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FILE PHOTO: CHRIS BIEN/THE HOYA

The university’s commitment to broad Hoya Roundtable discussions has waned in favor of more frequent, focused engagement sessions on topics as specific as outdoor space near Northeast Triangle.

Introduced by Chief Operating Officer Christopher Augostini in 2012, Hoya Roundtables sought to facilitate a large gathering of students and high-level administrators, usually in question-and-answer sessions as well as general discussions on broad-ranging subjects relating to student life.

“Roundtables are an opportunity to discuss a broad range of services at a high level and to give feedback on what may need more attention from students and the administration,” Director of Media Relations Rachel Pugh wrote in an email. “The roundtable format provides a forum for students to share their experiences and an important opportunity for administrators to better understand what is important to students.”

The Hoya Roundtables contrast with the dozens of small engagement sessions in dorm lobbies and O’Donovan Hall this semester that have drawn relatively low attendance with lower-level administrators. The university has also held a few larger forums this semester on general master planning efforts and the Northeast Triangle residence hall, most of which have also seen low turnout. Many students counted as engaged in the new forums are just passing through as they walk through their dorm or Leo’s.

“These sessions are an opportunity to share info and have conversations about ongoing projects or issues and to help identify student’s desired goals or solutions,” Pugh wrote. “The continued conversations allow us to work together specifically on issues around student housing and design and function of the NET residence hall. The frequency of these engagement opportunities allows any student many opportunities to participate.”

The Georgetown University Student Association partnered with the Department of Public Safety to hold a roundtable with Police Chief Jay Gruber on Oct. 16.

The first broader roundtable of the year is scheduled for November.

GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) said that while roundtables are beneficial, GUSA and the university have shifted their approach to engagement.

“We think through some of the recent feedback we’ve gotten from students and try to pick an issue that’s kind of a hot topic and something that hasn’t been done recently,” Tisa said. “We might do it on housing in general or innovation, which would incorporate some technology. We could also look at the academic side, how are we innovating in the classroom.”

Assistant Dean for Residential Living Stephanie Lynch, present at the New South forum, found the smaller forums to be an effective means of engaging the student body.

“We’ve had good student turnout for all of them, and I think we would all say that their feedback has been essential to creating a space that will work for students now and for the future,” she said.

The first engagement session of the series on Northeast Triangle was an open meeting with administrators in the Office of Planning and Facilities Management. No students were in attendance.

GUSA Director of Student Space Jack Appelbaum (COL ’14), who worked with the administration to create the engagement sessions, stressed the benefits of different means of facilitating student-administrator interaction.

“It gives people the opportunity to ask questions and share specific information,” Appelbaum said. “People share things that they might not in front of a large group, they ask questions they might not ask, there’s more dialogue, there’s more back and forth, and you can eventually come collectively to a good idea.”

Tisa agreed and said that while more prevalent this past semester, the focused forum format has not replaced that of its Hoya Roundtable predecessor.

“I think that they’ve been different. The university’s had focus forums more and more over the past few years,” Tisa said. “I think it’s moving in a good direction, but I don’t think it replaces the roundtables.”

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