Staff Editorial: Close the floodgates

The Office of Admissions is following the directives of the board of trustees in the number of students admitted to the class of 2005. The trustees order exceeds by more than 400 students the cap imposed by the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment in its approval of the campus plan and will again result in a huge freshman class. With an already overcrowded University that has fallen into the second tier in the most widely recognized ranking system, administrators should rethink admissions policies and admit fewer students.

Long lines, too few desks for too many students, classes closed in minutes, long waiting lists during housing selection – these are just some of the complaints of GW students. Few are surprised these gripes all center on overcrowding. GW is again increasing the size of its freshman class for at least the fourth year in a row. In that time the University has slipped out of the U.S. News & World Report first tier, the nearly universally recognized list of the top 50 colleges and universities.

Students do not need a road map to make the connection. GW is packing in undergraduates, counting dollar signs and tuition checks rather than desks and beds. The trustees increased tuition to pay for construction projects, and now they increase enrollment for ostensibly the same reason. As tuition continues to go up and more students are shoehorned into residence halls, classrooms and dining facilities, the University’s prestige – often the measure of the value of a GW education – seems to at best remain stagnant and stalled in the second tier.

The solution to GW’s woes is not simple, but increasing the number of students in already overflowing facilities will never alleviate the current displeasure undergraduates feel. Making the expensive GW experience enjoyable is in the long-term best interest of the University. Alumni giving – already less than impressive – and the University’s smallish endowment will only get worse if students graduate feeling ripped off.

GW should check its math and admit fewer students. A lower acceptance rate helps boost GW’s rankings. More space in residence halls shortens waiting lists. Fewer students could mean faster food service, students actually able to register for the classes they need and no more sitting on the floor in an overfilled classroom.

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