Robin Jones Kerr & Sarah Blugis: GW should take Corcoran veterans mishap as a warning sign

When GW announced it had acquired the Corcoran College of Art + Design last spring, dozens of questions emerged: Would Corcoran students be able to preserve their small class sizes? Would Corcoran professors keep their jobs? How would GW merge its existing fine arts department with the Corcoran’s programs?

But sometimes, it’s the things you don’t even think to consider that come back to bite you.

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo
Robin Jones Kerr

Last week, 10 Corcoran student veterans were left scrambling to cover day-to-day expenses after their benefits forms were lost in the move between financial aid offices. By the time they realized what had happened, students were left to wait for the slow-moving federal departments of education and veterans affairs to file the paperwork.

It’s appalling that this group, which is obviously highly deserving of financial support, was left by the powers that be to fend for itself. Only after turning to GW’s Office of Military and Veteran Student Services did the students find relief in the form of emergency loans that will temporarily cover some of their expenses.

Now is not the time to point fingers and place blame – both GW and the Corcoran are responsible for the well-being of this group of students.

Instead, GW should view this incident as a warning sign. It’s time for those in charge to go back over every detail of the merger and make sure nothing else slips through the cracks. It’s time for the University to double check every personnel transition, every office move, every handover of duties and ensure the entire process is air-tight.

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo
Sarah Blugis

GW has an excellent reputation for being a military-friendly school: With 1,400 military-affiliated students (a population that has grown more than 300 percent over the past six years), officials have strengthened veteran services and programs. This means we had the infrastructure, skills and resources to act quickly when Corcoran veterans needed support.

But a spotless record gives GW all the more reason to proceed with extra caution because, next time, we might not be so lucky.

Since GW announced it had acquired the Corcoran, we’ve been excited about what the school will add to the University’s personality. We see it as a way to expand the scope of what GW is known for.

But there are other aspects of the merger that deserve attention, too, like ensuring financial aid benefits carry over for every Corcoran student. Issues like these have the most impact on the day-to-day life of students.

Merging two schools is difficult to say the least. Of course there are going to be hitches, and this is probably the first of many. In addition to taking this mishap as a cautionary tale, Corcoran and GW students should see it as a signal to them: Batten down the hatches and get ready to weather the storm because we’re naive if we expect smooth sailing from here on out.

Sarah Blugis, a junior majoring in political communication, is The Hatchet’s contributing opinions editor. Robin Jones Kerr, a senior majoring in journalism, is The Hatchet’s opinions editor.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.