The University should level with students about budget cuts.
Mired with budget deficits, the University has been forced to cut several academic programs. Earlier this month, administration officials announced the end of the Earth and Environmental Science major. The latest casualty is the small but well-regarded Peace Studies minor. Affected students are justly upset over the program’s elimination. However, the tenuous financial position of GW requires that cuts be made. While such cuts are inevitable in the current environment, the University must make a concerted effort to provide students with the direction such cuts will take in the future.
Several years ago, the University issued its “Strategic Plan” to help improve University academics. The plan essentially calls for cutting small, unsuccessful programs and diverting those resources to more popular programs. If the administration believes such an approach will benefit overall academic quality at GW, it should make a genuine effort to convince students of its plan. Currently, the cuts leave students confused and angry, thinking no logic is behind the action.
In attempts to rectify this perception, the University should embark on a substantial public relations effort. President Trachtenberg must find an acceptable medium through which to level with students and convince them of the necessities and purpose of the cuts.
Students are not children; they understand University stewardship requires making difficult choices. And difficult choices are seldom popular. What the administration must realize is that while students might not necessarily agree with everything the administration does, they will be much less resentful about the consequences of those choices if they are better informed about their necessity.