A self-study by Student and Academic Support Services showed that more than half of the department’s employees consider resigning each month and more than a quarter consider quitting each week.
The study, conducted to help one of the University’s largest departments function more logically, showed that students often feel connected to the University through niches and that GW’s institutional bureaucracy negatively impacts both students and the department’s staff.
SASS gathered information for the research primarily from interviews and surveys. The report includes opinions and testimony from 11 SASS senior staff members and 10 GW faculty members along with online survey responses from 380 students and 166 SASS employees.
“We want students to feel like we’re responding to needs they have expressed,” said Peter Konwerski, assistant vice president for SASS. “We’re looking forward to making the student experience even more unique and more special”
Konwerski said a similar SASS study was done a decade ago that focused on problems with technology on campus and the need to make the campus more wired. He said the issues researched and surveyed in this study were chosen based on recent demands both from administrators and students.
This most recent study looked at issues such as the lack of central gathering spaces on campus and student perceptitons of the way the University is run.
Committees within SASS looked at each issue researched in this study and committee members visited 11 peer institutions including Duke University, University of Maryland and Boston University to provide bases for comparison with life at GW.
“We’re committed to making it easier for students to do their business on campus,” Konwerski said.
Niches students cited most often as ones allowing them to feel connected to the University include students organizations, sports teams, fraternities, residence halls and schools.
Some students surveyed said they considered their school to be their niche. The report found the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Elliott School of International Affairs and the School of Public Health and Health Sciences “have much stronger school identity and bond” than other schools.
Michael Tapscott, director of the Multicultural Student Services Center and project manager for the Campus Community Building sub-committee of the SASS self-study, said while students should be encouraged to find small groups they can connect with, students should also realize it is GW that gives them access to these organizations.
“What you don’t want is for people to lose sight of the big picture,” he said.
The SASS committee that studied “campus community building” found and reported that GW lacks indoor gathering spaces and that dining services should be a central part of the culture at GW.
Tapscott said another part of community building is showing students how GW is related to their experience in the city. Students’ academic experiences at GW should allow them to “frame” their understanding of D.C., Tapscott said.
“Washington doesn’t (lay) there just waiting for people to experience it,” he said.
In terms of student opinion of institutional bureaucracy at GW and how it is mired in red tape, the report states that a, “business-like model (versus a student-oriented model is) cited as a reason for the lack of affinity.” This is a common criticism of how GW’s administration has run the University in the last decade.
This summer, SASS self study committees will make final recommendations based on their findings.
SASS will release the full report to incoming Steven Knapp when he assumes the University presidency Aug. 1. Following his approval of the committees’ recommendations, SASS will present the report to the Board of Trustees and make it available to the public.