Staff Editorial: University: Release the audit report

GW has kept its audit report of admissions data under lock and key since it announced it had been inflating freshman profile statistics for more than a decade.

Administrators have maintained that the report by the firm Baker Tilly, which covered just last year’s admissions cycle, found no errors beyond the inflation of statistics regarding how many freshmen fell into the top 10 percent of their high school classes. They have also said the report found the inaccuracies came to exist “without malice.” But despite multiple requests, they have not released the actual report.

At a time when there are so many questions surrounding the decade of inaccurate freshman admissions data and GW’s unranking by U.S. News & World Report, GW must give the community access to that report.

If the only miscalculations were in that one data set and the report found that related errors were made “without malice,” let the public read that for itself. Keeping the report under wraps only raises more questions. It is reasonable to ask for verification of what is in the report after the University spent a decade reporting incorrect data.

President Knapp: Disclose all of the information you have so people can verify it themselves. Give people a quantitative report to trust, rather than relying solely on administrators’ words. At a time when the community already feels like its trust has been broken, full disclosure could help rebuild GW’s image.

Students want to show support for GW after the school got kicked off the national rankings list. Students want to be able to defend their university. Students want to feel like they can trust their university not to mess up its own information again. But after this, students can’t do that unless they can see the audit report for themselves.

And as it stands, this school has only audited one year of admissions data. But if for more than a decade, GW has inaccurately calculated how many freshmen graduated within the top 10 percent of their classes, the University should audit past years’ worth of data as well.

In a perfect world, GW would go back and audit all admissions data since the errors were first committed to ensure records were accurate. But if this is not possible, and the money spent on audits could be better spent elsewhere, at least audit the category that is known to be incorrect.

Institutions of higher education are constantly evolving, and GW is one that is always working to build its academic rigor. The University cannot accurately plan the trajectory of its future – or its selectivity – if it cannot map its past. Neglecting to audit the data from previous years means admissions officials will not have access to accurate numbers in years to come.

Administrators have also claimed the inflation of freshman statistics has only been noticeable in recent years. If that is truly the case, show us the data.

Repeatedly declining to release the report makes it seem like the University has something to hide.

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