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

Solo studiers scorn student center revamp

The renovation removed the student center’s carpeting and the raised platform in Columbian Square.
Sage Russell – Assistant Photo Editor

Returning students peeking into the first floor of the University Student Center last week were greeted with a radically different design. 

Updated tables and desks, a fresh white paint job and new laminate flooring turned the first floor of the student center from a cozy study spot into a clean, bright space with seating for large groups. Officials removed carpeting and the raised platform in Columbian Square — the seating area in front of Panera — replacing the green and orange tables and couches with larger ones in hues of Buff and Blue.

Officials also renovated the Panera Bread inside the student center and removed the wall separating the restaurant from the seating area. Officials also added two new University-owned dining vendors — fried chicken shack Absurd Bird and Indian spot Chaat House – but gave no indication on the status of Chick-fil-A, which was originally slated to open on the first floor of the student center after being removed from the District House basement.

“The student center was perfectly adequate before,” said Grace Newman, a junior studying business analytics. “It seems like a waste of money.”

Newman is one of more than 20 students who said they come to the student center alone or in small groups and find the new, large tables off-putting for study sessions. Students added they are excited to try the new dining vendors, which represent part of GW’s push to expand University-owned dining options under the swipes-based system. 

A University spokesperson did not specify when the new dining vendors will open. 

Students said the renovations took away the student center’s character, which previously featured tables with pictures of notable GW moments and a mural highlighting campus activities and traditions.

Some students said they plan to frequent quieter, more private study spaces in the Science and Engineering Hall and Gelman Library, expressing concerns about the potential of noise from new dining vendors and a lack of outlets. The renovated student center features long tables with outlets and updated outlets on the outside wall, but a University spokesperson declined to state whether officials added more outlets to the student center during the revamp.

Newman said she preferred the “darker atmosphere” of the pre-renovation center and added that the fluorescent lights in the space remind her of a dining hall. She said she was “surprised” officials chose to renovate the student center because students complain more frequently about the need for improvements in other buildings, like Rome and Phillips halls. 

“It’s just another thing to get used to,” Newman said.  

Evie Owens, a sophomore studying history and data science, said the seating options in the renovated student center are best for large groups. She said she comes to the student center alone and looks for single-person spots because she feels “awkward” sitting at a larger table where someone is already sitting.

“It looks like a giant warehouse now,” Owens said. 

Students also said they are excited to try the renovated student center’s new dining vendors but expressed concerns that people coming to get meals will foster a noisier environment. 

Aaliyah Guzman, a junior studying political communication, said the renovations help make the University a more “communal space.” They said even before the center’s renovations, long lines at Panera Bread increased the noise level on the first floor, and they are concerned the addition of two new dining vendors could mean similar volume. 

“I think it has potential to become equally as loud and busy,” Guzman said. 

Mark Vipa, a senior studying psychology, said he is excited to try Absurd Bird and that he is more likely to come to the student center now that it has been renovated to test the new restaurant vendors and spend time in the color-coordinated space. 

“I think it looks super aesthetic,” Vipa said.

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About the Contributor
Erika Filter, News Editor
Erika Filter is a senior majoring in international affairs from Carson City, Nevada. She leads the Metro beat as one of The Hatchet's 2023-2024 news editors and previously served as the assistant news editor for the Student Government beat.
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