Student editors at George Washington call out university’s silence with new feature

Beginning this month, students at George Washington University will get to see all the things their administration won’t let them. The GW Hatchet has started publishing on “What the University Won’t Talk About This Week,” a space in the upper-right corner of its opinions page.

Priya Anand, The Hatchet’s editor-in-chief, said the paper is trying to break the “culture of a private university.” Student reporters have run into silence on a wide range of critical issues such as the results of an investigation into inflated admissions data.

“It hurts reporting when you don’t give out info… but it hurts the reader more than the journalist at the end of the day,” Anand said. “You pay tuition to go here, and that makes you a stakeholder.”

Beyond the budget — which is accessible online — she said administrators have repeatedly refused to release any specific information about how the Washington, D.C., institution spends students’ tuition money. It’s gotten to the point where if there are numbers involved, she said, the request is usually declined.

In a note to readers published online last Thursday, The Hatchet editors reiterated the students’ right to information, despite attending a private school.

“These are not isolated incidents,” it read. “This University has perpetuated a culture of declining to comment on a range of issues, from sales at J Street to the cost of an unpopular rebranding campaign by top-tier firms. As stakeholders in this community, students have the right to information.”

Anand said the paper will continue to publish what it can’t report as long as the administration stays silent.

“Hopefully it’ll encourage more transparency, to avoid being called out at the top of the paper every time,” she said. “It’s about what the readers deserve to be told. We can’t keep people informed successfully if information is being actively withheld.”