News and Analysis

University President Steven Knapp responded to nearly 20 national human rights organizations asking him to issue a formal apology to Jewish community members still concerned about the University’s response to three swastikas drawn on walls in International House.

Knapp said in his letter that University officials immediately “took steps to remove [the swastikas], communicate with resident students and their parents, and launch an investigation that is still very active.”

He added that University police officers receive anti-bias training and that senior officials involved with the ongoing investigation are responsible for GW’s “diverse and inclusive campus environment.”

One male suspect has been identified in the case, Knapp said in the letter. The GW student is awaiting disciplinary action.

Jewish campus figures like GW Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Yoni Kaiser-Blueth and Walter Reich, the former director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, have been providing the University with advice and assistance throughout the investigation, Knapp said.

“We continue to investigate, educate and communicate,” the letter read. “As we do so, we are fully aware that, since its adoption nearly a century ago as the symbol of the Nazi Party, the swastika has acquired an intrinsically anti-Semitic meaning, and therefore that its appearance on our campus is a very disturbing occurrence.”

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University President Steven Knapp announced a partnership with Siemens that will provide new software for student use. Samuel Klein | Senior Photo Editor

University President Steven Knapp announced a partnership with Siemens that will provide new software for student use. Samuel Klein | Senior Photo Editor

GW’s engineering students will now have access to some of the best software in the field, thanks to a collaboration with Siemens.

The partnership will allow students in the School of Engineering and Applied Science to use $30 million worth of software and is the first of multiple phases in an agreement between the company and GW.

“Obviously, a lot of the work that’s done these days requires sophisticated software,” University President Steven Knapp said in an interview. “Siemens is really at the forefront of a lot of advanced manufacturing technology.”

The product lifecycle management software, which is already available to universities across the country, will allow students to work with programs they wouldn’t otherwise use until after graduation.

Matt Bruce, an academic director of Americas Velocity Program for Siemens’ product lifecycle management, said students will be able to use the software for projects like creating 3-D, state-of-the-art models.

Students, administrators, faculty and staff gathered on the main floor of the Science and Engineering Hall to celebrate the building's grand opening Wednesday. Samuel Klein | Senior Photo Editor

Students, administrators, faculty and staff gathered on the main floor of the Science and Engineering Hall to celebrate the building’s grand opening Wednesday. Samuel Klein | Senior Photo Editor

He added that students enrolled in programs at the Virginia Science and Technology Campus and the School of Medicine and Health Sciences will be able to use the software for collaborative projects with students in SEAS.

“Delivering the industry’s most advanced product lifecycle management technology, Siemens product lifecycle management software provides students with the skills, knowledge and experience required to stand out in today’s highly competitive economy, and better prepare them for entering the workforce,” he said.

The announcement was made during the grand opening of the Science and Engineering Hall. The $275 million complex, which has been in the works for more than a decade, opened for classes in January and houses 118 faculty from GW’s engineering and science departments.

Funding for the building shifted after officials revealed earlier this year that the plans to pay for the space using government subsidies and donations fell through. The University is now depending entirely on rent from its commercial properties at The Avenue to pay for the complex.

Board of Trustees Chairman Nelson Carbonell thanked all those who helped open the Science and Engineering Hall, but asked them to continue to support the building through the years.

“All of us here collectively feel responsible for making this a success, but I wanted to call on each and every one of you as individuals to do your part,” he said. “If each of us take on that responsibility, then each of our efforts to get here will be worth while.”

Colleen Murphy contributed reporting.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly referred to Siemens as the Siemens Foundation. We regret this error.

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Student groups began announcing their support for Student Association candidates this week.

That starts the competition to see which candidates will rack up the most endorsements. More than 40 organizations endorsed candidates last year.

Let the race begin. Elections will be held March 25 and 26.


Ben Pryde
GW Alexander Hamilton Society
GW Club Polo
GW College Democrats
GW College Republicans
Student Theatre Council
Turkish Student Association

Andie Dowd

Allied in Pride
GW Equestrian Team
GW Students Helping Honduras
Epsilon Sigma Alpha Sorority
The FREE Project

Alex Cho
[Endorsements not yet announced]

Executive Vice President

Spencer Perry
Allied in Pride
Capitol Food Recovery
Epsilon Sigma Alpha Sorority
GW College Democrats
GW Polo Club

Carlo Wood
[Endorsements not yet announced]

Casey Syron
GW College Republicans
Men’s Ultimate Frisbee Team
Student Theatre Council

We’ll continue to update this blog as more endorsements are announced. Has your organization endorsed a candidate we don’t know about? Email to be included in this tally. 

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Updated: March 4, 2015 at 7:01 p.m.

A Jewish rights group posted a letter Wednesday asking University President Steven Knapp to issue a formal apology for not addressing the swastikas reportedly drawn in International House two weeks ago.

Nearly 20 national advocacy organizations, including the Zionist Organization of America and StandWithUs, have signed on to support the AMCHA Initiative, a human rights group focused on supporting the Jewish higher education community, in urging GW administrators to address student and faculty concerns surrounding the anti-semitic symbols drawn in the residence hall.

“We are troubled by the University’s response, and join Jewish student leaders on your campus who are calling for the University to better address incidents of campus antisemitism,” the letter reads.

The letter asks the University to investigate the incident as a hate crime. University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said the incident is being investigated as a vandalism case because University police officers do not suspect any individuals were targeted.

“We hope that you will show your students, their parents, GWU alumni, and the larger community that George Washington University stands firmly against bigotry and hatred, including antisemitism, and will protect all members of the campus community,” the letter reads.

Darrell Darnell, the senior associate vice president for safety and security, and Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski sent an email to International House residents and their parents Wednesday saying that the person who drew the swastikas had been identified. The person is a GW student who does not live in the building, the email read.

“Please know that we take such matters very seriously,” the email read. “Our goal is that everyone in our community feels included and safe.”

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the organization that coordinated the letter to Knapp is the Louis D. Brandeis Center. It is the AMCHA Initiative. We regret this error.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015 2:48 p.m.

D.C. in winter storm warning until Thursday night

Updated: March 4, 2015 at 11:20 p.m.

Students hoping to fly out of D.C. for spring break on Thursday might be out of luck.

D.C. is expected to get anywhere from five to 10 inches of snow Wednesday night into Thursday, according to the Capital Weather Gang. The National Weather Service reported that D.C. will be in a winter storm warning until 9 p.m. Thursday.

The weather group said snowfall totals could change depending on what time rain turns into snow Wednesday night. The University of Maryland in College Park and Howard University already cancelled Thursday classes. D.C. Public Schools also cancelled classes on Thursday, the Washington Post reported.

GW and neighboring Georgetown University officials also faced a little pressure on Twitter to cancel Thursday classes.

The District Snow Team said D.C. will deploy more than 200 snow trucks that will be on their routes by 2 a.m. on Thursday, according to a release sent around 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

The University sent an email message to off-campus students Wednesday evening providing information about the city’s snow removal policies, steps to follow in a power outage and locations to buy shovels. Drivers should move their cars to snow emergency routes by Thursday morning, the email read.

Two weeks ago, GW cancelled classes for a day after more than 3 inches of snow covered the city.

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Mike Massaroli was elected president of the Residence Hall Association Monday night. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Mike Massaroli was elected president of the Residence Hall Association on Monday. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Updated: March 3, 2015 at 7:15 p.m.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Ben Marchiony.

The Residence Hall Association elected its next president at a general body meeting Monday.

Mike Massaroli, a junior and the group’s current executive vice president, won the election and will replace current president, Ari Massefski, on April 1.

Massaroli’s platform included working with the University Police Department to make sure all residence halls have community service aids checking GWorld cards at entrances, as well as building stronger communities in halls.

“In the end, I’m just one out of 100 leaders in this organization, and one out of 7,500 or so on-campus residents,” Massaroli said. “Every resident has ideas and opinions, and I want to ensure that all of our residents feel that their voice matters and that they can be a part of conversations relating to residence life at GW.”

Kellie French was elected executive vice president, running on a platform to increase the visibility of the RHA across campus and improve common areas in residence halls.

Carlee Russell was elected director of hall development, Joong Hyup Lee was elected treasurer, Kylie Madden was elected communication director and Ali Belinkie was re-elected programming director.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported Joong Hyup Lee’s name as Joong Hyung Lee. We regret this error.

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University President Steven Knapp sent a memo to the University community Monday addressing the cause behind the 5 percent budget cuts faced by nearly all of GW's divisions. Hatchet file photo.

University President Steven Knapp sent a memo to the University community Monday addressing the cause behind the 5 percent budget cuts faced by nearly all of GW’s divisions. Hatchet file photo.

University President Steven Knapp sent a memo to GW community members on Monday, explaining that 5 percent budget cuts across campus stem from a decrease in graduate enrollment.

Knapp wrote that tuition revenue makes up nearly 75 percent of the University’s total revenue, and that graduate and professional enrollment have dropped by about 1,200 students. To make up for those drops, faculty and staff are planning new academic programs and cutting costs in divisions across the University.

The memo echoes a Hatchet report published early Monday morning. Knapp’s statement is one of the first and clearest examples of him addressing the University-wide budget crunch.

“But such efforts take time to achieve their intended results. We will need to continue reducing expenditures until enrollments are restored at least to the level we enjoyed just a few years ago,” Knapp wrote.

Knapp’s memo was sent after Provost Steven Lerman said Friday during an interview with the Hatchet that the budget crunch has delayed the implementation of some areas laid out in the University’s strategic plan. While net graduate enrollment decreased by five students this year, the total credit hours that graduate students are enrolled in increased by 344 hours, according to the Office of Institutional Research and Planning.

Graduate students pay tuition by credit hour in most of the University’s graduate programs.

Lerman said last week that divisions have cut back on travel and training costs. Knapp said in the memo that divisions could have to cut staff positions to reduce their budgets by 5 percent next year.

“We will not be cutting undergraduate student aid, abandoning our fixed tuition policy or backing away from our commitment to expand student health and career services,” he said.

This is the second year that officials have asked departments to cut back on costs, after graduate enrollments first began declining last year. During the last fiscal year, the University missed its revenue projections by about $10 million, and also had about $10 million more in expenses than planned.

Knapp added that deans and directors of schools and colleges will need to preserve or rebuild “the reserves they need to invest in their strategic priorities.”

“It is critically important that we not allow our current budgetary problem to prevent us from continuing to fulfill our mission or from realizing the aspirations embodied in our strategic plan,” he said.

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The Graduate School of Education and Human Development received more than $1 million to start a program to train students to become science, technology, engineering and math teachers.

The National Math and Science Initiative gave GW $1.45 million to implement the program, which three of GW’s top academic leaders will launch at an event Tuesday. The program, called GWTeach, is based on the institute’s UTeach program, which offers students majoring in STEM fields the chance to also receive a certification in teaching.

Provost Steven Lerman, Ben Vinson, dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, and Michael Feuer, dean of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, will attend the kick-off event Tuesday.

Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that D.C. offers over 45,000 listings for STEM jobs, more than any other major U.S. city.

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A 20-year-old male student was arrested after police found LSD, marijuana and drug paraphernalia in his International House room. File Photo by Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

A male student was arrested in International House last month after campus and city police found lysergic acid diethylamide, commonly known as LSD, in his room.

Metropolitan Police Department officers were dispatched to the residence hall on Feb. 4 after the University Police Department was called to the seventh-floor room and found LSD and 2.67 ounces of marijuana, according to an MPD incident report and GW’s crime log.

University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar confirmed that the man who was arrested was a student.

Officers also found a scale with green “weed-like residue” and “CVS pill pouch bags,” according to the police report.

The student, a 20-year-old white man with blonde hair and a “slight beard,” was arrested for possession of LSD, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. He was brought to the Second District police station for processing.

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Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015 10:53 p.m.

Swastikas reportedly drawn in International House

University police are investigating a report of three swastikas drawn on walls in International House last week.

Darrell Darnell, GW’s senior associate vice president for safety and security, said in a statement that the walls on the first floor of the residence hall have been repainted since UPD received the report Saturday.

Members of several fraternities and sororities are housed in the residence hall at 2201 Virginia Ave.

The University held a meeting with International House residents Wednesday to “discuss this disturbing incident.”

“The University does not tolerate actions that make any member of the GW community feel unsafe,” Darnell said. “The University offers clear mechanisms for reporting such behavior through GWPD and has policies in place to support a safe campus for all.”

Darnell added that staff members have spoken with students and parents about the incident to show GW’s “comprehensive response.”

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