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Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Diversity, equity official to leave GW in July
By Jenna Lee, Assistant News Editor • June 8, 2024

Annu Subramanian: Giving back after graduation

My favorite restaurant in the District is Old Ebbitt Grill. With great food, kind waiters and an Americana décor that could give the Kennedy estate an inferiority complex, I can’t help but tip a little bit extra to waiters there, and I never fail to suggest it to out-of-town visitors. I have praised it in a Yelp review and even befriended the manager there.

Basically, I treat my favorite restaurant better than some of us treat our University.

GW is a tuition-based University, meaning students put forth the majority of the capital that fuels their education. At schools with high endowments, students pay tuition but are boosted by additional funding from nostalgic alumni who hope to see future generations of students at their alma mater have equally enriching college experiences.

Our endowment is growing, indeed. And our school has hurtled up the national rankings in the last decade. Our endowment might swell as successful recent graduates begin to give back, but there is no doubt that many of the University’s stresses would be eased if it were higher.

But, students en masse don’t see GW as an establishment worth over-tipping. Not everyone romanticizes their time at the University or use precious column inches by penning sonnets in praise of its wonder. Some show up, purchase their meal and leave so fast the chairs they just occupied spin in place.

This paradigm must shift. As much as class attendance is fundamental to the college experience, giving back after we graduate should be as well. There is no doubt that our connection to GW does not end when we receive our diplomas, and as such we are beholden to keep promoting the success of future generations of Colonials.

There’s no doubt that GW is a university worth giving back to. And yet not all graduates do. This GW paradox – students receive a premier education and then refrain from donating to the very institution that provided it – could stem from a number of sources, such as the lackluster school spirit of the student body. Or the pervasive disconnect students feel toward the University. Or how quickly after arriving on campus students pour themselves into off-campus internships or jobs. I have a friend who says he’ll have pride in the University only when a GW alum becomes president of the United States.

But reversing such a visceral affliction just doesn’t happen on its own. In fact, community won’t be served up in a more centralized dining hall. Spirit doesn’t come from a prettier library or a shiny new science building. Being a city campus does not necessarily warrant disconnect.

It’s easy to dismiss the thought of giving even more money to GW after graduation, especially since some students will be paying off high student loans for many years to come. And of course giving back is not part of our tuition; it will never be required. But so many of the issues we outline and notice on campus today could be resolved through a bit more capital, and that is seen through increased endowments.

We’ve managed thus far without the benefit of gobs of money coming from another source – think of how we’d do with that capital in addition to our tuition. Despite that, thankfully GW hasn’t resorted to petty practices to garner donations – some universities make public the names of students who do not donate.

Hopefully GW’s endowment grows. Hopefully more of the GW community’s school pride increases. Hopefully students take the time to identify where our University requires improvement and then work to make those changes. But that will not come from any source but an intrinsic one. And while these disparate phenomena sound unrelated, they all complement each other, creating a cycle necessary for our University to grow from a one-time meal to an all-time favorite establishment.

Annu Subramanian is a sophomore majoring in journalism, is The Hatchet’s contributing opinions editor.

Readers can visit the Forum to comment on this column.

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