GW pushes gov’t for year-round calendar

GW officials submitted a proposal to Congress Friday suggesting that the government explore the feasibility of a year-round calendar at universities nationwide.

The proposal was submitted to the office of Sen. Lamar Alexander, who chairs the Senate subcommittee on Children and Families. Last month, University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg testified at a subcommittee hearing in support of holding more classes in the summer.

GW recommended that a commission be established under the Department of Education to study how a year-round calendar would affect the utilization of academic and residential buildings, said Richard Sawaya, vice president of Government, International and Corporate Affairs.

“We’re working on language that would propose a commission to study year-round calendars and their implication,” Sawaya said.

Alexander (R-Tenn.) said at the subcommittee hearing that the government is interested in exploring the year-round college calendar and “what the federal government should do, if anything, to encourage it or at least not impede it.”

America’s secret weapon for job growth,” Alexander said. “We want to make sure we are using our secret weapon most efficiently, so that it operates with the highest possible quality and with greatest access for the largest possible number of qualified students.”

Alexander’s press secretary, Alexandria Poe, wrote in an e-mail that it is “premature” to discuss legislation the Tennessee senator will introduce to Congress.

“Senator Alexander will continue working with Dr. Trachtenberg and a variety of other academic experts to explore this issue,” she said.

In his March 9 testimony, Trachtenberg, a major proponent of holding more summer classes, argued that a year-round academic calendar would reduce competition for housing and classes, lower student tuition and generate more income for universities.

He also urged the government to look at ways to give students federal financial aid for their summer classes. Currently, most assistance packages, such as the Pell Grant and work-study programs, cannot be utilized for summer classes.

Sawaya echoed Trachtenberg’s argument that restricting classes to the traditional calendar is archaic. Trachtenberg abandoned attempts last year to institute a mandatory summer session at GW after facing stiff opposition from faculty and students.

“We run the University, for the most part, on agrarian calendars suited to 300 years ago,” Sawaya said.

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