When I graduated from GW last year with a degree in International Affairs, I left with a sense of accomplishment and the belief that I had spent my four years well and received a high caliber, comprehensive education. In addition to the classroom knowledge, I utilized GW’s location in Washington, D.C. by interning on Capitol Hill and for federal offices and lobbyists. However, one thing that I never felt was that our esteemed University president, Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, was interested in the students. So, listening to his charge to the graduates at last Sunday’s Commencement ceremonies surprised me. Had I been wrong all along?
Perhaps I would feel differently if I could count the number of times I had seen Trachtenberg on campus without using my hands. Or maybe if he had more frequent office hours (although I can certainly understand so few – it must take a considerable amount of work to become a real estate mogul in D.C.). Possibly I could be persuaded to think differently if he didn’t seem to think that spending one night in Thurston Hall freshman year made him know that class well enough for their tenure at GW.
During Commencement, Trachtenberg said that he is sure the students have dreams and he wishes he knew what those dreams were. Well, I have one simple question for SJT. Why not ask us?
I’m not asking for much here. I don’t expect him to go to every student’s door and ask what it is they want out of life. Most students probably wouldn’t know anyway. I was thinking something more like going to J Street a couple times a month for an hour or two during the busy dinner or lunch times and actually talking to the students. Or maybe walking on the Quad or Kogan and starting a conversation with the students sitting outside. If he has ever done these things, neither myself nor anyone I knew spoke to him.
Maybe then he would start to find out what students want and what they dream about.
Perhaps he would realize that GW students (at least this alumnae) want to have GW recognized for the quality education it gives and be back in the top 50 like it was my freshman year, in 1997. He might also realize that we think more professors should be on the track to be tenured so that we can retain the best professors instead of having them leave for more secure jobs.
I believe if Trachtenberg actually took the time to seek us out and ask, he would find we have a lot to tell him.
-Christine Muchanic, Class of 2001