Unless you’re taking summer classes or living in University housing, it can be easy to forget about GW over the summer.
But GW doesn’t forget about us. Officials keep making decisions, teams keep recruiting and practicing and student organizations keep preparing for the upcoming school year.
It’s tempting to block the University from our minds as we relax over the next few months. But some story lines from this year will play out over the summer and into next year. Keep these topics on your radar as you’re lounging at the pool or fetching coffee as an intern this summer.
The uncertainty of the budget cuts
Financially, it hasn’t been an easy year for GW. A dip in graduate enrollment has had repercussions, like a 5 percent cut to most departments’ operating budgets, a delay to parts of the strategic plan, 46 staff layoffs and a higher acceptance rate for next year’s freshman class.
Unfortunately, these financial difficulties likely won’t end any time soon. It’s only May, and there’s still a lot that can change: More positions could be cut, programs could change and other academic departments may suffer.
There are some students who have been directly affected by these cuts, like those involved in the music department. For others, the University’s financial troubles might be easy to brush off as long-term problems that won’t affect current students.
But unlike some issues, like the lack of sufficient donations for the Science and Engineering Hall, these budget cuts are more tangible. Even as students head to various destinations this summer, the University will continue to cope with its financial challenges.
It’s time for students to pay serious attention to the layoffs and slashed budgets. It’s important to understand that the University has to find money somewhere, and some cuts are likely unavoidable. And the student body also has to keep in mind that, thanks to the budget cuts, it’s likely that asking the University to fund new programs and initiatives could be a little bit harder.
Student groups’ frustration with the Student Association
The SA recently passed a budget that has made some student groups on campus unhappy. Some organizations were awarded funding for food and small events, while more than 50 budgets were denied altogether — and some student organization leaders don’t understand why. It’s likely that the growing tension between student groups and the SA will only increase when students return to campus in the fall and have to work with their smaller-than-desired allocations.
Some of the blame should certainly fall onto the SA’s complicated budget allocation process, and the SA finance committee should try its best to make that easier. But it seems like student organizations aren’t completely innocent, either, if they haven’t been communicating with members of the SA.
There are resources meant to help student leaders understand the allocation process, and it’s up to student groups to utilize them. A senator is assigned to each student group and is available to answer questions, and members of the SA make themselves accessible through office hours.
If all else fails, student organizations do have other options. The summer is a perfect opportunity to raise money and plan for fundraising activities to make up for the deficits that the SA could not fund. For example, it would be smart for groups to replicate SASA’s approach and try fundraising online to make up for the funds they were denied.
Bickering between the SA and student groups can have a huge effect on student life at GW. Student organizations bring a lot of life to this campus, but when they don’t have the funding they need, students are the ones who lose out. Hopefully, after everyone has a chance to take a break from the drama this summer, the SA and student groups can do a better job of working together.
A tense relationship with Foggy Bottom
The University hasn’t always been on the best terms with Foggy Bottom residents. Neighbors have voiced their concerns about the 2007 campus plan to University President Steven Knapp, complained about students’ loud parties and, most recently, have publicly expressed their fears about GW’s increasing enrollment.
The University recently modified its campus plan to account for students in the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design who take classes or reside on Foggy Bottom. Neighbors have reservations about GW’s enrollment numbers becoming hard to control, and have raised concerns like “competition for sidewalks” and an unfettered increase in the volume of students on campus.
Foggy Bottom residents’ complaints aren’t new information, but that doesn’t mean students should ignore them. The more neighbors express their concerns to the University, the more likely it is that officials will try to control students breaking rules off campus.
As students, we can’t do anything about campus construction or the enrollment cap. But we can still try our best to avoid giving Foggy Bottom’s residents something to complain about. They’ll have a break from us over the summer, but when we return in the fall, it’s important for us to remember to coexist, and that we aren’t the only ones who live here.
More opportunities to be a fan
Anyone who paid close attention to the men’s basketball team this year was likely disappointed. Despite a relatively successful season, the team didn’t make it into the NCAA tournament.
Hopefully, that won’t be the case next year. Mike Lonergan, head coach of the men’s basketball team, has one more opening on his roster after three players transferred and two spots were filled— an opportunity to bring fresh talent to the team. There’s speculation Lonergan will make this move over the summer, so fans should keep an eye out for that news.
But there’s a lot to look forward to when we get back to campus, too. Unlike this past basketball season, many of the most important match-ups, for both the men’s and women’s teams, are scheduled to take place on our campus, giving students a chance to cheer them on in person.
Unfortunately, at a school where even the most popular team has low game attendance, many of us tend to forget that GW has plenty of successful Division I sports apart from basketball. But students should be paying attention to other sports, too. The Atlantic 10 Conference recently reached a new deal with the American Sports Network, meaning other sports, like men’s and women’s soccer, softball and volleyball, will be aired on television.
So students should stay tuned and get excited over the summer: The men’s basketball roster will look different, more games in the Smith Center make it easier to be an enthusiastic fan and other sports at GW will get a boost from more television coverage.
The editorial board is composed of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s piece was written by opinions editor Sarah Blugis and contributing opinions editor Melissa Holzberg, based on discussions with managing director Rachel Smilan-Goldstein, design assistant Samantha LaFrance, and copy editor Brandon Lee.
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