If you picked up a print copy of The Hatchet in the past few days, you might have noticed a change to the top of the opinions page. For years, the upper right-hand corner was home to a “quotable” comment from that day's issue.
But from now on, in its place there will be a box titled “What the University Won’t Talk About This Week.”
This University has perpetuated a culture of declining to comment on a range of issues, from sales at J Street to the cost of an unpopular rebranding campaign by top-tier firms. As stakeholders in this community, students have the right to information.
Yes, when officials decline to comment, it hinders reporting. But more importantly, it leaves the public less informed.
After the University disclosed in November that it had inflated admissions data for a decade, administrators left students with many unanswered questions. GW tasked an external firm to audit its admissions data, but only received an oral report of that investigation. University leaders declined to comment when asked critical questions – like why they did not task the firm with producing a report, or how they determined that the flawed formula which skewed admissions data was inadvertent. And they refused to make the former dean of admissions, Kathryn Napper, available for comment, and then announced her retirement a month later.
These are not isolated incidents.
The inaugural post on “What the University Won’t Talk About This Week” featured a spokeswoman's decline to comment on the number of FIXit requests submitted last semester. And in the fall, the University Police Department declined to say how many elevators broke down that year.
We have a duty to our readers to diligently report fair, unbiased and accurate news. To honor that relationship of trust, our readers deserve to know what information is being withheld from the community, and we will continue to post the declines to comment in hopes of encouaging a shift away from secrecy and toward transparency and clearer communication.
The GW Hatchet