it since then has proceeded at a painfully slow pace, even though the university selected a vendor for the space last year. In 2005, Ms. Bryant replaced wildly unpopular food service in Hoya Court with brand-name vendors, but she has failed to extend the university meal plan to cover these new options, or any others outside of Leo’s. In so many other areas where students have expressed dissatisfaction – the buyback period at the book store and delays in university mail service are only the most glaring examples – Ms. Bryant has paid only lip service to the need for improvement. These persistent problems plaguing the university’s auxiliary services emanate from their leadership. In 11 years at Georgetown, Ms. Bryant has failed to fundamentally change her office’s insularity or work efficiently through the university bureaucracy. This is long enough. It is time for Ms. Bryant to step down in place of someone who can put into place the reforms that are so long overdue. In an interview, Ms. Bryant attributed the criticism she has faced to the “political environment” at Georgetown, a host of factors working against her office that includes the university administration and student media. And that’s just what’s on campus. Beyond Healy Gates, Ms. Bryant must contend with the complex and varied demands of the university’s negotiating partners and wade through a thicket of Washington, D.C. laws every day. These points are valid, and no one familiar with the breadth of Ms. Bryant’s responsibilities would contend that she has an easy job. It is sometimes difficult to believe that anything at all gets accomplished at a university where the uppermost levels of bureaucracy have proven so unaccountable and resistant to change, and few could envy a woman whose job description requires regular interaction with municipal government. But Ms. Bryant is hardly alone in this regard – practically every other administrator on campus must work in the same environment. In light of the unique demands of her position, which link her job performance more closely to student welfare, her shortcomings reverberate throughout campus more than they would for other high-level officials. It would be wrong to contend that Ms. Bryant’s tenure has been marked by negligence or incompetence. But it would be just as wrong to argue that it has been marked by innovation or creative approaches that rise to the complexity of the job. “We are tenacious,” Bryant said of her office, but the evidence fails to show it, as so many high-priority projects languished on her desk because of relatively minor concerns. Negotiations to bring T.G.I. Friday’s to Darnall failed because Friday’s insisted upon hanging its trademark red-and-white awning on the building’s façade, which would have raised questions about local building codes. The effort to extend meal plan access to Hoya Court has been stymied because Subway expressed reservations about the technological change it would require, even though all of the other vendors have signed onto the idea. These shortcomings may not seem monumental, but had a more effective administrator in Ms. Bryant’s place negotiated in these situations, the resulting benefit to students would be. s. Bryant insists that her meetings with a handful of student leaders and online comment cards for dining services provide a sufficient avenue for student feedback, but a more effective administrator would take a proactive approach to increasing the visibility of the office and its work. A more effective administrator would initiate a dialogue with students that is honest and explores new ideas, in stark contrast to Ms. Bryant’s full-throated defense of the status quo and reluctance to take any responsibility for her office’s shortcomings. s. Bryant’s performance has not been abysmal. It has not been a total failure. But in an area of university administration so closely connected to students’ lives, Georgetown should demand more. It should demand a bold new approach. It should demand a willingness to challenge the traditional way of doing things on the Hilltop. It should demand the tenacity to which Ms. Bryant cannot legitimately lay claim. In other words, if the university ever hopes to see more than the string of occasional successes interwoven with mind-numbing failures from auxiliary services, it should demand that the next office to go vacant on campus be Margie Bryant’s.

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