GW students can feel that something is changing at GW. Perhaps that feeling is what led some of us to come here in the first place, while others are slowly catching on. It started on campus with new sitting areas, food options and an improved workout facility. It spread to events geared more toward students and even in a new, more reputable men’s basketball coach. Now it has reached Commencement.
This strange feeling is one of progress, of a university that is making an effort to respond to what students want and delivering. There are many areas still in need of this responsive approach, and students have reason to believe that this trend will continue from here.
To its credit, GW’s administration is trying hard to lose its stigma of not reaching out to students. While the Students First campaign is the most obvious and unsuccessful example of this, you see promising signs in changes to the now student-run Colonial Inauguration, new mascots and looser Columbian College of Arts and Sciences requirements. There are a few factors this year that can help GW’s administration in its effort to get back to students.
First, it can listen to student leaders. GW administrators so far have given Student Association President Roger Kapoor a level of access and respect that has led to some good decisions for students. They should not forget that other campus leaders, from Greek life to multicultural groups, also have a handle on what students want. Next, the administration should identify the areas that are in the most need for change and that have the best chance for it.
Changes in Student Judicial Services should come naturally as GW searches for a new director. Putting Kapoor on the selection committee is a good first step, and administrators should seek a person who respects students as adults and falls in line with the idea of the judicial process as a learning process. This means more access to SJS and judicial proceedings.
Second, GW should recognize where its advantages lie and use them to improve more difficult areas. Mike Freedman, vice president of communication, brings a new perspective and refreshing approach to GW public relations. As he showed securing the MCI Center as a backup Commencement site, he can be instrumental in presenting new ideas to administrators who are more inflexible to student demands. Perhaps he could use his touch to help the Community Living and Learning Center communicate better with students.
John Petrie, who fills the new position of assistant vice president for public safety and emergency management, also presents an opportunity for change in the important area of campus security. While his role will center on emergency response, he should be used as a good resource for all campus security matters including the Blue Light system and 4-RIDE, soliciting feedback from students.
These are only a few issues The Hatchet will focus on this semester to track progress within the University. We will remain an open forum for progressive ideas. I encourage students to take the University’s lead and give administrators your feedback. That can be done through letters to The Hatchet, contacting the Student Association or direct feedback to departments. GW’s efforts to be more responsive to student will only be as successful as students allow.
–The writer, a senior majoring in journalism, is Hatchet editor in chief.