CVS and our University have agreed to bring another pharmacy to campus (despite the numerous other locations already blocks away). The organizations defended the decision by stating that the location is unique and will cater to workers and students in the area. I understand CVS’s motivation to bring in a new store; I’m sure they’ve done the market research and realize they can make a profit. The University has forgotten once again its obligation to the students who pay the world’s highest tuition rate.
Don’t get me wrong, GW has been doing a lot to expand the University, constructing new buildings and becoming more environmentally friendly at the same time. The problem is the University’s relationship with students on a broader scale. We weren’t polled about what we wanted or needed to fill the vacancy that the old Tower Records store left behind. Student Association President Nicole Capp lobbied for a Barnes and Noble but the idea received little traction and was dismissed because the space was too small. Yet in that statement, Capp was actually expressing student concerns that remain to be addressed; a Barnes and Noble would have brought a new type of store, a study space, possibly a café and a cozy hang out area for students to our campus.
CVS is simply the tip of the iceberg, though. There seems to actually be, to steal a Barack Obama and then Hillary Clinton phrase, an insidious pattern of poor behavior coming from our administration. In the past few weeks the student body has learned about a student who had to live in Gelman Library for a good chunk of his short GW career and a young lady who, despite being a GW student, was arrested and will likely have charges pressed against her for unlawful entry into Lerner Health and Wellness Center.
These last two examples are obviously rare and extreme, but they demonstrate the bigger trend at play. The University needs to open up channels to the student body that go beyond just the SA. The SA has been great this year in their capacity: expanding GWorld vendors, talking to Metro, and bringing back newspapers. Undergraduate students are still paying mandatory amounts of money at J Street, in a move that could probably be even less popular than the Iraq War on campus.
The University knows the program is viewed as a complete failure among students, yet they have shown no desire to alter it. We, as students, should stand up and make our opinions known in ways that will catalyze change. We’re not paying to attend a university that doesn’t respect our opinions. Bill Simmons suggested Seattle Supersonics fans stage a walkout in protest of the move of their team, because the team’s owners have trampled over the concerns of the fans. New York Knicks fans are probably thinking about something drastic, as well.
It is time to think outside of the box and find a way to get the University to listen to us, be it protests or making contact with top administrators. Cynics will correctly point out that all I’m really doing is writing a column (especially because I don’t have a specific solution). The bottom line, though, is that the CVS could have been something greater, something representative of the student wants and needs in Foggy Bottom. In fact, maybe I do have a specific solution; maybe we can boycott the CVS once it’s built.
Since freshmen already get toilet paper and don’t need cleaning supplies, and students can get free condoms from the Residence Hall Association and the SA, we’re already halfway to a successful boycott.
The writer, a senior majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.