Andrew Springer: Let’s float back down to earth

If you watch the inaugural parade next Tuesday, you’ll see the new president, marching bands, a JROTC group or two and a float that represents our school. Only, when I look at said float, I won’t just see the confusing mess everyone else will. I’ll see the $85,000 price tag.

In November, The Hatchet reported that the University will invest the equivalent of nearly two years of one student’s tuition on a float that will be used a grand total of once. Am I the only one who thinks that’s too much?

The original Hatchet article (“Inaugural float plans released,” Nov. 13) buried the price tag four paragraphs into its initial report, along with the fact that Tim Miller, executive director of the Student Activities Center, said the original estimates were around $350,000. That’s more money than my parents sold our house for.

Some have said they wouldn’t mind the high price tag if the float’s design made sense. In case you haven’t seen the mess that is GW’s inaugural parade float, it’s a cornucopia of this, that and what-have-yous that apparently represent our school.

So much for meshing with Obama’s “A New Birth of Freedom” theme. There’s the group of students dressed as elementary school children to represent the School of Education, three students performing a science experiment (think Bill Nye, I guess) and the art students completing a bust of our new president. I thought GW was a university, not a summer camp.

Still, even if we could get Zac Efron to ride shirtless down Pennsylvania Avenue atop our float, I still think $85,000 is way too much to spend.

Obama promises to bring change to Washington, and I think we should be a part of that. Instead of an inauguration float, why not an inauguration scholarship? There would be no better way to support “A New Birth of Freedom” than by giving the $85,000 to a deserving student who wants to be a part of that at GW.

People have argued to me that the float will increase GW’s visibility. I’m sure our school will re-enter Princeton Review’s top 50 schools as soon as our little float flashes on the screen for no longer than 30 seconds.

I know what may actually help: getting our medical school off probation. Maybe then I won’t have to shield my eyes as I pass by Ross Hall, lest anyone know I’m a GW undergrad.

Apart from chasing after rankings, I can think of plenty of ways to better spend that money. Why not take the $85,000 and give it Sodexo? Sixty freshmen or 85 sophomores wouldn’t have mandatory spending. That, by the way, is 60 freshmen or 85 sophomores who aren’t complaining about being forced to eat at J Street.

I seem to never have enough money to pay for books. The float money could be used to give 283 students on financial aid a $300 book rebate.

The University could even give every undergraduate student two grande caramel macchiatos from Gelman Starbucks. It’s my favorite drink there – and you’d get one for midterms and one for finals.

I know I came to GW four years ago thinking I could help change the world. In the future, let’s use these large sums of money to empower someone to do the same thing, not simply to get on national television for 30 seconds.

The writer is a senior majoring in religion and co-general manager of GWTV.

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