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Friday, Sept. 19, 2014 6:09 p.m.

Shenkman Hall dedication honors trustee

Trustee Mark Shenkman gave $5 million to the University last spring, renaming Ivory Tower. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

GW renamed Ivory Tower after Mark Shenkman, a member of the Board of Trustees who gave $5 million to the University. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Henry Klapper.

The University dedicated the former Ivory Tower residence hall to Mark Shenkman on Friday, four months after he made a $5 million donation and GW renamed the hall after him.

Dozens attended the ceremony in the building’s courtyard, where University President Steven Knapp, Board of Trustees Chair Nelson Carbonell and Residence Hall Association President Ari Massefski all spoke.

Knapp also gave Shenkman a framed Shenkman Hall banner, a smaller version of the flag that hangs outside the residence hall, as a “small addition” to Shenkman’s flag collection.

Here are some of the highlights from the event:

1. Completing a “lifelong dream”

Shenkman said at the ceremony that he has always dreamed of having a building at GW named in his honor. He graduated in 1967 with a master of business administration degree from the GW School of Business.

“One of my lifelong objectives was repaying GW for accepting me and giving me my opportunity at my Wall Street career,” Shenkman said. He went on to start Shenkman Capital Management, a Wall Street wealth management firm, in 1985.

Mark Shenkman got his master's degree from GW in 1967. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Mark Shenkman earned his master’s degree from GW in 1967. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

“I can now check a box in my life accomplishments,” he said at the end of his speech.

Shenkman’s gift will go to the Career Services Center and career services in the business school.

2. An “inspiring example” to our students

Knapp said Shenkman’s ongoing commitment to the University serves as an “example of what it means to be an alumus to our students.”

His $5 million donation is the largest-ever gift from a sitting trustee. Shenkman also played a role in connecting billionaire philanthropist Michael Milken to GW. Milken and Sumner Redstone gave a combined $80 million to the public health school last spring, which prompted GW to name it the Milken Institute School of Public Health.

Carbonell said Shenkman is “quite a confidant,” who has given him advice about overseeing the Board of Trustees.

“He has a tremendous sense of pride in GW, in its history and connection to George Washington,” Carbonell said.

3. Making students proud

“Students will be proud to be able to say that they lived in Shenkman Hall,” Massefski said at the ceremony.

“Future generations will eat dinner, hang out in the lounges and probably meet their future husbands and wives in Shenkman Hall,” he said.

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Faculty and researchers will start moving into the Science and Engineering Hall this December. Hatchet file photo.

Faculty and researchers will start moving into the Science and Engineering Hall this December. Hatchet File Photo.

Updated: Sept. 19, 2014 at 5:39 p.m.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Genevieve Tarino.

When the Science and Engineering Hall opens in January, students will see one of the most high-tech academic spaces at GW to date, which was built with an eye toward sustainability.

Contractors who worked on the University’s most expensive academic development gave a presentation on the stages of completing the Science and Engineering Hall on Thursday, providing insight into some of the challenges behind the project.

Clark Construction, the project’s contractor, and Ballinger, the architect, worked on the building with a goal to reduce the hall’s carbon footprint by 8,100 metric tons each year. Typically, labs use more energy than classrooms.

The designers said sustainability was a focus throughout the design and construction process. The University has stated in the past that it hopes the the building will receive a Leadership in Energy and Environment Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Sustainability has become a major focus for GW in recent years, with five of campus’ newest buildings receiving a gold LEED ranking. The Milken Institute School of Public Health building received a platinum LEED certification this summer, the highest ranking possible.

Officials chose to use cutting-edge green technologies, including panels for solar energy and a rainwater cistern for toilets. The parking lot will also include electrical vehicle charging for hybrid cars.

The hall’s common areas will have features meant to cut down on air conditioning use, including a 25-foot ficus towering in the south side of building. Palm trees and green walls also dot the common areas, strategically placed to absorb the most sunlight.

Students will also be able to study in a structure that project architect Robert Voss called the “teaching tower,” as well as a large steel staircase on the building’s ground floor.

Only inches away from three GW residence halls, a Metro station and a main street, Clark Construction crew members were wary throughout the construction process. Because of the closeness to other buildings, the construction crew had to dismantle the pre-existing building nearly piece by piece instead of using a quicker method, such as using a wrecking ball.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that project architect Robert Voss called a structure in the Science and Engineering Hall the “teaching towner.” He called it the “teaching tower.” We regret this error.

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President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden called on colleges to step up their sexual assault response at a White House event Friday. Nicole Radivilov | Contributing Photo Editor

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden called on colleges to step up their sexual assault response at a White House event Friday. Nicole Radivilov | Contributing Photo Editor

Updated: Sept. 19, 2014 at 6:52 p.m.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden launched a nationwide campaign to prevent sexual assault on college campuses at the White House on Friday, surrounded by advocates, survivors and college administrators.

The initiative, called “It’s on Us,” is looking to support students, especially young men, who try to shape campus cultures that reject sexual violence, promote bystander intervention and support victims. It was created with the support of 200 colleges, the NCAA and the Center for American Progress’ Generation Progress.

GW administrators, including University President Steven Knapp and Athletic director Patrick Nero, went to the White House for the event. Here are some of the highlights.

Sexual assault survivor Lily Jay introduced Vice President Joe Biden at the event. Nicole Radivilov | Contributing Photo Editor

Sexual assault survivor Lily Jay introduced Vice President Joe Biden at the event. Nicole Radivilov | Contributing Photo Editor

1. Survivor voices can help shape response

Lily Jay, a sexual assault survivor, introduced Biden before he spoke. She had been raped during her first week of freshman year, and explained what she called the “terrible irony” of sexual assault activism as a survivor.

“Whether you’re thinking about it because you’re scared of the boy down the hall or because you’re meeting with the college president, recalling rape always hurts,” she said. “Using your experience to protect others from rape is so empowering and so important but it also tethers you to your pain.”

2. Society asks the “wrong question”

Biden said sexual assaults will continue to occur as long as people blame victims for the attacks.

“Our culture asks the wrong question. Never is it appropriate to ask ‘What did I do?’ The question is ‘Why was that done to me, and will someone do something about it?’” Biden said.

“The mark of success would be when not a single woman blames herself and every man in America understands there’s no circumstance at all except self-defense when it he has a right to raise a hand on a woman. None. Zero,” he said.

3. Men should be part of the conversation – and the culture shift

Biden also called on men to push for change and prevent assault.

“To the guys out there: Step up. Be responsible. Intervene. You have an obligation to make a pariah of those on campus who abuse others. That’s how we can change this culture,” Biden said.

Biden is leading the White House’s task force on sexual assault. Last spring, the group released a set of recommendations for handling assault on campus. GW already meets many of the benchmarks, like conducting an anonymous campus climate survey.

4. Schools are stepping up

Student leaders at 200 colleges and universities have already signed the “It’s On Us” pledge, promising to focus on sexual assault prevention on their campuses. Student Association President Nick Gumas, who also attended the campaign launch, signed the pledge last week.

In his speech, Obama highlighted the efforts of the Department of Education, which is investigating more than 70 schools for their response to sexual assault. GW is not on that list.

He said schools that have mishandled sexual assault cases serve as examples of administrators “fumbling” and “dropping the ball.”

“When you read some accounts you think, ‘What were they thinking?’” Obama said.

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D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray announced legislation to accompany the striking down of D.C.'s handgun ban Wednesday. Samuel Klein | Senior Photo Editor

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray announced legislation Wednesday to accompany the striking down of D.C.’s handgun ban. Samuel Klein | Senior Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Robert Evans

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray announced legislation on Wednesday that could make concealed handgun permits a reality in certain parts of the District.

Gray, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Councilmember Tommy Wells announced the “License to Carry a Pistol Emergency Amendment Act of 2014” after a federal judge struck down D.C.’s handgun ban in July.

D.C. Council will consider the legislation on Sept. 23, and the provisions could go into effect as early as Oct. 22.

Here are the three biggest takeaways from Wednesday’s press conference.

1. Personal responsibility

Mendelson highlighted the amendment’s focus on a more extensive gun safety and handling training programs for both District residents and non-residents, who can also get a license to carry in D.C. if they meet the same standards as residents.

Those who have been previously diagnosed with a mental illness or condition will not be eligible for a license, and if a person is found to be intoxicated while carrying a gun, they will face criminal and civil penalties, the legislation says.

“The responsibility lays on the person who holds the gun,” Mendelson said.

2. Wells: “We don’t know if we want to be the poster child of gun laws in America.”

Wells said that the program models those of states like New York, New Jersey, and Maryland, which have adopted similar policies.

“There’s no reason why we can’t complete the process before the council period, and move from the emergency to the permanent legislation,” he said. “We will move quickly, and I believe we will move smartly.”

The bill will create a five-member Concealed Pistol Licensing Review Board appointed by the mayor to review any denial of an application for a concealed-carry license.

3. No guns in the House

It is “paramount,” the press release said, to keep the areas around government buildings, like Congress, gun-free and  public officials will not allow people to carry concealed weapons in certain areas.

Mayor Gray said he was aggravated with the forced loosening of D.C. gun laws a year after the Washington Navy Yard shooting, which left 12 people dead and eight more injured.

“It’s my view that the District needs less guns, not more guns,” Gray said. “We will continue to work together as a government, not only to uphold the law, but also do the best job as we can to preserve safety here in the District of Columbia.”

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This is the first episode of “Page Nine,” a web series delving into The Hatchet’s most compelling stories. We’ll interview a Hatchet writer every week to flesh out one of the top stories from our print edition.

This week, The Hatchet interviewed Colleen Murphy, a news editor who wrote about the University’s efforts to involve alumni in its campaign to raise $1 billion for academics, construction projects and student programs by 2018.

This is a new project, so leave some comments with your feedback, and we’ll see you next week.

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Metropolitan Chief of Police Cathy Lanier speaks about the tactical response to the Navy Yard shooting one year ago. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Metropolitan Chief of Police Cathy Lanier speaks about the tactical response to the Navy Yard shooting one year ago. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Benjamin Kershner. 

Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier spoke at GW Wednesday to discuss the police department’s response the Navy Yard shooting.

Speaking a day after the one year anniversary of the shooting that claimed the lives of 12 people, Lanier walked nearly 50 members of D.C.’s emergency response community through MPD’s response to the crisis.

The D.C. police chief took a critical look at the response, pointing out flaws in the response and how MPD has corrected those shortcomings.

Here are top five takeaway’s from Lanier’s presentation.

1. Communication is key

With dozens of federal and local agencies in D.C., The Navy Yard shooting tested the District’s inter-agency communication. And the city failed that test, Lanier said.

Hundreds of law enforcement personnel responded to the scene of the mass shooting and Lanier said the lack of communication between the agencies resulted in a “coordination nightmare.”

“Improving the communication between the different agencies has been a priority of mine since becoming Chief of MPD, but the Navy Yard incident made it a priority for everyone,” Lanier said.

2. Boosted training

But the mayhem started with the city’s dispatchers who had not been trained to respond to active shooter situations, Lanier said.

The first MPD units thought they were headed to the scene of a homicide, not an active shooting, Lanier said.

“The dispatcher did not realize that this was an active shooter partly because we had never pulled our dispatchers in and trained them with our police officers on active shooter situations,” Lanier said. “That is one of the things that we do now.”

3. An update in systems

And once on the scene, MPD officers couldn’t figure out which building the shooter was in because the dispatch system’s GPS didn’t detail the base’s roads and buildings.

Once MPD officials arrived, they had trouble getting through the gates and onto the base. All entrances and exits are manned by security guards, and many left their posts and no one was there to let the squad cars through the gates.

“We have now gone around to every closed campus in D.C., places like military bases, business complexes, universities, and we have updated our system accordingly in order to properly reflect the streets and building locations within all closed campuses,” Lanier said.

4. A “tactical nightmare”

Lanier described Building 197, where the shooting occurred, as a “tactical nightmare.”

Officers met a maze of cubicles once they got into the building, which is over 600,000 square feet. To make matters worse, the building’s concrete and steel structure scrambled officers’ radio transmissions.

Lanier added that MPD’s unfamiliarity with the basis also hindered the response.

“We had this image that everyone inside a military base was armed. The reality is about 12 people inside the entire base had guns,”Lanier said, according to a GW Today article.

5. Remembering those who passed

In his one hour and nine minute rampage, Aaron Alexis claimed the lives of 12 people and wounded several others, including  MPD officers who confronted Alexis at the base.

The day after the shooting’s one-year anniversary, Lanier reminded her audience to “never forget those we lost and to continue to honor their memories.”

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Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014 9:53 a.m.

Highlights from Bid Day 2014

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Ryan Lasker.

Updated: Sept. 18, 2014 at 10:04 a.m.

Sororities celebrated the end of recruitment Monday on the National Mall, cheering as their new members rushed towards their chapters on Bid Day. Current sisters decked themselves out in matching colorful outfits and chanted their chapters’ songs.

Here’s what you missed at Bid Day this year:

1. Relief at the end of recruitment

After a weekend of recruitment, each new sorority member picked up their bids Tuesday afternoon before meeting their new sorority in University Yard. The new members screamed as they met other students in their sorority and learned the organization’s chants and songs.

Mia Svirsky, a freshman who joined Alpha Phi, said though food should have been given out over recruitment weekend, she “could not be happier” with her bid.

“They worked really hard to impress us,” she said.

Alex Roberts and Katherine Hurrell, two sisters part of Alpha Delta Pi, celebrate new members for Bid Day on the National Mall today. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

Alex Roberts and Katherine Hurrell, two sisters part of Alpha Delta Pi, celebrate new members for Bid Day on the National Mall today. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

2. Loud cheering and equally loud outfits

Hundreds of Greek life members walked from University Yard to the lawn of the Lincoln Memorial, wearing coordinating shirts. Sisters wore sorority T-shirts, feather boas, Hawaiian leis, flower crowns and carried sparkly signs welcoming each new member.

Members of Chi Omega, while walking from University Yard to a lawn next to the Lincoln Memorial, chanted “Chi! Omega! Chi! Chi! Omega!,” as they crossed their arms over their heads, a signature move for the sorority.

Colleen Quinn, a freshman who joined Alpha Delta Pi, said joining Greek life at GW was an opportunity to make the school feel more comfortable.

“GW is new and scary, and Greek life was smaller and an easier way to meet people,” Quinn said.

3. Revealing the Pi Rho Chis

Pi Rho Chis, a group of sorority members who guide new members through the recruitment process, kept their sorority affiliation secret until Tuesday. On the National Mall, surrounded by hundreds of yelling and screaming members, the Pi Rho Chis peeled off their sweatshirts before running to formally introduce themselves to their new sisters.

Pi Rho Chi and senior Alex Hitchcock said part of her job on Bid Day was to teach the new member their sorority chants and hand signs – two key parts to blending in with a Greek organization.

“There will be a lot of us to help them,” she said.

Sisters of Alpha Phi add to the excitement as the sororities wait to welcome new members. Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Sisters of Alpha Phi add to the excitement as the sororities wait to welcome new members. Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

4. Joining the family

In addition to making new members feel welcome, Bid Day is also an exciting time for current sorority members. Greek members make up about 30 percent of the undergraduate community, a number that has swelled over the last decade.

“It’s like a manifestation, in like 10 minutes, of how excited you are that all of them are your future sisters,” said Lucy Macintosh, a junior in Sigma Kappa.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Bid Day occurred on Monday. Bid Day was on Tuesday. We regret this error.

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Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014 8:15 p.m.

Georgetown student dies of apparent meningitis

A Georgetown University student died of “apparent meningitis” on Tuesday, the university told the Washington Post.

Andrea Jaime, a nursing student at the school, was receiving treatment at the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

“We are awaiting test results to confirm the exact cause,” Todd Olson, the university’s vice president for student affairs, wrote in an email to the Georgetown community, the Post reported.

“Proper medical precautions have been taken and members of the campus community do not need to take additional action at this time,” Olson wrote.

The disease can be transmitted through prolonged close contact and can cause brain damage and blood infection if not treated immediately.

Symptoms include a sudden high fever, severe headache and nausea, according to Mayo Clinic.

A GW student died of meningitis in 2011.

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Mayor Vincent Gray testified on Capitol Hill on Monday, calling for D.C. statehood. Samuel Klein | Senior Photo Editor

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C. and Mayor Vincent Gray testified on Capitol Hill on Monday, calling for D.C. statehood. Samuel Klein | Senior Photo Editor

Updated: Sept. 16, 2014 at 4:04 p.m.

The long battle for D.C. statehood made progress Monday, though the historic moment was touched by some cynicism.

The U.S. Senate held its first hearing in more than 20 years on D.C. statehood on Monday. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C. and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson testified at the hearing, led by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who advocated for D.C  to become the nation’s 51st state.

Here are four key takeaways from the hearing.

1. “Not just a collection of government offices, monuments and museums”

Carper, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is sponsoring the bill that proposes D.C. become a state called New Columbia. He praised the vitality of D.C., and said the hearing was a way to “restart an old conversation.”

“This may not be the last chapter, but it attempts to right a wrong that should have been righted by now,” he said.

Carper argued that D.C., with more than 650,000 residents, should have representatives in Congress with the power to vote.

2. “No chance of success”

Coburn, the only other senator at the hearing, was more pessimistic of D.C.’s chances.

“Here we are again debating this issue, even though it has no chance of success,” he said.

Coburn pointed to past presidencies, such as Ronald Reagan’s administration, which found that several legal challenges would come with granting D.C. statehood.

3. D.C. is an “anomaly”

Norton, D.C.’s non-voting representative in Congress, was the first witness to speak during the panel, and argued that only statehood would allow her to fully represent the city’s residents.

She pointed to moments when she said she “felt” D.C. needed statehood, including when veterans from the District came home from Afghanistan and Iraq. She said they had fought for the democratic voting rights of citizens there, but they “came home without the same rights.”

“I feel it when the bell rings and I cannot vote on behalf of the residents,” she said.

4. Gray: “We were casualties of national politics.”

Gray spoke about the problems he saw with Congressional oversight of D.C. government. He cited the federal government shutdown last October, which prompted Gray to declare all D.C. government employees “essential.”

Gray added that under the New Columbia Admission Act, Congress would not have control over the District’s budget.

“We’re asking for the same treatment that all Americans get,” he said.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the federal government shutdown last year forced D.C. agencies to close. The city actually used reserve funds during the shutdown to keep agencies running. We regret this error.

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Faculty and researchers will start moving into the Science and Engineering Hall this December. Hatchet file photo.

Faculty and researchers will start moving into the Science and Engineering Hall this December. Hatchet File Photo.

Faculty will start moving into the Science and Engineering Hall this December, about a month earlier than expected, the University announced Monday.

The $275 million hall will begin holding classes next spring, with guidance from the building’s manager, Alex Weller. She’ll be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day activities in research labs, classrooms and a basement aquatic suite.

“The design team met with researchers, faculty and staff during the design process to make sure that the facility meets their needs, and it is truly a collaborative environment,” Weller said in a release. “I am excited to manage operations and become a part of what the university is doing academically through research.”

The announcement comes after an attorney for Clark Construction raised concerns that the project would be delayed in July, when a subcontractor that Clark hired to complete electrical work filed for bankruptcy.

Construction for the building, located at 21st and H streets, began in 2011. It’s the University’s largest academic commitment in recent history.

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