Beyond the Books

Your Guide to student life

Monday, April 6, 2015 5:28 p.m.

First Family hosts 137th Easter Egg Roll

This post was written by culture editor Jeanine Marie.

By noon on Monday, President Barack Obama had unveiled a new family portrait, addressed the agreement on Iran’s nuclear program in the New York Times and hosted a backyard bash at the White House.

President Barack Obama waves to the press at the 2015 Easter egg roll on the South Lawn of the White House. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

President Barack Obama waves to the press at the Easter egg roll on the South Lawn of the White House. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

About 35,000 people attended the 137th Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn, according to White House officials. The event was also a fifth birthday party For First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” health campaign, the president said, flanked by the First Lady and the Easter Bunny.

To celebrate the occasion, the First Lady asked Americans to share five ways they’re committed to healthier lifestyles on social media. Beyoncé and Ryan Seacrest have already shared #GimmeFive posts on Instagram, she said.

Children and families gathered on the South Lawn of the White House Monday for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Children and families gathered on the South Lawn of the White House on Monday for the annual Easter egg roll. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

After their remarks, the Obamas joined about a dozen children and their families in the egg roll. Each child pushed a colorful egg across the finish line, and the prizes were high-fives, hugs and warm smiles from the Obamas.

Notable guests included television hosts Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan, chef Bobby Flay, and football players Ryan Kerrigan, Chris Baker and Robert Griffin III (better known as RG3). Sasha and Malia Obama could not attend the event because they had “a little school stuff” to take care of, the president said. But Bo and Sunny, the first family’s Portuguese water dogs, made an appearance.

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Thousands of students attended Spring Fling on Saturday in University Yard, which this year featured student rapper Joe Ramón, DJ 3LAU, and rapper and singer Theophilus London.

3LAU, a 24-year-old electronic dance artist who performed at Ultra Music Festival last weekend, mixed tracks for the crowd. London, who recently released an album produced by Kanye West, closed the show.

Program Board called the event “#Fling,” and handed out temporary gold tattoos with the phrase to attendees.

Joe Jean-Mary, a senior who performed under the stage name Joe Ramón, opened the show. Also a member of rap group Perplex The Crew, Jean-Mary landed the opening spot after winning the first-ever GW’s Got Talent competition in November.

Video by Sarah Mann.

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Desiree Halpern | Contributing Photo Editor

Desiree Halpern | Contributing Photo Editor

This post was written by culture editor Jeanine Marie.

Photographer Annie Griffiths’ positivity is unwavering. When she spoke to the nearly-packed Henry Harding Auditorium in the Elliott School Wednesday night, she deflected any notion that her experience as an unaccompanied woman traversing the globe was anything but rewarding.

But over an hour into her presentation, sponsored by the professional foreign service sorority Delta Phi Epsilon, Griffiths, whose talk fused journalism and advocacy, revealed a moment of her career at National Geographic where even she lost hope.

In Kaukoma Refugee Camp, where about 70,000 Somalis were seeking refuge in Kenya, Griffiths said she thought, “I can’t make a dent,” as she snapped a heartbreaking photograph of a woman and her sick child.

But Griffiths knew she needed to do her job. Years later, she saw the photograph in the office of an U.S.-based aid organization. When she said the image looked familiar, Griffiths was told the woman and child were doing just fine. In fact, the woman was working at the local KFC.

“And that,” Griffiths said, “is why you can’t give up.”

Griffiths attributed her resilience to her mother, who could finagle her way around any problem “without smacking right into it.” Her mom was rejected by Pan American World Airways when she applied to be a flight attendant – simply because she wore glasses.

“Instead of getting mad, she left and became a pilot,” Griffiths said. “That’s the role model I had.”

Griffiths was one of the first female photographers for National Geographic and has traveled to more than 150 countries for her work.

For much of her career, Griffiths brought her kids to remote regions where they befriended locals and kept up their American school work. She said people fretted about her bringing them to places like the Kingdom of Jordan and so beforehand, she did a little research. She said only nine people had been murdered that year in the country, and compared the number to a “bad weekend in D.C.”

In an interview before the event, Griffiths joked that she hardly had any good photographs of her own kids. But as she scrolled through her work during the presentation, she paused at a striking picture of her young son and daughter atop a camel.

“The kids and I did a whole bunch of work in the Middle East,” she said matter-of-factly. “NatGeo wasn’t asking the [male photographers] about their daycare plans.”

She told the audience to never make decisions based on fear. She said fear is “crippling,” whether it be about switching majors or traveling to an unfamiliar part of the world.

Griffiths, who changed her major to photography as a junior in college, advised that college students pay attention to their gut, and their happiness, instead of the expectations of others’.

“Get out of your precious self,” she said.

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Transgender actress and activist Laverne Cox spoke on campus Tuesday. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Transgender actress and activist Laverne Cox spoke on campus Tuesday. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Updated: April 2, 2015 at 1:01 a.m.

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Sucharita Mukherjee. 

On Tuesday, larger-than-life personality and transgender actress Laverne Cox began a night of impassioned speech with a quote from the social activist Cornel West: “Justice is what love looks like in public.”

The evening was a celebration of International Transgender Day of Visibility organized by Allied in Pride and co-sponsored by Program Board, Student Association, the LGBT Alumni Association and five other student groups.

She called her speech “Ain’t I A Woman? My Journey to Womanhood,” referencing Sojourner Truth, bell hooks and many other black feminists to tell Cox’s story of breaking boundaries, transcending shame and accepting others.

Cox is a blend of many minorities as a black, transgender woman from a working-class background, and she was raised by a single mother. She said each of those groups deserves justice.

Cox spent the majority of her speech talking about her transition from being one of two fraternal twin boys in Mobile, Ala. to being the Emmy-winning transgender woman she is today. She said her family played a huge role in this transformation.

Cox’s twin brother, who she said describes himself to be a “practicing homosexual because ‘gay’ is a white, bourgeois construct,” was supportive from the start. Her mother, after some concern about Cox’s large hands and feet, and a little education on the issues transgender individuals deal with, was also supportive.

The scrutiny Cox faced started early-on: Most of the trouble Cox got into growing up was when other students chased her at recess, or when teachers told her it wasn’t okay to imitate Scarlett O’Hara.

“My mother got a call saying, ‘Your son is going to end up in New Orleans in a dress if we don’t get him into therapy soon.’ I am the son in question. They were very confused,” Cox said.

Growing up in an African-American family, Cox was made aware of her race very early in life. But shame was a lesson learned later, she said. After her grandmother’s death, Cox felt as if her late grandmother would see the thoughts she had about herself and her attraction to men, and this shame brought on her suicide attempt in sixth grade.

The antidote to shame is empathy, Cox said. She found empathy when she studied at Marymount Manhattan, but she also found more unpleasant parts of the city life, like men who catcalled her to only realize, disgusted, that she was a biological male.

She emphasized creating safe spaces and aimed to inspire the audience to transcend boundaries. Her last words were orders to have the “tough conversations” – because even if you don’t know what to say, the words are still important.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015 1:06 p.m.

Video: Trans Day of Visibility

Allied in Pride is trying to bring Trans Day of Visibility into focus at GW. The student organization invited Laverne Cox, who plays Sophia Burset in “Orange is the New Black,” to speak at Lisner Auditorium on Tuesday night.

Jay Fondin is the vice president of Allied in Pride and also a transgender student.

“I was motivated to get more involved with Allied in Pride so that I could help to increase those resources and increase availability and outreach to non-mono-sexual students,” said Fondin, who is a cartoonist for The Hatchet.

Video by Jake Amorelli.

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Monday, March 30, 2015 5:28 p.m.

What I Be GW hosts night of music, art

The GW chapter of a national project focused on people airing their insecurities hosted a night of music and art in the Science and Engineering Hall on Sunday.

What I Be GW, which launched on campus last spring, organized the event that included performances by GW Spoken Word Collective, the GW Pitches, GW MotherFunkers and student guitarist, Colin Murphy.

“What we’re trying to do here is kind of promote all the different parts of people that make us special and unique,” said Aviva Stone, the president of What I Be GW. “What better way to do that than music and cookies?”

Video by Chris Saccardo and Randala Abraham.

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Kites glided through the sky at the fifth annual Blossom Kite Festival held at the Washington Monument on Saturday.

The festival started at 10 a.m. and lasted until 4 p.m., featuring kite makers and fliers in various competitions and demonstrations.

The Blossom Kite Festival is a part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which runs from March 20 to April 12.

Video by Eric Osman.

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Saturday, March 28, 2015 2:47 p.m.

Fashion, food and fun at International Night

GW Class Council offered a taste of cultures from around the world all under the roof of the Marvin Center’s Continental Ballroom for “International Night.”

Ten student organizations represented their cultures with food, dance performances and activities. The featured event of the evening was an international fashion show, where students modeled typical clothing from countries across the globe.

Video by Clare Hymes.

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More than 100 students went to the Textile Museum on Monday for student night, an event hosted by the Student Association, Program Board, Class Council and the Residence Hall Association. Students were invited to see the museum’s artifacts as well as watch a student jazz performance.

The museum, which officially opened this weekend, has over 19,000 textiles and carpets.

“The goal of tonight was really to emphasize that this museum is in and of George Washington University and is a space that students should feel comfortable coming to,” said Lauren Shenfeld, a presidential administrative fellow.

Video by Haley Lloyd.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015 8:30 p.m.

What We’re Watching: ‘The Hunting Ground’

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Riley Londres.


“The Hunting Ground” left me speechless, but at the same time, I wanted to shout out in rage. The 103-minute film is a shocking, emotionally charged account of the prevalence of sexual violence on college campuses.

Promotional poster for "The Hunting Ground."

Promotional poster for “The Hunting Ground.”

In the documentary, dozens of college students are interviewed about reports that may have been brushed under the rug to ensure schools maintain a reputation for being safe. That’s to encourage future high school seniors to apply or keep key sports players from sitting on the sidelines.

It begins with footage of high school seniors’ reactions to acceptances from the schools of their dreams followed by shots of various welcome weeks from campuses across the United States.

But the hopeful tone is quickly sobered by the introduction of two students from the University of North Carolina, Andrea Pino and Annie Clark, who share the first of many testimonies that make the documentary so compelling.

The riveting film, written and directed by Kirby Dick, follows Pino and Clark, survivors of sexual assault, and includes intense interviews with other survivors, parents, professors and even a convicted rapist.

Pino and Clark endeavor to make their school, the University of North Carolina, as well as colleges and universities across the country, take the crime of rape more seriously. Interviewees lament that the financial incentives for institutions to cover up rape reports is a greater than the motivations to protect students.

As the New York Times noted, the documentary is largely one-sided, though that could be because many university officials declined to be interviewed.

During the screening at E Street Cinema, the audience’s collective distress was palpable. One member of the audience scoffed at the screen at points. No one moved until the last credit rolled.

The film ends with footage of recent marches and protests on campuses across the country to show that sexual violence is now an issue that prompts students to demand change. The final message is that victims can become survivors, and from there they can become activists, but there is more work to be done.

“The Hunting Ground” is playing at Landmark E Street Cinema, 555 11th St. NW.

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