It has been five years since the University retired the laser light show that ran up a $75,000 bill for Colonial Inauguration, and cost consciousness is now integrated into the programs' planning process.
GW faced a public relations lashing after a 2007 Washington City Paper story pointed to the University’s lavish orientation features – lasers, casino nights, ice cream socials, board game giveaways and engraved chocolates on pillows – as contributing to its rising tuition costs.
Since then, the lasers have disappeared and the chocolates vanished as part of an effort to rein in CI expenses.
Michelle Sherrard, spokeswoman for the University, declined to provide a budget estimate for this year’s CI, citing a University policy not to disclose budgets for programs or initiatives not approved for public light by the Board of Trustees.
The members of the Class of 2016 pay $350 to attend the program, the first class to pay the $100 increase that was approved in April 2011. The University anticipates this matriculation fee will raise about $235,000 from incoming freshmen each year.
Danielle Lico, associate dean of students for administrative services, said this year’s CI team has strived to control costs.
“Many aspects of the program have been re-conceptualized, and as a result, cost-savings in the tens of thousands of dollars has been realized,” Lico said.
She did not return a request for comment asking for specific examples of those cost-saving plans. Longtime CI features like a performance by the District-based comedy troupe, the Capital Steps, continue to highlight the program this year.
The University has also restructured orientation, placing a stronger emphasis on academics. Just don’t ask for a laser show to explain how to double major.