Letters to the Editor

Good luck to Knapp in community relations

As a long time involved Foggy Bottom resident, I could not agree more with Robert Lee’s article (September 6, pg. A1) about the positive steps taken by President Knapp toward the Foggy Bottom community. It is a “new ballgame,” as this man, very different from his predecessor, takes over the operation of GW. And because the majority of GW’s building and enrollment goals may have been accomplished (such as Square 54, School Without Walls, Ivory Tower, Elliott School, etc.), his challenges and aspirations will be vastly different. We all hope he finds a great deal of success.

A small point of correction, however: “His first speech to the Foggy Bottom community and its FRIENDS organization.” While some people from the community participate and attend its meetings, the FRIENDS is solely and exclusively the creation of GW.

“Bernard Demczuk, GW’s assistant vice president for D.C. Affairs and a founding member of FRIENDS.” actually was the founder. I know, I was Foggy Bottom Association president in the late 1990s when he started meetings with the community that were the predecessor to this organization. Interestingly, since he does not live in Foggy Bottom, he can hardly be called a member of the Foggy Bottom community.

It disturbs me that this group is so often referred to as a community organization, which is not strictly accurate.

That’s in the past and let’s all hope the next few years will see President Knapp’s positive direction bear good fruit.

Ellie Becker, Foggy Bottom resident

More Reasons to Scrutinize Study Abroad Companies

I applaud Lindsay Corcoran’s Tuesday, Sept. 4 article on the ongoing criminal investigation into three study abroad program affiliates (pg. A1). I recommend that GW students also be wary of GW-affiliated study abroad programs for other reasons and consider alternatives such as direct enrollment.

Many times hiring officers from CIA to the Department of State understand that a student who enrolls in a study abroad program is usually less qualified than a student who enrolls directly at a foreign university. Generally, the programs sequester American students together, limiting the time they spend learning language and culture. On the other hand, direct enrollment at a foreign university makes it more likely to encounter talented international friends, including the sons and daughters of diplomats and ambassadors. If you study with a program, you may have to distance yourself from its own course and activity offerings to build up meaningful skills.

Furthermore, affiliate study abroad programs are insanely expensive. Foreign universities charge lower tuition and are happy to cater to the needs of U.S. students through their international student offices. They appreciate the diversity that U.S. students provide. Study abroad programs process U.S. students almost exclusively and charge them much more. For those reasons, I encourage GW students to visit the international student office websites of foreign universities to learn about direct enrollment.

Most importantly, be aware that credits from GW-affiliated programs may not “seamlessly transfer” back to GW. Individual GW faculty exercises power over credit transfers, not the study abroad office. Faculty can and do reject credit transfer requests because the affiliated program, in whole or part, does not meet their personal standards.

Gordon Yu, Alumnus

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