Newsroom

News and Analysis

Friday, Oct. 31, 2014 3:50 p.m.

UPD chief to step down in two weeks

University Police Chief Kevin Hay is retiring on Nov. 14 after four years at the helm of the police force.

University Police Department Chief Kevin Hay is retiring Nov. 14 after four years at the helm of the campus police force. Hatchet File Photo

Updated: Oct. 31, 2014 at 4:51 p.m.

University Police Department Chief Kevin Hay announced Friday that he will retire in two weeks.

Hay, who has overseen GW’s police force since 2010, will leave the department Nov. 14, according to a release. Assistant Chief Frank Demes will serve as acting chief until the University chooses a replacement.

“After 31 years in law enforcement, I have decided to retire from police work and spend some time with my family in North Carolina, back where I started my career,” Hay said in the release.

His retirement comes about a month before accreditors plan to visit campus and review the department’s procedures, training programs and interactions with the public.

The head of the accrediting body said earlier this month that three discrimination complaints recently brought against UPD, if they reflect a larger problem, could impact the department’s accreditation. The force will know if it has earned the accrediting agency’s stamp of approval by early spring.

Since 2010, at least five GW police officers have filed complaints against the department for gender, race or age discrimination. The three most recent complaints have come in the last about seven months.

Before Hay arrived on campus to serve as UPD chief, he worked for the U.S. Park Police for 26 years.

He has led GW’s police department of over 100 sworn officers, who serve the Foggy Bottom, Mount Vernon and Virginia Science and Technology campuses. Between his UPD and the Park Police careers, he has received more than 100 honors for his police work.

Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell thanked the police chief for his “years of service to the University” in the release, and said the search for Hay’s replacement will begin immediately.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Council member Jack Evans hears testimony on marijuana legalization in D.C.  Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

Council member Jack Evans hears testimony on marijuana legalization in D.C.
Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Regina Park. 

D.C. voters haven’t decided whether they will back legalizing marijuana at the polls next week, but D.C. Council held a joint public hearing to plan out its potential roll out.

Planning how to legalize the use and possession of up to two ounces of marijuana in a city would need a lot of collaboration across departments and organizations, Council members said. The Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and the Committee on Finance and Revenue heard opinions about the consequences of legalizing the drug through the ballot referendum.

Council member Jack Evans, who represents Foggy Bottom, and Council member Vincent Orange led the hearing, which heard from policy makers, marijuana activists and other Council members. Here are the three biggest takeaways from the hearing.

1. A potentially complex roll out

Most of the hearing focused on the details of how marijuana legalization would be implemented in D.C. if the measure were to pass on Election Day.

Council members and experts discussed whether marijuana would be taxed at the same rate as alcohol in D.C., and Orange asked if the packaging and sale of the drug would also reflect the policies in place for alcohol.

The hearing also focused on the policies other states that have legalized marijuana have dealt with the rollout of the law.

“Marijuana legalization is a policy that has become very popular among policy makers.” Robert J. Capecchi, Deputy Director of State Policies of the Marijuana Policy Project, said. “A vast majority of the states are considering legalization of marijuana.”

2. Extra income for the city

The marijuana market in D.C. would be a $130 million industry, according to The Washington Post. If marijuana is legalized, Evans said the taxes levied from marijuana could add some surplus cash to the state budget.

“Taxes on marijuana could be nearly $20 million a year.” Evans said.

Malik Burnett, policy manager of the Drug Policy Alliance, said the money should aid development in the largely African American neighborhoods hit hardest by marijuana arrests.

“Nine out of ten people arrested for possession of marijuana were African Americans,” he said.

3. The effect on youth

Some Council members like Orange, who chairs the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, voiced concern over whether legalization would send the message that marijuana use was not harmful to those under 21.

“Can we legalize marijuana without sending the message to youths that it’s risk-free?” he said.

Orange also said there are still harmful health effects for those using marijuana, citing a weakened immune systems and memory loss.

Council member At-Large David Grosso, who sponsored the referendum, countered and said the city could use the revenue gained from taxes on the drug to fund education programs about the negative impacts of marijuana.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Eric Estroff, president of Sigma Chi, helped bring in $84,000 during the chapter's philanthropy. Hatchet File Photo by Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Eric Estroff, the president of Sigma Chi, helped raise $84,000 with his chapter. Hatchet File Photo by Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Henry Klapper.

Sigma Chi raised a record-breaking $84,000 during the chapter’s Derby Days philanthropy, which wrapped up Tuesday.

That total is $3,000 more than what the chapter brought in last year, which was at the time the largest amount ever raised by a Greek organization. The money will go to the Huntsman Cancer Institute, said Eric Estroff, the president of the chapter.

The philanthropy, to which the chapter dedicates a week every year like all other Greek organizations on campus, included pledge drives, apparel sales and about a dozen corporate sponsorships with companies like D.C. United and Zipcar, which donated a car to the fraternity for the week. Sigma Chi also hosted fundraisers with Chick-fil-A and Chipotle.

The group created several videos so members of the Greek community could share their personal experiences with cancer and to raise awareness of the philanthropy and cancer research. Estroff said his aunt survived breast cancer, and called the week “really emotional.”

“Cancer is one of those things that touches our lives very personally. This year, it was very close to my heart,” Estroff said.

One of the most successful activities during the philanthropy was a brother auction, in which sorority members could vote for fraternity brothers to take them on outings like lunches, apple picking trips or tours of the Capitol.

Estroff said the chapter set a goal of $100,000 for Derby Days this year, and plans to land more corporate sponsorships in the coming months to make up the difference.

Many sororities also joined in Derby Days, contributing a total of about $20,000, Estroff said.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Campus staple Captain Cookie and the Milkman raised $1,300 on Wednesday for the junior who survived a suicide attempt earlier this month.

All proceeds from the event will go to the GoFundMe campaign for Emily Thompson, who worked at the food truck for the last several months.

The fundraiser was affiliated with the GW chapter of the National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association. Thompson is the group’s vice president.

The crowdfunding campaign, which Thompson’s brother started, is raising money for her medical bills, including the costs of rehabilitation and therapy.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Monday, Oct. 27, 2014 7:16 p.m.

Page Nine: Go Fund… My college tuition?

This week, we sat down with news editor Mary Ellen McIntire to talk about a graduate student who is hoping a GoFundMe page will help her pay off the more than $4,500 she owes GW.

Experts say crowdfunding is still a pretty uncommon way to pay for college, McIntire explains, and campaigns are most successful when a student has a touching story to tell.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Campus favorite Captain Cookie will hold a fundraiser for the junior who survived a suicide attempt this month. Hatchet File Photo

Campus favorite Captain Cookie will hold a fundraiser for the junior who survived a suicide attempt this month. Hatchet File Photo

Updated: Oct. 27, 2014 at 9:49 p.m.

Campus Fresh and food truck Captain Cookie and the Milkman will both hold events this week to raise money for the junior who survived a suicide attempt earlier this month.

All proceeds from the fundraiser on Tuesday by Campus Fresh, where Emily Thompson has worked, will go to a GoFundMe campaign to help the Thompson family pay for her medical bills. Captain Cookie, where Thompson has worked for the past few months, will also give all the money from its fundraiser to the fund. The truck will park on H Street near Kogan Plaza on Wednesday between 2:30 and 7 p.m.

The campaign, which Thompson’s brother started about two weeks ago, has already raised more than double the original goal of $10,000.

Captain Cookie owner Kirk Francis said he knew Emily as a frequent customer of the food truck long before she started working for him.

“Emily came on board and is just awesome, one of the most confident and friendly people that I’ve ever met,” he said.

At least 90 people have marked that they will attend the Captain Cookie fundraiser on its Facebook event page. Captain Cookie’s Twitter account posted that the fundraiser is affiliated with the GW chapter of the National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association. Thompson serves as the group’s vice president.

On the GoFundMe webpage, Thompson wrote a message last week to those who had made donations, saying she was “gonna be alright.”

“Long road ahead, but I know I have the love and support of so many people. Thank you to everyone,” she wrote.

Her brother wrote on the page that Thompson will return to her Texas home on Monday. He has already raised more than $25,000 for her medical bills, with online gifts ranging from $5 to $1,000. This week, GW’s department of speech and hearing sciences donated $350.

Thompson broke both her feet, both femurs, her knee cap, right arm and cracked her spine when she fell nine floors from Shenkman Hall. She underwent several surgeries and left GW Hospital’s intensive care unit less than a week after the incident. Her brother has said that her family is facing large expenses for rehabilitation and therapy.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Chuck Todd is one of five new members added to the National Council for Media and Public Affairs. He and other members will help advise SMPA director Frank Sesno, pictured here at a 2011 event with Todd. Hatchet File Photo

Chuck Todd is one of five new members to join the School of Media and Public Affairs’ advisory council. He will help advise SMPA Director Frank Sesno, pictured here at a 2011 event with Todd. Hatchet File Photo

Updated: Oct. 27, 2014 at 2:45 p.m.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Aishvarya Kavi.

Chuck Todd’s latest addition to his résumé is no longer hosting “Meet the Press.”

Todd is one of five leaders in media and communications who will serve a three-year term on the School of Media and Public Affairs’ advisory council, officials announced this week.

“National Council members are integral to our school,” Frank Sesno, the school’s director, said in a release. “These new members reflect an effort to bring dynamic, accomplished professionals who are experts in media and politics and dedicated to SMPA’s mission of providing relevant and innovative experiences for our students.”

CNN D.C. Bureau Chief Sam Feist, alumna Susan Smirnoff, political pollster Cornell Belcher and SMPA parent and New Jersey community leader Charles Minton will also join the board.

Todd attended GW starting in 1990, but left in 1994 without completing his degree. He joins the now 20-member board that advises Sesno on strategic decisions for the University’s media school.

Smirnoff previously served on the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences’ advisory council for 15 years, in addition to her work as a public relations consultant.

The newest members are added as SMPA looks to change its curriculum and implement those changes next year.

This post was updated to reflect the following corrections:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported Sam Feist’s first name. It is Sam, not Dan. The Hatchet also incorrectly reported that Todd and Feist are the only journalists on the council. Reena Ninan, an alumna and correspondent at ABC News, is also a member. The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the council signs off on strategic decisions and approves curriculum changes. The council is an advisory group. We regret these errors.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014 2:47 p.m.

D.C. rolls back plans for streetcar system

D.C.'s streetcar program was cut back this Thursday.  Media Credit: Photo courtesy of the District Department of Transportation.

Mayor Vincent Gray released a less ambitious plan for the city’s streetcar system this week. Photo courtesy of the District Department of Transportation.

D.C.’s plan for a city-wide streetcar system has faced some significant scaling back.

Mayor Vincent Gray announced Thursday that the city is looking to spend $800 million on a system that would have about eight miles of tracking, the Washington Post reported. The initial plan would have had more than 20 miles of lines run across the city.

The new plans call for extending the 2.2-mile system between H Street and Benning Road into Georgetown and across the Anacostia River, the Post reported. But both the line running north to south from the Takoma Metro station to Buzzards Point and the M Street line would be put on hold.

A report in 2012 found that a streetcar network in D.C. could reduce transportation costs and create thousands of new jobs. A ride on one of the streetcars would cost $1.

In 2013, Georgetown University lobbied the city to put one of the streetcar stops on its main campus.

The D.C. Department of Transportation had announced plans for the streetcar system to open in spring 2012. Since then, the project has faced major delays, and streetcars on the H Street line have just recently begun simulated service with no passengers.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Former National Intelligence Council Chairman Christopher Kojm, now an Elliott School visiting professor, talked about national security and future international challenges with Dean Michael Brown. Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Former National Intelligence Council Chairman Christopher Kojm, now an Elliott School visiting professor, talked about national security and future challenges in international relations with Dean Michael Brown. Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Genevieve Montinar.

The former chairman of the National Intelligence Council who’s now a visiting professor at GW has some advice for President Barack Obama.

Christopher Kojm sat down for a discussion Thursday with Michael Brown, the dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs, about what has contributed to the demise of national security in the countries highlighted in the NIC’s “Global Trends 2030” report.

A part of a series that focuses on leaders in international development, Kojm offered his own thoughts on how countries can best work together to solve global issues and what role the U.S. president should play.

Here’s what you need to know about what happened:

1. Advice for Obama

Kojm said he would encourage the president to take advantage of the U.S.’s status as a world power to create international partnerships, especially in responding to ISIS.

“We have a remarkable power and influence, and this cannot be addressed without broad international support,” he said. “I think we see the president, certainly in the case of ISIS here seeking to put together a broad coalition of 40 or plus countries together. So coalitions will really matter.”

He added that Obama should concentrate on improving relations with China over the next several years.

“We got lots of problems, lots of issues with China some are quite profound,” he said. “But we also have many areas of commonality and we are finding ways to work together on some questions.”

2. Global trends

The NIC report, “Global Trends 2030,” covered four trends in developing countries. Officials traveled to Beijing, Moscow, Brussels, Singapore and other cities to gather data on individual empowerment, demographics, diffusion of power and growth in the developing world.

“Nobody knows what the world would look like, and we wanted to avoid parochialism and have as broad a perspective as possible in thinking about the future of the international system,” Kojm said.

He said the data showed that 60 percent of the population will live in cities in about 15 years, and urbanization will be an important factor for aid groups to consider as they plan for the future.

Kojm said the report unintentionally has “an added diplomatic benefit.”

“You start a dialogue going with elites around the world about what the future of the world is going to look like and you begin to influence other capitals,” said Kojm

3. “Profound” governmental challenges

Kojm emphasized the importance of strong governance as nations face future dilemmas.

“The challenges governments face – Ebola, proper regulation of information technology, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction – collectively, seem to be pretty profound,” he said.

He also mentioned the situations in Spain and Britain where different regions have tried to secede, citing them as examples of the difficulties governments face when trying to exert authority.

4. Lessons in leadership

Kojm included his own experience as a leader in the policy world. He said as chairman of the National Intelligence Council, he made it a point to reach out to senior staffers and listen to what issues concerned them.

“Treat everyone you meet with and work with with dignity,” he said, adding that students shouldn’t ignore any work colleague, no matter his or her status in an organization.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

The Elliott School of International Affairs just secured a presidential appointee to take over a research center next year, the University announced Tuesday.

Allison Macfarlane, chairwoman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, will lead GW’s Center for International Science and Technology Policy starting Jan. 1. She will also direct GW’s masters program in international science and technology policy.

Macfarlane has led the Nuclear Regulatory Commission since July 2012. She will teach one course at GW next semester called “Energy and Society.”

An expert in nuclear waste issues, Macfarlane oversees the use of radioactive materials for civilian purposes. She previously advised President Barack Obama on how the U.S. should handle high-level nuclear waste as part of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.

“I am looking forward to returning to my academic research and to training a new generation of leaders in science and technology policy,” Macfarlane said in a release.

The Elliott School has built up its focus on nuclear issues recently, and it brought Macfarlane to GW to speak in spring 2012 before she was named the agency’s chairwoman.

Elliott School Dean Michael Brown said Macfarlane would bring knowledge of “some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity in the 21st century” to the University.

“Her scholarly expertise has been further extended by her two and a half years of leadership and high-level policy engagement at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,” Brown said.

  • Permalink
  • Comments