Saumya Narechania: How is GW doing on important issues?

With December and January coming up, I am reminded of how content Americans can be with broken systems. I am not only talking about the primaries that are fast approaching or the BCS scheme that makes as much sense to most people as Sen. Trent Lott makes to Markos Moulitsas. The problem exists on a smaller scale as well, specifically here at GW.

The class registration system at GW needs some severe revamping – possibly more than the 49ers’ offense. Many students, freshmen through seniors, have legitimate complaints about the system. I know some freshmen that must reschedule their classes because four out of the five they wanted to take filled up too quickly. I also know seniors who beg professors to sign them in to a required course for graduation. Students sit outside the political science office for hours trying to get into a senior seminar they need to graduate.

Class registration is not the only problem that needs addressing, though. Another key issue for many students, especially underclassmen, is the Colonial Cash plan. The University realized that J Street was a key problem – probably because they were losing money on the venture. Thus, instead of improving options, service and quality, they improved business by mandating purchases. The plan seems almost Orwellian in its brilliance to fix a problem on one end and ignore it on the other. Students should be given more freedom with where and what they can eat, especially since the money they’re using is technically part of the tuition payment they pay.

A third key issue that needs to be addressed is the skyrocketing tuition costs. University President Steven Knapp has already (kind of) addressed the issue, but at this point considering the quality of education we get and the amount of money we pay, students are getting a raw deal. Some students might feel like they are paying Bellagio prices and getting a ground-floor room at the Holiday Inn complete with thin walls so you can hear, well, what goes on in the rundown Las Vegas hotels at the end of The Strip. Although GW is not quite that bad, or bad at all actually, it certainly is overpriced. Something must need to be done about it for the students now and for the University, when applications and acceptances start to decline.

I bring these problems up not out of anger or frustration, but rather to point out that the University needs to start prioritizing – and by this I mean, prioritizing students first. Knapp has had a mostly successful tenure so far, and he said hopes to bring a more academic, and research-oriented feel to the University. The plan is ambitious and healthy but needs to occur concurrently with student satisfaction. While I pointed out that the business school was misguided in their attempt to boost their ratings in Business Week by asking for better reviews earlier this month, I think I failed to mention one key thing: The Business School can try to make those reviews better by paying more attention to students’ concerns.

As I run the risk of sounding like a campaign, the University needs to realize that real change has to be worthwhile change and worthwhile change starts with the students. Becoming more academic and research-oriented is still an honorable goal, but it doesn’t need to happen if students are going to get sick by purchasing their eighth meal from J Street in the last two days.

Plus, just as I have stressed before, the reason we all love GW is because it is a different type of school – one that blends real-world experience into our learning environment by bringing in interesting adjunct professors and giving credit for D.C. internships. Those decisions have helped students in their academic and scholarly pursuits and we should be trying to continue that trend.

The writer, a senior majoring in conflict and security, is a Hatchet columnist.

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