Best and worst of this week’s headlines

Officials’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic has had ups and downs, but they are trying their best.

The University is making strides to ensure prospective international students can still commit to GW even if the pandemic carries into the fall. But officials also botched move-out procedures for current students and left them worried about their belongings.

Here’s the best and worst from this week’s headlines.

Thumbs up:

Administrators are expecting the University to lose millions from expenses related to the coronavirus, but they are still taking the time to look out for prospective international students.

Provost Brian Blake said at a Faculty Senate meeting Friday that he wants to guarantee refunds on deposits for international students who commit to GW but can’t attend because of the pandemic. Officials are also considering online classes for international students who cannot make it in the fall. In an uncertain and rapidly changing situation, Blake’s consideration is a step forward for students from around the globe who want to come to the University but can’t be certain they’ll make it in time for classes.

International students contribute $166 million to the University’s annual revenue, and their potential inability to attend GW threatens the school’s budget. The University is also considering the potential revenue loss from domestic students who might feel more comfortable staying home than returning to school. That problem is worsened by travel restrictions, which could stay in place over the summer and into the fall. Despite these financial setbacks, officials are working to ensure students can safely attend GW and do not need to worry about their deposit if they drop out at the last minute.

Thumbs down:

The University’s decision to hire packing companies to store and ship students’ belongings was the right move for the public health of students and their families, but it was poorly executed.

Students reported that poor communication from the companies left them in the dark about whether their belongings were packed or thrown away, and officials should have done a better job ensuring communication.

The University could have canceled school for the remainder of the semester earlier – like nearby Georgetown and American universities – which might have prevented a messy move-out. That decision would have helped students prepare to move out earlier in the semester. But hindsight is 20/20, and officials are doing their best now.

Students should understand the difficult situation that officials are in and be appreciative of their efforts to protect their belongings. But officials should also do more to communicate with students and guarantee that they will be contacted while their items are packed.

Kiran Hoeffner-Shah, a junior majoring in political science and psychology, is the opinions editor.

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