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IT CAME AS A GREAT SURprise to many students and professors at George Washington University (GW) to read a profile of Stephen Joel Trachtenberg that was as tenable as the emperor of Foggy Bottom’s new clothes (“Biggest Man on Campus,” 10/14). Although Washington City Paper usually excels in investigatory reporting, in this case it accepted the president’s imagery at face value, thus sacrificing critical evaluation.
The article made no mention of the April rally held by the GW National Law Center students in protest of Trachtenberg’s policy of diverting 40.7 percent of their tuition for purposes unrelated to the law school. A consequence of this diversion is the potential loss of the law school’s public-service clinics, D.C. Law Students in Court, and the Immigration Clinic (the only one in the D.C./Baltimore area). Considering that the university pays no taxes in spite of its $5.3-million surplus in 1993, community service should be encouraged rather than suppressed. In short, your comparison of Trachtenberg to Woodrow Wilson, a man absolutely dedicated to human rights and public service, is ironic and insulting to our former president.
Critics of Trachtenberg are not prompted by anti-Semitism, as your article implies, but rather by a sincere disapproval of university administrators who sacrifice the attainment of academic excellence for the creation of profits. The article incorrectly states that the schools of GW have risen in the rankings since Trachtenberg’s arrival. Both the business school (which surrenders 50 percent of its tuition to the university) and the law school have dropped in the rankings. The quality of the graduate schools has thus decreased, resulting in a demoralized faculty and students who are forced to accept the paucity of resources available to them. At the same time, GW—the second-largest landowner in D.C. after the federal government—sacrifices financial commitment to progress in scholarship.
Trachtenberg’s endeavors cannot be measured without a calculator. Alas, what GW needs is a president who invests students’ tuition in education, not in the attainment of real estate.
Students to Enforce the ABA Maximum, Logan Circle