Steven Knapp recently tweeted: “I think I’m underpaid.” Later, he shared, “It is a beautiful Saturday morning, and the Vern is still a nightmarish hellscape.” And on Halloween, “The time between an event and an alert being sent out #thingslongerthankimsmarriage #gwu.”
Oh sorry, those were from @fakeStevenknapp. The real University President Steven Knapp does not have a Twitter account.
Since Feb. 2010, @fakeStevenknapp has cast Knapp as a gregarious, misogynistic party-animal who has a love-hate relationship with his job as University president. Tweeting from this perspective, he has made the account quite popular, gaining its anonymous creator 1,500 followers.
At first, I enjoyed @fakeStevenknapp’s humor, but I’m now concerned that my entire image of Knapp has been shaped by a satirical and fake Twitter account because of the lack of communication between the real president and the student body.
@fakeStevenknapp is more real for me than the real Steven Knapp is.
The majority of the real Knapp’s communication with me is through a media source. Whether it is a quote in The Hatchet or GW Today, it is filtered through another layer. The real Knapp rarely addresses the entire student body. And when he does, it seems as though it is only in emergency cases involving student safety, such as an e-mail about the death of graduate student Patrick Casey.
Aside from remarks given at Freshman Convocation and Freshman Day of Service in 2010, I have yet to personally hear the president speak to my fellow students about our time here and his plan for the direction of the University.
As a result, I feel separated from Knapp, despite having lived across the street from him during my freshman year. I did not get the sense that he was keeping an eye on me in Thurston Hall, as my tour guide promised. And I only once saw him walking his dog, despite pledges that it would be a normal occurrence.
As the University’s leader, Knapp does not seek out the average student’s input on what is going on at GW or seem open to students concerns, beyond short office hours held once a month.
But how should the real Knapp involve himself more with the student body? The answer is probably not to host a happy hour at McFadden’s as @fakeStevenknapp suggests.
The president does not need to give constant updates about GW via Twitter. But a weekly message might be a good start — something addressed to students describing what he has been up to that week. Something beyond a Facebook post likely posted by an assistant.
For a man drawing a salary of over $1 million, is it too much to ask that he makes a better effort to communicate what kinds of improvements he envisions for the University?
The administration is full of people who respond to student concerns, but it would be nice to hear from the person at the top of the GW food chain.
Benjamin Krimmel is a sophomore majoring in international affairs.