Student leaders and administrators will meet Friday to discuss tuitionand budget priorities in a closed session at the Marvin Center’s University Club.
The meeting was promised to student leaders by GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg last spring, when students protested this year’s 6.9 percent increase in tuition and fees and demanded more student input in the process.
“I am going into the meeting with the intention of listening,” said Robert Chernak, vice president for student and academic support services.
Following Friday’s meeting, student leaders will hold a debriefing in the Colonnade Gallery at 5:30 p.m. to advise students of the meeting’s key points and to allow students another opportunity to discuss the volatile issue.
Student Association President Kuyomars “Q” Golparvar said the University’s Board of Trustees decided that students would be involved early on in the tuition process after last year’s protests.
“I want (administrators) to know our concerns and want to see students incorporated from the get go,” Golparvar said.
Golparvar said he would not like to see tuition increase more than five percent this year. He said student research into the University’s finances has revealed that a higher increase is unnecessary.
Student leaders will go into the meeting armed with the results of a recent SA survey that asked students to rate the importance of University expenses by ranking them on a four-point scale.
The survey featured 64 questions addressing academic issues, financial aid, student life, security and student facilities. The survey was mailed to residence halls and distributed at J Street and at a Commencement town hall meeting last month.
Two hundred and twelve students responded to the survey.
Students rated a reduction in class sizes as their top priority. Also high on the list were changes to the University’s meal plan, installation of cable and Ethernet connections in the residence halls and improved residence hall facilities.
A separate question on the survey found that 75.6 percent of the respondents said GW does not provide them with the education for which they are paying.
“It’s a small sampling, but it was just an attempt to get something … on a very short time limit,” said Rusty Stahl, director of outreach for the SA.
Undergraduate Sen. Jesse Strauss (CSAS) said the survey marks the first time students leaders have solicited the student body for their views on the University budget process.
He said the survey has set the stage for future student leaders to seek the student voice in the tuition process.
The Tuition Action Committee held a discussion Wednesday to solicit student input to bring to Friday’s meeting.
“All of the stuff you brought up here . we are definitely relaying to the administration,” Golparvar said during the discussion.
Stahl said students need to learn about the University’s financial process because “students may not realize what (the University) is doing with your money.”
He said the research conducted by SA members and the advocacy group Students Against Yearly Increases in Tuition exemplifies the intense student involvement in the tuition issue.
The administration cannot understand many student problems, Stahl added. He said the administration either cannot see, or fails to take the time to see, certain aspects of University life.
“The student population lives on campus. (Administrators) aren’t living in the University, they are working in it,” Stahl said.
Soraya Tabibi, executive chair of the Program Board, said student leaders are elected to represent students. She said student leaders should stay in touch with student concerns, though she acknowledged the difficulties of targeting all student factions.
“Its really hard to keep a hand on the pulse of what student opinion is,” Tabibi said. “The administration faces this also. Some students tend to get lost in the shuffle.”
-Shruti Dat? contributed to this report.