With over 400 student organizations on campus, the demand for student space in the Marvin Center is high. And according to some student leaders, the Office of Events and Venues in the Marvin Center is not making it easy to reserve this highy-coveted student space.
Jonathan Carfagno, who is the Executive Chair of the GW Program Board, claims the Marvin Center scheduling module “lacks transparency, continually pushes students out of reserving spaces for their events, and has arbitrary rules of minimizing the number of large venue space requests to three per month.”
Regarding transparency, Carfagno told WRGW in an interview that the website forms used by the Marvin Center Events and Venues Office do not provide students with any information on reserved spaces.
“For example, if a space has already been reserved by a particular organization or department, the scheduling contact is not able to see the date in which the previous group booked the space, the anticipated size of the event, or even the nature of the event that is being planned.”
This is a problem, according to Carfagno, because many student organizations end up canceling their bookings last-minute, leaving no room for other organizations to register to use the space.
To fix this, Carfagno believes there should be a waiting list incorporated into the website and that the Office of Events and Venues should be able to provide more information on the status of various venues around campus in order to provide for more flexibility and efficiency.
“Both Marvin Center & Academic Scheduling need to take a comprehensive look at how their respective scheduling interfaces can be more interactive and user-friendly, giving students greater insight into their space requests, which in turn, will allow for them to plan their events in a much more effective and efficient manner,” Carfagno said.
Student organizations are not authorized to reserve more than three major venue requests per month in the Marvin Center. Carfagno says that this “arbitrary” rule creates hardships for his organization, the GW Program Board, because they are the largest student event-planning organization on campus, and a “partner with a diverse array of student groups to reserve space for our jointly planned events.”
Carfagno feels that these issues go way beyond his own organization and believes that these arbitrary rules have “hindered” many student groups from using the space effectively.
Peyton Zere, president of the Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC), believes that one of the bigger problems with the Marvin Center scheduling module can actually be “eased by students.”
“Student organizations need to be more conservative when reserving time slots,” Zere said. “Excessive overbooking, such as reserving two or three hours for a sub-60 minute meeting, limits opportunities for the other 400+ organizations.”
Carfagno called the three-request limit a “band-aid solution” to the greater issue of creating more student space for organizations.
Political organizations have also faced similar problems.
Omeed Firouzi, president of the GW College Democrats, told WRGW News that his organization always has to do “extra paperwork through the Marvin Center for events and venues” because the website does not fully confirm specific time and place reservations.
“If that process and the event confirmations and checklists could entirely be done online, it would make life easier for student orgs,” Firouzi said.
He also pledged to pursue this change on the heels of his re-election as an Undergraduate At-Large Senator in the GW Student Association.
The issue isn’t a partisan one. On the other side of the aisle, Alex Miller, chairman of the GW College Republicans, said the online system is “fundamentally flawed.”
Miller commented that the website is “not user-friendly” and “often conflicts with the information found on the booking calendar.” Efficiency for student organizations is lacking, Miller said.
Miller described how the College Republicans almost had to cancel an event with Herman Cain last semester, because the system would not confirm any open rooms, even though the calendar still showed that there were open spaces.
“As Events & Venues offered no solution, we were forced to use Academic Scheduling to secure a classroom at 1957 E Street,” Miller said.
University spokesman Dave Andrews, speaking for Natalie Hisczak, the Executive Director for scheduling in the Office of Event and Venues, said that the three-request-per-month rule is in place “to allow for as many different student groups as possible to make reservations.”
Andrews added, “overall, the large majority of students who reserve meeting spaces on campus have found the reservation process and policies to be reasonable,” but said, “the scheduling team will continue to be willing to meet with student organizations to listen to and talk through any concerns they might have.”