First place, third place and fourth place – these are the results of a Google query of how expensive it is to attend GW this year, compared to all the other universities or colleges in the country and the world. The only thing that boggles my mind more than financial news agencies being unable to agree on the most expensive university is, given this reputation, why our University thinks that placing piggy banks for “student giving” in residence halls (as was done in Philip Amsterdam Hall) is a smart move to make. If we’re already in the upper echelon of tuition and attendance costs then why, on God’s green earth, should anyone give their spare change to the University for kicks and giggles?
I don’t typically find a need to use smelling salts, but every time I have to look at how much money GW demands of me in return for an education, I grow faint. Though I don’t live in Philip Amsterdam Hall and I haven’t personally encountered little piggy banks intended for students to “give back to the University,” I am rather offended that the University thinks anyone should volunteer to give more money now when we all grudgingly give enough money as it is. I will get “in the habit” of giving once I have graduated satisfied and happy with my education and once I have the finances to do so. For now, my bank account and my parents’ bank account resemble that of The Gambia’s.
Let me be clear. Contributing to need-based financial aid is great and I have no quarrel with the aid system. Nor do I have a quarrel with monetary donations given by consenting and satisfied alumni. I do, however, have a quarrel with the University asking me, my parents or anyone else to give extra money when we are currently writing a check to GW that is bigger than the mean wage of the American worker, or big enough to buy a BMW 5 Series. Let us ponder for a second. You would never pay a server’s tip at a restaurant before even having had the chance to order a meal, let alone eat it. This is essentially what the University is asking.
I’d like to see how much the individual who came up with the bright idea of the piggy bank initiative has donated to the University. Actually, I’d like to know how many of the administrators donate a part of their sizable salaries back to the University. If they want any of us to be induced to give, they should lead by example and show that they make a donation themselves. Spare change, though, adds up and is “worth more” to students than it is to a nicely compensated administrator. A dollar of mine, proportional to my finances, is worth much more than a dollar proportional to the finances of the University leaders.
Financial donations to alma maters are laudable actions. Such donations are acknowledgements of excellence and shouldn’t be looked down upon. Nor should GW’s financial aid initiatives be downplayed. But I still take offense at the University asking us to start giving back to our alma mater before it is truly our alma mater. I also take offense at being asked to pay even more for my college experience, especially without administrators showing they are giving to GW. If the University would like to increase my likelihood of giving in the future, then they should concentrate even harder on my experience now, so that when I do have money, I will be inclined to give back.
The writer, a sophomore majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.
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