As the School of Media and Public Affairs building nears completion, students in the department face an additional fee next fall. Officials want to raise SMPA students’ tuition by $1,000. Raising the cost of attendance for students in one school is fundamentally unfair and could damage the school’s future.
Administrators insist the money from the approximately 250 SMPA students will be used to purchase and maintain high-tech equipment. Citing how rapidly new equipment becomes obsolete, officials are pursuing a laudable goal in attempting to keep GW up to date, but the logic behind chargig only SMPA students is flawed.
Most students and administrators agree that electronic media majors use the most expensive equipment. If the proposal’s primary goal is to charge only those who use the equipment, then electronic media majors should shoulder the majority of the charges. That plan, though, would create a prohibitively expensive major. In principle, however, the University should not begin charging students in different schools to create essentially different tuition rates. This policy could evolve into wide disparities between what GW charges students in different schools. Undergraduates attend and graduate from GW as a unified university. The tuition and fees should reflect that uniformity and remain the same for all students.
If money is needed to upgrade technology, then GW should spread the cost among all students. The $250,000 a year raised by the fee is obtainable by nudging up the tuition of all of GW’s 16,000 students by only $15.63 each. That figure is much more palatable for a facility that houses classes in everything from geology to philosophy.
Students and their representatives in the Student Association – who have been silent on this issue after passing a resolution condemning the idea last spring – should resist any effort to turn GW into a coin-operated university that routinely charges exorbitant fees to some students and not others for services that ought to be included in the published tuition figures. When students arrive at GW, they do not find hidden $100 fees for beds or $25 tolls for light switches. They should not be slapped with a $1,000 charge after declaring their major either.