Another semester has begun and with it comes all the traditional accompaniments – tans courtesy of winter vacations in Florida, the latest cold-weather fashions, various combinations of four-letter words describing book costs in the GW Bookstore. And of course, complaints about overcrowded classes. This last item has become a tradition more well known than that of George Washington’s Potomac water horse (a.k.a. the Hippo).
As students get back into the groove of classes, some unfortunate students are packed into classrooms tighter than sardines in a can. Students sitting on the floor, on top of shelves, on windowsills and in doorways are common sights at the beginning of each semester. In some classes, students eventually drop out or make only cameo appearances at exam times, allowing the remaining students a place to sit. But until then, students must deal with too many people in too small a classroom. That runs counter to the reason GW exists – to teach students in a productive learning environment.
It costs a tremendous amount of money to attend GW. While it is nice to have shiny gates and commemorative plaques, students are here to receive a quality education. Every year, the issue of overcrowding arises, and every year students get the same response – GW has a finite amount of space for teaching. To hire more teachers, the administration argues, tuition would have to increase accordingly. While no one likes paying higher tuition, overcrowding in classrooms must be addressed soon. The problem will only get worse as the University admits more students each year. Admissions increase rapidly without the faculty, classroom or residence hall resources to accommodate a tidal wave of new students.
When prospective students visit, tour guides expound on the small classes that await them at GW. Why have many upperclassmen yet to attend one of those small classes? A GW tradition continues.