Some members of the Student Association rallied against this year’s proposed tuition increase, but the Monday event failed to attract much student interest.
SA Executive Vice President Jesse Strauss and senior Adam Segal did most of the talking during the 45-minute rally on the Marvin Center’s H Street Terrace, protesting that GW’s $22,625 tuition is too high. But the poor student turnout meant their words reached mainly passers-by.
“The turnout was not that good because when you are fighting tuition issues, you are dealing with a problem that concerns students who have to work during the day and the ones without the time to rally,” Strauss said.
According to information compiled by the University’s Office of the Vice President and Treasurer, GW’s tuition is the 23rd highest in the country, following schools such as Princeton and Brown universities, and Amherst College. GW charges the 14th-highest total fees in the country when room and board are included.
The average GW undergraduate student owes $16,717 in student loans by the time he or she graduates, according to figures tabulated by rally organizers.
Strauss, Segal and undergraduate Sens. Alexis Rice (CSAS) and Caity Leu (ESIA) organized the rally.
“This rally is the SA’s way of providing the students with information on where their money goes,” Rice said.
“The administration keeps raising our tuition, and they won’t tell us where it is going. We want to know why it is being raised,” SA student group liaison Rachel Rod said.
Leu said the rally’s main purpose was to inform the student body about the tuition increase.
“Capping tuition is not realistic,” Leu said. “But when tuition increases, so should student services.”
Organizers said they knew the increase would be the lowest in a decade when they planned the event.
“I believe that the low tuition increase this year is due to years of student protest and vocal opposition to the University’s questionable funding priorities,” Rice said.
“As student leaders, we have an obligation to remind the administration that students are still angry about the rising costs of education at GW, and that we will raise our voices each and every year,” she said.
SA representatives and other student leaders were given tentative budget information at a meeting with administrators in early December. Student leaders met with administrators again Wednesday to discuss the proposed budget that will be presented to the University’s Board of Trustees Friday morning.
Strauss said the rally was held before the scheduled meeting with the administration because rally organizers wanted the meeting to be held on students’ terms.
“If we held the rally after the meeting it would have been whining,” he said. “Holding the rally before is a method of raising awareness.”
“I think they should (have waited) to see the total figures on Wednesday and to see exactly where the money goes before rallying,” said Barbara Porter, GW’s director of public affairs. “The rally seems premature without all the figures.”
Segal said he thinks students should send a message to the administration and the general public that they are willing to speak out about the rising costs of education.
But SA President Carrie Potter, who did not attend the rally, said students should expect a yearly tuition increase.
“We should be voicing our support for the lowest increase, but we should be working with administration to do so,” Potter said.