GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg promised 48 lucky students at D.C.’s Paul Junior High the opportunity to attend GW on scholarship, contingent on their academic eligibility. Trachtenberg estimated the cost of a college education in five years at $150,000, a price tag few students from the District would be able to afford on their own. Members of the GW community should be proud of his offer.
While GW students get upset over the location of this spring’s Commencement ceremony, students at D.C. public schools struggle just to make it through the year. As long as the city’s public school system remains in shambles and its students are unable to compete on a national level, the future of education in the District looks bleak.
The obstacles that those 48 students will face in the next five years are enormous. Trachtenberg has offered those students that qualify, and the city itself, a future – he has given them something to look forward to.
Trachtenberg’s offer has sparked concern among GW students about the actual cost to the University of financing the education of 48 D.C. students. But while the product of $150,000 and 48 is gigantic, the actual cost to the University will be much lower.
In an ideal world, all 48 students would be able to overcome the obstacles presented by District public schools. But in reality, few of them will reach their senior year and will be eligible for acceptance to GW. But these students also are the reason federal aid exists, and administrators say GW will assist eligible students in finding financial aid. GW will be responsible for the remainder of the bill.
The University has a social responsibility to the city it calls home. Its D.C. location offers numerous opportunities to members of the GW community. GW students gain invaluable experience interning for the world’s leaders – an experience students at any other university would envy. In return for invading the city for four years, we have a responsibility to help the District. It is a partnership, and the city needs our help.
Trachtenberg’s offer is an example of altruism that everyone could learn from. The people who are complaining that his offer was granted unfairly should be ashamed of themselves. This gift of education and others like it are the only things that will help revive this city.
Students here at GW are privileged. The majority of us did not grow up in a city that did not support us. And for the most part, our parents were there for us and gave us the opportunity to attend this school.
Just because these students have a different background does not mean they do not deserve the same opportunities we have. Perhaps Trachtenberg should have sought out the top 48 students in the District for his spontaneous gesture, but his offer on our behalf is one that should be applauded. I, for one, am proud to attend a University that is both responsible and aware of its surroundings.
-The writer is editor in chief of The GW Hatchet.