If U.S. News & World Report had a top 50 ranking for universities that take good ideas and turn them into bad decisions, GW would find itself near the top of the list.
Back in November, GW decided to scrap the policy that had allowed financially strapped students to waive the $300 housing deposit. Students have to pay the deposit before they are allowed to participate in the on-campus housing lottery. GW reasoned that some students took advantage of the waiver, entered the housing lottery and picked a room, but later decided not to live on campus. That meant the University was out $300, and a student who paid the deposit was unable to choose a room.
No one wants a multimillion dollar corporation such as GW to lose $300. But in its quest for full monetary gain – and, oh yeah, to level the playing field for students – the University has discounted those students whose financial situation is desperate. A few students now find themselves with a Friday deposit deadline and few options for coming up with $300.
Yet students also bear some of the blame. The new policy was announced in November. That was three months ago, plenty of time to raise $300. Students who were counting on the deposit waiver should have made alternative plans.
But the University should realize that not everyone here has deep pockets. Why couldn’t GW have tightened the system to prevent abuse? Perhaps the University could have forced students to demonstrate financial need to waive the fee. But it took a noble effort at making the housing lottery more fair and instead went overboard, when moderation would have sufficed. Students should have planned earlier, but the University never should have axed the waiver.