University lowers room rental fees

The University is lowering classroom rental rates for events involving non-GW participants, officials said this week.

A policy created in 2007 charged student organizations up to $425 per day for each rented classroom if their event contained guests unaffiliated with the University. New rental costs will range from $50 for one room to $250 for 20 or more rooms. The rates apply only to one-time events with more than 100 people – a majority of whom are unaffiliated with GW.

Guest speakers are not considered outside participants.

Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Jeffrey Lenn said a “one-time large event” can extend to events like the GW Parliamentary Debate Society’s annual debate competition and the International Affairs Society’s Model United Nations Event, which happen once a year or once a semester.

“We’re very appreciative that the administration took action to remedy our concerns regarding the original policy,” said senior Michael Buckwald, vice president of the Debate Society, which can now host its annual competition with non-GW students. “The new fees are very reasonable.”

Events hosted solely by organizations unaffiliated with GW will still adhere to a fee schedule with prices ranging from $200 to $850 a day per classroom. Yet these organizations can receive the half-price rental fee if more than half of the event participants are GW students.

Lenn said he is not concerned about groups lying about their events to cheat the University.

“We trust people,” Lenn said. “If people say that there’s going to be a D.C. event with half GW students, we’ll take their word for it,

The new policy does not make clear what charges will be incurred by students who are hosting one-time small events nor does it extend any specific guidelines with regard to continuous or ongoing events hosted by GW organizations that involve outside participants.

Lenn said the policy has room for improvement.

“The principles of the policy will hold, but we have to rewrite it to clarify how we apply it,” Lenn said.

One-time small events, in which half of the participants are GW students, will not be charged any fees, while one-time small events with 50 percent non-GW students will be charged half of the greater rental fees, Lenn said. This information, however, is not stated in the new policy.

The previous regulations, which were the first to define the cost of rentals, upset some student groups who said the rates would make it too expensive to hold their annual events. Buckwald estimated that a holding a two-day competition would have cost $8,000.

Despite the fact that some schools nearby, including Maryland, do not charge its students any fees for classroom use, Lenn said any fees charged for classroom use are put toward facility costs.

“If you look at large state universities, they have a lot of space and we just don’t have a lot of space,” he said.

The new policy also allows GW staff and faculty use of classrooms free of charge when University employees plan half of an event.

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