Letter to the Editor: Money matters

I am replying to your editorial of Feb. 15 regarding the Board of Zoning Adjustment’s decision with regards to GW’s campus plan (“Rethink restrictions”). I was an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in Foggy Bottom when GW submitted its campus plan to our organization and ultimately to the BZA.

Your editorial criticizes the BZA for ruling the Hall on Virginia Avenue and Aston Hall outside GW’s campus boundaries. Your criticism should rest with GW. According to the plan submitted to the BZA, GW did not request that HOVA or Aston be considered part of the campus. GW did not request the campus boundaries be extended in any direction. For whatever reason, GW does not consider HOVA nor Aston part of the Foggy Bottom campus, and BZA agreed with them.

Secondly, GW could build more academic facilities by lowering its undergraduate population to meet the requirement that 70 percent of undergraduates be housed on campus. The testimony I submitted to the BZA included figures from private colleges ranked in U.S. News and World Report’s top 50 colleges and universities. Many schools such as Harvard, Yale and Stanford have much lower undergraduate student populations, their teacher/student ratios are much lower and their tuitions are surprisingly similar to GW. The University should focus better on improving its relations with its graduates, thereby helping assure a greater alumni-giving program. This would make up for the tuition dollar deficit from a smaller undergraduate population.

Finally, GW purchased the One Washington Circle hotel a few months ago for an undisclosed amount. I am shocked and appalled that the University would spend students’ tuition dollars on a hotel instead of trying to recruit the best teachers available with a living wage. Why is it that GW can claim poverty and yet buy this expensive property for millions of your tuition dollars? Are you more interested in GW’s ability to purchase property or your own education?

-Richard Sheehey
class of 1995
ANC commissioner 1999-2001

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