News and Analysis

An individual affiliated with GW reported being robbed at knifepoint in the 1700 block of H Street early Friday morning, according to a GW alert sent at 3:14 a.m. Friday.

The alert described the suspects as four black men, the first about six feet tall and wearing a grey sweatshirt and dark pants. The three other men were reportedly wearing all-black clothing.

Officers from the University Police Department and the Metropolitan Police Department are actively searching for the suspects, according to the alert.

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Thursday, May 5, 2016 12:39 p.m.

Former senator, SMPA fellow dies at 82

Robert Bennett, a former U.S. Senator and School of Media and Public Affairs fellow, died Wednesday from a stroke and battle with pancreatic cancer, The Week reported. He was 82.

Bennett served as a Republican senator for the state of Utah from 1992 until 2010, when he lost his bid for re-election.

After leaving Congress, Bennett opened a consulting firm and began teaching at the University of Utah, The Week reported.

Bennett was named an SMPA fellow for the 2011-2012 academic year. Along with Arun Chaudhury and P.J. Crowley,

A University release published in 2011 listed many of Bennett’s congressional achievements, like his tenure on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water and as a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“[Bennett] co-sponsored the Healthy Americans Act, the first major bipartisan healthcare legislation in more than a decade,” the release said. “He has also been a successful public relations and business executive, having served as CEO of several technology companies and Franklin International Institute, now known as Franklin Covey.”

Bennett said in the release that his close connection with the University was a result of home-state and family pride.

“I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for GW because so many Utahans have gone to school there including my father-in-law, who got his law degree at GW,” Bennett said.

Bennett is survived by his wife, six children and twenty grandchildren, according to The Week.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016 11:12 a.m.

D.C. spent $55 million on January snow cleanup

D.C. spent more money on snow cleanup in January than in the past seven years combined. Nicole Radivilov | Hatchet Staff Photographer

D.C. spent more money on snow cleanup in January than in the past seven years combined. Nicole Radivilov | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Liz Provencher.

The D.C. Council went into an emergency session Tuesday to vote on how to repay $55 million spent on snow removal during one storm this January, according to the Washington Post

When almost two feet of snow threatened to shut down the city in January, city officials were forced to hire independent contractors to clear up the mess. The dozens of contractors hired cost the city more than the amount spent on snow removal in the last seven years combined.

City officials charged almost half the expenses to pay the contractors on city credit cards. This caused the city’s credit card balance to rise nearly 20 times its normal level, The Post reported.

J.P. Morgan shut off the District’s line of credit causing D.C. Council to take an emergency vote Tuesday on what actions they would take to repay the debt.

“It was a bit of a surprise and had us scrambling to pay our bills.” Ward 3 D.C. Council member Mary Cheh told Washington City Paper.

District officials and J.P. Morgan came to an agreement shortly after the credit maxed out, so city agencies could continue to function.

D.C. Administrator Rashad Young said the credit closure was a “non-issue” and was resolved in less than 24 hours, according to Washington City Paper. Young also said the city has paid all but four contractors, who will be paid in June after the Council’s approval.

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Monday, May 2, 2016 2:40 p.m.

GSPM interim director named

Lara Brown will serve as the interim director of the Graduate School of Political Management, the University announced Monday.

Brown, an associate professor and the director of the political management program, will take over for Mark Kennedy on July 1. Kennedy was named the next president of the University of North Dakota in March.

The University will conduct a search for a permanent director, according to the release. No timeline was given for when the search will begin.

“I look forward to continuing the mission of making this institution the premier professional school for politics, communications and advocacy and ensuring that GSPM remains at the forefront of scholarly research on applied politics,” Brown said in the release.

Before coming to the University, Brown taught at Villanova University as an assistant professor of political science, and served in the U.S. Department of Education during President Bill Clinton’s administration.

She is also one of the researchers heading up GSPM’s PEORIA Project, which measures media mentions of 2016 presidential candidates and how candidates’ messages impact the media.

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Friday, April 29, 2016 12:58 p.m.

University names three honorary degree recipients

The University announced this week that it will award three people honorary degrees this year at University Commencement.

Sen. Cory Booker, GW’s commencement speaker, will receive an honorary doctorate of public service, according to the release.

Albert H. Small, the president of Southern Engineering Corporation, will also receive an honorary degree.Small, a long-time real estate developer and philanthropist, donated his collection of Washington D.C. historical artifacts to the University in 2011.

Joanna Shields, an alumna of the School of Business and the United Kingdom’s undersecretary of state and minister for internet safety and security. Shields founded WeProtect, a global initiative that fights against online child abuse and helped build tech companies, including Facebook and Google.

University President Steven Knapp will present the degrees at Commencement on May 15.

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A black man wearing a black t-shirt and pants sexually assaulted a female on 21st Street and Pennsylvania Avenue Tuesday afternoon, according to an alert.

The man was 5 feet 7 inches tall and around 130 pounds, according to the alert students received at 4:16 p.m. Tuesday. The alert said he was in his mid- to late 20s and had short hair.

He “approached the victim, engaged in conversation and then grabbed her in an inappropriate manner, and fled the area,” according to the alert.

Officers in the University Police Department searched the area “with negative results,” according to the alert.

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Friday, April 22, 2016 2:39 p.m.

Top faculty administrator to retire

Dianne Martin, the vice provost for faculty affairs, will retire in August. Hatchet File Photo.

Dianne Martin, the vice provost for faculty affairs, will retire in August. Hatchet File Photo.

Dianne Martin, the vice provost for faculty affairs, will retire on Aug. 31 after 33 years at GW, according to a University release.

Martin joined GW in 1983 as a computer science professor and went on to be the chair of the department of computer science Department, the director of the Cyber Security Policy and Research Institute and the associate vice president for graduate studies and academic affairs. She began her vice provost position in 2011.

In the provost’s office, she was a top advocate for faculty, working on projects like an overhaul to the Faculty Handbook, creating stricter ethics policies for researchers and changing the guidelines for evaluating teaching for tenure and promotion. She also oversaw the University Seminar Program and the Society of the Emeriti.

Martin also helped to create more than 170 new full-time faculty position as a part of the strategic plan, and led the development of a new faculty expert database to help raise the University’s profile.

“My fondest memories at the university are the hours spent in the classroom, engaging with students as I taught computer programming and a range of other subjects related to information technology,” she said in the release.

Martin is the seventh top administrator to announce leaving the University this academic year.

Interim Provost Forrest Maltzman said in the release that the role will be filled internally and a search committee is expected to begin this month. He said Martin was a “tireless advocate” for the University and the faculty.

“I am grateful for Dianne’s tremendous contributions to the university, our students and, especially, our faculty,” Maltzman said. “She has been an incredible friend and colleague, and our office will sorely miss her.”

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Land O’ Lakes donated $500,000 to the School of Media and Public Affair’s climate project, Planet Forward.

The donation will the project’s operation and events over the next three years, according to a University release said.

Planet Forward, which began in 2009, is a project designed to use media and storytelling to raise awareness of energy, climate and sustainability issues.

“Planet Forward is a powerful platform for increasing the discussion around the importance of food and agriculture,” Chris Policinski, the president and CEO of Land O’Lakes, said in the release. “Planet Forward engages leaders from a variety of perspectives and, importantly, engages our future leaders by deepening their understanding of food and agricultural issues and engaging them in the critical dialogue.”

SMPA director Frank Sesno said in the release that the donation “is an investment in growing the Planet Forward Project and in connecting our students and faculty.”

“Typically, agriculture companies have made major gifts to land-grant schools involved directly in agriculture,” he said. “They deliberately chose us because of their relationship with Planet Forward and because of our location in Washington and our students involved in policy and politics and science.”

Land O’ Lakes has partnered with Planet Forward since 2013 when the company helped fund Planet Forward’s annual summit. Last year, Policinski discussed the interaction between climate change, food and agriculture at the summit.

Land O’ Lakes also started the Global Food Challenge internship, which has been awarded to several GW students. Last summer, SMPA professor Imani Cheers and Land O’ Lakes interns traveled to four countries in Africa as a part of the program.

Planet Forward will hold its annual summit, focused on sustainable cities, later this week.

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GW has been named a top school for “muzzling” its students.

The University won a Muzzle award from the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, according to a press release. GW won the award for the suspension of a student who placed a swastika on a residential hall bulletin board in International House last year.

The Metropolitan and University police departments launched a hate crime investigation after a member of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity posted a swastika on the group’s bulletin board inside International House in March of last year. The student was expelled from his fraternity for the incident.

A National Hindu organization defended the actions of the student, citing the swastika’s historical context and claiming that it could set a precedent of banning all swastikas on campus.

The Thomas Jefferson Center has been awarding annual Muzzle awards for 25 years, but this was the first year that the awards focused specifically on speech regulation on campuses. Muzzles are typically awarded to a mix of individuals, officials, institutions and governmental bodies.

Clayton Hansen, an assistant director at the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, said in an email that the incident at GW was an example of administrators ignoring stated commitments to free expression in a “zero tolerance” approach to speech.

“At GW, this took the form of punishing a student who displayed an Indian swastika on a residential hall bulletin board,” Hansen said. “There was no consideration of context, let alone the student’s right to “speak” through his display of the object.”

The recipients of the 2016 Jefferson Muzzle awards fell into five categories: Censorship of students, censorship by students, limiting press access on campus, threats to academic freedom and silencing outside speakers.

Hansen said each year the center collect news reports and file away incidents for the awards. He said that given the “unprecedented scope” of free speech and academic freedom under attack on campuses, they decided to include every college-based incident that they could verify.

“We hope that this year’s awards will help foster a deeper appreciation for and understanding of First Amendment principles among college administrators and students alike,” Hansen said.

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D.C. legislators passed a ban on public marijuana clubs Tuesday, DCist reported Tuesday.

The D.C. Council passed the ban by one vote on its first reading. Seven council members voted in favor the ban, including chairman Phil Mendelson, Judiciary Committee chair Kenyan McDuffie from Ward 5 and Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh, according to DCist.

City officials extended the marijuana ban in January at Mayor Muriel Bowser’s suggestion. The council voted to allow the clubs, but Bowser did not support the legislation because the city would not be able to regulate the clubs.

The decision comes after city officials set up a task force to look into the marijuana clubs. The task force will meet for the first time on Friday, DCist reported.

Ward 1 council member Brianne Nadeau is a member of the task force and called the ban “a a slap in the face,” according to DCist.

“This narrative that the permanent ban can be revisited is false as long as the (Congressional) rider is in place,” she told DCist. “A task force with a 120-day timeline is supposed to be planning for the present, not the future.”

McDuffie said the task force will still be relevant and the council will likely revisit marijuana clubs.

“Until we have that ability [to regulate], we should maintain the status quo,” Mendelson told DCist.

D.C. could make almost $100 million from taxing the sale of the drug by 2020, according to a study released earlier this year.

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