The proposed alternative academic calendar could possibly have a great financial benefit for GW but less tangible costs to students could outweigh the increase in revenue. The Residence Hall Association finds it necessary to explain our position against the proposed changes on the current academic calendar.
If a new calendar is put into place, students at GW will become less of a cohesive unit, and the student community will lack long-term leaders. In addition, student groups will suffer because of leadership and membership uncertainty, both during the summer session and during the spring and fall. The process of housing selection will become more confusing and increasing numbers of students will choose to move off campus. Because students will inevitably have different sets of semesters at GW, there will be a strong lack of continuity. How can student leaders be increasingly productive in programming and policy with the administration if a large portion of the student body is not on campus to voice their opinion? Students will have a much different, less influential impact and voice throughout campus. Primarily, students will lose opportunities to create a dialogue with administrators, which will create increasingly unneeded tension between leaders trying to make a positive difference.
Student organizations will also suffer if a new calendar is put in place. With students attending the University year-round, student organizations will also be forced to operate year-round. How are those organizations expected to serve students year round if large portions of their groups will inevitably be away from the University? Student leaders will have to stay on campus twelve months a year, even if they are not taking classes. Sophomores and juniors in leadership positions would run into problems because many of them would be away from GW for a semester. For instance, a rising junior would not be able to run for the presidency of the RHA because he would either not be at GW for the spring election or would not be able to serve due to his absence from the University during the fall semester.
Housing has the possibility of becoming extremely confusing and tedious. First of all, with the Ivory Towers supplying more than 700 beds and a future freshman residence hall providing 400 more, there will be no housing crunch. Therefore any housing justification for the new calendar is not valid. In addition, it is possible for a student to move four times in the course of a year. A sophomore could move into The Dakota in the fall, move home after the fall semester, move back into The Dakota for the summer, and move into Munson in the beginning of the next fall semester as a junior. There will essentially be a major move-in day, smaller than the current fall move-in, but still significant, at the beginning of all three semesters. This would be stressful for students and the staff members who have to work during the move-in.
If GW wants to continue to have an active student body and wants students to continue living on campus, it should think hard about implementing the new academic calendar.
–Matt Frisbee is president and Dan Miller is vice president of the Residence Hall Association.