Graduate students in the Elliott School of International Affairs who oppose the University’s $100 Commencement fee presented their case to President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg in a Feb. 17 letter.
“This letter is to express our displeasure with the $100 graduation fee that the Board to Trustees reinstituted this year,” according to the letter from International Development Studies graduate students.
Signed by about 22 students, the letter pointed out that ESIA already charges a $625 graduate student fee each semester, in addition to the $310 University fee.
The Board of Trustees imposed the University-wide fee early this semester to cover the high cost of graduating on the Ellipse, and students now must pay for the unintended expense, ESIA Dean Harry Harding said.
But ESIA graduate student Nicole Judice, who will graduate this May, said the focus of the opposition is not the money.
“The most important reason for opposing (the fee) is because it’s unfair to ask people who are not planning on walking in the ceremony to pay,” she said.
In the letter, students also highlighted a previous concern – the date of the ESIA ceremony.
“Because the graduation ceremony at which we will receive our diplomas at is on Friday, May 14, it is very unlikely that many of us will actually attend the ceremony on the Ellipse on Sunday,” said the graduates in the letter.
Although the students said they will pay the fee, it puts a hitch in their semester budgets because the University only informed them of it recently.
“The fee seemed to come out of nowhere,” said Tony Stitt, another ESIA graduate student who signed the letter.
“I can see why students would be unhappy with a $100 fee . it was sort of announced at the last minute,” Harding said.
“A lot of us feel that GW is geared toward profit rather than education,” Judice said.
Stitt said that as a soon-to-be alumnus, he may be reluctant to help the University financially after graduation.
“Leaving us with a negative impression right before we graduate is not the best way to go about soliciting donations in the future,” he said. “I will never give to the school now.”
Stitt said he received a letter from President Trachtenberg Saturday, which explained the reasons for implementing the fee and thanked students for their concern.
“It’s far too often that student concerns get ignored. It’s nice that they’re listening to us,” Stitt said.
But Stitt said he still does not agree with University administrators.
-Stacey Felsen contributed to this report.