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Gelman's opt-in campaign is just sad

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George Washington University

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Gelman's opt-in campaign is just sad

With a cost of attendance of almost $70,000 a year, GW still wants more.

Evan Bennett

4.29.18

This is an opinion piece and does not reflect the views of The Rival.

If you’ve stepped foot in the Gelman library in the last few days, you’ve been one of the many students barraged by an army of green signs and flags that say: "This Chair/desk/etc has been funded by your voluntary library gift, #Opt-In."

Earlier this year the university removed the library donation as an automatic opt-in and changed it so students had to decide to opt-in, rather than opt-out. At $50 a semester per student, or $100 a year, the library looked at significant monetary losses if many students decided not to opt-in. Ten thousand undergrads alone at $100 a year is $1 million, though plenty of people had already previously been opting-out.

Next year’s tuition for incoming freshmen will total a staggering $55,140 a year without housing, food, books, or any fees included. That’s a staggering 13.2 percent increase over what those who entered in the 2014-2015 school year are paying in tuition. Despite paying one of the highest tuition rates in the nation, GW still wants more.

So why are we being asked to donate more? It makes sense that the university provides the option of donating to the library, but students shouldn’t have to be barraged by requests for money when they go to study. Especially at the rates GW students pay.

This isn’t a critique of the Gelman staff, who are just doing their best with limited funds, but rather the university administration. Despite having already allocated more money this year to the university’s library budget, clearly the Gelman staff are unsatisfied.

Why is it that a library, one of the top study areas for students, and a key academic resource in any university, is apparently under-funded? If I’m not paying for nice study spaces and academic resources, what am I paying for? Clearly it’s not competitively priced local housing, high professor salaries, or enough money to eat.

There was a lot of comments made of the $500,000 inauguration of President LeBlanc back in the fall. At such a small portion of the university’s yearly budget, and a rare event, this didn’t initially bother me as much as it seemed to everyone else. But $500,000 is half the undergraduate population opting-in for the year. If the university can find the money for a celebration, surely they can throw some money at the school’s prison-like library.
With annual increases of over 3 percent in the cost of attendance at an already costly university, maybe it’s time the university reevaluate its priorities if Gelman still needs to ask us for more money.