GW has again admitted a record number of students to the freshman class. While the unexpected swell of students committed to attend GW is not completely the fault of the Admissions Office, administrators are partially responsible for introducing more bodies into a hopelessly overcrowded environment. GW owes new students and current ones clear explanations and solutions to the various problems exacerbated by the rise in enrollment.
Admissions officers received more applications this year than in the past, but the acceptance rate remained the same. Numerically speaking, GW admitted more students this year than before, even though the percentage accepted stayed constant. Compounding the problem is a six-percent increase in the acceptance yield – the number of students who will attend GW. Together, these two factors resulted in a class that is as many as 300 students larger than anyone expected.
What is most troubling is administrators’ continued disregard of students’ repeated pleas to ease the strain on campus resources by admitting fewer students. Even without the greater than expected influx of new students, the freshman class would have been excessively large. GW residence halls are already filled to capacity with many returning students still on wait lists. J Street is constantly overflowing with patrons causing long lines and longer delays. Students arrive at class to find too few desks and then must take notes sitting on the floor. These problems began four years ago or more and only get worse each year.
In addition to on-campus problems comes the legal battle between GW, the District government and Foggy Bottom residents over zoning restrictions, GW expansion and enrollment caps. The D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment sought to impose an enrollment cap on GW, a decision now under appeal. Although GW claims to be blindsided by the BZA decision, administrators knew the BZA’s intentions well before final admissions decisions were mailed to applicants.
With so much at stake – for the University and for new and returning students – administrators owe everyone not just an explanation but a cogent solutions to GW’s problems.