A recent external review audit has revealed grave shortcomings within Georgetown’s Academic Resource Center, a tutoring and consultation service available to undergraduate and graduate students. According to the full report, which was leaked to The Hoya, conducted by academic professionals in October 2015 and submitted to campus administrators in January, the ARC “has a minimal ability to serve the populations it professes to support” due to insufficient staff, inaccessibility to physically handicapped students and a lack of resources for student-athletes and those with learning disabilities. Each of these failings must be addressed.
One of the most glaring defects of the ARC is an insufficient number of full-time staff. With only five staff members serving a total student population of more than 17,000, Georgetown lags markedly behind other D.C. institutions. At American University, for example, 19 full-time staff serve an enrollment barely breaking 13,000, while Howard University houses six staff members for a student body of just over 10,000. While it is difficult to make perfect comparisons between universities — for example, AU’s Academic Support and Access Center includes its writing center, whereas Georgetown’s writing center is separate — the problem of inadequate support at home remains. Such discrepancies are even more shocking when one considers the increase in students with registered disabilities over the past two decades. In 1998, roughly 200 Georgetown students required assistance due to a registered disability; today, the number stands at around 750, yet the number of full-time ARC staff responsible for serving learning-disabled students has grown from just two to three. Clearly, the ARC is out of step with both external norms and internal needs.
Another serious flaw is the ARC’s handicapped-inaccessible location on the third floor of the Leavey Center. Describing it as a “former closet” and “claustrophobic,” the report’s authors suggested moving the center to a larger, more readily accessible space. All Hoyas should have unimpeded access to campus resources, so students should support this prescription. One way to make the office accessible is to work with Georgetown’s Disability Working Group, which is currently facilitated by ARC staff member Dr. Jane Holahan and members of Georgetown University Student Association’s Accessibility Committee.
But students should not limit their demands solely to ARC improvements or be satisfied with a mere reconfiguration of the ARC. The university has a responsibility to make similar audits of on-campus services public. If such shortcomings were brought to light by the leaking of an audit of Georgetown’s ARC, this editorial board wonders just how illuminating reports of Counseling and Psychiatric Services, Health and Education Services and other heavily criticized campus facilities would be. Thus, students ought to go beyond a mere criticism of ARC and demand that audits be made public so students can hold the university accountable to their devotion to student services.