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The GW Hatchet

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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

Enrollment chief defends GW’s need-aware policy at SA Senate meeting

Media Credit: Erica Christian | Contributing Photo Editor
GW’s enrollment chief Laurie Koehler told the Student Association on Monday that she is working to increase transparency within the admissions office.

An internal review of the admissions office found that GW did not intentionally mislead applicants with its need-aware policy, the University’s enrollment manager reiterated to the Student Association Senate on Monday.

About three weeks after SA senators asked for an explanation of GW’s retreat from a need-blind admissions policy, Senior Associate Provost for Enrollment Management Laurie Koehler again went on the defense of the admissions office.

Standing at a podium in front of about two dozen SA members, Koehler said the office found “no orchestrated effort to deceive anyone.”

She again said there was no mention of a need-blind policy in any print material distributed by the University in the past five years or on scripts for information session.

Still, she acknowledged that the admissions website did not accurately describe GW’s “need-aware” policy, which takes students’ financial resources into account during the last legs of its admissions process – a policy that was brought to light by a Hatchet report last month.

As part of her effort to rebound from the University’s misstep, she stressed transparency moving forward.

“What we are doing and what we say we are doing have to match,” she said. “Communicating openly is the only route we should follow.”

The admissions office also took heat for a scandal last fall, when administrators announced the office had inflated freshman class statistics for at least a decade. Less than a week later, U.S. News & World Report kicked GW off its rankings of best colleges.

About a dozen senators asked questions, some expressing concern that the pair of admissions scandals would impact the University long-term.

Sen. Cengiz Kara, G-At-Large, asked Koehler what she is doing to boost the University’s poor image, which he said may have already drove prospective students away.

“Admissions within the graduate program fell down, and I think that has to do with the recent issues that have come up with the University,” Kara, an MBA student, said. “Moving forward, what type of public relations activities should the University plan to take?”

Sen. Nick Gumas, CCAS-U, also asked if GW’s need-aware policy – which favors wealthier applicants while picking students off the waitlist – would impact the economic diversity of the student body.

“How will you ensure that in the application review process that not only all racial groups are represented but also different socioeconomic groups?” he said.

Koehler pointed to a collaboration with Chicago public schools as an example of its efforts recruiting low-income students, in addition to racial minorities.

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