At the start of a new year and with a new president at the helm, it is time for GW to set some New Year’s resolutions. It is also time to be practical in setting a platform for change. When talking to students about what needs to be improved, answers may vary from the ridiculous to the ridiculously reasonable. Now is as good a time as any to start putting those feasible issues into the forefront of the University’s ambitions. We are nowhere near getting four-star, kosher, organic food for every meal on Colonial Cash so I will spare the food debate for others to get heated. But there are some things well within the University’s abilities that should be addressed as a means for making people who pay the highest tuition in the country just a little bit happier.
An easy place to start would be a wireless system for the whole of Foggy Bottom. Many universities, and even cities, around the country have already done this. The Mount Vernon campus has already been converted to wireless, making the next logical step to extend the service to all of the dorms and outside areas of Foggy Bottom. Besides eliminating the mazes of Ethernet cables cluttering dorm rooms, it is simply something that can make students far happier. Just the freedom to work lying down can make all the difference on whether a student is motivated to read three pages or 33 pages.
Another small program that could have a positive impact on student life would be the simple creation of a queuing system for study rooms at the libraries on campus. Any student at GW that has ever had a group project knows that getting a study room at Gelman can be more difficult than doing a project, for even the toughest teachers. But creating an organized and effective system by which students can reserve a room in advance would solve this dilemma quickly and easily. If the program also included preference given by a professor to study groups it would add legitimacy and ensure that established groups would have priority in getting a room. If nothing else, it would end people leaving their stuff in a study room for hours on end to just to make sure that they have a place to study for the half hour they actually decide to.
Finally, GW must uphold University President Steven Knapp’s vow to examine lowering costs. Having the courage to address the highest price-tag in the country deserves endless praise. The pressures on the middle class in paying tuition have become so exacerbated that it has found its way into the stump speeches of the 2008 presidential candidates. Having the highest tuition in the nation makes GW an easy target for critics of the growing costs of college while also possibly scaring away attractive applicants who just can’t reason spending such a sum on a GW degree. It has recently become a trend in colleges to improve the plight of middle class students who are not eligible for much federal aid but who realistically cannot pay tens of thousands of dollars every year for college. Although aid may not be possible for every student, it is particularly important for middle-class Americans. This year is the time to increase the amount of action taken rather than burden students with talk.
The list for the little things can go on and will, like most things, never be completely resolved. But as long as personal butlers or assistants remain out of the question, it is more important for the University to look at small, practical solutions as a means of greatly improving general satisfaction with the GW experience.
The writer, a freshman majoring in political science, is a