Affordability, study abroad concerns voiced at town hall

Students complained about curriculum requirements and GW’s study abroad policies, among other issues, to top University administrators Monday night at a town hall meeting hosted by the Student Association.

University President Steven Knapp and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs Donald Lehman fielded questions from students along with four deans – Peg Barratt of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Michael Brown of the Elliott School of International Affairs, Lawrence Singleton of the School of Business and Diane Martin of the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

“The more often we have opportunities to speak like this the better,” Knapp said before the open question period.

Attendance for the event was sparse, however, filling only a small portion of the Jack Morton Auditorium – far less than the 100 students who attended a similar town hall meeting last year hosted by the SA.

Tim Little, the SA’s vice president for academic affairs and moderator for the event, asked Barratt whether or not CCAS will change its General Curriculum Requirements.

“It is an emerging consensus that the vast number of required courses is too much,” Barratt said. “I have just learned that the Middle States Accreditation has a guideline suggesting that about 25 percent of courses should be required courses.”

Currently, CCAS students must take a minimum of 17 classes in seven different areas, averaging about 40 percent of an undergraduate career. Barratt admitted that the number of required courses is high and said she aims to make GCRs less of a burden on students.

Tuition concerns were not left out of the forum.

Graduate student Jana Baldwin stood up and gave an emotional account of her struggle to afford GW tuition.

“I am in love with D.C., I love being here, but I think what we would really appreciate is: How can you help us that are in the public service focus? Because we are broke,” she said, adding, “I can’t eat. I’m hungry. I’m tired and I need help.”

Knapp said he is working to try to lower cost burdens for GW students.

Brown, who said he was in a similar position as a graduate student, offered his sympathies.

“A lot of us have gone through similar kinds of circumstances to what you are going through,” he said.

Several students posed questions concerning the study abroad process.

Daniel Boehmer, a junior, asked the panelists if there was a way to centralize the process for receiving transfer credit when students return from studying abroad.

“The easiest thing to do is not study abroad because you don’t have that issue,” Brown joked, adding “By definition there is going to be some overhead associated with that. I think it would be unlikely to make a computer system to combat that.”

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