Ashley Fleishman: Advertising should reflect service

The shocked and overwhelmed looks on their faces say it all – they are on a tour of GW. Mesmerized with the idea of bathrooms in each room, once-a-week housekeeping and almost 100 channels of cable television, the parents and the students seem to have a positive outlook on every service the University provides.

Such was the experience I had on my campus tour of GW. The STAR tour guide was selling the school so well that we failed to hear about any of the downsides. Prospective students do not get all the facts they need about campus life here, but I can’t blame the University for trying to create the best possible perception in the minds of prospective students. Omitting large negatives when describing the school to applicants, however, could be considered the same as false advertising.

On my tour, I remember hearing about each room having a high-speed Internet connection; my tour guide commented on how fast it runs. And it does, but after arriving at school a falling bulletin board knocked out my connection.

I was without Internet for about two weeks. After my accident I called Student Technology Services, and they said the soonest they could get to me would be four days. I was so excited when STS finally came up, but my joy quickly faded when they told me that facilities management personnel would have to come fix my problem.

Finally, another five days later, I had a working Internet connection. I am grateful for the repair, but it seemed to take a really long time to fix the problem. When I was deciding where to come to college, I was never given the impression that the services at a school that seems to pride itself on such comforts would be so poor.

I am not the only one experiencing these problems. Many of my friends, both freshman and upperclassmen, deal with waiting in line at Package Services for 30 minutes or receiving mail days after it should have arrived. Furthermore, the upperclassmen tell me problems like this are quite common here.

I am not saying that the nuisance of such incidents outweighs the positive aspects of GW, but I feel as if I was not shown the school to a full extent when I was just browsing around. For me, the University has the feel of a used car – I’m not totally sure what I’m going to get.

I also feel as if I was sold some things the University is now taking away, such as newspapers in residence halls. Regardless of the merits of this decision, an admissions representative should have told me during my visit that this service was something on the chopping block. These papers were a benefit I thought I would receive, and their abrupt removal seems to be one more example of the school misrepresenting itself to a potential student.

Something as trivial as slow service or no free newspapers would not have kept me from attending, but people like to know what they are walking into. This is especially true for a college, a new home for the next four years. When moving into a house, there is usually an inspector who researches the house for you to see all the pros and the cons. However, there is no inspector to check universities for us, and I expected GW to be an honest salesman.

Either the school needs to portray all of its aspects, even those that draw student ire, or it needs to drastically improve the quality of its services. If the latter of these choices is impossible, the school needs to start informing students of certain problematic aspects of this University. Tour guides should not act as advertisers, but informers. Simply stated, students applying need to be told all the facts, both the good and the bad.

A happy student is one who is prepared for what may come, not one who feels taken for a fool. It is also much better to have a student who is happy and well-informed than one who is upset because they expected much more than they received. GW needs to take steps toward more accurate advertising to help assure happy students.

-The writer is a freshman majoring in journalism.

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