News and Analysis

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Katherine Boo talked at a Women's Leadership Symposium. Ashley Le | Hatchet Photographer

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Katherine Boo talked at a Women’s Leadership Symposium. Ashley Le | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporters Hanna Willwerth and Tanvi Banerjee

Katherine Boo, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and investigative journalist, talked with members of GW’s Women’s Leadership Program on Thursday night in Post Hall about becoming leaders and addressing tough issues like poverty and inequality.

Boo spoke to a captivated audience about her recent book, “The Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity.” The book follows the lives of several locals as they navigate the Mumbai’s Annawadi slum. Members of the Women’s Leadership Program read the book over the summer.

Shelly Heller, the director of the Women’s Leadership Program, said Boo was a good example to students for how to break barriers as a female leader.

“She took a very strong leadership role to go ahead and engage inside this community, after all she is a white Anglo-Saxon woman engaging in the environment and it takes a certain amount of leadership to do that,” Heller said.

Here are some of the main points that Boo covered during the symposium:

1. Global capital in Mumbai

Boo argued that globalization of capitalism has resulted in global exploitation. She said that multinational businesses, for example, exploit developing countries for their markets and cheap labor, which leads to poverty, inequality and corruption.

She highlighted the societal divides in Mumbai, a city that had more billionaires than Los Angeles in 2008, but also has the Annawadi slum, where only six in every 3,000 people have jobs.

“Everything around us is roses and we’re the shit in between,” Boo said, quoting an Annawadi slum dweller.

She said capitalism can create a cycle of poverty through an environment where everyone must compete against each other for scarce jobs. Higher income communities often despise and try to hide these communities, she said.

“Our advantage comes from fact that so many people have been unfairly disqualified from the competition,” Boo said.

2. What she learned

Boo said that despite their desperate situation, many of Annawadi’s younger inhabitants were resilient and optimistic about their futures. She said that writing the book helped their voices be heard, and she encouraged young people in Annawadi to challenge and investigate corruption on their own.

In one incident, a boy badly beaten by a police officer came to her with the officer’s name and told her to include it in the book. Boo also described a young garbage collector who, in a society where it paid to be selfish, stuck to his convictions.

“They’re going to confound stereotypes if you give them half a chance,” she said.

3. How can we help?

In the question-and-answer session that followed, Boo encouraged students to go out into the world, find a place where they can contribute to the society and ask themselves, “Is my curiosity greater than my fear?”

She stressed the need to address the structural cause of poverty and corruption, saying that unless people recognize the urgency of these problems, they will never be fixed.

Finally, Boo spoke about the importance of recognizing privilege and connecting to other people.

“Empathy is a muscle, the more you can use it the more you can do with it,” Boo said.

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Delta Gamma’s national organization voted to close its GW chapter on Sept 30.

The announcement comes just days before Panhellenic Association recruitment begins. Delta Gamma is the third chapter to close on campus since January 2014. The sorority had lost its University townhouse last January for hazing members, hosting unregistered social events with alcohol and supplying alcohol to minors, according to GW’s student organization sanction website.

Stacia Rudge Skoog, the national Delta Gamma fraternity president, said in a statement that officials at the chapter’s national organization “had no choice but to act quickly and decisively.”

“The high-risk culture, multiple violations and lack of adherence to our Constitution and our policies, along with dangerous and poor decision making, led us to this point,” Skoog said.

In recent months, members of the chapter “have been involved in activities that do not align with the values and standards of Delta Gamma. After high levels of intervention, the decision was made to suspend the charter,” according to a release from Delta Gamma’s national organization.

The chapter has changed its name on its Facebook page to “GW Hot Dam.”

The chapter is still included on GW’s Panhellenic Association website, as well as on OrgSync.

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Dean Rueben E. Brigety II laid out his plans for the Elliott School of International Affairs Thursday. Paige James | Hatchet Photographer

Dean Rueben E. Brigety II laid out his plans for the Elliott School of International Affairs Thursday. Paige James | Hatchet Photographer

When it comes to strengthening international affairs education, Reuben E. Brigety II is starting with the man in the mirror at his new task at hand – leading the Elliott School of International Affairs.

Brigety spoke to faculty, administrators and students Thursday, his first official day on the job as dean. The former U.S. representative to the African Union was hired in August.

Here are the main takeaways of Brigety’s vision for the future of the Elliott School:

1. Building leaders for the world

Brigety started the event by showing the music video of Michael Jackson’s hit song “Man in the Mirror,” saying the specific crises shown in the video have changed since its creation in 1987, but the world still needs leaders to solve international problems.

“What the daunting challenges of today have in common with those seemingly impossible challenges of the past, is that their resolutions require leaders,” he said. “Leaders who have knowledge, leaders with skills, leaders with character. And that is why we are here to build leaders. To build leaders for the world.”

Brigety said he will take an already high-ranked international affairs school and “place it firmly” among the most elite institutions by asking those in the school to work together even more than they already are doing.

2. Taking a STEP forward

Brigety said his goals for his tenure as dean of the Elliott School are to be as “collaborative and transparent as possible” by focusing on STEP: scholarship, teaching, ethics and practice.

He promised to promote scholarship in the school by providing resources for tenured and non-tenured faculty to achieve success in their research, and acquire scholarship grants.

Brigety recognized research as important to the Elliott School, but its “heart and its soul” lies in its students, which is why he will emphasize quality teaching. He said he encourages faculty to meet with students outside of class, like he did when he was a professor at George Mason and American universities.

“I regularly met students for music and coffee in sessions I called ‘jazz with Dr. B,’” Brigety said. “I hope to institute similar sessions here on Foggy Bottom, so students, be on the lookout for ‘jazz with Dean B.’”

He also plans to strengthen the application of ethics to international affairs during his tenure, so students can not only know about relations with other countries, but also how best to create those relationships.

3. Remembering names

“How do you plan to remember all these people’s names?” Brigety’s son asked during a question and answer session.

Brigety said his priority, especially at the beginning of his tenure this fall, is to get to know and collaborate with as many stakeholders in the Elliott School as possible.

He has already set up a series of meetings over the next month to get to know faculty and students, and even has a coffee date planned for Thursday afternoon with a dozen students.

Brigety is also scheduled to travel internationally in November to meet with donors and potential students.

4. A future in Africa

Brigety promised in increased concentration on African affairs in the school by creating an institute for African studies, an area that faculty have said needs attention.

“By the time it’s done, it will be the place, certainly in Washington, if not in the country to do African-related policy and research. That’s how strongly I feel about it,” Brigety said.

He said he’s open to debate on who will lead the program and the specifics of what the program will be, but he wants to get it under way “sooner rather than later.”

Brigety served as the U.S. representative to the African Union and also worked as a deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of African Affairs and in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. He said a knowledge of Africa is essential for anyone working in international affairs today.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Joanna Lynch.

A serial killer who was convicted of murdering two former GW students in the 1980s is scheduled for execution by the state of Virginia Thursday eventing, FOX 5 reported.

Alfredo Prieto has been on death row since 2010, and was already there for allegedly murdering a 15-year-old girl by the time DNA evidence linked him to the murders of the students, Rachael Raver and Warren Fulton, according to FOX 5. In December 1988, Prieto allegedly abducted the pair outside a bar and then shot them in a field in Virginia. They were both 22 at the time of their death.

Prosecutors believe Prieto committed more than nine murders, including the rape and murder of a woman in Arlington, Va. in 1988 and the murder of a man from Prince William County.

Ray Morrogh, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s attorney, helped prosecute Prieto and will be in the chamber during Prieto’s execution, according to FOX 5. He called Prieto a “monster.”

“I was well aware that Mr. Prieto in fact has no conscience and could care less about anyone’s life, especially women,” Morrogh told FOX 5. “He used his victims like Kleenexes, raped and murdered three different women, all of whom were innocent – one of whom was 15 years old.”

Fulton was the captain of GW’s baseball team at the time of his death and Raver was headed to law school, according to Fox 5.

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Updated: Oct. 2, 2015 at 11:09 a.m.

This post was written by Hatchet reporters Sadie Ruben and Liam Wash

GW’s Students for Recovery celebrated the end of National Recovery Month with a talk from an MTV star and other leaders in substance abuse recovery.

Jason Wahler, known for his role in the MTV series’ “Laguna Beach” and “The Hills,” spoke to guests to discuss his road to recovery from addiction and how he is now helping other addicts.

Wahler said that anyone can suffer from addiction to alcohol and drugs.

Former MTV star Jason Wahler spoke on campus Wednesday evening as part of an event held by GW Students for Recovery, Recovery Bash. Ashley Le | Hatchet Photographer

Former MTV star Jason Wahler spoke on campus Wednesday evening as part of an event held by GW Students for Recovery, Recovery Bash. Ashley Le | Hatchet Photographer

“The media and society overall think it’s the guys in jail, it’s the guys under the bridge, it’s the homeless people, it’s the tweaker kids, and in reality it’s who you trust your kid with the most, like teachers, CEO’s, policeman, the librarian,” Wahler said. He added that addiction is “anything you can think of and is in every organization.”

Here are four takeaways from Wahler’s talk:

1. Hitting rock-bottom leads to recovery

In his opening statement, Wahler said that being alive today is a “miracle.”

When he was being paid as a 17-year-old to go to nightclubs and party for his role on MTV, he ended up with an alcohol addiction. He said that this addiction “caused the wedge” in his highly publicized relationship with fellow “Laguna Beach” cast member, Lauren Conrad. Over this time, Wahler was feeling the effects of his addiction.

“I was so miserable, so sick and so uncomfortable in my own skin,” Wahler said.

By the time he was 22, Wahler was arrested nine times, in jail for more than 200 days, hospitalized six times and admitted into seven rehabilitation centers. Soon after, he attempted suicide, which he said was his “rock bottom.”

2. You need motivation to move on

In order to officially break his addiction cycle, Wahler says he used his parents as motivation. After hitting his lowest point, he met with his parents and his therapist. He said that was where “the transformation happened.”

“I had never seen my dad break down,” Wahler said, adding that his father said, ‘I don’t know what to do anymore, Mom and I wait in bed every night like two planks of wood waiting for the phone call that you’re dead.’

After the visit, Wahler found the inspiration to attend another treatment center in Florida. He has been sober since July 23, 2010.

3. Awareness is key

After he became sober, Wahler started dedicating his life to creating awareness about the disease and became a staff member at Origins Behavioral Health and Widespread Recovery, a sober living home in Laguna Beach, Calif.

“I never thought I’d work in the industry of recovery, and it’s the biggest blessing that’s ever happened to me,” Wahler said.

Tom Coderre, a senior adviser at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, applauded Wahler, saying there are a lot of celebrities who are struggling with addiction and recover “but they don’t choose to do what you’re doing.”

“You can see addiction 24/7, you can’t always see recovery, so the fact that you’re putting it in the mainstream is really tremendous,” Coderre said.

4. GW can help combat an ‘addiction crisis’

Ivana Grahovac, the executive director at Transforming Youth Recovery, said that it is important for people going through recovery to be visual and vocal, adding that universities should have “love, service, accountability and academic integrity” on their campuses.

Students for Recovery has grown since its inception in 2012, holding weekly meetings and opening their Serenity Shack on campus.

Coderre said that GW programs are “providing an alternative way of living that is not available on a lot of college campuses today.”

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly spelled Ivana Grahovac’s name. We regret this error.

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Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 4:24 p.m.

Burglaries dropped 70 percent last year

The number of burglaries on the Foggy Bottom campus dropped 70 percent between 2014 and 2013, according to new crime data.

Disciplinary action for drug and alcohol violations also decreased in the time frame, according to the data released in GW’s annual security report. The data, which the University Police Department releases each fall for the previous year, gives a comprehensive look at crime across GW’s three campuses.

Eleven on-campus burglaries in Foggy Bottom were reported to UPD in 2014, down from 37 burglaries the year before. On-campus burglaries doubled between 2012 and 2013. No burglaries have been reported on the Mount Vernon Campus since 2012, according to the report.

The data in the security report does not necessarily reflect every incident included in GW’s crime log, since GW must meet different criteria for including an incident in the annual report.

Five on-campus rapes were reported to UPD in 2014, the highest total in the last three years, according to the data. Twelve rapes in residence halls were reported to non-police, which could include the University’s Sexual Assault Response Consultative Team, a group of trained administrators and staff who work with survivors.

GW defines rape as “the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

One rape was reported directly to the Metropolitan Police Department for the first time since 2012. Sexual assault is one of the only crimes where survivors can decide whether or not to report their attacks to police. All incidents reported to GW must be included in its crime log, under the Clery Act, a federal law that standardizes the process for colleges to report crime.

There were 15 reports of fondling on-campus or on public property in 2014, almost triple the number from 2013, according to the report. Six incidents of fondling – touching another person’s private body parts for sexual gratification without their consent – were reported in residence halls last year, with two incidents reported to non-police.

UPD Chief RaShall Brackney said in a University release that the report also updates the number of sexual assaults in 2013 from 21 to 25, the same number reported in 2014, to reflect incidents that happened between a boyfriend and girlfriend in 2011.

There was also a drop in the number of times the University took disciplinary action against students for alcohol and drug violations. About 200 students were referred to Student Rights and Responsibilities for a drug violation last year, down about 24 percent from 2013.

About 150 students were referred for an alcohol violation, a 64 percent drop from the 2013. Last fall, Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell said UPD officers were actively seeking out students who had been drinking, which led to an increase in violations that year. Alcohol violations dropped by half for the first two weekends of this school year.

“We would like to think it’s a combination of proactive efforts—that there’s messaging around alcohol and our low tolerance for underage drinking,” Brackney said in the release. “Between public service announcements and awareness campaigns and Colonial Inauguration, we are very proactive at discouraging those types of behaviors.”

There were stalking incidents on the Mount Vernon Campus last year, with no reported incidents there in 2013, according to the data. Ten cases of on-campus stalking on Foggy Bottom were reported to UPD.

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Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015 10:06 p.m.

Local AIDS research launches with seminar series

This month the District of Columbia Center for AIDS Research, also known as DC CFAR, celebrated their launch with the first speech of their “City-Wide Seminar” series.

Anthony Fauci was the first featured speaker with his seminar “Ending the HIV/AIDS Pandemic: An Achievable Goal.” He currently serves as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci was also an honorary degree recipient at Commencement last spring.

“The DC CFAR is going to play a major role in what I am absolutely certain is an achievable goal, and that is the ending of the AIDS epidemic in Washington, D.C.,” Fauci said.

The DC CFAR is the first of its kind in D.C. About 680 new HIV cases were diagnosed in 2014, according to the D.C. Department of Health.

Video by Blair Guild

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Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015 9:11 p.m.

D.C. hits federal requirement for air quality

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Henry Klapper.

The D.C. area now meets federal standards for the amount of ground-level ozone in the air, the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments announced Tuesday.

The Washington Metropolitan COG, a regional association of cities and municipalities, said this past summer was one of the lowest for ozone pollution in the area, marking a downward trend in the area’s overall air pollution. The COG said this finally puts the District in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2008 Ozone Standard for days exceeding unsafe levels of pollutants.

Only five days this past summer exceeded the EPA’s Ozone Standard at more than 75 parts per billion. Since 1997 and up until 2009, at least 20 days during the summer exceeded the standard. The highest day scientists recorded was in 1998 when the city saw 67 unsafe pollutant days, the release said.

Metropolitan Air Quality Committee Chairman David Snyder said in the release that it’s “a major achievement that will protect the health of our region’s residents including those that are most sensitive.”

High levels of ground-level ozone can cause serious health problems to people like the elderly, young children and those with respiratory or heart conditions. The colorless gas is created when air pollutants react during hot weather.

Snyder added in the release that the milestone of environmental progress is “a testament to more than a decade of actions at the federal, state and local government levels.”

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Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015 10:45 a.m.

GW adds 2016 fall break

GW students will have a fall break in 2016, according to the academic calendar.

GW added the break, Oct. 24 to Oct. 25, 2016, to the academic calendar Tuesday morning. Student Association Sen. Thomas Falcigno, CCAS-U, who has helped to lead the push for the break, said the University approved the addition of a fall break to the academic calendar last week.

The change comes after nearly a year of discussion in the Student Association Senate. Falcigno said he and Sen. Alyssa Weakley, SoB-U, researched schools similar to GW and discovered that many of them included fall breaks in their calendars.

“We also found that there’s an uptick of people who visit [counseling services] in October,” Falcigno said. “It’s good for mental health, it’s an opportunity to go home and rest if possible.”

Falcigno added that he and Weakley were part of the University group which creates the calendar, which also includes representatives from the Office of the Registrar, the Center for Student Engagement and some faculty. He said this was the first time in recent memory that students were part of the committee.

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Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015 10:25 a.m.

Class of 1965 wins donation challenge

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Brigid Godfrey.

With 18 percent partiticaption, the Class of 1965 donated the most to the University in a two-day fundraising blitz, according to a University release.

In honor of Alumni Weekend, an anonymous donor offered to give $25,000 to the University in honor of the class whose members donated the most during the weekend. Eleven classes competed for the added donation. The release does not say how much GW received overall during Alumni Weekend.

Jeremy Gosbee, the president of the Alumni Association, said he wasn’t shocked by the class’ victory.

“It’s not a big surprise that the class of 1965 ended up winning. The 50th anniversary is sort of a milestone reunion for our alumni,” Gosbee said in an interview. “We usually see more participation in the reunion itself with the 50th anniversary class.”

The Class of 1965 was followed closely by the Class of 2014, with 14 percent of its students donating. Gosbee said the Senior Class Gift Campaign, which raised nearly $130,000 last academic year, has gotten the students in the swing of donating.

“The Senior Class Gift program has been growing year after year over the past several years, and so I’m excited to see that people who just recently graduated and most likely participated in the Senior Class Gift continue to give to the University, that’s a really positive sign for the future,” Gosbee said.

Experts have said that the Senior Class Gift campaign, whose participation rate goal increased to 62 percent of students this year, helps students understand the benefits of giving back to the University. The campaign is part of a push from fundraising officials to engage current students and young alumni in fundraising.

The fundraising challenge during Alumni Weekend will bring GW closer to its $1 billion goal, which University President Steven Knapp said last week has raised more than $800 million.

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