News and Analysis

University President Steven Knapp spoke at the opening of the Cancer Center on Wednesday night. Elizabeth Rickert | Hatchet Photographer

University President Steven Knapp spoke at the opening of the GW Cancer Center on Wednesday night. Elizabeth Rickert | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by staff writer Catherine Moran.

More than 200 people celebrated the opening of the GW Cancer Center Wednesday night in the Science and Engineering Hall.

The center features new labs and equipment on the eighth floor of the Science and Engineering Hall. Before the ribbon cutting ceremony, leaders in the University and the center said that this location will help more researchers work together, and that the center will fill a local need for patient care. They added that the resource could inspire Congress to support more funding for cancer research.

Eduardo Sotomayor, the director of the center, joined GW last year after a years-long search to become the inaugural director of the center. Sotomayor said that the center’s opening marks “the beginning of a challenging, but highly exciting journey.”

“I think we are in a unique position to be a cancer center of the future,” Sotomayor said. “We are truly committed to our work, our vision to drive innovative research, personalized patient care and cancer policy. So we are ready.”

Philanthropy played an “enormous role” in the efforts to make the center a reality, Sotomayor said. During the ceremony, he thanked the multiple donors and said that the multiple $1 million gifts helped get the center off the ground.

The center’s floor will house equipment for molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology work and a facility for patient-derived xenograft model, a preclinical platform that could help predict the effectiveness of targeted agents for cancer patients.

Eventually, 12 to 15 labs will occupy the entire floor, which will provide areas for research focused on cancer epigenetics, immunology and immunotherapy.

The center was announced in 2013 as a collaboration with GW Hospital, Medical Faculty Associates, the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the Milken Institute of Public Health.

University President Steven Knapp said that when officials were designing the Science and Engineering Hall, there was an interest in making sure that space would be available for future interdisciplinary research, which is why the seventh and eighth floors were “shelled out.”

“We had a notion that we wanted to make sure this was left open for initiatives that are highly innovative,” he said.

Knapp said that he is impressed by the way Sotomayor is assembling the center’s team of researchers from institutions across the country and with collaboration among different schools at GW.

“So if you’re looking for interdisciplinary work, it’s really going to shape the future of science,” Knapp said. “This is one of those places to see it happening on the eighth floor of the Science and Engineering Hall.”

The University established a 10-year strategic plan in 2012 with goals of increasing interdisciplinary opportunities and research.

Knapp said that in 10 years, the center hopes to earn designation from the National Cancer Institute as a comprehensive cancer center and “join the ranks of the many prestigious cancer centers around the nation.”

“We are very confident under Dr. Sotomayor’s strategic, focused leadership that we will accomplish that goal, but our aim above all is to make sure that we are contributing to the battling of cancer,” Knapp said. “We think we have resources, we have the talent, we have the strategic focus to make a huge difference in that battle.”

Douglas Lowy, acting director of the National Cancer Institute, said that the center supports the NCI’s emphasis on interdisciplinary research.

“I think the opportunities are limitless here,” he said. “I really think the center is in excellent hands.”

Jeffrey Akman, dean of the medical school, spoke at the opening of the Cancer Center on Wednesday. Elizabeth Rickert | Hatchet Photographer

Jeffrey Akman, the dean of the medical school, spoke about the importance of the new GW Cancer Center Wednesday. Elizabeth Rickert | Hatchet Photographer

Ellen Sigal, the founder and chairperson of Friends of Cancer Research, said that the center fills a vital local need for patient care, inspiration for Congress to support cancer funding and interdisciplinary collaboration among scientists.

“GW Cancer Center breaks down artificial silos,” Sigal said. “Here in the nation’s capitol, GW is taking claim to national leadership in the battle to conquer cancer. This is about delivering quality better, better care and hope for patients.”

Jeffrey Akman, the dean of SMHS, said the Cancer Center’s timely opening celebrates a culmination of years of preparation and hard work on the same night that Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act, which will help fund cancer research.

“It is really perfect timing for us to open a new cancer center and to build a new cancer center,” Akman said.

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Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016 10:56 p.m.

Man arrested after found sleeping in Ross Hall

University Police Department officers arrested a man who was sleeping in Ross Hall Saturday evening, according to a public incident report.

Officers were patrolling the area when they saw the man sleeping, the report stated. They went to check on him and he refused any medical treatment.

The man refused to leave the area and officers arrested him for unlawful entry at around 6:30 p.m.

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The University Police Department arrested a student Friday after he kicked an entrance door of District House and shattered the glass, according to police documents.

Security footage showed the student kicking the door of the I Street entrance to the building and leaving the area, according to the police report.

UPD responded to reports of damaged property shortly after 11:30 p.m., the report states.

The male student was found walking along 21st Street, and officers approached him in front of the Media and Public Affairs Building. He said he kicked the door and that “he was upset that his girlfriend would not talk to him after an argument” they had previously, the report reads.

The student was arrested for destruction of property at 11:55 p.m. and the Metropolitan Police Department was then informed of the incident, according to the documents.

The student was then transported to the Second District Police Station for processing.

The student was named in the police documents, but was not listed as having been charged with a crime on the D.C. Courts website.

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The D.C. Council approved a bill that would allow eights of paid maternity leave Tuesday. Charlie Lee | Senior Staff Photographer

The D.C. Council approved a bill that would allow eights of paid maternity leave Tuesday. Charlie Lee | Senior Staff Photographer

This post was written by reporter Chase Smith.

The D.C. Council voted 11 to 2 in support of a watered down version of what could still be one of the nation’s most generous paid family leave offerings Tuesday evening.

The Council will cast their final vote on the bill on Dec. 20. If the measure passes then, it will go on to Mayor Muriel Bowser to sign it into law.

The Council amended the bill, which was introduced late last year, at a Committee of the Whole session Tuesday morning. Council members voted to reduce the amount of paid time off after a birth or adoption from 11 to eight weeks and provide six weeks of family leave and two weeks of medical leave.

The original 2015 bill would have offered 16 weeks of paid leave, which has been gradually lowered over the course of the past year.

The costs of the bill would be covered by a tax from all District businesses. However, some council members voiced concerns about the bill. Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans, who is also the chair of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, said he is critical of the bill because it will also cover District workers who live in Maryland and Virginia.

Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans was one of the two legislators to vote "no" on the proposed paid leave bill Tuesday. Charlie Lee | Senior Staff Photographer

Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans was one of the two legislators to vote “no” on the proposed paid leave bill Tuesday. Charlie Lee | Senior Staff Photographer

“I just cannot justify paying $166 million to people who live in Maryland and Virginia to pay 80 million to our own residents,” he said. “I recognize that our own workers will get paid, but at what cost are we doing that?”

Evans was the only Council member to vote no on the preliminary vote during the Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday afternoon. During the legislative meeting later in the evening, Ward 7 Council member Yvette Alexander also voted no, warning that she will not vote for the bill until it addresses her concerns about the bill including non-D.C. residents.

Evans went on to tweet throughout the day about how he supports paid leave, just not this bill.

Leaders at GW and other universities in the District have also been skeptical of the bill, worrying about having to cut budgets and financial aid to pay for the paid leave. Business leaders additionally have been worried and called upon the Council earlier this year to further study the financial impact of the bill.

At-large Council member David Grosso addressed this concern during the meeting this morning, stating that the Council “now knows the fiscal and economic impact” moving forward after spending 14 months studying them.

He added that although the number of paid weeks decreased along with the wage replacement and salary cap, it is a step in the right direction for the District.

“It will be good for our businesses and our economy in the District,” he said. “It will make the District of Columbia a city where people want to work and have children.”

Ward 1 Council member Brianne Nadeau said many voices were heard over the past year.

“Although, I know we have come to a place at which not everyone agrees, I do think we have come to a place where everyone has been heard and every concern has been considered,” Nadeau said. “Just because a piece of legislation does not reflect someone’s specific concern does not mean it hasn’t been heard.”

At the meeting, At-large Council member Elissa Silverman also proposed an amendment adding personal emergencies back to the bill, which was taken out during the many changes to the bill.

Silverman’s amendment unanimously passed the preliminary vote during the Committee of the Whole meeting.

“I met a woman who told me she had to quit her job to make chemo appointments,” she said. “With this amendment, our most vulnerable workers will have help when they need it the most.”

Grosso said “self-care coverage” was an integral part of the original legislation, and adding it back in was the “right thing to do.”

“By adding self-care coverage back into the legislation, we are making this bill more universal and covering more workers who do not want their own care to be pigeon-holed,” Grosso said.

Debra Ness, the president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, released a statement following the vote expressing her pleasure that personal emergencies were added.

“We are especially pleased that the Council amended the Universal Paid Leave Act to include personal medical leave, recognizing that whether workers are caring for a new child, a seriously ill family member or are seriously ill themselves, they need time away from work without jeopardizing their ability to cover their basic expenses,” the release read.

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The SA Senate passed a resolution Monday night to support accessibility of online materials for disabled students. Max Wang | Hatchet Photographer

The SA Senate passed a resolution Monday night to support accessibility of online materials for disabled students. Max Wang | Hatchet Photographer

The Student Association Senate passed a resolution Monday night in support of a congressional bill to increase accessibility of educational materials for the hearing and visually impaired.

The senate voted unanimously in favor of the resolution, which backs the Access to Instructional Materials of Higher Education Act. If passed by the House Representatives, the act would create a commission to compile a list of voluntary guidelines universities should follow to prevent those with disabilities from being unable to access resources.

The resolution addresses a described “inadequate level” of accessibility for visually and hearing impaired students on GW websites like admissions, Banweb and Blackboard.

Sen. Peak Sen Chua, MISPH-U, said the bill will place an emphasis on the need for GW to make sure that access to instructional materials, which can affect student’s grades, are equal for everyone.

“What the bill does is reaffirms our principle as an inclusive, friendly environment,” Chua said.

Disability Support Services offers academic services like sign language interpreting and real-time captioning transcription for hearing impaired students and converting textbooks to alternative forms like audiobooks for visually impaired students.

The senate also unanimously passed a bill clarifying that graduate student umbrella organizations can access and use all of the money in their SA general fund. Student groups can receive an allocation for the next fiscal year based on the amount students contributed this year.

In 2015, the senate passed a bill allowing these umbrella organizations to start collecting money through student fees to make sure that graduate student fees went toward events for those students, instead of programming designed for undergraduates that they can’t participate in.

Sen. Elena Kuo-LeBlanc, SOB-G, said she sponsored the bill because she would like graduate students to be able to hold more events to bring the community together.

“We do have a shorter time frame at GW,” Kuo-LeBlanc said, “There are students who never see their funds.”

Kuo-LeBlanc added that the funds would be used to hold more social events for the graduate community, ;ole happy hours.

Three students were also unanimously appointed to the Joint Elections Committee.

Aimee Triana, who worked on the committee last year, said she would focus on social media advertising. Alex Simone, who has been on the committee for the past two years, said she would like to focus on making sure the elections are held during a time when graduate students are on campus. Teddy Clamp, who also served the past two years, said he would focus on making sure there are no campaign violations.

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University President Steven Knapp was ranked 27th among the nation's highest-paid university executives. Hatchet file photo

University President Steven Knapp was ranked 27th among the nation’s highest-paid university executives. Hatchet file photo.

University President Steven Knapp is the 27th highest-paid private university executive in the nation, according to the most recent data from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

This ranking is a three-spot drop from last year’s report, when Knapp was the 24th-highest earner.

The Chronicle’s database, which was updated Dec. 4 with salary information from fiscal year 2014, lists Knapp’s total compensation as $1,170,264, and his base salary, before benefits and bonuses, as $873,191. Knapp was listed among more than 1,200 chief executives at both public and private universities.

Knapp’s total compensation increased the following year to $1,196,264, a 7 percent increase, according to the University’s financial documents from fiscal year 2015.

Executives at nine of the University’s 14 peer schools earned more than Knapp in fiscal year 2014, according to the Chronicle.

The top private college earner was Jack Varsalona, president of the University of Wilmington in Delaware. Parsalona earned $5,449,405 in fiscal year 2014.

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Sara Goldrick-Rab, an alumna and professor of higher education and sociology at Temple University, spoke about college affordability on campus Thursday.

Sara Goldrick-Rab, an alumna and professor of higher education and sociology at Temple University, spoke about college affordability on campus Thursday.

This post was written by reporter Leah Potter.

Sara Goldrick-Rab, a 1998 alumna and professor of higher education policy and sociology at Temple University, spoke to a group of about 15 students, faculty and administrators about college affordability Thursday evening.

“The Cost of College: Not Just About Money” is the first of a two-part series designed to discuss the new reality of college finances. The second part of the series will be held Dec. 2 at 12:00 p.m., and will be targeted towards faculty, staff and administrators. The event was hosted by the Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute.

Goldrick-Rab, who is considered a leading voice on college affordability among higher education experts, emphasized the importance of looking at college finances from the student’s perspective. She said preconceived notions and opinions about paying for a higher education need to be dissolved.

1. Learning from personal experiences

Goldrick-Rab is the daughter of a former assistant professor at GW and a lawyer. She initially did not expect paying for college to bring about any difficulties, but her parent’s divorce shortly before she left for college brought unexpected costs.

Goldrick-Rab was initially promised free tuition at GW because of her mother’s position as an adjunct assistant professor at the University, but also received a scholarship. At first, Goldrick-Rab was confused – scholarships are not typically awarded to students receiving full tuition.

Goldrick-Rab later received a call informing her that she was not qualified to receive a scholarship in addition to free tuition. She then had to move off campus.

“I started to learn about living costs,” Goldrick-Rab said. “Eating in the Marvin Center and having a meal plan, I didn’t understand all living costs.”

She began working 40 hours a week as a waitress in Arlington and later moved out of D.C. for affordability reasons. She graduated GW in three years in 1998, working her way through school.

“It set me apart a bit to be a working student here,” Goldrick-Rab said. “It changes things to have the budget and the money be the center.”

2. The cost of living

Goldrick-Rab discussed how the cost of food and housing are often the largest stresses on a student’s budget. She said that learning about The Store, a food pantry GW started this semester, showed her the harsh reality of student finances today.

“I was fairly taken aback when I found out about the food pantry here,” Goldrick-Rab said. “It’s a hard thing to imagine.”

In addition to not being able to afford enough food, she said college students also struggle with finding inexpensive nutritious options.

“If you were eating ramen everyday, we shouldn’t assume that that is your food cost,” she said. “You should be able to eat nutritious food.”

Living costs can also put a huge strain on a college student’s finances, as only 13 percent of undergraduates live on campus, Goldrick-Rab said. Those who live off-campus often live with their families, though they might be charged “rent” to live there. She said that in many situations, the students who struggle most with affordable living accommodations are in marginalized groups.

“The biggest group of homeless students that we’re finding are part of the LGBTQ community,” Goldrick-Rab said. “They are cut off from their parents, and financial aid doesn’t recognize that.”

3. Independent research

With the help of her colleagues, Goldrick-Rab went through census results and collected data from official sources to compute the cost of living for undergraduate students. Items like food, transportation, and housing were all taken into account.

“One third of universities are underestimating the cost by at least 3,000 dollars,” Goldrick-Rab said.

Goldrick-Rab said that the conversation about college costs has to go from people saying “this is painful, this is wrong,” to experts having a more data driven conversation.

“Please think creatively about this,” Goldrick-Rab urged the audience. “They’re going to need a lot of ideas.”

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Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 2:41 p.m.

Shadow Room shuts down

Shadow Room, a nightclub on K Street, shut down this week. Hatchet file photo by Charlie Lee | Hatchet Staff Photographer.

Shadow Room, a nightclub on K Street, shut down this week. Hatchet file photo by Charlie Lee | Hatchet Staff Photographer.

Shadow Room, a K Street nightclub that was the target of neighborhood groups for years, has shut its doors.

Shadow Room, located at 2131 K St. NW, officially closed after its final event Tuesday night. To celebrate its supporters, the club hosted an event titled, “Shadowroom LIQUIDation: The Finale,” from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., according to the event’s Facebook page.

The nightclub’s closing was formally announced through a post on its Facebook page Wednesday.

“Thank you again to all that have supported Shadow Room over the years,” the post read. “Doors are officially closed forever. Long live the memories formed inside the velvet ropes.”

The owners of the nightclub did not immediately return multiple requests for comment.

Over the past few months, Shadow Room has been under fire for serving underage drinkers.

D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration fined the nightclub $5,000 in October after Metropolitan Police Department officers saw six underage minors with alcohol inside the club.

And a shooting occurred around the location of the club at about 3 a.m. on Oct. 10. Police arrested Michael Ansara Ferebee, 23, and Julius Bowens, 24, four days later for carrying a pistol without a license. The police report indicated that the incident was “club related.”

After the shooting, neighbors requested for Shadow Room to close. At an Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting in October, commissioners passed a resolution calling for the closure of the club in an unanimous vote.

Earlier this year, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board agreed to renew the club’s liquor license as long as they had police stationed there for at least four hours every night. Shadow Room previously tried to appeal a court decision requiring them to have police presence at the club after a decade-long legal battle.

Peter Sacco, the executive director of the commission, said at a previous ANC meeting that Shadow Room disregarded hiring a police detail until after the shooting.

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Three senators discussed the future under President-elect Trump at an event Tuesday evening. Elizabeth Rickert | Hatchet Photographer

Three senators discussed the future under President-elect Trump at an event Tuesday evening. Elizabeth Rickert | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by reporter Elizabeth Georgakopolous.

To address some of those questions left after the unexpected victory of President-elect Donald Trump, the School of Media and Public Affairs hosted a conversation with Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Dana Bash, alumna and CNN chief political correspondent, Tuesday evening on the aftermath of the election and the uncertainties of a Trump administration.

The panelists discussed many key issues on Trump, including how the senate could act as a check on the incoming president and what this election result could mean for the future of America.

Here are some highlights:

1. On the road ahead

All three senators agreed that Trump’s election will lead to a different type of presidency that features a note of uncertainty.

“There is an unpredictable nature of this presidency. That is the part that is shaking everyone up and people are expecting things to be different,” Lankford, the only Republican on the panel, said. “I expect he will follow through on some of the campaign promises, but not all.”

Coons said that throughout a Trump administration, the senate is going to be more important than it was ever before to act as a check against Trump and any proposals he makes that go against what the majority of Americans really want.

Klobuchar said that even though the Republicans have the majority in Congress, the Democrats will still have power. Most legislation needs 60 votes to pass and because 48 seats in the senate belong to Democrats, their influence rests in the remaining votes needed for that majority, she said.

2. Fears among the American people

There is a great deal of fear among Americans, especially those who have been affected by Trump’s rhetoric and proposals for the nation, the panelists said.

Klobuchar said many of those fears stem from a breakdown between politics and policy. She said that the way Trump treats people, his use of social media, and his policies will have the greatest impact on the country.

Bash said the biggest issue is that the campaign has evolved into a presidency, and Trump cannot continue to act as he did on the campaign trail. She said he needs to learn how to act more presidentially, which means not tweeting everything he thinks and not making unsupported claims.

“Campaigning is one thing, but governing is another,” Bash said.

Klobuchar agreed with Bash and said that U.S. laws and traditions will prevent Trump from following through on most of what he calls for on social media, like stripping citizenship from those who burn the American flag.

“The law is greater any tweets,” he said. “The law is greater than anyone’s rhetoric.”

Lankford said the president is the leader of a co-equal part among three branches and does not have as much power as the role is perceived to have. He said this means people do not need to be as worried as they currently are for any long-lasting policy changes because there are other branches of government to ensure all policies are constitutional and not reckless.

3. Advice for the future

All three senators said they will stay involved in politics and encourage people to not let the events of this past election deter them from participating in politics.

“We need you to be watchdogs. We need you to urge us to action and we need people to volunteer and be a part of the system,” Klobuchar said.

Lankford said that it is important to be interested in policy, just as much as politics.

“Politics is the job interview and policy is the job. Be more interested in the job than the job interview,” he said. “We are America and we will work this out.”

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University leaders lead a townhall on campus climate Tuesday in the wake of this month's election results. Jack Borowiak | Hatchet Photographer

University leaders lead a townhall on campus climate Tuesday in the wake of this month’s election results. Jack Borowiak | Hatchet Photographer

University officials said they plan to encourage more dialogue on campus surrounding the election results after a town hall meeting on campus climate Tuesday.

Students and faculty voiced their concerns about topics like feeling unsafe on campus and fossil fuel divestment to a panel of administrators in the Marvin Center Grand Ballroom. The town hall was one of the ways officials have reached out to GW community members since the election.

In the weeks since the election, students and staff have participated in protests, vigils and a walkout that totaled about 400 students in protest of the rhetoric used during President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign and out of concerns for their futures under a Trump administration.

Provost Forrest Maltzman said in an interview that these discussions should occur regularly because people learn from talking to each other.

“It’s important for us to make sure that we continue to have these sort of conversations, and lots of ideas came up here,” he said.

Here are some of the big themes from the townhall:

1. Open to all dialogue

Administrators encouraged students to cross the aisle and diversify who they spend time with instead of isolating themselves with one group of friends.

Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski said that when he met with Michael Tapscott, the director of the Multicultural Student Services Center, Tapscott suggested having students get out of their comfort zone by attending a new event with a new group once a week.

“We can’t lock ourselves in our positions and in our niches and refuse to come out and share and express our concerns, but until we do that, we’re gonna be spinning our wheels,” Tapscott said.

Caroline Laguerre-Brown, the vice provost for diversity, equity and community, discussed her time in college when she heard opposing views in a classroom dialogue about the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles during the early 1990s, which took place in response to the acquittal of four white police officers accused of brutality against King, a black man. She said exposure to different opinions decreases partisanship.

“You really want to take advantage of that,” she said. “Those conversations shaped the rest of my life and shaped the work that I decided to do.”

Some students were frustrated by the call to communicate with the other side, saying it would not accomplish much. Others used the open forum to ask others to understand their situations as either immigrants or defenders of sexual assault victims.

A few students brought up concerns that professors were not treating their conservative opinions with respect. Lynn Goldman, dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health, said the school strives to teach and grade policy assignments based on how a plan would function, and not on the partisan implications.

“If I hear that anything else is going on, I would want to know about that because that wouldn’t be what we are doing,” she said. “It’s not the position you take. It’s your ability to do an analysis of the position that we are trying to teach.”

2. Consistent research and values

One student asked how GW would balance between developing as an “educational bubble,” unopened to new ideas from the new administration while still protecting students from threats.

“Have you guys thought through or anticipated how the relationship with the next administration would look like considering, I would argue, some of their values do not align with GW values?” she said.

University President Steven Knapp said that GW’s policies would not change because of the new administration.

“What we do as an institution is driven by the interests and talents and the commitments of our faculty and students,” he said.

Maltzman added that presidents do not regulate what universities research, meaning the new administration should not impact GW’s scholarship.

“I cannot envision our faculty, and I can’t envision our students saying, ‘Boy we’re going to change the facts of our research based off of who is in the White House,’” he said.

3. Utilizing available resources

All administrators encouraged students to set up meetings with themselves or their offices to discuss any issues they’re facing as a result of Trump’s election.

Thomas Falcigno, the executive vice president of the Student Association, also urged students to meet with him or SA President Erika Feinman.

“We’re always willing to do that and always willing to work with students,” he said. “We hope to support you in that.”

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