Letters to the Editor

Less e-mails, more information

It is seldom that I find myself in agreement with the opinions found on this page, let alone in active pursuit of the same goals myself. As someone who is often extremely supportive of most actions the administration takes, sometimes blindly supporting policies for the betterment of the student population, I have frequently found myself dismayed with GW’s mass e-mail “policy.” The policy approved by vice presidents is absurd and essentially is an open invitation to anyone who wants to send an e-mail.

As a self-admitted GW tool, it’s pretty rare that University news is not of interest to me. Yet I have received countless e-mails about things I simply don’t care about. It seems to me that the mass e-mail policy has become almost an excuse to send out mass e-mails. Last month $10 million was donated to the Smith Center, which was great – but most people on campus did not care enough to get an immediate blast e-mail alert. Yet when classes were canceled on the morning of Feb. 13, many students were unaware because the University felt it unnecessary to send out an e-mail to inform the student body.

This overuse for fairly mundane happenings and non-use for actual emergencies makes me wonder if GW is really ready in the event of a large scale catastrophe. At which point will we decide telling students not to go to their classrooms is actually a worth-while venture? How bad must the situation really be? For me, the prospect of slipping and falling on ice seems to be a real enough danger to send out a blast e-mail; it certainly was a real enough concern to allow staff and faculty extra time to get into classes and work.

Something needs to change. I call on the administration and President Steven Knapp to re-examine a policy that seems to have fallen by the wayside. I applaud previous efforts of this page to do so, and look forward to hopefully receiving less e-mails.

Tim Shea, Senior

Abroad policies are in the open

We read with interest Sean Redding’s opinion piece on GW’s study abroad pricing policies (Feb. 28, A4). The Office for Study Abroad attempts to make its policies and practices as transparent as possible. The study abroad billing policy is explained in detail on our Web site and the list of approved programs, a resource given to all students inquiring about study abroad, is headed by information on what a semester abroad will cost each student. In addition to information on the web site, the pricing of GW’s study abroad programs are shared with students during face-to-face meetings.

Often, students see the base cost of a study abroad program, such as the one in Uganda that Mr. Redding refers to in his opinion piece, and it naturally engenders questions about GW’s pricing policies. Part of the explanation for our pricing is that, while there are some less expensive programs like the one cited, there are a number of programs that result in GW’s paying more to the provider than they receive from the student in tuition. Additionally, as Mr. Redding correctly suggests, responsible management of study abroad has costs for the University beyond the direct payment of the program’s bill. Other expenses include, but are not limited to, the operations of the Study Abroad office.

When a student leaves GW for a semester or even a year, the University still depends on tuition dollars from that matriculated student to help support the institution as a whole in order to provide the level of education and services the student expects upon return. The career center continues to operate, acquisitions are made for the library, technology upgrades occur. Study abroad programs operated by third party providers do not incur these kinds of costs, as the services they deliver are more transitory in nature than those offered by a university like GW.

This is why study abroad programs are not able to offer students the opportunity to earn a degree. As Madeleine Morgenstern’s article (Feb. 25, pg. A1) specified, students going abroad are able to take their aid with them – this is possible because of the overall pricing structure. We are determined to make study abroad equally accessible to all our eligible students; therefore, we continue financial support that may be offered to students during the year. In addition to all institutional aid that students already receive, over $100,000 in aid is available through a number of scholarships administered specifically by the Office for Study Abroad, in part to address the very issues of differences in cost that Mr. Redding alludes to in his article.

These funds are also used to help replace work-study funds that students cannot earn while studying away from campus. As with all departments on campus, the Office for Study Abroad is striving to provide an excellent education for GW’s students. Study Abroad is an intensive and complex undertaking for any institution. At GW, we believe it is a vital part of the educational experience for a large percentage of our students.

Donna Scarboro, assistant vice president for special and international programs

Rob Hallworth, Director of study abroad

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