As the GW Board of Trustees convenes for its fall meeting Friday, the University’s highest governing body has a fair share of issues to tackle. Yet an issue central to student life that the Board should not only examine, but endorse, is an initiative put forth by the current Student Association administration to raise the student activities fee.
GW is a community filled with unique opportunities, and involvement in student organizations ranging from the political to the religious and everything in between is a vital part of the true Colonial experience. For these organizations to be successful and prosperous, they need and deserve an appropriate amount of funding. While the particular organizations at GW may change and develop with each academic year, one thing remains constant: everyone wants money, and there is never enough to adequately satisfy all the requests.
This fourth attempt to raise the student fee by Student Association leaders in the last three years points to a continuing trend that must finally be addressed.
After the latest round of SA funding allocations and the dissatisfaction left in its wake from many student organizations, a serious second look at the proposal is warranted.
A referendum last month would have recommended a change in fee but the Board of Trustees would have had the final say. Now the Board can help assuage the funding difficulties at hand. When dealing with about 200 student organizations, all clamoring for what they deem adequate funds, every penny counts. While approval of such a proposal would not solve every element of monetary debate between the SA and student organizations, it would help alleviate the stresses plaguing each entity.
The vote by the student population on Sept. 25 saw the proposition fail narrowly by a mere 2 percent. Not only was the voter turnout small – with only about 1,400 votes – the general attitude of the student body was one of apathy. Even if a student is not directly involved with one of the organizations on campus, they benefit in ways they may not even realize. Initiatives such as Colonial Coach and the distribution of free condoms in freshmen dorms are things that contribute in beneficial ways to our community and need funding to continue to do so.
In order to gain the maximum amount of information about student opinion on the issue, it is necessary to thoroughly examine the failed referendum vote, not only the actual final results but for what else it can tell us. As previously mentioned, the extremely low voter turnout and the shockingly close results indicate a level of unawareness or indifference from students. This issue is to important not to be a subject of real debate.
If we take a step back and re-examine the amount of additional money that each student would be asked to contribute, the whole debate is put into perspective. For undergraduates, the total extra amount added on to that tuition check would be $30. Most students would not hesitate to spend that much on a meal with friends or spend double that amount for a sweatshirt bearing GW’s logo.
But money is not the sole issue at hand. It is about the quality of student life at GW that depends upon the allocations from the SA. Any prospective student pamphlet proudly displays GW’s plethora of activities. To deny any longer the tools these organizations need to succeed and provide opportunities to the student population would be alarmingly detrimental to the quality of student life.
This page, therefore, commends SA leaders for taking action and bringing this continuing debate to the Board of Trustees. Now the Board, which holds ultimate authority over the issue, should take this opportunity to aid student life on campus and raise the student fee.