Jonah Lewis: Some ‘superdorm’ naming suggestions you may not want to hear

The University’s announcement that it was going to let students help name the residence hall soon-to-be-formerly-known as the “superdorm” seemed harmless. Maybe even like a good idea.

This could help students feel more attached to GW, provide an opportunity to make some Ruffles jokes, and generate some excitement about the $130 million residence hall. Plus, the winner gets a laptop.

So far, the online submissions range from the criminally uncreative “George Washington Hall” to the vaguely aquatic “Colonial Cove.” But none of these ideas capture the true essence of the future hall.

I’m here to make a few suggestions of my own. The new building should be called “Could Not Find A Donor Hall.”

It is no secret that the University’s fundraising for new buildings has been embarrassingly low. GW’s willingness to allow us meager students a say in University history is nothing more than an attempt to cover up the fact that no one has donated enough to the building to get naming rights.

Why has fundraising been low? It’s become clear to me lately: The University bleeds us dry while we are here, placating us with small concessions, like their recent pledge for more “affordable” housing for upperclassmen.

I recently discovered that once I study abroad in the fall, I will be forced to live in Ivory Tower, City Hall or 1959 E St. if I want to live on campus in the spring. With only the most expensive options available to me, I would practically have to sell a kidney to afford to live here in the spring.

And there will be even more kidney sales required for future students. Starting with next year’s freshman class, students can’t even live off campus in their junior years – losing out on the chance to save thousands of dollars.

GW will make $2.3 million a year out of that housing mandate. Knapp told The Hatchet last summer that the decision wasn’t about money – but he wasn’t fooling anyone. We can clearly see that his acting is subpar.

Leaving GW feeling like you’ve spent the last four years being robbed blind does not really inspire alumni to make big donations – not that most can afford them anyway.

Even alumnus Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., refused for many years to have anything to do with the University after being snubbed by the financial aid department during his time at the law school. That’s saying a lot from a man who has to work with John Boehner and Mitch McConnell every day and still hasn’t quit.

While we’re picking names, let me add another suggestion: “Adding To Your Crippling Debt Hall.” The lack of substantial fundraising for the “superdorm” means that the burden falls on us, the students. Tuition for incoming freshmen has jumped by its annual 3 percent, and housing costs on many residence halls have increased as well. Not to mention, students get out of here with about $33,000 in debt on average.

There is no doubt that campus expansion, especially the construction of the Science and Engineering Hall, will be transformative for the University. The building promises to lure in top researchers from various disciplines and will hopefully open doors for more students interested in getting a top education in some STEM fields.

But meanwhile, the University keeps piling on debt – $1.4 billion worth of debt. “If I were a trustee, I would be really concerned about this,” Anthony Yeezer, an economics professor on the Faculty Senate’s fiscal planning and budgeting committee, told The Hatchet on GW’s financial burden.

The name of a new campus building would be most accurate – and admittedly, very tongue-in-cheek – if it reflected that unfortunate reality.

But hey, if you’re creative or have some extra time in the next few weeks, you should add some names to the growing online list. After all, GW students are always in need of more Apple products.

Jonah Lewis, a sophomore majoring in political science and sociology, is a Hatchet opinions writer.

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