The transition between high school and college can be difficult for students. At GW, this transition can be made even more difficult by the lack of common spaces and areas for freshmen to meet and bond.
In an attempt to address the lack of community on GW’s campus, a new program called District Connections was introduced by Cissy Petty, the dean of the student experience. Through District Connections, freshmen can register for free events around D.C. that they attend in groups. District Connections is a great way to ensure that freshmen assimilate to campus and their new home in the District, but the program should be expanded to include upperclassmen. Offering this program to upperclassmen would benefit both upperclassmen and freshmen because freshmen could mingle with individuals outside their class and upperclassmen would become more comfortable on campus.
Freshmen can learn a lot from upperclassmen. In addition to making new friends, interactions between freshmen and upperclassmen could make the University seem smaller and bring the community together. While GW is not a physically large campus, the number of students on campus can make any student feel isolated. The issue of feeling isolated is not confined to freshmen.
Not everyone will make lasting connections and find their community on campus in their first year and excluding upperclassmen from these opportunities to meet new people and potentially find their community isn’t fair.
Plus, transfer students are often upperclassmen and enter GW in the same position as freshmen. This group could surely benefit from a program that would help them feel more comfortable in D.C. and introduce them to their classmates.
Upperclassmen also often have more expenses and stress than freshmen, providing another reason this group could benefit from being included in District Connections.
Sophomores, juniors and seniors tend to be weighed down by a stressful workload that could include classes, an internship, a job and extracurricular activities. Expanding the program to upperclassmen could improve the overall mental health and well-being of the upperclassmen by giving them a break from day-to-day stress and showing them that they need to take time for themselves.
Financial burdens and stress are also very isolating and more prevalent as you spend more time at GW, so the ability to attend free events would be a fantastic opportunity for all students to get a taste of life outside of the University and to experience D.C.
Entering college can be isolating and attending an urban school like GW doesn’t make it easier. While a new program for freshmen to ease into life at GW proves administrators are working to improve the student experience, the University should expand the program to include all students.
Hannah Thacker, a freshman majoring in political communication, is a Hatchet opinions writer.
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