News and Analysis

The S street building that used to house the Textile Museum was sold for $19 million to a private owner. Hatchet file photo.

The S street building that used to house the Textile Museum has sold for $19 million to a private owner. Hatchet file photo.

A private owner spent $19 million on the historic building that used to hold ancient rugs and textiles now housed on campus in the GW Museum and Textile Museum, according to a University release.

The building’s S Street location, nestled in D.C.’s Kalomara neighborhood, housed The Textile Museum for nearly 90 years before moving to campus last year and to a facility more than double the size.

The funds from the sale will go to the Textile Museum’s endowment, which supports its operations and collections, University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said. The real estate broker Coldwell Banker represented the buyer in the sale. The buyer was not named in the release.

The S Street structure was built by architect John Russell Pope and commissioned by the building’s owner, George Myers, a businessman who intended to use it as his home. Pope designed other famous structures around D.C., like the National Archives building and the Jefferson Memorial, according to the release.

Construction began on the home in 1912 and was completed by 1915, according to the release. The Textile Museum opened at the location in 1925 and was closed in 2013 to move to its current location on G and 21st streets. The building is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Long before his death, George Hewitt Myers was acutely aware that the museum’s collection had outgrown the space provided and was thinking of moving from S Street as a way to enhance the financial resources of the museum,” Bruce Baganz, the president of The Textile Museum Board of Trustees, said in the release. “Mr. Myers would be delighted that his vision continues and The Textile Museum’s sustainability is ensured for generations to come.”

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The 2016 presidential election is more than a year away, but two GW professors are already studying the candidates.

Two associate professors in the Graduate School of Political Management conducted a study over the last two months on how members of the public discussed the 2016 presidential candidates and how candidates’ campaign messages affected mainstream and social media.

Michael Cornfield and Lara Brown started the PEORIA Project to track and measure words, rather than poll standings or campaign dollars, during a sixty day period between March 15 and May 15. GSPM teamed up with Zignal Labs, a company that monitors and analyzes media, to track how people reacted to presidential campaign announcements.

Through the PEORIA Project — which stands for public echoes of rhetoric in America — Cornfield and Brown used Zignal to collect and assess the “relative effectiveness of the candidates’ performances and the campaigns’ communication strategies,” according to a report published by GSPM.

From that data, the professors assigned each of the eight candidates who had officially announced their campaigns during that time period an “echo value” on a scale of one to 11. They assigned the numbers based on factors like how many “mentions” a candidate received on social media and how long after a formal presidential campaign announcement the amount of media attention plateaued.

Cornfield and Brown found that Ted Cruz, R-Tx., had the largest echo following his presidential campaign announcement.

Later this summer, GSPM will release a second report that analyzes the echo of anyone who declares his or her candidacy this June.

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Udated: May 28, 2015 at 8:53 p.m.

GW ended the suspension of the student who posted a swastika on his floor of International House in March, The Times of India reported Wednesday.

The member of the primarily Jewish fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau, was suspended and faced a possible expulsion from the University after he placed a gold swastika he brought back from a spring break trip to India on a bulletin board in International House. The student claimed the act was not an expression of hatred but was stillexpelled from the fraternity.

University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar declined to confirm the ending of the student’s suspension, citing a GW policy not to comment on the results of individual student cases.

Harsh Voruganti, the associate director of public policy for the Hindu American Foundation, wrote a letter to University President Steven Knapp on behalf of his organization last month, saying the University’s suspension of the student alienates GW’s Hindu and Buddhist groups who may use a swastika symbol for religious purposes. Voruganti said he was asked to testify at the student’s disciplinary hearing with the University.

Voruganti, an alumnus of GW Law Schoool, said in an interview that GW made the right decision in ending the student’s suspension and not going forward with an expulsion because of the factors surrounding the case. He said the student obtained the symbol in India, where many people practice religions like Hinduism and Buddhism that may still use swastikas, and the student’s intentions with posting the symbol were unclear.

“I think that would have a very chilling effect for students who want to display the symbol for religious purposes,” Voruganti said.

GW law professor John Banzhaf said in an interview that GW could have been subject to legal liability if it had taken further disciplinary action against the student, including facing potential charges of defamation and false light. He said the case could be considered religious discrimination because the student could have posted the symbol with the intention of educating the community about its religious significance.

“It seems very clear that expelling him would be a violation of local and federal law,” Banzhaf said.

The incident occurred after three swastikas were reportedly drawn on the walls of International House in February, causing members of GW’s Jewish community to become concerned for their safety. Knapp released a statement after the first incident saying both cases would be investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department as hate crimes.

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Rahul Gupta, a former GW graduate student, will serve a life sentence in jail for murdering his friend, a Georgetown law student, in 2013. Photo from the Montgomery County Police

Rahul Gupta, a former GW graduate student, will serve a life sentence in jail for murdering his friend, a Georgetown law student, in 2013. Photo from the Montgomery County Police

This post was written by assistant news editors Robin Eberhardt and Eva Palmer.

A Maryland judge sentenced a former graduate student to life in prison on Wednesday after he was found guilty of murdering his friend in 2013, WUSA 9 reported.

Rahul Gupta stabbed Georgetown University law student Mark Waugh to death in October 2013 and was found guilty of first-degree murder in Montgomery County court in March. The jury examined about 250 pieces of evidence, including photos and the cell phones of Gupta, Waugh and Gupta’s girlfriend, Taylor Gould.

Gupta, who also earned his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from GW, told police that he stabbed Waugh, a friend of Gupta’s since high school, because he believed Waugh and Gould were romantically involved with each other. Gupta stabbed Waugh in the chest, neck and back with a knife, puncturing one of Waugh’s lungs. Gupta also told police on the scene that Waugh had tried to kill him at the time.

Gupta’s lawyers argued that Gould, who also graduated from GW, killed Waugh, and that Gupta admitted to the crime to protect her. Gould said in court that she had blacked out after the three had gone out drinking to celebrate Gupta’s 24th birthday and woke up to find Gupta kneeling over Waugh and yelling at her to call 911.

The defense lawyers also tried to reduce Gupta’s charge to manslaughter in November 2013, claiming he killed Waugh in a fit of drunken rage after allegedly catching his friend and his girlfriend cheating. Prosecutors disagreed, and Gupta was charged with first-degree murder.

Waugh and Gupta had graduated together from Langley High School in northeastern Virginia. Waugh earned a bachelor’s degree in history from James Madison University and was in his first year of law school at Georgetown at the time of his death.

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Updated: May 27, 2015 at 5:37 p.m.

Not all GW students are #ReadyForHillary.

A group of GW students have launched “GW for Bernie” on Facebook and Twitter in support of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who is running for president as a Democrat. Sanders, who officially announced his presidential campaign on Tuesday, entered the race against Hillary Clinton, who had garnered support from hundreds of GW students before announcing her run last month.

The Facebook page currently has more than 70 likes, while the Twitter account of the same name has 13 followers.

“GW students are organizing for a champion against moneyed interests holding our politics hostage,” according to the Facebook page’s description.

Frank Fritz, a rising junior and one of the co-founders of the group, said the organization’s main focus is to increase awareness of Sanders as a candidate. He said because GW is the most politically active campus in the country, the group is hoping to tap into the political connections of students.

Fritz said the group hopes to hold phone banks and other programming, but because Sanders launched his campaign Tuesday, GW for Bernie is still in the early stages. He said Sanders will “bring a little spice to the Democratic primary.”

“He’s really just trying to contribute to the debate because he’s trying to bring a more genuine aspect to our politics,” Fritz said.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Frank Fritz is a rising sophomore. He is a rising junior. We regret this error.

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Hatchet File Photo.

Metro riders may not see as many of the sleek, state-of-the-art Metro cars that rolled out earlier this year.

Officials may not purchase more than 200 of the 7000 series Metro cars if the Federal Transit Administration does not approve retiring nearly 200 older cars, according to The Washington Post.

Metro rolled out eight of the 7000 series cars in April, with sleek bucket seats and no carpeting, The Post reported.

Mortimer Downey, chair of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s board of directors, told The Post that if the FTA does not retire the older set of cars, Metro will most likely not purchase the 220 new cars.

“All this is still up in the air,” he told The Post.

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D.C. Council chairman Phil Mendelson said Tuesday that the Council will vote in favor of most of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposed budget Wednesday morning, WAMU 88.5 reported.

“The big picture is… the mayor will be receiving in the budget that I am proposing tomorrow 99 percent of what she’s requested,” Mendelson told WAMU 88.5.

Bowser’s proposed $12.9 billion budget included investing $100 million in affordable housing in an effort to end homelessness by 2018 and an increase of about $32 million in funding for D.C. public and charter schools.

Bowser proposed raising the sales tax in D.C. from 5.75 to 6 percent to cover the cost of her budget increases and help fund her war on homelessness, a move rejected by the Council two weeks ago. She cited a poll from the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute that said 70 percent of D.C. residents supported the tax hike. Jack Evans, a Ward 2 Council member and chair of the finance committee, opposed Bowser’s sales tax increase, saying it was fiscally irresponsible and the increase should happen when D.C.’s economic growth slows down.

Mendelson said that the council will still be able to fund many of her proposed initiatives without relying on the $22 million in projected revenue from the rejected tax increase. The Council approved an increased $10 million to services for the homeless.

“We’re going above and beyond in areas where there’s a real need for citizens in the District, whether we’re dealing with homelessness, or affordable housing, or with seniors, or with victims of crime,” Mendelson said.

The Council also cut in half the number of body cameras Bowser proposed for Metropolitan Police Department Offices from a proposed 2,400 cameras with a price tag of about $5.1 million to 1,200 new cameras. Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie said a full commitment to the policy should wait until the Council agrees on issues surrounding body cameras, including who will have access to the footage.

Bowser first presented her budget in the beginning of April and the Council soon reviewed her proposal and provided criticism.

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A center in the city that spearheaded AIDS research in the 1980s just got at $7.5 million boost to increase its research capability, according to a University release Tuesday.

The National Institute of Health has granted nearly $8 million over the course of five years to the District of Columbia Center for AIDS Research, which is the first AIDS research facility in the District, according to the release. Researchers from around D.C., including professors from three of GW’s schools, will focus on finding ways to prevent the spread of the disease and a cure for it.

The center’s two leaders both come from GW. Alan Greenberg, who chairs the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, serves as the center’s director with Gary Simon, a professor of medicine and of microbiology and tropical medicine. The release said Simon diagnosed the first patient in D.C. with AIDS in 1981 at the University’s hospital.

Greenberg said in the release that the grant money will make D.C. “a destination city” for research.

More than 200 researchers are part of the center, including professors and administrators from GW, American, Georgetown and Howard universities, the Children’s National Medical Center and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The NIH first created the center in 2010 with a nearly $4 million grant and has been running on that amount until this influx of grant money. Greenberg said in an email that the center has recruited 42 new HIV investigators and has received 57 new HIV awards from the NIH since it opened five years ago.

Greenberg said the center had to submit a more than 1,000-page application to get the $7.5 million grant.

GW has a history of receiving grants from the NIH. The Milken Institute School of Public Health secured 21 grants from the institute last fiscal year, totaling about $20 million of the nearly $400 million GW receives from the NIH.

Greenberg said that the research will help combat the severe epidemic the District is facing. More than 16,000 D.C. residents have HIV, according to the release.

“The DC CFAR will support and promote the HIV research programs of GW-based investigators,” Greenberg said. “As the coordinating DC CFAR institution, we have an important responsibility to ensure the engagement and participation of the participating institutions, faculty investigator members and affected communities in Washington, DC.”

Princy Kumar, a professor of medicine and microbiology at Georgetown University and the director of the clinical population science core for the center, said in an email that her role is to make it easier for populations in D.C. with high risks for HIV to access treatment.

She added that though there are no current plans to involve her students with the center, there are still ways for students to help out.

“If any students have a good research project, they can apply for a grant through the CFAR with their mentor,” Kumar said.

Anthony Wutoh, dean of the College of Pharmacy and assistant provost for international programs at Howard University and the co-director of the developmental core for the center, said in an email he wants to develop the next generation of HIV researchers in D.C., and to increase graduate student participation with the research at Howard.

“Howard University will lead in the training of minority and women researchers making significant contributions to HIV prevention, treatment, epidemiologic, and basic science research,” Wutoh said.

Ryan Lasker contributed reporting.

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Updated: May 26, 2015 at 9:24 p.m.

D.C.’s historical preservation office recognized the GW Museum and Textile Museum for innovated design, the University announced Tuesday.

“GW has made a long-term commitment to the historic preservation of our campus. We are proud that this project celebrates both the rich history of the Foggy Bottom Campus and D.C. as a whole, and that it melds the historical significance of the building with the university’s educational programs,” Senior Associate Vice President of Operations Alicia Knight said in the release.

The museum includes the historic Woodhull House, a 160-year-old building that was renovated to house the Albert Small Washingtoniana collection of almost 1,000 objects documenting D.C.’s history. The new complex openedin March and holds more than 2,000 artifacts from around the world including carpets, maps and other textiles dating back as far as 5,000 years. The museum also has an elliptical staircase and 14-foot ceilings.

Construction began for the project in October 2012 after Small donated $5 million to the University for the project. Maxwell Zandt Woodhull donated the historic house to the University in 1921, and the previous honor was William Seward, who was a former secretary of state and New York governor.

Graduate students played a role in developing the exhibits, and students are able to lead tours of the textile museum.

GW was one of 44 individuals, businesses or other D.C. organizations that received awards for historical preservation in ceremony, which was held earlier this month at DAR Constitution Hall.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Small donated $5,000 to the GW Museum and Textile Museum. He donated $5 million. We regret this error.

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Taxi drivers are suing D.C. over legislation that they claim gives rideshare programs like Uber an unfair advantage. Hatchet File Photo.

Taxi drivers are suing D.C. over legislation that they claim gives rideshare programs like Uber an unfair advantage. Hatchet File Photo.

A group of taxi drivers are suing D.C. over ridesharing applications like Uber and Lyft.

Six taxi drivers filed a complaint in the D.C. Distict Court last Friday, claiming that newly enacted D.C. regulations for the rideshare companies are less strict than for taxicabs. The drivers claim that this gives companies like Uber an unfair advantage, according to The Washington Post.

The complaint says that regulations for drivers of services like Uber are Lyft are “significantly less burdensome, restrictive, and expensive” than the rules for cabdrivers.

Last fall, the D.C. Council approved legislation to make ridesharing apps legal in the city, according to The Washington Post.

In 2013, D.C. Council member and GW law professor Mary Cheh drafted legislation that would allow Uber to implement a cheaper version of its service in D.C., a move that would reverse regulations by the D.C. Taxicab Commmission that blocked Uber from operating the lower-costing service in the city.

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