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Igor Efimov discusses his plans for the biomedical engineering department, which celebrated its official launch Wednesday. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Igor Efimov discusses his plans for the biomedical engineering department, which celebrated its official launch Wednesday. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Dozens gathered in the new Lehman Auditorium of the Science and Engineering Hall on Wednesday for the official launch of the biomedical engineering department.

The department, which began at the start of last semester, introduced its new endowed chair, Igor Efimov, and a panel discussed the future of biomedical engineering.

Here are some highlights from the event:

1. An industry-driven future

Efimov, who came to GW from Washington University in St. Louis, said he planned to take advantage of the research institutes near campus to create a new degree for biomedical engineering students.

He said the regulatory affairs degree would help agencies like the FDA manage medical devices like the ones biomedical engineers often create.

“We have to use the advantages of the Washington, D.C. area,” Efimov said. “We do have next door the FDA, NIH, NSF – we can lavish this expertise and resources for a new degree.”

He added that he hopes to add 14 new faculty members to the department, bringing the total to 20 by 2030.

“Research shows that in order to be competitive, we have to have at least 15 faculty members,” he said. “Currently we are only six faculty members, and so actually this was proposed and the University showed support, so we’ll be growing.”

2. Location, location, location

Morton Friedman, a research professor, said that at all his previous institutions, how close one department was to another directly correlated to how much they were able to work together.

The closeness of SEAS to the medical school was one of the reasons Friedman decided to come to GW, he said.

“We have the medical school and the Milken school in this building and as well as across the street,” Friedman said. “So that’s an opportunity.”

3. Context is key

Peter Katona, an affiliate professor of bioengineering and electrical and computer engineering at George Mason University, gave a presentation that highlighted the growth of biomedical engineering over the years.

He said there are now more than 100 biomedical engineering departments across the country, a large increase from the handful that existed decades earlier.

“I think the future needs to understand society,” he said. “I think they need to understand that medical care is important.”

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Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015 8:34 p.m.

Alumna shares tips on how to survive in D.C.

Torie Clark, an alumna of the School of Media and Public Affairs and former assistant secretary of defense, shared life advice about living in D.C. from her new book. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

Torie Clark, a School of Media and Public Affairs alumna and former assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, shared advice about living in D.C. from her new book. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Catherine Moran.

An alumna and former assistant secretary of defense for public affairs shared advice from her new book, “A Survivor’s Guide to Washington: How to Succeed without Losing Your Soul,” at GW on Tuesday.

Dozens came to the Marvin Center to hear from Torie Clark, who graduated from the School of Media and Public Affairs in 1982 and served under Donald Rumsfeld, and a panel of other former insiders.

The discussion, hosted by SMPA and the Graduate School of Political Management, included insights into professional and personal social circles in D.C. Here are some of the takeaways from the event:

1. Keep your friends close

Jamie Baker, a recent GSPM graduate and legislative assistant, said combining professional and nonprofessional relationships is possible even if friends don’t share the same political beliefs.

He suggested avoiding situations where fights over politics could erupt, and to stick to more neutral topics.

“Some of my dear friends are Democrats and I’m a Republican. And people are like, ‘How can you stand in the same room as them and talk policy?’” he said. “We don’t. We talk football. We go to lunch.”

2. Stay authentic

Janelle Carter Brevard, a former senior advisor and speechwriter for former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said she has not worked for anyone whose philosophies didn’t align with her own, and that honesty keeps her grounded.

“I think that what’s allowed me to be successful in Washington as a speechwriter, particularly, is the ability to be honest with the people I work for and work with. You need to be very honest,” Brevard said.

Lorraine Voles, the vice president of external relations at GW, said building honest relationships is important to avoiding arrogance.

She said the only way to succeed in the District was by maintaining connections with others.

“In your career, I’d say to make sure that you are honest to the core,” Voles said. “All you have in this town is your reputation.”

3. Humor goes a long way

The key to success? According to Clarke, being funny.

“If you don’t have a sense of humor, you’re not going to last very long,” Clarke said.

P. J. Crowley, a former assistant secretary of state for public affairs, said he uses his Twitter to share his political humor.

When rescuers went to retrieve an incarcerated missionary who had crossed the border into North Korea in 2009, Crowley tweeted, “Americans should heed our #travel warning and avoid North Korea. We only have a handful of former Presidents.”

Chuck Todd selected the tweet as the D.C. tweet of the year.

“When I got to the State Department, my young staff came to me and said, ‘You have to tweet.’ And I got very very good at it,” Crowley said. “I beat out Snooki and Sarah Palin.”

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David Jobes, a suicidologist, met with students and answered questions in a presentation Thursday. Jobes met with faculty on campus last week. Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

David Jobes, a suicidologist, met with students and answered questions in a presentation Thursday. Jobes met with faculty on campus last week. Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Madeline Katz.

David Jobes, a suicidologist and psychology professor at Catholic University, spoke about ending stigmas associated with mental illness and treatment on Thursday at the Marvin Center.

Mental health has become a major focus on campus over the past year, after three student suicides in the spring and a suicide attempt last semester. These are some of the main points from the talk:

1. Some distress is normal

Jobes pointed out that distress is a “perfectly normal” occurrence for college students, though it can be more severe for some students. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for people between the ages of 18 and 24, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Jobes said during his own college experience, he struggled as he adjusted to life at school.

“This is what I faced as a college student. I wasn’t clinically depressed, I know that now. I was in a funk,” he said. “But I overcame it, got my act together and made my way through college. I think that’s perfectly normal.”

2. More than just a ‘morbid topic’

Jobes, who has studied suicide for nearly 40 years, said his job is not just to focus on suicides that have occurred but to look at ways to be proactive and prevent suicide.

“It’s not really a morbid topic because we are so preoccupied with living and preventing suicides, and we know that we can prevent most suicides,” Jobes said.

3. The protective nature of college

He said being on a college campus, while it can present stresses, can also be helpful to a student’s mental health because of the resources available and the strength of the community.

“Those not in college have much higher rates of [suicide] completions than those on campus,” Jobes said.

But he also said it’s important for faculty and students to understand what they should do if they are concerned about another person’s mental health.

“Student want to act a junior therapists for their friends, but really the friend should bring them to a professional,” Jobes said.

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The majority of students say GW must do more to raise awareness of sexual harassment on campus, according to survey responses released Wednesday.

The results from the 40-question anonymous campus climate survey come almost a year after the University conducted the questionnaire. A total of 713 graduates and undergraduate students filled out the survey, part of GW’s efforts to improve its sexual assault response and better create programming to support students.

Almost a quarter of undergraduates said they had experienced sexual harassment, sexual violence, dating or domestic violence, or stalking while enrolled at GW, according to the survey. Eighteen percent of undergraduates said they had carried out those actions.

About half of all students said they “didn’t know” if the University would respond adequately to a reported incident.

– Thirty-six percent of female upperclassmen and 35 percent of LGBT students said they had experienced “unwanted sexual behavior,” such as receiving unwanted comments, sexual pictures or notes. Members of those groups also experienced forced sexual encounters at the highest rate, 31 percent.

– About 80 percent of students said they did not know how to contact a Title IX coordinator or the University’s Sexual Assault Response Consultative team, a trained group of staff members that provides resources and information to survivors.

– Fifteen percent of undergraduate students and 6 percent of graduate students said GW hasn’t been successful in creating “a climate free from unwanted sexual behavior.”

– About 21 percent of female freshmen said they felt unsafe on campus at night.

– About 45 percent of undergraduates and graduate students said they were “neutral” when asked to rate how effectively the University creates a climate free of unwanted sexual behavior.

The survey also included space for students to make comments about GW’s sexual assault policy, which was approved two years ago.

“It’s clear we need to do more to raise education and awareness,” Title IX Coordinator Rory Muhammad said in a release. “We need to have more targeted efforts, both with the content of our programming and the delivery of it to specific communities on campus.”

Sexual assault has become a more prominent topic on campus over the last year, leading to a cascade of changes from the University. Officials hired a permanent Title IX coordinator in November, filling a nearly year-long vacancy in the office.

GW is also in the process of hiring an assistant Title IX coordinator, who will help create bystander intervention trainings, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Terri Harris Reed said recently.

At the end of last semester, officials created a sexual assault prevention committee, which brought together a group of students and faculty members to talk about University resources and ways to improve the response to sexual violence on campus. So far, that group has talked about starting trainings or creating a flowchart to teach faculty the role they would play if a student approached them about a sexual assault.

Twenty-three sexual abuses were reported to the University Police Department last semester, the most reported to campus police in any semester over the last four years, according to a Hatchet analysis of GW crime logs.

Conducting an anonymous survey is one of the benchmarks that a White House task force has recommended as an effective way to help prevent sexual assault. GW signed on to the White House’s sexual assault prevention campaign, “It’s On Us,” in September, alongside hundreds of other colleges.

About 3,000 students received the random survey in their GW email inboxes.

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will join Justice Antonin Scalia at GW next month. Hatchet file photo.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will join Justice Antonin Scalia at GW next month. Hatchet File Photo.

Updated: Jan. 27, 2015 at 4:34 p.m.

U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia will return to Lisner Auditorium on Thursday, Feb. 12 to discuss their tenures on the highest federal court in the nation.

Nina Totenberg, NPR’s legal affairs correspondent, will moderate the conversation between the two justices that will cover memorable cases and their mutual love of the opera.

Ginsburg visited Lisner in September and advocated for the Equal Rights Amendment. Scalia was last on campus in 2013 when he lectured about the Constitution.

Tickets sold online through The Smithsonian Associates website are sold out, but GW students and alumni can stop by Lisner’s box office with a GWorld card to purchase one of a limited number of $10 tickets. The event will begin at 6:45 p.m.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
Due to an editing error, The Hatchet incorrectly spelled Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s last name. It is Ginsburg, not Ginsberg. We regret this error.

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The Student Association voted on bills related to the upcoming campaign cycle, including one that limited the amount candidates can spend and another that requires the Joint Election Committee to make public all spending by candidates. The first bill failed, while the second passed. Charlie Lee | Hatchet Staff Photographer

The Student Association voted on bills related to the upcoming campaign cycle, including one that limited the amount candidates can spend and another that requires the Joint Election Committee to make public all spending by candidates. The first bill failed, while the second passed. Charlie Lee | Hatchet Staff Photographer

A Student Association bill that would have slashed the amount candidates are allowed to spend on the upcoming campaign cycle by half failed in a vote Monday night.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Victoria Goncalves, CCAS-U, said she hopes to be able to bring the bill back to the Senate at its next meeting in two weeks, but may change the amount the bill would limit each candidate.

“The SA should be something that shouldn’t cost people money to participate in,” Goncalves said. “We should make campaigns more affordable.”

Candidates for the top positions in the SA, Program Board and the Marvin Center Governing Board are allowed to spend up $1,000 on their campaigns. SA Senators At-Large are limited to $750, and all other SA and Class Council candidates are cut off at $500.

Goncalves said she plans to speak with Finance Committee Chair Ben Pryde and other senators to learn their opinions and figure out how much they spent on past campaigns.

Sen. Thomas Falcigno, CCAS-U, said, when he was running, he needed to spend close to his limit to reach all of the students that he represents.

“I believe people need that money in order to reach out to 6,000 kids,” he said. “I believe this amendment hurts those who want to vote.”

Other senators said they did not spend nearly as much as they are allowed to spend. Instead, they said they relied on social media and personally reaching out to students instead of buying posters or creating websites to win votes.

“Make yourself available to the constituents,” said Sen Sean Kumnick, CCAS-U. “Go on Facebook and go door-to-door, all of those other things.”

The Senate did pass another bill by Goncalves which, in a move towards more transparency, would post all spending by candidates online after 30 minutes of the Joint Election Committee receiving the expenditure.

“I think there are still transparency issues we can work on in the SA, especially with elections coming up soon,” Goncalves said. “I also wanted to see how much money people are spending so we can continue to work on the bylaws.”

- Aishvarya Kavi contributed reporting

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Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015 1:02 a.m.

Security leaders pitch campus resources to RHA

Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell, left, and University Police Department Interim Chief Frank Demes speak with Residence Hall Association members Monday night about campus safety resources for students. Charlie Lee | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell, left, and University Police Department interim chief Frank Demes speak with Residence Hall Association members Monday about campus safety resources for students. Charlie Lee | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Updated: Jan. 29, 2015 at 10:03 p.m.

Alcohol has been a factor in every sexual assault reported to the University Police Department in the last four years, GW’s security chief said Monday.

Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell and UPD interim chief Frank Demes urged members of the Residence Hall Association to share more information with other students about campus resources for sexual assault, alcohol use and mental health at a meeting Monday night.

Ari Massefski, the group’s president, also announced that the University will renovate Fulbright Hall’s basement and purchase new furniture for the space to reward students for winning the eco-challenge

Here are the key takeaways from the meeting.

1. Fighting sexual assault and alcohol abuse

Darnell encouraged RHA members to tell other students about GW’s resources for sexual assault, such as the Sexual Assault Response Consultative Team. Last semester, 23 sexual abuses were reported to UPD, the highest number since 2010, which experts say could be an indicator that more students feel comfortable reporting.

“There is not a more heinous crime outside of murder than sexual assault,” Darnell said, adding that in every sexual assault case that’s been reported to UPD since he came to campus in 2010, alcohol has been a factor.

Darnell said he would always “err on the side of caution,” choosing to transport unresponsive students who had been drinking to the hospital rather than assume they were safe. Alcohol plays a role in the culture on college campuses, though, he said.

“I only want you to help yourselves and take care of your neighbors,” he said. “I’m not naive enough to think you’re not going to drink underage or have fake IDs. And you guys have some damn good fake IDs.”

2. Spreading awareness of mental health resources

The University has increased its advocacy efforts to help improve students’ mental health, and Demes encouraged RHA members to promote the CARE Network and the University Counseling Center. GW was shaken by three suicides last year, which spurred more mental health advocacy on campus.

“You guys really are the ones who can help. If you notice differences in behavior, or the friends they keep, reach out to them, and encourage your floor mates to do the same thing,” Demes said.

Just letting other students know about GW’s mental health services could make them more inclined to use those resources if they need to, Darnell added.

“Some people may not want to talk to you, or want to trust you,” he said. “If you can continue to talk about services, it’ll put it in their heads where they can seek out the help they need.”

3. Promoting the GW PAL phone app

GW’s PAL phone application has been downloaded more than 3,200 times since it was unveiled last fall to make it easier for students to contact UPD in an emergency, Darnell said.

Darnell added that GW is also working to allow students to text UPD in emergency situations.

“The good thing is we haven’t had to use it a lot, but the bad thing is we haven’t been able to see how good it is because we haven’t had to use it a lot,” Darnell said.

This post was updated to reflect the following corrections:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell said alcohol has been a factor in every sexual assault reported in GW’s crime log in the last four years. Alcohol has actually been a factor in every sexual assault reported to UPD in the last four years. GW’s crime log includes crimes that were not first reported to UPD. The Hatchet incorrectly reported that 23 sexual assaults were reported to UPD last semester. In fact, 23 sexual abuses were reported. The Hatchet also incorrectly reported that the University was working to allow students to send pictures to UPD through the GW PAL app. The app already has that feature. We regret these errors.

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Monday, Jan. 26, 2015 11:07 p.m.

HeForShe D.C. campaign launches at GW

GW took its place in the global fight for gender equality when the University hosted the HeForShe D.C. campaign launch Monday.

The UN Women National Capital Chapter, D.C.’s branch, is aiming to get 10,000 male signatures on the HeForShe Pledge, a commitment that asks men to taking action against all forms of violence and discrimination facing women, member Tim Harwood said.

HeForShe aims to engage men and boys specifically as advocates for gender equality and women’s rights – an effort to create a solidarity movement. The campaign focuses on ending violence against women, empowering women in economics, and helping more women secure a role in politics.

“Go beyond the pledge. Work for equality in your local community here in Washington,” Harwood said.

About 75 GW students attended the event, including members of fraternity chapters and Students Against Sexual Assault. The D.C. launch event included prominent women’s rights activists from Global Women’s Institute, Men Can Stop Rape, and Promundo, and Orlando Dixon, an R&B singer from NBC’s The Voice, led the pledge-signing.

HeForShe D.C. will partner with local D.C. organizations to educate young men on gender equality and stopping violence against women.

Emma Watson, the UN Women Goodwill ambassador, called for HeForShe’s creation in September when she spoke in front of the UN. During her speech, which has been viewed online more than 11 million times, Watson emphasized each individual’s importance in helping to achieve gender equality globally.

Celebrities and high-profile policy makers, including President Barack Obama and UN General Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, have already signed the pledge on HeForShe’s website.

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Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 1:40 a.m.

Photos: Roe v. Wade anniversary

Pro-Choice action began at the Supreme Court on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade lead by organizations focused on Women's rights such as the National Organization for Women. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Pro-choice demonstrations were held Thursday at the Supreme Court on the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion. Organizations focused on women’s rights, such as the National Organization for Women, led the protests. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

 

As activists from the March for Life arrived at the Supreme Court, authorities demanded order between protesters as tension rose between pro-life and pro-choice protestors. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

When activists from the March for Life arrived at the Supreme Court, authorities asked for order as tensions rose between pro-life and pro-choice protestors. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

 

As some protestors refused to cooperate with police action, activists including members of Stop Patriarchy faced arrest. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Some protestors refused to cooperate with police, and members of Stop Patriarchy and other activists faced arrest. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

 

The March for Life arrived at the Supreme Court mid afternoon with students from local schools leading a crowd of thousands. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

The March for Life arrived at the Supreme Court in the mid-afternoon, with students from local schools leading a crowd of thousands. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

 

The annual March for Life began on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, taking place on the National Mall and marching to the Supreme Court. Lydia Francis | Hatchet Photographer

The March for Life has been organized every year since 1974 and stretches from the National Mall to the Supreme Court building. Lydia Francis | Hatchet Photographer

 

The March for Life included a strong focus on young activists, involving many local schools and youth based organizations including Students for Life of America. Lydia Francis | Hatchet Photographer

The March for Life drew local schools and youth-based organizations, including Students for Life of America. Lydia Francis | Hatchet Photographer

 

Actions surrounding the anniversary of Roe v. Wade began the day before with protests in front of the White House by pro-life activists staging a die-in and demanding change in abortion laws. Desiree Halpern | Contributing Photo Editor

Demonstrations began the day before the anniversary, with pro-life activists staging a die-in protest and demanding change in abortion laws in front of the White House. Desiree Halpern | Contributing Photo Editor

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