In June 2004, the University changed its long-standing policy of seizing remaining Colonial Cash at the end of the academic year. Conveniently, they neglected to publicize the change in a way that would inform most students.
The new policy provides for rollover of GWorld funds, allowing students to utilize their points for 35 months after graduation. The lack of publicity surrounding such a significant shift in policy only further promotes the perception that GW is a corporation-like entity more concerned with money than its own student body.
This policy shift is obviously a boon for students. Previously, students were forced to spend the remainder of their balances on frivolous purchases such as iPods or involuntarily “donate” the remainder of their funds to GW. The absurdity of the previous policy is only magnified when compared to the logic of the change.
Despite its positive effect on students, the University lacked initiative in informing students about the change. Administrators must realize that the benefits of the policy can’t speak for itself. Students who were unaware of the change have continued to utilize their GWorlds as they have in the past, wasting money at the end of the school year that could have easily rolled over to the next semester. This kind of negligence fosters a sense of resentment among the student population. There likely was not any malicious intent in the lack of publicity, but students might wonder whether the policy change was kept quiet in order to keep end-of-the-year GWorld spending at its previous levels – to the benefit of University coffers.
Even in the wake of student complaints over the lack of information surrounding GWorld policy, the University has still been reluctant to fix its error. This semester, GW sent out blast e-mails concerning changes to the Virginia Campus shuttle service, changes in the hours for the Office of Human Research, and two separate e-mails advertising the GW Inaugural Ball. Still, GW has yet to commit to sending out a blast e-mail about the change in GWorld policy.
This shift in policy seems to validate the perception that the funds formerly collected by the University from unused GWorld funds were deposited into a financial black hole. The absence of a public paper trail for reclaimed monies and GW’s unwillingness to comment on how much money was left over in previous years enforce negative perceptions about University intentions.
The bureaucracy at GW gives it a general perception problem. It is seen as a corporate, red-tape, bureaucratic monster. Whether true or not, this negative perception from both students and community members has serious implications. It affects student morale, negotiations with the city, alumni donations and future students’ decisions about whether to enroll. The administration needs to understand that its ability to expand the endowment and improve the overall GW experience are directly related to the way it is perceived by current students and how students feel about this University when they graduate.
In the end, GW’s change in GWorld policy helps students. What administrators in Rice Hall must understand, however, is that inadequately articulating policy to students will perpetuate student resentment of an unnecessarily clandestine bureaucracy.