On a weekday in the Intercultural Center, students sit along the walls of the Galleria’s tile floor. The space, filled by students waiting for classes, office hours and meetings with deans, is sparsely furnished with four leather couches and a few tables outside of More Uncommon Grounds.

The School of Foreign Service Academic Council is working to change that. The group has proposed adding chairs, tables, electrical outlets and lighting to the Galleria.

SFSAC Junior Class Representative Megan Murday (SFS ’15) posted about the effort on Georgetown Ideas to demonstrate student support for the additions. The post has generated more than 280 votes in favor of the proposal.

According to SFSAC President Kyle Zhu (SFS ’14), Murday’s plan has received the full backing of the academic council.

“We feel that [ICC Galleria] is underutilized,” he said. “It is a space that is deemed to be an open study space and supposedly an SFS study space, but … it’s not student-friendly, it’s not conducive to studying.”

The SFSAC has pushed to establish a study space for SFS students in the past. ICC, which houses classes and offices for social science, language and history departments, among others, is a natural fit for SFS students.

“I have not talked personally to anyone who did not think this was a great idea,” Murday said. “The deans are also supportive of creating additional study spaces for SFS students.”

Assistant Dean of the SFS Anthony Pirrotti said that there was a need to use the Galleria space better.

“Even though free space on campus is very limited, I’m hopeful that the SFS Academic Council will find creative ways to better utilize ICC and improve access for students,” he said.

Students of Georgetown Inc., which operates MUG, has also been pushing to improve the space. MUG is currently open only five days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. on Fridays. Other Corp locations stay open until midnight or later.

“There’s a lot we can do with this space that isn’t being done, and I would love to see this proposal be passed,” MUG General Manager Evelyn Smith (COL ’14) said. “Any space that we can create here on campus that is accessible to students is a benefit and will help them save time.”

While student support appears high regarding the benefits of implementing this proposal, both Zhu and Murday emphasized that the idea remains at the early stages of development. The proposal does not address the specific changes that would be implemented, how much they would cost or who would finance the project.

Zhu has emphasized that at this stage, the primary goal is merely to initiate a conversation about how best to improve the Galleria.

“This idea was really to test the water, to see if there was student engagement and involvement and there clearly is, so we’re going to take this idea and bring it to a more public forum,” Zhu said.

So far, administrators appear to be receptive to the proposal.

“Creating a more welcoming living and learning environment on the main campus is a shared goal, and improved and flexible study spaces for students is just one objective in achieving this goal,” Georgetown Director of Media Relations Rachel Pugh wrote in an email.

Pugh noted that Facilities is in the process of reevaluating how students use space on campus.

Some technical aspects of the proposal’s feasibility have already been discussed. According to Zhu, one issue on which there appeared to be little debate was the prospect of installing benches along the Galleria walls.

“The fact that there are students sitting on the ground and the power outlets are on the side is a really poor image for the SFS,” Zhu said.

While adding new power outlets or lights could take several years because it would require infrastructure changes, Zhu said he hoped that the seating could be added this year.

Zhu and Murday both stressed the feasibility of actually implementing aspects of their plan in the near future.

“It’s not that big of an expense, but it could make a big impact on students and student life,” Murday said. “It would give new life to the ICC.”

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*