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SA cabinet position to replace Marvin Center Governing Board

Charlie Lee | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Charlie Lee | Hatchet Staff Photographer

One of GW’s oldest campus organizations is coming to an end.

The Marvin Center Governing Board will be replaced by a Student Association cabinet position for the next academic year, the SA confirmed Friday — a move SA President-elect Andie Dowd said would make her organization more effective and streamlined.

The board, which was established in 1969, has brought extra student space to the Marvin Center, renovated floors of the building and doled out office space to student organizations in recent years. A director of Marvin Center affairs will replace the group, which also oversees the Student Dining Board and meets with administrators about the office space in the Marvin Center.

“The chair of MCGB and SA leaders have been interested in moving the position under the SA and the new school year provides the best opportunity to do so,” Dowd said in an email. “That is why we have chosen to turn the role of MCGB into a singular director position, which will have the full backing of the next SA administration.”

Dowd said the plans to dissolve MCGB have been ongoing, and student leaders from both MCGB and the SA have discussed the move for at least a year.

Last year, MCGB leaders considered restructuring to become part of the Student Association, but decided against the move in order to remain a group.

Dowd said the cabinet member would perform the same jobs as the group, such as allocating office spaces for the University’s more than 400 student organizations.

“It is important that the SA has an organized advocacy approach, especially as changes can possibly come to the Marvin Center with the end of the Sodexo contract,” Dowd said. “We are moving forward with the consolidation of the position, because it is important that the SA is as effective as possible.”

MCGB received about $30,000 in funding from GW, and the board’s chair previously received a $7,500 tuition scholarship.

The group also counts successes like securing a quarter of a million dollars in renovations to the fourth floor of the Marvin Center, a project that created additional late-night study space for students.

Alex Teplyakov, the board’s external vice chair, said he strongly opposed the change. He said putting the group’s responsibilities under the SA would dilute its efforts because one person would be tasked with duties previously assigned to an entire board, which included five people this year.

“It is important to have widespread student involvement by an elected body that can talk directly to administrators rather than a single appointed position within the SA,” he said.

Teplyakov added that dissolving the group would “diminish” the role of the Marvin Center, a building that has long been regarded as the closest space GW students have to a traditional student hub.

“Moving to the SA gives up on the idea of having the Marvin Center as a center for the student space,” he said.

Dylan Pyne, who served as the chair of MCGB three years ago, said it wasn’t necessary for the duties of the board to be carried out by more than one person.

He also said most students who want to be involved in GW student government run for a more high-profile position, like SA president, rather than MCGB.

“It’s probably not an ambitious students’ first choice of what they want to get involved,” he said. “The composition of the board may not be the most active students on campus.”

He added that whoever lands the cabinet position should have strong ties with administrators and staff who work in GW’s Events and Venues department, which plans programming in the building.

Current SA President Nick Gumas said he was excited to see the position added, along with another new cabinet position for health and wellness.

“The director of the Marvin Center affairs will play a role in acting as a middleman between student orgs, Student Association and Marvin Center-specific things,” Gumas said.

Gumas added that the health and wellness position, which he suggested the SA create, will focus on helping implement the peer-counseling program, which University President Steven Knapp said he would support implementing at the beginning of the semester.

Mollie Bowman, the president of the Panhellenic Association, said she ran for an internal chair position on the MCGB last year with plans to dissolve the group.

“I think it cuts a lot of bureaucracy out of the student government stuff which is necessary,” she said.

-Andrew Gousward and Jacqueline Thomsen contributed reporting.

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