Niketa Brar: Time out for GW sports and dorms

I’ve seen the future of university life – and it ain’t pretty.

Brandeis University announced last week that it would begin selling off its $350 million art collection that includes original works by Andy Warhol. Meanwhile, Southern New Hampshire University is ditching the traditional collegiate experience for underclassmen, eliminating dorms and offering students a bare bones education – at 40 percent of the traditional cost.

With universities across the country taking drastic steps to reduce “discretionary” expenditures, maybe it’s time for GW to take a look at its options a bit more creatively. In consideration of the recent string of athletic embarrassments, the lack of student concern for the school’s sports teams and the funds needed to support training, travel and facilities, it’s time to talk about why GW just doesn’t need sports.

In the four years I’ve been here, sports has excited students and brought the campus together once. Going into double-overtime in a game against Duke has the clear potential to stimulate a school. But it is not every day that events like that occur, and with GW’s record, it doesn’t look like a repeat is coming anytime soon.

If the goal of athletics is to bring a campus together, GW teams have failed. If the goal is to provide an outlet for physical fitness, intramural sports do the job just fine. But if the goal is to most efficiently spend the school’s limited funds in a tightening economy, athletic facilities are not the answer.

If athletics are not enough to keep our campus competitive, well – there’s always the dorms. The latest $75 million endeavor will entice incoming freshmen into staying all the way through senior year, just so they can bask in the glow of the glossy white paint and single bedrooms connected to a common area.

Maybe I’m the only one missing the point here, but since when did athletics and dorms define a university?

It has been more than a while since I made my college choice, but I do not recall either pretty dorms or shiny stadiums being the selling point to my future. I recall an interest in academic options, a desire to be part of a student body with whom I could relate and the want for a general buzz of excitement around a campus where things were happening.

A premier university doesn’t boast its dorms to attract students. It boasts the number of libraries, the quality of professors and the plethora of opportunities available to the yearning mind. By marketing itself as a flashy school, GW is compromising on issues of substance.

Do I think GW necessarily should rid itself of all athletic ventures? Thankfully, we don’t have to make decisions like that just yet. But when the financial belt starts to tighten and tough decisions need to be made, the administration should sober up and realize what it needs to do to move this campus into the next era of educational excellence.

The writer, a senior majoring in international affairs and political science, is a Hatchet columnist.

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