Following a year of budget reductions higher than those in past years, the vice president of Student and Academic Support Services said that cuts could be worse in the future. The amount and frequency of budget cuts fosters a negative perception about GW administrators’ ability to effectively plan for future students without adversely impacting our current campus community.
GW is engaged in a critical time of growth and expansion. The school embarked on a major wave of construction and refurbishment of old buildings, and these activities will likely continue for the next decade. Such projects are certainly beneficial for this institution; they provide a much-needed update to antiquated structures and help to boost facilities needed to manage growth. At the same time, these endeavors certainly create a heavy financial burden.
These costs, in the form of ever-multiplying budget cuts, negatively influence student perception. GW tuition and other fees increase each year, while students experience a reduction in once-prized services and events. Though a revamped campus may show its benefits in the long term, students paying higher prices in the short term are left to wonder why the administration plans for future students by consistently forcing current students to sacrifice privileges, programs and academics.
Most recently, budget cuts forced the end of the GW Reads program and the axing of Colonials Invasion, but cuts can also negatively impact other, more important aspects of the University’s operation. Administrators announced that they expect to soon release $1 million to its academic budget this year for one-time expenditures. That amount is less impressive than it sounds because officials withheld $2 million last year from this year’s academic budget. Budget concerns also created a rift between administrators and faculty last year when the University delayed full-time faculty pay raises.
To counteract the possibility of harsher future cuts to support services and other areas, administrators should reevaluate the timeline for development. Students may be unwilling to pay for future benefits if it means that they will receive less during their time at GW.
GW should also increase communication to students regarding costs. Currently, there seems to be no end in sight to increasing fees coupled with diminished services. Administrators should make a good-faith effort to inform members of the GW community about budget realities for the long term.
A university’s assets may extend beyond its facilities and employees to the support and positive perceptions provided by students. If current growth is negating those aspects, then GW should consider a less-aggressive timeline for growth that allows for short-term stability in academic and service budgets.