Allegations that Boston Properties, the developer GW has contracted to work with on Square 54, utilizes less-than-commendable employment practices should be cause for more than just casual concern. Instead of relying on secondhand, potentially biased information from outside organizations, GW should initiate its own in-depth analysis of the situation.
Over the summer, representatives of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters began protesting Boston Properties’ labor practices, which they say includes under-the-table payments for workers. Now months later, GW should seriously consider launching an inquiry from within to determine what sort of companies they will be working with on this massive project of Square 54.
In an interview with The Hatchet, University spokesperson Tracy Schario explained that Boston Properties guaranteed that all of their proceedings are within the realm of legal standards. Yet she conceded, “We have hundreds of partners, and you hope that they operate in a manner that reflects well on the University.” There should be more than hope in this situation. While it would be impractical to begin an investigation of every single partner of the University, GW must cover itself in both legal and moral terms in such a debate.
The two parties are currently linked by a 60-year contract in which GW will be leasing the Square 54 property that Boston Properties will develop. If GW is to be in such a long-lasting and high-value relationship, it would be wise to see what they may have gotten themselves into.
Even if investigations from all parties come to clear the allegations, the way that the University chooses to respond to this controversy will send an important message both to current and prospective students. GW is molding the minds of the next class of business leaders and this is not a responsibility limited to the classroom. Leaders of the school have been commended for their superior business skills in recent years, and it is natural that students would aspire to similar careers in the not-so-distant future. Thus, tolerating any sort of questionable labor dealings would leave a bad mark on the University and a bad impression to students.
Similarly, prospective students and parents want to know that their institution of higher learning is both responsible in its morals and business undertakings. As a university already notorious for being its own big business, GW must take every opportunity to show its more human side.