News and Analysis

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Melissa Schapiro.

GW held its first-ever talent competition Thursday night, selecting a senior to be the opening act for Spring Fling.

Taking home first place in the GW’s Got Talent competition was Joe Jean-Mary, an English and criminal justice major. Jean-Mary performed two original raps: first a low-key one and then his crowd pleaser, “Tuesday Night at McFadden’s.”

The talent competition was a joint project by GW Hillel and Program Board. It’s been in the works since last May, in an effort to give students a space to showcase talent even if they’re not involved with campus performance groups.

An initial round of auditions was held in October, with students from the Jewish Student Association as well as Program Board serving as judges. The committee narrowed it down from over 20 acts to the 11 that performed Thursday in front of the judges: GW music professor Robert Baker, Captain Cookie founder Kirk Francis and Student Association Executive Vice President Avra Bossov.

This was the first year of GW’s Got Talent, but Program Board Executive Chair Liz Moses hopes to make it an annual event. Moses said Jean-Mary is slated to be the student opener before another hired opening act, in a setup similar to this year’s Fall Fest, when student band Bencoolen opened for Moses Sumney.

Program board plans to announce the Spring Fling headliner and opener around the time of spring break.

There were no restrictions on the type of material, but all students performed musical acts that ranged from rap to piano performances to contemporary pop. Some students performed original songs.

“I thought long and hard about the songs I wanted to do. I figured I’d give them a side A and a side B,” Jean-Mary said.

The judges said they were drawn to Jean-Mary’s enthusiasm and command of the stage.

“One line you’re rhyming lingerie with chardonnay and the next you’re making a Dragon Ball Z reference,” Francis said with a laugh.

Another performer who won the audience over was senior Lillian Dawit, who tied for second place. Her rendition of “Listen” from “Dreamgirls” was met with loud cheers from the audience every time she belted out a high note, although Dawit admitted she was nervous.

“I was shaking before,” she said. “When I sing, I kind of overcome the nerves, but then immediately after [I finished] I started shaking again.”

Bossov said she thought the talent show was something that had been missing on campus.

“Having a talent show where kids not necessarily involved in a capella groups or theater or anything like that [can perform] can really bring the GW community together,” she said. “There’s so much talent at GW, and I think tonight was a really great way to showcase that.”

As a judge, Bossov said she felt “honored to be on the same level as Captain Cookie.”

The captain himself seemed to have a great time, showering the performers with praise and infusing cookie-related jokes into his commentary.

“I was going to score people based on how many cookies they usually buy,” Francis joked with a contestant, before adding that he’d give her a generous score even if she weren’t a devoted customer.

In addition to performing at Spring Fling, the winner will have the opportunity to perform Saturday at the women’s basketball halftime show. Jean-Mary will have to choose from his current repertoire for that televised performance, but he has bigger plans for Spring Fling.

“I’ll probably make another original piece and try to have it a little bit more specific to GW if I can,” he said. “But it’ll have the same intensity that I did tonight.”

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Members of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission discuss late-night noise patrols at Wednesday's meeting.  Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Members of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission discuss late-night noise patrols at Wednesday’s meeting.
Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Robin Eberhardt.

Foggy Bottom’s local governance board approved a resolution on Wednesday night that asks GW to begin late-night patrols of off-campus parts of the neighborhood.

The Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission unanimously voted in favor of a resolution asking the University to have staff members patrol the neighborhood on Thursday and weekend nights to break up parties past 10 p.m.

The plan calls for adopt a model similar to one that Georgetown University already uses. The suggested patrol system would not include members of the University Police Department.

Britany Waddell, director of community relations for GW, said at the meeting that the University will consider reevaluating their current system next semester. In August, the University nailed down formal sanctions for students who live off-campus and violate noise and trash codes put in place by the city, and Waddell added at the meeting that the University wanted time for these sanctions to be in place before adding additional changes.

“I can’t make any promises tonight,” Waddell said.

In September, Foggy Bottom neighbors announced their plans of neighborhood patrols, a group of residents who walk through the streets and report noisy townhouse parties.

One commissioner, Asher Corson, said two Foggy Bottom neighbors, who have slammed the University for their enforcement of noise laws off-campus, contacted the Metropolitan Police Department and found that Georgetown’s patrol system was legally within the rights of the university.

Neighbors have said they want the University to officially adopt Georgetown University’s plan for the past year.

“It’s a legal system that we can also implement here in Foggy Bottom,” Corson said.

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A temporary fire station is being built on L Street between 21st and 22nd streets while the West End fire station undergoes renovations. Aly Kruse | Hatchet Staff Photographer

A temporary fire station is being built on L Street between 21st and 22nd streets while the West End fire station undergoes renovations. Aly Kruse | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Brandon Lee.

A temporary fire station built behind the Thaddeus Stevens School will open in December while its original location in the West End neighborhood undergoes large-scale renovations.

The permit to build the temporary station was granted three months ago, and will help a $150 million neighborhood renovation project make progress  four years after its initial approval in 2010. The development will upgrade the West End firehouse and library and add new residential and commercial spaces to the neighborhood.

A groundbreaking at the permanent station will be held on Dec. 15. The D.C. Fire Department’s Engine 1 and Truck 2 will be housed at the school until finishing touches on the new station are completed in late 2016.

The project on the nearly 50-year-old West End fire station, which hasn’t been renovated since being built, is important for responding to nearby emergencies, said Tim Wilson, a spokesperson for D.C. Fire and Emergency Services.

“We’ve outgrown the space we have at the current location,” he said. “Moving to the school was to make sure our service there would still be available in that part of town.”

Once the trucks are moved to the temporary lot by the end of the November, real estate company EastBanc Inc. will then have the go-ahead and break ground on the sites for the brand new library and firehouse.

Patrick Kennedy, chairman of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission, said the site behind the school was chosen because there were few other empty lots elsewhere in the neighborhood.

“There was some community concern that there isn’t any perfect place for the interim location,” he said. “This was one track they had empty land available, and we all wanted an updated fire station for public safety.”

Kennedy added that moving fire engines there hasn’t been without some controversy, because neighbors in the area have voiced concern about increased noise in the area.

“Obviously, everything will be good when everything is completed,” he said. “We’re just going to have to tolerate a little inconvenience in the interim and keep that as short as possible.”

Thaddeus Stevens School, a historically black elementary school, was shut down six years ago by D.C. Public Schools. One company proposed converting it into an apartment building, which faced massive backlash from neighbors who feared it would house rowdy students from GW.

Over the summer, the District approved turning the space into a school under the Ivymount program, which caters specifically to children with autism and works with GW’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development.

Molly Whalen, director of development at Ivymount, said ANC commissioners have testified in support of the school, which will be the first tenant since 2008 to occupy the faded building.

“It’s a perfect place and a central location for really effective autism education,” she said. “Our neighbors and the ANC have been very excited about seeing the building be used as a school again.”

The current five-decades-old West End Library continues to remain vacated after being closed in June, but a temporary library was established in the Watergate Complex on Virginia Avenue.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Aishvarya Kavi

What are our rights as American citizens in a post 9/11 society?

Amitai Etzioni, a professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs, and Susan Herman, president of the American Civil Liberties Union, went head-to-head Wednesday night to debate that very issue.

Here are four of the biggest takeaways from the discussion.

1. The Patriot Act

Herman opened up the debate by saying laws like the Patriot Act that were passed after 9/11 allowed the government to wield too much secrecy and expected the American people to trust them blindly.

“The statute does not distinguish between teaching a terrorist to use a bomb or teaching a terrorist to use a harmonica or trying to teach a terrorist not to be a terrorist,” Herman said.

She added that laws which allow searches without a warrant undermined equality in the U.S.

“Minorities pay the price,” she said.

2. Security vs. equality

Etzioni countered by arguing that sacrifices are need for the security.

“People don’t have, first of all, their most basic right protected – the right to be alive,” he said.

Etzioni said his opinions were shared by the majority of Americans following 9/11 and it was worth giving up certain rights to be safe.

“70 percent of the American public said,’Forget the Constitution, give me security,’” he said.

3. Unfair targeting of Muslims

Etzioni said that the majority of Muslims, who were targeted after 9/11, followed the Quran nonviolently. Only a minority did not.

“All of the public opinions that have been written in English from all of the Muslim nations, they show very, very clearly that an overwhelming majority of Muslims abhor violence,” he said. “It’s a minority of Muslims who endorse and embrace that particular interpretation of the Quran.”

Etzioni said only about 1,000 Muslims actually wanted to cause harm to Western populations, as opposed to numbers that are often greatly exaggerated by the media.

4. Online privacy concerns

During a question and answer session, an audience member said younger generations are giving away private information to operations like Facebook and Google, which then process the information secretly. Herman disagreed.

“I think most young people have given up the control of their own data,” Herman said. “I think that most young people…understand that if they post a picture on Facebook…that that can get around but what they don’t want to see happen is that happen without their willing participation.”

She added that there was a large difference between the data collected by governments and the data gathered by companies.

“Last time I checked, Amazon couldn’t arrest anyone,” she said.

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University President Steven Knapp awarded alumnus Simon Lee the President's Medal Wednesday night. Lee, who graduated from the School of Engineering and Applied Science in 2005, has donated millions of dollars to the University, including funds for exchange programs at SEAS. Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

University President Steven Knapp awarded alumnus Simon Lee the President’s Medal Wednesday night. Lee, who graduated from the School of Engineering and Applied Science in 2005, has donated millions of dollars to the University, including funds for exchange programs at SEAS. Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Julia Arciga

University President Steven Knapp awarded alumnus Simon Lee the President’s Medal in a ceremony held in the Jack Morton Auditorium on Wednesday night.

Lee, who graduated with an advanced degree from School of Engineering and Applied Science, is the first Korean-American to receive the honor. The President’s Medal recognizes individuals who have exhibited courage, character and leadership in their chosen fields and is among the highest honors GW can give an alumnus.

Here are three things you need to know about Lee:

1. Korean-Born success story

Lee was born in rural Korea in 1949. Lee’s brother sold the family’s cattle and land to be able to afford to put Lee through high school before going onto Korea University to study industrial engineering.

“Without my brother, I would not be where I am today or who I am today,” Lee said.

He emigrated to Washington, D.C. in 1979 and worked for several technology companies. He started STG, Inc. in 1986, which has risen through the ranks to become a prominent federal contractor in information technology.

2. A family affair

Lee arrived in the U.S. with a goal of earning a degree from GW. After 25 years of balancing studying and his responsibilities as CEO of STG, he graduated with a masters in systems engineering from SEAS in 2005. He participated then in GW’s commencement ceremony alongside three of his children, who were also graduating.

“GW is truly a home for the Lee family, and it will be for many years to come, since I am already preparing my young grandchildrens’ applications,” Lee said.

Lee was inducted into the SEAS Hall of Fame in 2010 and received a GW Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award in 2012. He is a member of the SEAS National Advisory Council and participated in the GW Global Forum in Seoul, a conference where hundreds of other GW alumni and industry leaders discussed global growth and innovation.

3. Higher education beyond himself

Lee was key in establishing the Korea University undergraduate exchange program for SEAS students through his $1 million dollar endowment to the program in 2010. He donated another $1 million to expand the exchange program for graduate students and professors.

“Lee is a truly tireless spokesperson for the power of education to transform lives.” said SEAS dean David Dolling. “Nobody is a more effective ambassador for GW, building programs and developing relationships that benefit our students and our faculty.”

His own pursuits towards higher education and his passion to pay it forward have been a large part of his philanthropic efforts, Knapp said.

“[His] devotion to the future of engineering and our society is boundless,” Knapp said. “[He] never gave up on [his] goal to attend GW, and [his] commitment to higher education has given our students and so many others across the world the opportunity to realize their dreams.”

Lee  said he hopes to aid the growth and expansion of unique programs at GW and other universities to give students more opportunities.

“This is my mission, my passion, and my civic duty,” Lee said. “This medal, this call to action, is heard loud and clear. This exciting journey has just begun.”

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Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014 4:57 p.m.

Sexual abuse reported in Amsterdam Hall

A female student reported Monday she was sexually abused by another student, according to the University crime log.

The student told the University Police Department that a male student had “taken advantage of her” in Amsterdam Hall the night of Nov. 8, University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said.

The student first reported the incident to a University employee and later reported the abuse to UPD.

The case was referred to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, according to the crime log.

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Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014 4:42 p.m.

Alumnus’ death investigated as homicide

The death of a GW alumnus is being investigated as a homicide, Anne Arundel County police officials said yesterday.

Seydou Alassane Ba was found dead in a running vehicle in Millersville, Md. on Monday morning. Officers originally responded to a single vehicle accident, but began investigating the 46-year-old’s death as a homicide because of his injuries, NBC4 Washington reported.

Ba graduated from GW with a master’s in computer science, his sister told NBC4 Washington.

An autopsy was scheduled to take place yesterday.

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Mayor Vincent Gray declared a cold-weather emergency for Tuesday night, according to a city press release.

The “cold emergency plan” will go into effect at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, which means the city will take measures like setting up warming sites for the homeless. D.C. law requires homeless residents to be placed in shelters if a hypothermia warning goes into effect.

“During what is predicted to be dangerously cold weather, I encourage all to be mindful of persons who might need shelter,” Gray said in the release.

Cold-weather alerts are issued when the temperature is expected to fall to 15 degrees Fahrenheit or 20 degrees Fahrenheit with precipitation.

Tuesday’s temperatures were about 25 degrees below average, the Capital Weather Gang reported.

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About 60 local high school students came to Foggy Bottom last week to get a feel for campus life and hear from current GW students.

The visit shook some of the high schoolers’ perceptions and was one of several steps GW, a local nonprofit and D.C. high schools are taking to encourage lower-income students to apply to selective schools

Page Nine sat down with Hatchet news editor Allison Kowalski to learn more about what’s keeping low-income students from applying to selective colleges, and what projects are in the works to change the status quo.

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Director of GW Housing Programs Seth Weinshel told a group of SA senators Monday that District House was designed to meet student needs. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Director of GW Housing Programs Seth Weinshel told a group of SA senators Monday that District House was designed to meet student needs. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Natalie Maher.

With three semesters left until the opening of GW’s newest residence hall, details on how District House’s interior will look have started to come together.

Director of GW Housing Programs Seth Weinshel told students at Monday night’s Student Association Senate meeting that the newly built affinity units will have suite-style rooms and “significantly sized” dining and living spaces, which were designed to be large enough to host student organization meetings and free up student space across campus.

“Groups will no longer need to reserve space in Marvin. They now have space in their own home,” Weinshel said.

There will be seven units for registered student groups of 16 members and seven units for groups with 20 members. Rooms within the affinity spaces will also have their own free washer and dryer units.

Applications for affinity housing space in the building will open up within the next year, Weinshel said.

District House will be the second-largest residence hall on campus. The building, which will house about 850 sophomores and juniors, is set to open in fall 2016.

Rooms were designed to include splashes of color throughout – a decision Weinshel said was made after meetings with senators and other student leaders, who noted that dorms have a tendency to be “colorless and boring.”

Depending on an affinity’s floor, the rooms will have an orange, yellow, green or blue color scheme. Doors will be painted with the floor’s respective color, and there will be smaller color accents throughout, like in a room’s kitchen backsplash or living room rug, Weinshel said.

There will be five dining venues in the dorm’s basement, similar to the setup in Shenkman Hall. Weinshel said GW will not know which vendors will move into the space until about six months before the building’s opening.

In addition to the affinity spaces, the building will also have apartment-style rooms with two bedrooms and bathrooms, a kitchen and a living room, which will cost $14,240, Weinshel said. That number is based on the current cost for Shenkman doubles, he said.

There will also be “efficiency-style” rooms in the building that will look similar to doubles in Munson Hall, which have a kitchenette and bathroom.

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