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AN INDEPENDENT STUDENT NEWSPAPER SERVING THE GW COMMUNITY SINCE 1904

The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Student groups seek community in new MSSC space after abrupt relocation

A+sign+welcomes+students+to+the+GW+Multicultural+Student+Services+Centers+fifth-floor+lounge.+
Auden Yurman | Senior Photo Editor
A sign welcomes students to the GW Multicultural Student Services Center’s fifth-floor lounge.

Hanging in the Multicultural Student Services Center’s temporary lounge on the fifth floor of the University Student Center, a bright blue banner reads a hopeful message – “Home is wherever we come together.” 

The signage overlooks the MSSC’s newly renovated space, decorated with plants, games and couches filled with students grinding through homework, chatting with friends or taking a break from the rush of the school day. A left turn through the glass doors of the Crossroads office suite on the student center’s fifth floor marks the entrance to the space, bordered by office cubicles of neighboring offices and furnished with bookshelves, a mounted TV and a lounging area for students to unwind on armchairs and couches.

University spokesperson Julia Metjian said pest issues in the MSSC’s G Street townhouse forced the center to temporarily relocate to the student center one week before the start of the spring semester. Members of student organizations affiliated with MSSC said the closure of the 118-year-old building has taken away essential event space, but that’s not stopping the center from maintaining its active campus presence and students from continuing to take comfort in its warm and “homey” atmosphere. 

Sophomore Christian Jennings – the president of the Black Men’s Initiative, a student organization that focuses on mentoring and uplifting the Black male community – said the transition from the MSSC townhouse to the student center space over winter break came as a “shock” for himself and other students who regularly visited the building to hang out with friends and staff members because some didn’t realize the severity of the building’s issues. Now relocated to the student center, Jennings said the persistent presence of the MSSC’s student regulars and staff has kept the temporary closure of the G Street building from disrupting the center’s role as a welcoming home on campus.

“I think that because of the people who take up that space, you really still feel the warmth of it,” Jennings said. “It just may look different, but it doesn’t have to feel different if you give it a chance to warm up.”

The MSSC announced the move from the G Street building to the broader GW community in a post on the center’s Instagram on the first day of spring classes, informing students that it had “temporary relocated” their space to the student center’s fifth floor with a dedicated gathering space for students to connect and host events.

Jennings said BMI often used MSSC’s spaces for programming before the G Street building’s closure for events like a keynote talk in late October with the Black ACE Magazine, featuring entrepreneur Barrington Bowen who gave students tips to achieve their career goals. He said the BMI hosted a “Men Talks” discussion in the new MSSC space in late March with the Nu Beta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. to “break the ice” with Black male students in an “empowering” space. He said the BMI hopes to turn to the fifth floor of the student center to host more programming during the upcoming year. 

He said the organization has also shifted its events to non-MSSC spaces on campus, including residential common areas like District House affinity spaces and the George Washington Williams House – a residential building that serves as a hub for African American culture on campus.

“We just ask people that we know ‘Can we use the space?’” Jennings said.

Dustin Pickett, the director of the MSSC, said the MSSC’s “multipurpose” student center location features gathering areas, quiet study spots and technological offerings like podcast recording equipment. Pickett declined to provide a timeline for the G Street building’s renovations or when MSSC operations will return to its townhouse.

“The physical space of the MSSC will continue to evolve over the next two years, in partnership with the Division for Student Affairs and Campus Planning,” Pickett said in an email.

Senior Tino Stephens, the vice president of the Gamma Alpha Phi chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., said Phi Beta Sigma hosted five events at the MSSC’s G Street townhouse last semester, like “Take a Break” where attendees could play video games and relax from studying in November. Stephens said he didn’t know where the MSSC’s new space was located on the student center’s fifth floor until last month when he ran across Alpha Phi Alpha hosting an event in the new space.

Stephens said he hopes to see the MSSC in its own building again – whether it be the original townhouse or a different location – to give the center privacy.

Having the office in one building was most ideal, which is why I think with the townhouse, you can say you kind of have somewhat of a warm feeling when you go there,” Stephens said.

Elise Greenfield, the MSSC’s student program associate, said issues with plumbing, electricity and heating in certain rooms forced MSSC to temporarily relocate its services to the student center. She said the MSSC has continued to organize events as often as before, like a book club reading of “All About Love: New Visions” by American author bell hooks, the pen name of Gloria Jean Watkins and “The Inaugural Queer Formal Prom” – a formal event for members of the LGBTQIA+ community to socialize.

“We’ve tried to make it as comfortable and as cozy and as inviting as possible,” Greenfield said. “All the staff is still here, so their support is still here if they’re looking for it.”

Senior Maram Baider, the Muslim representative for the Interfaith Council and a Hatchet reporter, said the Interfaith Council struggled to host consistent events this semester due to scheduling conflicts among leaders for the MSSC and other meeting spaces. But Baider said the move to the student center puts the MSSC in an accessible location for all students because of its proximity to GW buildings in the middle of campus.

“I went to one of the events where I got to meet the director, and it was nice being close,” Baider said. “Because where it was located, I think it was a good location. But you had to walk all the way to G Street.”

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