This fall, the saga of the proposed New South Student Center continues as the university enters into the public phase of their capital campaign this October. However, as discussions proceed over the layout of the NSSC, the administration appears to be leaving talks on the Healy space on the back-burner.
“It’s [NSSC] being presented as one of the key elements of the capital campaign,” Todd Olson, Vice President for Student Affairs, said. On the viability of Healy, Olson adds, “I very much hear and respect the student interest in having space in Healy and I take that seriously, but I don’t have any well-developed ideas on what or how or where. But I hear that point and I know it’s a part of what the students want to continue.”
Many students, particularly those involved in the Georgetown University Student Association’s Healy Space Working Group, welcome the idea of student space in New South, but are disappointed at the unwillingness of the administration to hear ideas presented about Healy. To note, the two projects are not mutually exclusive: NSSC will go ahead regardless of student space in Healy. However, if Healy is deemed unfeasible, the $3.23 million allocated by the endowment commission would be reallocated, and $1.75 million would go toward New South.
Chris Pigott (COL ’12), who is a leader on the “Bring Back Healy Pub” campaign as well as a GUSA senator and working group member, wants plans for Healy to remain a priority in the capital campaign.
“We’ve never had the chance to argue any type of merits with the administration,” Pigott said. “I think that’s wrong and until we have the chance to argue the merits to the provost, to Todd Olson, to anyone who will listen, any kind of decision on their part is premature and doesn’t necessarily respect the work that students and alums have put into the project.”
GUSA President Mike Meaney (SFS ’12) and Vice President Greg Laverriere (COL’12) look to the campaign and the plans on NSSC optimistically.
“The Leavey Center is already a natural center for club and organization space,” Laverriere said. “And New South should be the social space, located near Leo’s, right near upper classman dorms, the Quad, Village C East and West. New South is the natural center for social life on campus.”
According to Olson, discussions have shifted over to NSSC as a more viable and reasonable project for the future despite NSSC’s popularity.
“I know that [Healy] was a favorite gathering space for a whole bunch of alums, and it made a big impact for a number of students who were here,” he said.
Although Meaney and Laverriere are working with the administration to switch the focal point of student space concerns on NSSC, Pigott with other students is not willing to continue with New South until further attention is given to the Healy proposal. Many alumni are involved with students in planning the Healy space, including Mark Corrallo (COL ’88), the last General Manager of the University Center Pub and co-founder of Corallo Comstock, and Geoff Tracy (COL ’95), owner and operator of Chef Geoff restaurant in the Greater D.C. area.
“Until they give us a good objective reason as to why it can’t be done, we’re not going to roll over and say NSSC is good enough” Pigott said.