University administrators discussed GW’s diversity, tuition increases and on-campus deaths Tuesday night at a town hall meeting in the Hippodrome.
More than 40 students wrote anonymous questions to a panel, which included GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg; Robert Chernak, senior vice president for Academic and Student Support Services; Fred Siegel, dean of freshmen; and Tim Miller, associate director of the Student Activities Center. Student Association officials, who organize the yearly event, said they wanted students to directly pitch their concerns to senior officials.
“We felt that the students had questions and concerns, and the best way to alleviate those was to go straight to the source,” said senior Isaiah Pickens, a member of SA President Omar Woodard’s cabinet.
Last week’s suicide of sophomore Susan Shin prompted questions about the University Counseling Center’s ability to respond to student deaths.
“The counseling center has people on call twenty-four-seven, and the crisis response protocol makes sure that there are appropriate follow-up procedures for every type of crisis,” Dean of Students Linda Donnels said. “We want to make sure that we are providing the best support possible for our students.”
Administration members were also grilled on the University’s tuition, which increased by $2,000 last year for current students.
“We have and will continue to try to innovate ways to keep the tuition from increasing,” Trachtenberg said. “It still may not necessarily be cheap, but we are least attempting to make it predictable.”
Trachtenberg added that this year, GW devoted $100 million to financial aid, which will be used to attract students from different socioeconomic backgrounds.
Students also expressed concern about GW’s diversity, asking administrators how well the University is incorporating students of different racial groups.
“We’re doing great,” Chernak said. “The freshman class that was admitted this year saw the number of African-American students double and the Hispanic and Asian American enrollment increase greatly.”
Trachtenberg tackled questions about GW’s future, expressing a desire to continue to attract excellent students and professors.
“Our goal is always the same – continue to get better,” he said. “We want to continue to have the finest students and faculty and to give them the resources that they need.”
Students interviewed said they found the meeting to be informative and helpful.
“There are currently so many changes happening throughout the University, ranging from academic areas, to scheduling, to housing and construction,” senior Lisa Fineberg said. “I am always interested in what Trachtenberg and other administrators have to say about priorities and how they plan to shift things around to meet the needs of the school.”
Senior Megan Rowley said she enjoyed the face-to-face contact with some of GW’s top officials.
“Being able to see and hear the administrators answer questions was really nice,” she said. “It’s comforting to put a face to the people that are making the decisions that will ultimately be affecting our lives.”