As the newest members of the GW community, freshmen and their parents should be aware several hot-button issues that will affect the next few years of your lives.
Strained faculty and administration relations
Two integral parts of the University, the faculty and administration, have been at odds recently over a number of issues. In May, the University Board of Trustees voted to delay faculty pay raises by six months for the second time in three years. Adding insult to injury, most faculty affected by the delay discovered that they would no longer be receiving their raise as planned after reading about it in The Hatchet – the University had not publicized its plans as of early April. Who knows when it would have?
Adjunct professors recently voted to unionize after facing years of what they believe is poor treatment from the administration. Created by staff lacking standard benefits and suffering low pay, the adjunct union might force some changes in University policy toward its faculty through collective bargaining.
GW needs both of these key groups working together to operate successfully. At this point, the prospects for warmer relations look grim. Better communication between the groups and a commitment to faculty needs by the administration could turn things around.
GW’s relations with the Foggy Bottom community
A rapidly rising undergraduate population has put a strain on the University and its neighbors. This year, members of the Foggy Bottom Association and the local Advisory Neighborhood Council tried to get the city to prevent non-GW students from eating at the newly opened Ivory Tower food venues. Although that plan failed, GW’s neighbors have succeeded in stopping the University from keeping the Health and Wellness Center open as late as students would like.
The rhetoric coming from the FBA and members of the ANC is static and has proven unproductive. Instead of opposing every change or new construction plan put forth by GW, the neighbors should attempt to fight the major changes that adversely affect their community while building consensus on smaller issues. The University needs to alleviate the concerns of area residents by putting forth a final status plan for its construction.
Relations between the two groups have warmed up in recent months, perhaps in part due to the opening of GW’s Office of Foggy Bottom and West End Affairs and the inclusion of neighborhood groups in the planning process for the old hospital site. GW’s commitment to building better relations may prove successful in the coming years.
The University’s over-involvement in student life
It is no secret that GW has a poor record when it comes to fostering bustling student life on campus. While the University did invest in the construction of Townhouse Row, events of this year led many to question the commitment to student life on campus.
In one instance, Student Activities Center Director Tim Miller came to campus on a Sunday to remove members of unrecognized fraternities from a sorority philanthropy event. This past semester, Student Judicial Services utilized the popular Web site thefacebook.com to target members of unrecognized fraternities. These students, who may or may not be members of the unrecognized groups, were sent threatening letters from an administrator.
Reports have also confirmed that the University uses records from the GW Hospital to prosecute students during SJS hearings or make recommendations about their return to campus following psychiatric evaluations.
There is a need for GW to look out for the well-being of its student population. Students, however, should be wary of a University that is this intent on managing and prying into their lives.