Highlights from The Washington Post’s feature on GW’s rich-kid, ‘Great Gatsby’ reputation

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GW is flooded with party-loving rich kids who perpetuate a class divide on campus, and the University is trying to stave off that reputation. That’s the subject of a 2,350-word Washington Post story Thursday.

The piece delves into the rising costs of higher education and how GW has been dogged by its spot as the highest-priced university in the country six years ago. And thus, there are tales of clubs, vomiting and pricey bottle services – as students who can afford that tuition bill look to make Foggy Bottom their urban playground.

Here are some highlights.

The two-year-old luxury apartment complex The Avenue is the backdrop of one part of the story:

One recent gray afternoon, the tables at the outdoor cafes [outside the Avenue] were full, and at the Whole Foods, dozens of GW students lined up to purchase sushi and other fare with their GWorld ID cards. Students lounged on the rooftop deck at the Residences on the Avenue, a luxury apartment building with some of the highest rents in the city.

When the Avenue opened two years ago, its management company had hoped to market the place — with a marble lobby, concierge and sweeping views of the Washington Monument and Potomac River — to young professionals, even instituting quiet hours to discourage students.

They were banking on parents being unlikely to pony up an average $3,900-a-month rent for their kid’s college living quarters. They were wrong. The management company won’t say how many residents are college students, but residents say dozens live in the 300 or so apartments. Reviewers on Yelp complain about parties and noise.

By last spring, “it was becoming dormy,” said Katie Ross, 22, a journalism major and the daughter of two New York lawyers who “loves” her studio apartment and her school. “One night there was vomit in the elevator.”

And University President Steven Knapp spoke with a Post reporter, discussing how he has worked to keep tuition prices down, added more financial aid and pushed to become a premier research university since he took the helm in 2007:

Knapp said he wanted to focus on the affordability of GW “from the day I arrived. We had gotten a reputation as being an expensive school.” He formed an innovation task force that has identified in $50 million in savings. And the university has tried to keep tuition increases around the level of inflation for the past six years.

This year freshmen paid $56,660 for tuition, room and board and fees, roughly equal that of Georgetown University ($56,682) and only slightly above the $53,455 of American University. (At GW, freshmen pay a fixed-price tuition that stays the same throughout their tenure.)

“We’re really making an effort here to make tuition more affordable,” Knapp said.

But, of course, tuition prices still linger near the top. And the Post dived into the party scene one night at the 19th Street club Cities:

Nicollette Slotkin, a freshman from Beverly Hills, is waiting in line wearing a black mini-dress and diamond Chanel necklace and toting a Chanel bag. She’s a self-described “West Coast princess” who came east to George Washington for the chic urban campus and the well-regarded business school.

Her roommate, Regan Nelson, an ethereal belle from New Orleans, has already made it inside the club. Finally, Slotkin makes her way past the first doorman. She’s in!

“It’s so much fun!” she says, her face wreathed in a smile.

Near the dance floor, two groups of students are in a bottle war — each side vying to drink the most bottles of $160 Veuve Clicquot champagne. Kids are hanging on the rafters. The DJ queues up a song by the band fun.: “Tonight we are young. So let’s set the world on fire. …”


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