Neighborhood Watch: University Sinks, Takes $1.5 Million Tax Dollars Down With It
The Issue: Southeastern University, a private school founded 130 years ago by the YMCA near the Southwest Waterfront, has gone the way of the Titanic—and taxpayer’s money is going down with the ship. According to the Washington Examiner, three months before the Middle States Commission on Higher Education yanked the school’s accreditation, the floundering university received a $1.5 million earmark requested by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. The university, which catered to low-income DC residents, reportedly “spent every dime”—to no avail. Now that the school’s fall semester has been canceled, and the students transferred to other universities, what should be done with the block?
Bring On the Buckets: Some argue the city should work to save the school as a place for higher learning: Charles Allen, chief of staff to Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, told City Desk: “The university is right in the heart of Southwest. Not having classes there is a major loss to the neighborhood in terms of educational resources…and just losing activity on the sidewalk.” There has been talk of merging the school with another institution.
Abandon Ship: Others complain that taxpayers have already given the school a fighting chance, both through Mayor Fenty’s earmark, and an additional $400,000 in public funds. Dee, commenting on US News and World Report, says: “The faculty was a joke…my marketing instructor recruited people to sell Amway products. If you didn’t show up to his house for his “sales pitch,” you didn’t receive extra credit.”
Next Step: Wells is working with the school to find a merger and possibly carry on the school’s medical associate degree program—but Allen says, “so far, none of the options have panned out.” As far as the money goes, a Mayor Fenty spokesperson told the Examiner, "We've asked them not to spend any additional money."
Photo of school by Alan Cordova, Creative Commons Attribution License