Staff Editorial: Thumbs up, thumbs down

Cut to strategic plan funding: Thumbs down
Lately, it feels like GW’s financial woes have come one after another: Low graduate enrollment contributed to a $20 million budget shortfall in the fall, and the University is now cutting $8.2 million from its ambitious strategic plan.

Provost Steven Lerman has not yet said which programs that fall under the strategic plan will take that $8.2 million hit, and the amount accounts for only 3 percent of the plan’s total cost. Lerman expects the money will be restored eventually, but it can’t happen until the University makes up for the shortfall from last year – a mishap still clouded by a lack of transparency.

It’s a tangled financial web, and caught in the middle is a growing concern: fundraising. We’re left wondering, as experts have pointed out, if this hit to the strategic plan – which could get donors excited about giving to the University – will impact gifts to GW.

This latest cut is a scary one. By crafting the strategic plan, the University has shown forward-thinking priorities as well as its focus on academic development. But now the plan has seen its first real threat, and it’s unfortunate that GW is starting this semester with financial troubles.

City Hall reparations: Thumbs up
When GW announced in December that residents of City Hall would receive a partial refund of $400, the reaction was mixed: Some students were left wondering if it was too good to be true, while others were dissatisfied.

When the University admits fault and hands out money as a result, students are bound to take pause. But after months of complaints about construction and an extensive WiFi outage during finals week, there was finally a tangible resolution.

Overall, the refund was a smart move on GW’s part. Individual administrators – namely Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski and Senior Associate Vice President for Operations Alicia Knight – jumped on the problem, issuing a heartfelt apology along with the promise of cash. Admitting they made a mistake was a huge step: It humanized the administration, and in the future might encourage students to speak up again.

With this apology, officials have set a good precedent. Of course, a $400 refund doesn’t eliminate the inconveniences residents had to endure. But at the very least, our administrators seem to be listening when it comes to housing, and it’s encouraging that they recognize the massive impact that living conditions have on our time here.

Benefits task force: Thumbs up
You know the old joke: A camel is a horse made by a committee – a simple task can quickly be made unnecessarily complicated. That may often be the case, but at GW, it certainly seems that committees and task forces are the primary way to get things done. We’ve seen it time and again, including when University President Steven Knapp vowed to find a way to centralize student health and, more recently, when students and administrators came together with the newly hired Title IX coordinator to discuss ways to prevent sexual assault on campus.

Given this predisposition of the University, we’re glad to see the same method has been applied to the problem of faculty discontent. After a rocky semester, which saw faculty battle it out over tuition benefits and health care costs, Knapp announced the creation of a task force to help determine how to best allocate money in professors’ benefits packages. As Knapp noted at the announcement, the issue deserves a look by a neutral party with a wide lens. Hopefully, we’ll finally see some resolution for our professors.

Health center opens: Thumbs up
Last week, the new Colonial Health Center officially opened in the Marvin Center. It marks the final chapter in the student health saga, which began in 2013 when the Student Association began working toward the health center’s relocation.

It’s reassuring that GW jumped at the opportunity to fulfill the student body’s request: We know when we speak up, the University listens. And the administration was careful to prioritize privacy concerns when designing the new center. With its opening, GW has officially done its job. But as students, now it’s time for us to do ours.

For years, students complained that Student Health Service was too far away, and that became the perfect reason to avoid going to the doctor. Now, though, when your mother calls you to nag about getting something checked out, you almost have to listen. We have no excuses anymore, especially since we asked for this change.

The same exact thing applies to mental health. GW has provided us with accessible resources by including the University Counseling Center in the new health hub. While some of the onus is on the University to make students aware of mental health services and work at removing the stigma surrounding treatment, it isn’t GW’s job to make sure we actually head to the Marvin Center. That’s up to us.

The editorial board is composed of Hatchet 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, sports editor Nora Princiotti, design editor Sophie McTear, copy editor Rachel Smilan-Goldstein and senior designer Anna McGarrigle.

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