News and Analysis

This post was written by staff writer Colleen Grablick.

A new program in the Elliott School of International Affairs will partner with a dozen countries across the globe to prepare local leaders to respond to and recover from disasters, according to a University release.

The Initiative for Disaster Resilience and Humanitarian Affairs is a multi-million dollar initiative which will combine education and research with on-the-ground training to strengthen leadership and increase disaster resilience in developing countries. The program opens nearly three months after Elliott School Dean Reuben Brigety unveiled new programs to expand global outreach and policy for the school.

“Questions of humanitarian assistance–from responding to natural disasters to managing the flow of refugees–are a critical part of the international affairs landscape,” Brigety said in the release. “With the arrival of Ky Luu and the Initiative for Disaster Resilience and Humanitarian Affairs in the Elliott School, GW will become a clear leader in training young people and finding solutions for the world’s toughest humanitarian challenges.”

The other announced program, an initiative on gender equality in international affairs, is set to open later this year.

As part of the disaster initiative, the University will bring three new experts to educate and train leaders worldwide.

Ky Luu, a GW Law School alumnus, will head the program. Luu founded the Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy at Tulane University, which will collaborate with this new program, and directed the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance.

The initiative will focus on social, economic, and environmental research to equip foreign leaders with strategies to help countries withstand disasters, according to the release. The program will work with countries across Africa, Southeast Asia and South America.

The initiative plans to partner with Makerere University in Uganda as well as the ResilientAfrica Network, which strengthens resilience in African communities with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the release states. The University will also work with several other American universities to create data-driven programs to assist foreign leaders in disaster recovery and resilience, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Several government and foundation grants will fund the initiative, including about $4 million in previous funding which will be transferred to the University, according to the release.

The initiative will host interdisciplinary opportunities with the business school, the Milken Institute School of Public health, the anthropology and geography departments and the Global Women’s Institute, according to the release.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Speaker Paul Ryan spoke at the Jack Morton Auditorium as part of a CNN town hall Thursday evening. Madeline Cook | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Speaker Paul Ryan spoke at the Jack Morton Auditorium as part of a CNN town hall Thursday evening. Madeleine Cook | Hatchet Staff Photographer

House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke about topics like health care, immigration and trade deals to a full audience at Jack Morton Auditorium and to viewers across the country during a CNN town hall Thursday evening.

Ryan, who was targeted throughout the past election cycle by President-elect Donald Trump, talked at the event about Trump’s priorities and how he and other Republican leaders were already working with the incoming presidential administration to get projects rolling before inauguration.

Jake Tapper, the chief Washington correspondent at CNN, led the discussion with Ryan who answered questions from the audience.

Missed the broadcast? Here are some of the biggest takeaways:

1. Health care, health care, health care

The first third of the town hall featured questions about health care, which were particularly relevant as the House of Representatives had voted to begin dismantling the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, the night before.

Jeff Jeans, a cancer survivor from Sedona, Az. who said he would have died without assistance from the health care law, asked Ryan why he and other Republicans wanted to repeal the law without offering a replacement.

Ryan said the process of repealing the law would happen at the same time that lawmakers introduced a new health care law that would provide citizens with tax credits to purchase plans.

“The law is collapsing and so we’ve got to rescue people,” he said, citing rising premiums in states like Jean’s home state of Arizona and Texas.

Shannon Doe, a GW student, asked Ryan about the impact of defunding Planned Parenthood, which Republicans have threatened to do over the years, and how they would replace the services that women use at the centers.

Ryan said he would instead support instituting federal community health centers because Planned Parenthood is too controversial for performing abortions, even after Tapper pointed out that tax dollars don’t fund abortions.

“We don’t want to effectively give taxpayer money to an organization providing abortions,” Ryan said, claiming that even though the dollars wouldn’t go directly to abortions, the funds could impact the services indirectly.

2. Two sides of immigration

Mary Anne Mendoza, who lost her son in a head-on collision with an undocumented man who was found to be using drugs at the time, asked Ryan how he would work to deport undocumented criminals and build the wall between the U.S. and Mexico that Trump famously campaigned on.

Ryan said he and others are already working with Trump’s team on those projects and condemned sanctuary cities, cities where leaders have promised to assist and protect undocumented residents. D.C. is a sanctuary city.

“Sanctuary cities are a violation of the rule of law, and they are not to be tolerated,” he said. “That means if you want federal assistance, you’re not going to get it. You’ve got to enforce the law.”

Angelic Villalobos, an undocumented immigrant who moved to the U.S. as a child and is currently protected from deportation by a law designed to protect undocumented residents who came to the U.S. as children, asked Ryan if he wanted to deport immigrants like her.

Ryan said that as he and others worked on immigration laws, they would protect those currently shielded by the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, but did not provide specifics on how they would do so.

“What we have to do is figure out how to have a humane solution to this very legitimate, sincere problem and respect the rule of law,” he said.

3. Tweeter-in-chief

The final question from the audience came from Christine Ford, a GW student who asked how Trump’s tweeting habits could impact his policies and the U.S.’s reputation internationally.

Ryan said that Trump’s use of Twitter was “extremely effective for getting elected president” and that while he does expect Trump to continue to use the platform, he thinks the president will become more restrained.

“I am just marveled and amazed how well he connected with so many people,” Ryan said. “I think he has a very special, personal relationship with individuals and he connects directly with them.”

  • Permalink
  • Comments

This post was written by reporter Andrew Hesbacher.

The Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission unanimously reserved its right to protest granting a liquor license to a tavern’s owners at the location of the previously shut down bar Sugar Tuesday if the negotiations go south later.

Saad Jallad, one of the owners of the bar and Crepeaway, is applying for a tavern license in order to use the space at 2121 K St. for private events.

The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration distributes liquor licenses, but the owners are working with the ANC to show ABRA that the commission supports the tavern. ABRA is required to consider any information sent by the local ANC when deciding to provide a liquor license, according to the ABRA website.

ANC Chairman Patrick Kennedy said the ANC plans to work with Jallad and expects to reach an agreement with the owners by the end of the week, but that Jallad will likely meet resistance in the future when he negotiates with ABRA.

ABRA closed Sugar less than a year after it opened when investigators found the bar did not actively confirm customers were above the legal drinking age, Borderstan reported.

ANC Commissioner Eve Zhurbinskiy said Sugar had four underage drinking violations including footage of an owner helping an underage woman outside when police arrived.

“That was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Zhurbinskiy said in an interview with The Hatchet.

Jeff Jackson, a representative of Jallad, said at the meeting that one-day liquor licenses have been approved in the past, but this tavern license will allow the owners to rent out the space without continuously applying for licenses.

Jackson added that the tavern would not be open to the public and would only allow guests of private events to enter. GW student groups would be able to rent the space, but all guests would have to be 21 or older to enter.

The tavern additionally hopes to become a chain, he added.

Employees would receive ABRA training, which includes how to distinguish a fake ID. The security was not in-house in Sugar and was not trained in spotting fake IDs, Jackson said.

Before the decision, Zhurbinskiy told The Hatchet while some people were sympathetic with the owners, people also want to know how the tavern will manage liquor sales.

“I know that the tavern isn’t they’re not planning to open it to the public they just want to do special events there so I think that will probably camp down controversy,” she said.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., spoke about the future of the Democratic party at a CNN town hall in Jack Morton Auditorium Monday. Lisa Blitstein | Hatchet Photographer

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., spoke about the future of the Democratic party at a CNN town hall in Jack Morton Auditorium Monday. Lisa Blitstein | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by reporter Joshua Porter.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., participated in a CNN town hall with reporter Chris Cuomo at the Jack Morton Auditorium Monday night. The town hall, which was broadcast live, focused on congressional priorities in light of an impending Donald Trump presidency.

Sanders offered broad strategies for the Democratic Party during the new administration and addressed audience members’ concerns for the future.

Here are the big takeaways:

Compromising with Trump

Sanders urged fellow Democrats against unilateral obstruction during the Trump administration, while still acknowledging characteristics of Trump’s campaign which Democrats should guard against.

“I will tell you this: He ran a campaign whose cornerstone was bigotry,” he said. “It was based on sexism, on racism, on xenophobia, and on that issue, I will not compromise.”

After criticizing Republicans for blocking President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme court, Sanders suggested some Democrats may use a similar strategy toward the GOP. Still, he urged bipartisan cooperation when possible.

“Where Trump has ideas that make sense that we can work with him on, I think we should,” he said.

The future of Obamacare

Sanders, who ran his 2016 presidential campaign on free education and free healthcare, noted that the U.S. is one of the only major countries not guarantee health care as a right. Saying that it was time the U.S. government provide free health care, Sanders said that initial efforts like the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, would need to be tweaked over time in order to be successful.

Jessica Karabian, an audience member who relies on Obamacare to cover treatments for breast cancer, asked Sanders how he will make sure that the life-saving components of the Affordable Care Act remain.

“We are going to do everything we can to improve the Affordable Care Act. It has problems, but we damn well are not going to repeal it and not have anything there at all,” Sanders said.

The influence of trade

Sanders said that trade policy is one area of potential compromise between progressives and the Trump administration. Both Sanders and Trump have criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement and said they opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership during the 2016 campaign.

Ed Mash, a former Ohio corrections officer, asked Sanders how he will work with Trump to promote growth in areas like Ohio. Sanders pointed to international trade agreements.

“The issue is that for the last 30 years, under Democratic and Republican administrations, we have had trade policies like NAFTA and CAFTA and permanent relationships with China,” Sanders said.

Sanders voted against NAFTA and CAFTA in the past, saying that such agreements benefit multinational corporations rather than the American working class by outsourcing jobs to nations with low or nonexistent labor regulations and cheap manufacturing costs. Sanders said he believes in fair trade, not unfettered free trade.

“I believe we need a new trade policy. I believe we tell corporate America they’ve got to control their greed,” Sanders said. “Mr. Trump is prepared to sit down and work on a new trade policy which is based on fairness, not just on corporate greed, yes, I will be happy to work with him.”

Plans for immigration reform

Sanders highlighted his hopes for immigration reform that would give undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship and access to health care under the Affordable Care Act.

Jenny Gutierrez, a high school teacher from Maryland, and Osama Alsaleh, a GW student, asked Sanders about the future of immigrants and their children under the upcoming Trump administration and Republican-controlled Congress.

In response, Sanders noted Democrats’ commitment to protecting immigrants as well as undocumented immigrants during the next administration.

“To see a man elected president who campaigned on dividing us up, turning us against each other. Your beautiful students should not be afraid. Young Muslim kids should not be afraid to walk the streets,” he said. “That is not what this country is about.”

Sanders added that diversity is what makes the country thrive.

“We must judge people on who they are, not where their grandfather came from or their religion,” Sanders said. “This is a principle we have to fight for.”

  • Permalink
  • Comments

This post was written by staff writer Catherine Moran.

D.C. Council members proposed various pieces legislation during their first legislative meeting of the year Tuesday, from building up the Metropolitan Police Department to full marijuana legalization.

Here are the top three proposed laws you should know.

1. Fully legalizing marijuana

At-large Council member David Grosso proposed a bill that would fully legalize marijuana in the District. While marijuana was decriminalized in D.C. and voters approved adult recreational use in 2014, Grosso’s legislation addresses past congressional intervention that prevented the city from regulating and taxing marijuana.

In June, Congress, which has jurisdiction over D.C., blocked an amendment that would have allowed the city to use funds for a legal marijuana retail market, according to Extract, a website focused on marijuana coverage.

“We know the war on drugs is and was a failure,” Grosso said, adding that it contributed to an increase in mass incarceration and is “racial in its implementation.”

Grosso said that his act is the logical next step in setting up a strong tax and regulatory system. The Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety will now work on and address the legislation.

2. Increasing law enforcement numbers

Ward 7 Council member Vincent Gray proposed a bill to increase D.C. police staffing, saying that MPD staffing is at the “lowest level in a decade.” MPD has more than 4,000 sworn and civilian members, according MPD, but Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham told Fox News in October that the number of sworn officers was slightly above 3,700.

Gray said former D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier emphasized meeting the 3,800 minimum officer threshold for several years as officer retention plagued the department.

The alumnus and former mayor said the city’s population surge requires increasing the number of sworn officers from 4,000 to 4,200, saying it was important to “increase the number of officers deployed to help neighborhoods most plagued by violent crime.”

The proposed legislation would set aside “adequate” funding in the budget for MPD, which would help to cover the cost of hiring, training and equipping officers, Gray said.

3. Access to free Wi-Fi

Ward 4 Council member Brandon Todd introduced legislation to create a taskforce that will work to provide and oversee construction for free wireless internet access in the District. Todd said free Wi-Fi will be beneficial to D.C.’s economy. People with lower incomes can miss the chance to pursue other opportunities without access to the internet, where most job applications are now hosted, he said.

“Today high-speed broadband is not a luxury – it’s a necessity,” Todd said, “The internet divide is an economic divide.”

Todd said cities like New York and Boston have increased accessibility to free Wi-Fi. New York recently added free Wi-Fi and cellphone service in the subway system, according to The New York Times.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority announced their plans to add Wi-Fi to all underground Metro stations in December.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

A University fundraising official will take his talents to the “real Mount Vernon,” as the new senior vice president for development at George Washington’s estate in Virginia, according to a release from the estate.

Joe Bondi, a two-time alumnus, most recently served as the assistant vice president for development, campus and community. Before that, he filled multiple positions in the development office in his 15 years as a GW employee.

“Bondi will join Mount Vernon’s management team in shaping the strategic direction for Mount Vernon’s future success,” the release reads. “He will oversee the planning and execution of the philanthropic strategy supporting the preservation and maintenance of George Washington’s beloved home.”

Bondi was a key player in the development office during the $1 billion capital campaign, which launched in 2014 and is expected to reach its goal this June.

He managed fundraising units like the Parents Campaign, GW Athletics, the GW Museum and Textile Museum, the GW Libraries and the Division of Student Affairs, as well as oversaw fundraising in the Power & Promise scholarship fund, The GW Hatchet, GW Hillel and veteran initiatives, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Dean of Students Peter Konwerski tweeted last month congratulating Bondi on his new position.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Thomas LeBlanc, the provost and executive vice president at the University of Miami, will be the next president of GW. Ethan Stoler | Hatchet Photographer.

Thomas LeBlanc, the provost and executive vice president at the University of Miami, will be the next president of GW. Ethan Stoler | Hatchet Photographer.

Updated: Jan. 6, 2017 at 6:20 p.m.

Thomas LeBlanc, the current executive vice president and provost at the University of Miami, will be the 17th president of GW, the University announced Friday.

LeBlanc now serves as the chief academic officer and the chief budget officer at Miami, overseeing the university’s schools, libraries, and offices like student affairs, continuing and international education and admissions, according to a release. He will start at GW in August.

LeBlanc, who is 61 years old, is also a professor of computer science and electrical and computer engineering and served as the university’s interim president in 2015. The University of Miami is one of GW’s peer institutions, meaning it is one of several colleges and universities GW leaders compare the University’s programs to regularly.

“It is a tremendous honor to be selected to lead the George Washington University,” LeBlanc said in the release. “I look forward to building on the work of President Knapp, the Board of Trustees and the university’s outstanding students, faculty and staff who have contributed to creating not only a world-class research university but also a vibrant and distinctive educational experience in the heart of our nation’s capital.”

The announcement comes just a little more than six months after the Board of Trustees began its search to replace University President Steven Knapp, who announced in June that he would be leaving his post at the end of the 2016-2017 academic year. The search was led by Board of Trustees Chairman Nelson Carbonell and Trustee Madeline Jacobs.

“Dr. LeBlanc embodies the qualities the university community articulated through more than 30 town halls and meetings with faculty, students, staff and alumni, as well as leaders and members from the local community,” Carbonell said in the release. “We have worked hard to find a proven leader who can bring GW to new heights, and I believe we have found the ideal person to lead the university into its third century.”

 Jacobs said during a ceremony for students, faculty and staff to welcome LeBlanc Friday that she is “proud” LeBlanc will serve as the next president because he matches the search’s presidential profile. 

“I’m pleased to say that everyone thinks Dr. LeBlanc fits this profile to the letter,” she said.

Members of the search committee unanimously recommended LeBlanc and the Board of Trustees unanimously approved his appointment, according to the release.

As of October, more than 100 people were nominated to be considered for the presidential position, similar to the number of those put up for the job in 2007, which was eventually given to Knapp.

Leaders of the search said they were looking for diverse candidates who had unique fundraising ideas and were willing to continue to improve GW’s reputation, which has evolved remarkably over the past three decades since University President Emeritus Stephen Joel Trachtenberg began his tenure. Knapp was selected in 2007 partially because of his vision to make the University a top-tier research institution.

But the search was not without its hurdles. Faculty complained that members of the humanities departments were left off the main search committee which helped to create the pool of candidates, meaning that those academic areas might not be priorities for the selected contenders. Others pointed out that faculty on the search committee were not diverse – all were white and all but one were men.

Carbonell countered those claims early on, arguing that the rest of the committee’s diversity and his own Latino background would make sure that the search thoroughly examined a diverse group of potential applicants. Faculty also voted on members of a faculty consultative committee to weigh in on the search.

As LeBlanc takes on his first term as president, he will lead a campus set to undergo several significant changes. Major University developments are planned to be built on Pennsylvania Avenue over the next few years, accessibility programs addressing admissions – spearheaded by Knapp – could lead to a more diverse student body over the next decade and officials will have to continue to address affordability issues at a University that was infamously named the most expensive college in the country nearly a decade ago.

As executive vice president and provost, LeBlanc’s compensation totaled $825,976 in fiscal year 2015, according to the University of Miami’s tax forms. Knapp’s was compensated about $1.2 million the same year. 

LeBlanc will take on major projects like the completion of GW’s strategic plan, after helping to create and implement a similar research-focused strategic plan at Miami. He also worked to strengthen the university’s online education programs, a major area of focus for GW as officials expand online courses offerings to reach more students and in turn generate more revenue.

He also led the university’s deans in designing a $1.6 billion fundraising campaign at Miami, which surpassed its goal in 2015. GW plans to reach $1 billion in its own capital campaign by June, two months before LeBlanc begins his post as president, but officials have left the door open for the campaign to continue in other ways after reaching that goal.

LeBlanc said in a phone interview Friday that when he arrives in August, his first priority will be to get to know the GW community before deciding on any major initiatives. Citing his experiences at Rochester and Miami, he said that each institution tackles different issues in different ways and that it would be “foolhardy” for him to come in with a master plan before learning more about the University.

“The responses will all be unique and distinctive,” he said.

He said that, in the meantime, there is “a lot more homework to do” before his start date, and that he will also be assisting with the transition to a new provost at Miami.

This isn’t the first time LeBlanc has worked with GW – he was chair of the evaluation team for GW’s accreditation during the 2007-2008 academic year, according to the release. University leaders are currently preparing to undergo the accreditation process again in 2018.

Before his tenure at the University of Miami, LeBlanc was a member of the University of Rochester’s computer science faculty and became the vice provost and dean of the faculty of arts, sciences and engineering. At Rochester, he oversaw the creation of a new undergraduate curriculum and improved the university’s recruitment and retention, according to Business Wire.

LeBlanc is also credited with developing a biomedical engineering department with the University of Rochester Medical Center and establishing a structure for the university’s College of Arts, Sciences and Engineering, according to Business Wire.

This post will continue to be updated.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 3:21 p.m.

GW to announce new president

GW will announce the next University president at 4 p.m. Friday, according to a post on GW’s official Facebook page.

The announcement, which will be made live on Facebook, comes a little more than six months after the search for the University’s 17th president began. University President Steven Knapp said in June that he will be stepping down from his post at the end of this academic year.

Follow The Hatchet on our site and on Twitter at @gwhatchet for live updates.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

A woman previously barred from campus was arrested for unlawful entry after being found in a women’s restroom on the third floor of Rice Hall Wednesday, according to a Metropolitan Police Department report.

The woman was detained after officers confirmed she was already barred from University property, University Police Department Officer Craig Thomas stated in the report. He said in the report that she was already in custody when he arrived on the scene at about 2:48 p.m.

The woman complained of several injuries and officers notified D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services, according to the report. She was taken to the GW Hospital emergency room at about 3:35 p.m. and was awaiting being discharged from the hospital for transportation to the Second District police station at about 5:22 p.m., the document states.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Updated: Jan. 6, 2017 at 10:50 a.m.

A 79-year-old black male using a walker went missing Thursday in the 2100 block of I Street NW, according to a D.C. alert.

The Metropolitan Police Department sent out an alert to members of the second district of D.C. and tweeted identifying information shortly before 7 p.m. Thursday.

The man went missing at 1 p.m. and was last seen wearing a tan coat with blue jeans. He is 5 foot 10 inches tall, weighs 105 pounds and has a medium complexion, and his walker has tennis balls on the wheels, according to the alert.

The alert instructed people who found the man to call 911 instead of interacting.

  • Permalink
  • Comments