News | Student Life

Graduate lounge in Philosophy Hall delayed until March

  • Yue Ben / Senior Staff Photographer
    SPACE FILLER | Work is under way to convert 301 Philosophy Hall into a new graduate student lounge, but renovations won’t be finished until March.

Work on the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ student center in 301 Philosophy Hall will take a bit longer than originally expected—the latest delay in the two-year project.

The lounge—which will feature a café, pantry, extensive seating, and a conference room with audiovisual equipment—will now open in March, three months later than its original December completion date.

Dan Held, a spokesperson for Columbia University Facilities, said that the delays were the result of “unforeseen conditions encountered in the building.”

Back in September 2010, the University Senate and the Graduate Student Advisory Committee proposed creating a student center to address the lack of space for graduate students on campus. In April 2012, plans for the center in Philosophy Hall were finalized. The room was previously open for use by all faculty and students, but when finished, it will be available for only graduate students and faculty.

“We’re the only one of our peer institutions that doesn’t have a graduate center,” GSAS Dean Carlos Alonso said in 2012. “Most of them have an entire building. We are just trying to get a minimal, functional space for graduate students.”

Despite the planned December 2013 opening date, construction didn’t begin until November last year. 

So far, only the room’s basic infrastructure has been renovated to compensate for the room’s previously inflexible layout.

The lounge is funded mostly by donations from GSAS alumni as part of an earlier $4.6 million fund to improve graduate student life, Robert Ast, a spokesperson for GSAS, said.

Still, while construction is prolonged until the end of the semester, some GSAS students interviewed this week said they feel the space crunch of not being able to use the room and are excited for the opening of the new lounge.

Lindsay Leone, GSAS ’14, said that Women in Science at Columbia, which she formerly chaired, frequently used 301 Philosophy Hall for club meetings.

“Philosophy 301 was a room we utilized often because of its size,” Leone said. “Since it’s been closed down for the past few years, it’s been a bit of a bummer for our club and other grad students since I think most students really identified with that room.”

Naid Mubalegh, a teaching fellow at GSAS in the French department, said she felt that there is a lack of available space for graduate students on campus.

“I don’t feel like I have an area where I can meet students outside of class when I need to, especially since I’m in a weird stage where I’m not a student but I’m considered part of GSAS,” Mubalegh said.

“I definitely think this project will be a good thing,” she added.

Leone, who’s in the chemistry department, said that space on campus is a perennial issue for Columbia graduate students.

“We are fortunate enough to have our own building with a common space we can all use, but I can understand that, for other departments, it may be difficult to find that kind of space,” Leone said.

news@columbiaspectator.com  |  @ColumbiaSpec

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the Graduate Student Center will be an exclusively graduate student space after its completion. This is incorrect. Faculty will still have access to the space. Spectator regrets the error.

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