University charges SMPA students for new facility

GW students with majors in the School of Media and Public Affairs will be charged a $2,000 fee next academic year to help cover enormous construction costs of the new SMPA building, University officials said.

SMPA students, who are journalism, electronic media and political communication majors, will help carry the cost of the new building, which is scheduled to open next year. Those students will get the most use of the building’s state-of-the-art facilities, said Craig Linebaugh, vice president of Academic Affairs. The fee will probably be spread over a period of four semesters, he said. He compared the new fee to the $2,500 fee that graduate students enrolled in the Elliott School of International Affairs pay.

This is a case where you have a very special facility where you are serving a sub-set of students, Linebaugh said.

Some students said the new fee undermines the reasons they came to GW.

I think it’s ridiculous, sophomore and SMPA applicant Kristen Zaehringer, said.

She said she understands SMPA needs new facilities, but she said she is angry because the University assumed students would be willing to pay the fee. She compared the fee to the $50 voluntary Gelman Library fee students pay.

(Administrators) should look at ways to reallocate the money that is already coming into the University, Zaehringer said. It’s a slap in the face to the students.

It is unfair to charge members of one particular program, Zaehringer said. She said SMPA was one of the components that drew her to GW.

Other students said the University is right to charge only SMPA students.

If it’s going to be an SMPA-only facility, I don’t think other students should have to bear the cost, said junior Dave Kanevsky, a political communication major. The cost is worth the benefit.

Some students said they are willing to pay an extra fee for access to new media facilities.

I’ll be happy to pay it, sophomore and SMPA applicant Mark SooHoo said. It’s really not that huge a part of our tuition.

SooHoo said he was glad SMPA students will have access to the best technology and as a result he said he is willing to pay the fee. SooHoo said he feels the administration will have to do a good job explaining the fee, which will come as a surprise to many students.

If they’ve been planning on building, they should have laid out the costs and how they’re going to pay for it when they first announced it instead of suddenly springing (the fee) on the students, Kanevsky said.

As students grappled with the additional fees, the University announced a donation made to support SMPA scholarships.

CNN talk show host Larry King donated $1 million to SMPA, according to a University press release. The money will provide scholarships to SMPA students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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