Monday, March 1, 2010

Science and Engineering Complex: Cut the Red Tape and Build It

Last week, there was an editorial in the Hatchet criticizing GW for not demanding a specific monetary figure from the construction company that has been contracted to build the new Science and Engineering Complex. She argues that GW is recklessly pursuing an incredibly expensive project at a time in which our economic circumstances don't provide much hope for the financial future of our University.
But the factors at play in the initial stage of the process still present problems - as the nation is not yet free of the harmful effects of the economic situation.

However, she fails to mention a couple of important points. One, due to the recession, construction contracts are at a lower rate right now than they have been in many, many years. There are less jobs to go around, and as a result, nobody is really building anything. However, while the University's fundraising totals have been down, they are in a unique situation where they have a dedicated source of funding in the form of students' tuition. Tuition increases every year (and will increase 3% for next year), and that's not something a lot of private entities can claim when they're looking to construct something. It's simple economics: Demand is way down, so costs are cheaper.

Second, the money that is dedicated to the Science and Engineering Complex will more than make up for itself on a couple of fronts. Donations earmarked specifically for this project will undoubtedly increase if and when GW makes a strong push using the final blueprint. Everyone understands the importance of these two fields, and many people that donate already or new donors who are passionate about these fields will be much more likely to donate if they see GW making a legitimate commitment to this project. People aren't willing to keep giving money to a product that they don't see changing or evolving. By doing this, GW would send a clear signal that they want to be an elite collegiate institution by providing its community with the facilities reserved for one.

This doesn't even include the donations that will be made by future graduates of this institution, which should be at least moderately more successful when given new facilities. Not only will the new devices and space give these students a better work space, but it will draw higher level talent from high school and faculty from other schools. These two draws will do a lot to increase the effectiveness and long-term potential of the new complex.

She concludes her piece with the following quote:
Regardless of the specific reasons, just as one would not set out for a destination on the horizon without knowing what it would take to get there, GW should not pursue building the Science and Engineering Complex without a more specific cost.

This is a misleading statement. Implying that because GW doesn't have an EXACT cost for the project means that they do not have a long-term plan is ridiculous. GW has a vision. They know what it will take to make our University as good as it can be, and President Knapp has seen from the outside steps that other similar institutions have taken to ensure that they're mentioned along with other top colleges and universities. In my opinion, they need to move on this project as quickly as possible, as the impact, financial and otherwise, will be far greater than a couple of million dollars of fluctuation. This project is an essential and laudable step by the administration to make GW a much more balanced university, and it should be made a top priority to get it down, however they can.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with you on most of the points that you raise here. It is my understanding though that President Knapp made a commitment in saying that no tuition dollars would be used for this project. I'm not sure if that's what the opening of your posts insinuates or not, but I thought it was worth noting.