It’s been a long and eventful year, so it may be tempting to avoid thinking about GW over the summer. But even without most students on campus, the University keeps moving forward.
Campus will look different this upcoming academic year. With a new University president, Greek recruitment deferred to the spring for the first time and continued budget cuts, students should be on the lookout this summer and over the next year for new developments.
The new University president sets priorities
Incoming University President Thomas LeBlanc will take over in August. LeBlanc has the opportunity to carefully select his priorities and set a tone for what his tenure. In an interview with The Hatchet, LeBlanc spoke about finding GW’s niche, making smart financial decisions and creating a better campus community for students.
The University’s finances should be at the forefront of his agenda. LeBlanc is coming in with more experience handling the finances of a university than current University President Steven Knapp, having overseen the University of Miami’s academic programs and budget as the provost and executive vice president there. This should put him in a better position to help balance GW’s budget.
LeBlanc will not only have to work on improving the community between students, but also building a relationship with the student body. He should make more of an effort to interact with students — like Knapp did when he helped with move-in — but on a more consistent basis at student organization events through the year.
To get a better idea of the students’ concerns, he should utilize the Student Association. Although this election season was an anomaly, LeBlanc shouldn’t be hesitant to work with SA President Peak Sen Chua and Executive Vice President Sydney Nelson to create goals for student life. He should also reach out to more freshmen and transfer students, instead of just a few prominent student leaders on campus, to get a more representative idea of the University.
Finally, LeBlanc expressed interest in finding a niche for the University. But GW has an identity — we’ve been ranked the most politically active campus four years in a row. We are known for campus activism, professionally-oriented students and our political science and international affairs programs. That reputation is not something the University should distance itself from, but instead embrace. Of course, the University should continue to acknowledge other draws, especially after making major investments in the Science and Engineering Hall and Milken Institute School of Public Health. But LeBlanc and the University must acknowledge that we’re not going to become the top-ranked engineering or science school anytime soon — and that’s OK.
Implementing deferred recruitment
GW announced last April that Greek recruitment will be deferred to the spring semester for incoming freshmen. Only students who have already completed at least 12 course credits on campus will be eligible to participate in recruitment this fall.
Members of Greek life have expressed concern that this policy will have a negative impact on the Greek community on campus. These concerns also stemmed from Greek life leaders feeling that they were shut out of the decision-making process.
Of course, it will be an adjustment this year as fraternities and sororities acclimate to the changes. But in the long run, it won’t have a significant impact on Greek life. Many of our peer schools – including Boston, Tufts and Northwestern universities – have long practiced deferred recruitment.
Deferred recruitment would primarily benefit new members by giving students time to adjust to college life and reducing stress for freshmen who need to juggle their commitments to Greek life while adjusting to the University. But fraternities and sororities will also be able to attract members who will be more interested, prepared and committed to their organizations.
The policy won’t stop students from joining Greek life on campus. Freshmen who are genuinely interested in going Greek will do so. This change would help weed out the students who rush without a significant interest or end up disaffiliating after they join a chapter.
Current underclassmen are most likely to encounter the immediate drawbacks of this policy — they’ll have to wait longer for new people to join their chapter and “family,” lineage created in students’ respective fraternities and sororities. But overall, this shouldn’t make anyone think differently about Greek life.
The future of budget cuts
Recently, GW officials announced that they plan to move Academic Technologies to Gelman Library this summer. The move came after last year’s budget cuts laid off 40 staff members, some whom were part of the library and technology departments.
Officials said the relocation of the Academic Technology department is part of a larger move to bring various offices under one roof and promote collaboration.
Budget cuts to departments like Academic Technology — which helps professors with technical difficulties and implementing technology in the classroom — don’t have a severe impact on the daily lives of students.
Centralizing offices can be helpful in increasing efficiency by increasing communication and collaboration. This can help the University best utilize its resources.
Budget cuts are inevitable, especially given that Knapp announced in 2015 that departments would need to trim their budgets 3 to 5 percent each year for the next five years. But LeBlanc can be more transparent about the details of the budget cuts and the impact they will have on students and faculty. Although this wouldn’t change anything about the cuts, it can help build trust between him, the faculty and the student body.
LeBlanc said that he is ready to make bigger decisions where he “helps with the strategy that grows the pie.” It would be smart of him to expand on what he’s said and let us know what his plans for financial resources are.
The editorial board is composed of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s piece was written by opinions editor Irene Ly and contributing opinions editor Shwetha Srinivasan, based on discussions with managing director Melissa Holzberg, managing editor Tyler Loveless, sports editor Matt Cullen, copy editor Melissa Schapiro and design editor Anna Skillings.