The annual Monumental Celebration at Union Station has become a Commencement tradition. The black-tie optional event commemorates the culmination of four years of study at GW. While this event has been a good way for students to celebrate their graduation, the rising cost of the event, coupled with sharply lower attendance and a University facing significant cutbacks, makes it questionable whether this is an expense GW should be incurring at this time.
Last year, when a record number of people attended the function, the University lost $50,000. This year, nearly 2,000 less people plan on attending. Given that the University already had to increase the price of the event to counteract rising overhead costs, it is apparent that the University will be looking at even more significant losses from this event. Since GW has announced its intention to make administrative cuts and eliminate popular student programs such as the newspaper readership program, the University should look into ways to scale back the overhead costs of Monumental, while still preserving its significance for graduates.
In an attempt to achieve this, the University must look at the budget for the event and find ways to cut costs and scale down the event. Currently, the University has booked two swing bands and a DJ for the event. It is unlikely that having only one of these options would significantly detract from the quality of the event, but it would significantly lower costs. The University should also consider cutting the caricature artists and face painters – both of which are geared toward young children rather than college graduates and their parents. The University should even consider changing the location of the event if the cost of renting out Union Station proves to be so burdensome that GW, and its students and families, cannot afford it.
Having an opulent gala is for naught if no one decides to come. Given that the rising costs have put the price of the event out of reach for many graduates – and their families – in addition to being a significant strain on its budget, the University should look into ways of preserving the tradition without breaking the bank.