Staff Editorial: Stay tuned: Five stories to follow this summer

Media Credit: Sophie McTear | Design Editor

When students returned to campus last fall, many were greeted by decisions GW made while they were away on summer break: The University Police Department was trying to expand its jurisdiction, and GW would now force students to live on campus through their junior years.

By the time administrators got the ball rolling on these changes, there wasn’t much that even the loudest student advocacy could do to slow them down.

The bulk of the student body left campus less than a week ago, and GW has already made several major announcements: We finally have updates on the merger with the Corcoran College of Art + Design, and Gelman Library’s budget received a boost for the first time in a decade.

Happenings from the past academic year are primed for updates: The University has yet to fill vacant positions, decide the details of the merge with the Corcoran and prove that it will keep its promises.

Students must stay alert as these issues develop over the next few months. If we have major news to catch up on when summer break ends, the only way our complaining will be justified is if we’ve paid attention.

Success for student leaders, success for health
This academic year, students saw triumphs followed by tragedies, promises made and logistics tackled. The Student Association placed a heavy focus on making health services more accessible, and student leaders were rewarded when the University announced a plan to centralize Student Health Service and the University Counseling Center in the Marvin Center.

Media Credit: Sophie McTear | Design Editor

The University made this commitment to student health before there was an immediate need to do so. That came in January and again in April, with the suicides of three students on the Mount Vernon Campus. Soon after these blows to the community, GW further upped its dedication to health by promising to add permanent counseling services to the Vern.

However, many questions remain unanswered. Though the Board of Trustees approved a new budget Friday, it didn’t specify how much money will go toward establishing counseling services on the suburban campus.

We’ve developed a widespread respect for mental health services on campus this semester. This sentiment, though, needs to turn into tangible action next semester, which will go a long way in addressing the stigma around mental health.

Awaiting Corcoran details
As students carried on with their spring semester, Corcoran students were left wondering what the merger would mean for their community, cost of attendance and professors.

Although the agreement was signed last week and a few details have since emerged, questions remain: Will GW treat the Corcoran as a separate institution or incorporate it as a college? Will the University keep Corcoran professors beyond the promised one year? How will the two communities come together? Most importantly to Corcoran students, will their class sizes remain small?

It’s an exciting time for both schools – one looking to stay afloat financially, another looking to establish a reputation in the arts – but it’s hard to picture what this new relationship will look like. The best we can do is hope that the summer will give administrators at both institutions time to settle these decisions while keeping students in the loop.

Continued progress for sexual assault prevention
The University has made progress this year on an unfortunately evergreen issue: sexual assault on college campuses. It recently conducted a survey to gather information about students’ experiences with sexual assault, a sign that a University that once came under fire for putting a limitation on when students could report sexual assault finally has its priorities in the right place.

But before the University is let completely off the hook, it needs to address a crucial vacancy. Since Tara Pereira departed in December, the role of deputy Title IX coordinator has remained empty.

Pereira was a widely recognized on campus as a point person for sexual assault survivors. Students have lacked this important resource for nearly six months, and can only hope the University will soon appoint at least one, or perhaps several, new coordinators to fill her shoes.

Faculty upheaval
A group that most students would not expect to make waves has risen up this semester: our professors.

The Faculty Association formed last month as an opposition group to the Faculty Senate. This new organization sees the senate as ineffective at representing professors’ views on issues like increasing health care costs and the rising number of adjunct faculty.

It’s unclear yet what this group will mean for the University at large: On the one hand, it shows a concerning divide that might complicate faculty members’ ability to present a united front against controversial policies, but on the other, professors have accused the senate of shying from debate and failing to push GW in the right direction.

All faculty – tenured or not – need to be able to stand up for their needs in the face of a sometimes monolithic institution, and we should be aware of professors’ concerns for their livelihoods.

Vacant positions
The University would do well to place a few ads in the classifieds: Three deanships sit vacant and have for some time. The business, law and nursing schools need to find new deans quickly, as an interim dean can only do so much for a school’s continued success.

But of course, GW can’t appoint just anyone. The law and business schools both lost their deans under rocky circumstances, and now need someone to steady them. The law school faces an unstable job market for its graduates and declining selectivity, while the business school is crucial for GW’s ambitious fundraising goals.

The nursing school has grown rapidly from a department into a full-fledged college, and has an important role to play at the University in the coming years. The school needs a well-rounded leader to guide it.

The hunt to hire deans may take administrators some time, but with the academic year wrapping up, the need for new leadership is only becoming more urgent.

The Hatchet’s editorial board is composed of several staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s piece was written by opinions editor Robin Jones Kerr and contributing opinions editor Sarah Blugis, based on discussions with managing director Justin Peligri, culture editor Emily Holland, copy editor Rachel Smilan-Goldstein, design editor Sophie McTear and online visual director Zach Montellaro.

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