Statement and Demands for Fall 2020 Semester
We are profoundly disappointed that the worsening Covid-19 pandemic means we will not be able to assemble on campus in the fall. We do applaud GW's decision to move classes online their decision helps preserve the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, as well as the broader Foggy Bottom and D.C. communities. GW College Democrats remains committed to providing a full slate of programming for the fall semester, ranging from policy workshops, speaker events, debates, Blue Table Talks, and so much more. With a do-or-die election only 94 days away, we hope that you'll remain virtually engaged with our organization as we work to elect Democrats up and down the ballot, and advocate for progressive policies to move the country forward.
We appreciate that GW made its decision to close campus in good faith, with concern for our shared well-being at top of mind. We are encouraged by the announcement that tuition will be cut by 10 percent as well. That being said, we have concerns about how the Fall 2020 plan will impact students - especially those who are lower-income and/or come from marginalized communities. We are clear-eyed that GW is in a tenuous financial position, and that proposed solutions like dipping into the endowment are far easier said than done. However, the university has a responsibility to its most vulnerable and disadvantaged students to ensure they can live and learn this Fall in an environment which will safeguard their mental and physical well-being as we all navigate these uncharted waters.
We call on the university to adopt the following measures:
Eliminate the university's six-semester residency requirement. Right now, this prevents students from signing onto one-year off-campus leases in anticipation of a disrupted Spring 2021 semester. We implore the administration to work with the Foggy Bottom Advisory Neighborhood Commission in order to alleviate this unfair burden placed on students.
Ensure those whose home life is not tenable or suitable for learning can get on-campus housing. We recognize that more students in Foggy Bottom is precisely what closing down campus was intended to avoid, but if students' family life is toxic or they do not have access to technology to do online classes, forcing them to stay home is inappropriate and unethical. The current limited capacity for contingency housing should be expanded to accommodate more students who need to live away from home.
Explore ways to further cut tuition for both undergraduate and graduate students to account for the reduction in academic quality without having to lay off additional faculty and staff.
Extend the university's optional pass/fail policy. Students will be facing unprecedented circumstances and bona fide hardship this Fall due to the pandemic. Given the inherent difficulty of virtual learning, and the numerous additional stressors that the coronavirus has placed on students, optional pass/fail should be extended to the Fall 2020 semester. A commitment should also be made to extend the policy to future semesters should conditions persist.
Preserve students' financial aid packages. Financial aid packages must not be negatively affected by the university's move online, and aid received must be at least proportionate to what it was pre-pandemic when housing costs were included.
We hope you will join us in signing onto this list at gwdems.org/sign-fall2020demands - and we hope to all be back together in Foggy Bottom come January.
GW College Democrats Executive Board 2020-21