News and Analysis


Andrew Goudsward

Updated: Jan. 3, 2017 at 3:42 p.m.

2016 seemed to be a year when just about anything could happen, but 2017 is poised to be a particularly important year on GW’s campus. With a new neighbor moving into the White House and the anticipated arrival of a new University president, almost anything could happen on campus over the next 12 months.

Here are some of the top stories to keep an eye out for in 2017.

A new president

Trustees Nelson Carbonell and Madeline Jacobs field questions at a presidential search town hall for faculty. The two are helping to lead the search for the next president. Hatchet file photo by Madeline Cook | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Trustees Nelson Carbonell and Madeline Jacobs field questions at a presidential search town hall for faculty. The two are helping to lead the search for the next president. Hatchet file photo by Madeline Cook | Hatchet Staff Photographer

University President Steven Knapp is slated to leave the University at the end of July, ending his decade-long tenure as GW’s top official. To replace him, a 19-member search committee has met throughout the past semester and received more than 100 nominations. The committee is expected to recommend its top candidates to the Board of Trustees early this year. The Board will then make a final decision, with input from faculty.

The new president will lead a University that is increasingly diverse, focused on research and dealing with cuts to the central administration. The Board of Trustees named a commitment to diversity and inclusion and experience in raising money among the top qualities they were looking for in GW’s 17th president.

Trump takes over

Nearly 400 members of The George Washington University community descended into Kogan Plaza last semester in protest of President-elect Donald Trump's proposed policies. Hatchet file photo by Alyssa Bogosian | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Nearly 400 members of The George Washington University community descended into Kogan Plaza last semester in protest of President-elect Donald Trump’s proposed policies. Hatchet file photo by Alyssa Bogosian | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Donald Trump will move in just blocks away from the Foggy Bottom Campus during the first couple of weeks of 2017. After his election in November, progressive student groups led a walk out and demanded University officials protect students who could potentially be harmed by the incoming president’s proposed policies.

In response, officials remained largely nonpartisan, but Knapp signed letters supporting an Obama administration program shielding young undocumented students from deportation and urging the new administration and Congress to act on climate change. Trump’s policies could also impact GW’s effort to expand its international student population, adding even more weight to how . How GW officials and students respond to their new neighbor will be a major issue to watch in the coming year.

Looming battle over unionization

Resident advisers will find out early in 2017 whether the National Labour Relations Board will allow them to form a union. The board heard from both University officials and the petitioning RAs at a hearing last month. If the student employees are allowed to unionize, it would be the first such union at a private university.

The NLRB’s decision could set up a showdown between RAs and GW administrators, as the University has come out in opposition to unionization.

A student trustee?

Student Association President Erika Feinman has been pushing to add a student to the Board of Trustees. Hatchet file photo by Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor.

Student Association President Erika Feinman has been pushing to add a student to the Board of Trustees. Hatchet file photo by Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor.

A Board of Trustees task force has been meeting throughout the semester to examine how and whether to incorporate a GW student on the board, a major campaign goal for SA President Erika Feinman.

The conclusions of that task force will be vital in the coming months as student leaders look to achieve what previous student governments could not, student representation on the Board.

When will they open?

It's unclear when the four remaining vendors in District House will open. Hatchet file photo by Olivia Anderson | Contributing Photo Editor

It’s unclear when the four remaining vendors in District House will open. Hatchet file photo by Olivia Anderson | Contributing Photo Editor

Officials planned on the opening of several vendors in District House last semester, but after a series of delays, only two – Wiseguys Pizza and Beef ‘n’ Bread – have opened so far.

The delays have left students with fewer on-campus food choices than expected after J Street closed and officials instituted a new open dining plan, which allows students to spend their dining dollars at certain vendors near or on campus.

A second year of cuts

2017 will mark the second year of planned cuts to the central administration. Each central administration unit is expected to slash its budget by 3 to 5 percent each fiscal year until 2021.

The first round of cuts, announced last summer, saw around 40 positions cut affecting GW libraries, technology, student affairs, safety and security and treasurer’s offices. The cuts also forced the dissolution of the Office of Parent Services and have tasked some offices to get creative in how they spend money.

This post has been updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Wiseguys Pizza was the only vendor open in District House. Beef ‘n’ Bread has also opened in the building. We regret this error.

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Updated: Aug. 12, 2016 at 9:48 a.m.

Say goodbye to afternoon pretzels and strawberry lemonade in the Marvin Center.

Auntie Anne’s, the popular soft pretzel venue on the first floor of the Marvin Center, closed after last semester, University spokesman Kurtis Hiatt said in an email Tuesday.

J Street, formerly the Foggy Bottom campus’s dining hall, is currently undergoing renovations and the space will become a more modest dining option.

The pretzel chain opened its location on campus in the fall of 2012.

Students who want to get their pretzel fix will have to head to Union Station, now the closest Auntie Anne’s location to campus, according to the company’s website.

Officials so far have not said if there will be any dining venues in the Marvin Center to replace J Street, which closed as part of a plan to overhaul campus dining. Restaurant Associates took over for Sodexo as campus dining provider earlier this summer.

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Some classes will start outside of the Flagg Building on 17th Street as renovations continue. Hatchet file photo by Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor

Some classes will start outside of the Flagg Building on 17th Street as renovations continue. Hatchet file photo by Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor

Sculpture classes at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design will begin the school year outside the school’s flagship building after planned summer renovations have taken longer than anticipated, officials said in a release Monday.

For at least the first three weeks of the school year, the classes, originally scheduled to meet in the Flagg Building on 17th Street, will be held in Smith Hall and use the metal fabrication shop in the Science and Engineering Hall, the school’s director Sanjit Sethi said in a release.

The more-than-a-century-old building, which housed both the school and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, began the first phase of an estimated $47.5 multi-year renovation project this summer to repair the building’s outdated infrastructure and modernize its art facilities. Some of the summer projects are not expected to be completed by the start of the academic year, meaning access will initially be restricted to certain parts of the building, according to the release.

“As you can imagine, large-scale renovations rarely go as planned and working on a 120-year-old building that is on the National Register of Historic Places adds complexity to this project,” he said in the release. “With this in mind, there have been unanticipated delays as to what we had hoped to accomplish by the start of the fall 2016 semester.”

Construction crews are working 60 hour-a-week shifts to finish the work as quickly as possible, Sethi said in the release.

Officials said the renovations this summer were focused on bringing the building up to modern safety codes and increase its handicap access. Work took place primarily in the sub-basement, basement and first floor. Here’s what crews have worked on this summer, according to the release:

  • Workers expanded a painting and drawing studio in the basement and constructed two new classrooms that will hold museum studies classes and other seminars. A new wheel studio is also under construction.
  • Staircases to the sub-basement were replaced and widened, and a new elevator was installed.
  • Crews removed building materials, furniture and equipment to install updated plumbing, electrical and mechanical equipment in the sub-basement. This school year, Corcoran students can submit project proposals that use the materials workers cleared out, the release stated.
  • Darkrooms are receiving upgraded sinks, equipment and ventilation to ensure they don’t pose a health risk.
  • Bathrooms on the first floor and in the basement are being expanded.
  • New wheelchairs ramps were installed on the first floor to allow for access throughout the building including the Hammer Auditorium and the Atrium.
  • New sprinkler and fire systems were added to all metal and wood shops.
  • Last month, the historic oak and bronze-covered doors to the building’s 17th street entrance were removed and sent to a specialty metal shop in Alabama to be refurbished, as part of a project funded by American Express.

GW officials committed to renovating the historic Corcoran building when the University absorbed the school in 2014. The work is expected to last until 2018.

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Updated: July 15, 2016 at 10:08 p.m.

A man authorities believed to be armed with an assault rifle near campus was an off-duty special police officer, according to a tweet by the Metropolitan Police Department.

Police initially said the man was in the area of 24th Street and New Hampshire Avenue and walking toward Pennsylvania Avenue, according an alert sent at 8:20 p.m. Friday.

The man was described as black, 5′ 9″ inches tall, medium build and wearing a white T-shirt with a slogan that that reads “I” followed by a heart symbol and a image of an assault rifle, according to a photo of the suspect released by GW Safety and Security.

He was allegedly wearing an armor vest under his shirt and possibly a gun belt. Police believed he was carrying an M16 assault rifle, according to the initial alert.

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University President Steven Knapp issued a statement Tuesday about race relations on campus. Hatchet file photo

University President Steven Knapp issued a statement about continuing to improve race relations on campus. Hatchet file photo

University President Steven Knapp called for a campus-wide concentration on racial inclusion this upcoming academic year in a statement reacting to racially charged shootings last week.

Knapp said in the statement sent Tuesday that the GW community should push to create a “sustained and serious” dialogue about race on campus during his final school year as University president.

“In the coming year we will strengthen and accelerate our efforts to make sure we realize our promise to be a community of scholars in which the interests, contributions and aspirations of all our students, faculty, and staff are recognized, respected and given the fullest possible scope,” he said. “I invite every member of our community to join that effort.”

Knapp’s statement was in response to last week’s “national outrage, mourning and prayer,” he said: Two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, were killed by police officers in separate events last week. Five police officers were shot and killed  in Dallas at a “Black Lives Matter” rally Thursday night.

This is the second time in a year that Knapp has issued a University-wide statement about race relations on campus: In November, he addressed protests surrounding racial bias at the University of Missouri that led to the institute president’s resignation.

Since his first statement, Knapp has been “moved and saddened” to learn about the barriers minority students and faculty face at GW, he said in Tuesday’s statement.

Faculty, staff and students should prepare graduates to encourage inclusivity beyond GW, he added.

“Our most important contribution to addressing the sources of such violence is not through what we say or do here but through the graduates who, when they leave us, carry their knowledge and their commitment to justice beyond these walls and out into the world we count on them to change,” Knapp said.

During his tenure, Knapp has presided over an effort to make the University accessible to diverse students. He oversaw creating a vice provost position focused on diversity in 2011, and he hired a new vice provost for diversity, equity and community engagement in May. Knapp also participated in a discussion at Howard University last year about race on campuses with student leaders and administrators from universities across the District.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016 8:07 a.m.

The new dining plan, explained

The University announced a new dining plan that will not require freshmen to spend dining dollars at on-campus eateries. Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor.

The first floor of the Marvin Center is undergoing renovations, just as University officials revamp the way dining works at GW. Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor.

Updated: July 6, 2016 at 2:52 p.m.

Students will face a revamped dining hall this fall, with fewer options on where they can use their allocated dollars.

The changes, revealed in documents that officials gave to incoming freshmen at Colonial Inauguration, will give freshmen more overall money for dining after officials dropped the mandate to spend a certain amount at on-campus dining venues. The new plan will also no longer allow dining money to be spent on laundry, printing, books or other non-dining venues that previously accepted Colonial Cash.

In March, officials announced a major overhaul to the University’s dining system as the decade-long contract with Sodexo drew to a close and Restaurant Associates is set to replace it beginning this month. The plan will also effectively mark the end of J Street, the much-griped about dining hall on the Foggy Bottom Campus. Here’s a look at what the changes will look like.

What’s happening to J Street?

J Street was the main dining venue on the Foggy Bottom Campus, located on the first floor of the Marvin Center. Up until this academic year, it featured several separate dining venues, all owned and operated by Sodexo, which sold sandwiches, salads, pizza and pasta, coffee, fruits and vegetables, a salad bar and a hot bar.

Freshmen were allocated $2,300 per year in Colonial Cash to spend at any partner restaurants near campus that accept GWorld and $1,400 that could only be spent at on-campus venues, like J Street and Pelham Commons on the Mount Vernon Campus.

This summer, J Street is closing for renovations to make it what officials have called a “more modest” dining venue, and freshmen will no longer be required to spend any money there. Officials have so far not said which, if any, dining venues will open in J Street’s place once renovations are complete. Officials have already planned a renovation of the Marvin Center first floor.

So there won’t even be a dining hall?

Not on the Foggy Bottom Campus. Pelham Commons will still operate as a more traditional dining hall on the Mount Vernon Campus and its Sunday brunch will continue.

In Foggy Bottom, there will be what officials have billed as an “open dining plan,” where students will be able to spend “dining cash” at more than 90 partner restaurants around campus. The venues that will accept dining cash range from “delivery to grab-and-go to made-to-order dining and sit-down restaurants,” according to documents detailing the new plan that were given to incoming freshman at Colonial Inauguration.

The partner restaurants also include campus vending machines, grocery stores, convenience stores like CVS and 7-Eleven and the vendors opening in the basement of District House this fall, according to University spokesman Kurtis Hiatt.

The plan is unique among colleges and universities across the country, which typically rely on a centralized dining hall.

How much ‘dining cash’ will be available next year?

Freshman will have a total of $3,900 in dining cash to spend this year, $1,950 per semester. That’s a $200 increase from last year, when first year students were given a total of $3,700 to spend in Colonial Cash and dining dollars.

The sophomore, junior and senior meal plans will remain the same with $2,500, $2,000 and $1,000 to spend respectively.

“The university considered many factors when determining the amount of Dining Cash for each class of undergraduate students, including costs for various items and meals at participating dining and grocery partners as well as feedback from students regarding how much they spend on food each day,” Hiatt said.

Students receive less in dining money over the years, Hiatt said, because they are “more likely to be spending more time off campus and may want more flexibility in terms of meeting their dining needs and preferences,” and upperclassmen residence halls typically include in-room kitchens.

What else will be different next year?

Starting this fall, GWorld funds that are part of the meal plan can only be used at dining venues.

In the past, GWorld also included funding for on-campus printing, laundry, the University bookstore and other non-dining business near campus including hairdressers, nail salons and the UPS Store.

Beginning this fall, if students want to use GWorld for those services, they’ll have to put extra money on their card, Hiatt said.

“Students may voluntarily deposit Colonial Cash to pay for additional dining and non-dining expenses on their GWorld cards,” he said.

Laundry machines in residence halls only work by paying with GWorld or using quarters and GWorld or credit card are acceptable forms of payments for printing kiosks around campus. The exclusion of the bookstore from GWorld vendors means students will have to put up extra money if they want to use GWorld to buy textbooks this academic year.

Additionally, a new system called GET will replace JSA Technologies as the GWorld account management service. Students will now use GET for information about their GWorld account and to deposit more funds, Hiatt said.

He added that the service also offers a mobile app that provides access to a GWorld account plus information about and directions to partner restaurants. The system will also offer mobile ordering from some partner restaurants.

This post has been updated to reflect the following correction:
Due to a reporting error, The Hatchet incorrectly stated that officials will create a “living room” on the first floor of the Marvin Center. This is a statement that has been made only by student leaders. We regret this error.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016 7:32 a.m.

American University to debut Metro discount


Metro will offer discounted rides to American University students beginning next fall. Hatchet File Photo.

American University will become the first college in the District to offer discounted Metro rides for its students, officials announced Tuesday.

Under the plan, all full-time undergraduate, graduate and law students at AU will receive a special Metro card called a U-Pass starting this school year, enabling unlimited rides on Metrorail and Metrobus for roughly $1 per day during the school year, according to a news release from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

AU students will pay for the discount through a student benefits fee, the release stated.

“This is an important partnership that enables Metro to better serve the region’s universities, build ridership in the near term and encourage the next generation to become public transit users,” Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul Wiedefeld said in the release.

WMATA proposed a similar discount for GW students that could have started as soon as this fall. Student leaders spoked with WMATA and University officials throughout last academic year and in a referendum during last spring’s Student Association elections, 73.5 percent of students voted in approval of a proposal that would have offered discounted rides for a tuition fee.

In April University officials opted not to adopt the proposal, saying it wasn’t “feasible or fair” to charge students who don’t use public transportation the Metro fee. Officials said they would continue working with WMATA to come up with a proposal for students who frequently ride Metro.

WMATA first suggested the proposal to colleges across the District last fall as a way to boost declining ridership and encourage area college students to use Metro.

Tuesday’s release said AU’s discount was a pilot program and would be reevaluated at the end of the school year.

“Metro expects the pilot to attract other colleges and universities in the region that have expressed interest,” the release said.

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On-campus cable packages this year will include high-definition television and a streaming service. Hatchet file photo.

On-campus cable packages this year will include high-definition TV and a streaming service. Hatchet file photo.

High-definition television and a new streaming service will be included in the on-campus cable package, officials announced.

The cable package, run by RCN, will include high-definition picture without an additional charge, David Steinour, the chief information officer in the Division of Information Technology, said in an email this week. In the past, students could upgrade to high-definition for a fee.

On-campus residents will have access to Philo, a streaming service that offers on-demand shows and movies, HBO Go access and 20 hours of DVR storage, Steinour said.

The service, which will be available by fall move-in, will be free to students in University housing and can be accessed on laptops, tablets, smartphones and Roku media players. Students can access the service using their NetIds and passwords, Steinour said.

Philo’s streaming service is geared specifically toward college campuses, and uses a university’s private data network to give students access across campus, according to the company’s website.

Officials chose to upgrade the cable services after evaluating technologies, Steinour said.

“We constantly evaluate our service offerings while looking for areas of innovation and improvement and monitor changes in the industry that allow for updates or enhancements to be made effectively,” Steinour said.

Steinour declined to comment on the cost of the upgrades.

After hosting focus groups with students to discuss current service offerings, officials reviewed possible streaming services and considered how other universities implemented streaming options into student cable packages, he said.

Steinour added that officials gave a live demonstration of the Philo service to members of the Residence Hall Association last spring.

This is the first major change to the University’s television package since 2010 when TVs were upgraded from analog to digital.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016 10:27 p.m.

Clinton, Gray come out on top in primaries

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at Lisner Auditorium last June, won D.C.'s Democratic primary Tuesday. File Photo by Desiree Halpern | Senior Staff Photographer

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at Lisner Auditorium two years ago won D.C.’s Democratic primary Tuesday. Hatchet file photo.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won the final contest of the 2016 primary season in D.C. Tuesday night, The Associated Press reported.

With about 80 percent of the vote in, Clinton was ahead of challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., by nearly 50,000 votes, capturing 78.7 percent of the vote to Sanders’ 21 percent.

The A.P. called the race for Clinton shortly after 8:30 p.m., a little more than 30 minutes after polls closed.

Clinton had already secured the delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination with primary victories in four states last Tuesday, making the District’s primary largely meaningless in determining the nominee.

Sanders, who previously committed to remaining in the race until after the D.C. primary, planned to meet with Clinton Tuesday night, NBC News reported.

District voters also cast ballots Tuesday in contested Democratic city council primaries in Wards 4, 7 and 8, as well as an at-large seat.

Two years after losing his re-election bid, former District mayor and GW alumnus Vincent Gray won the Ward 7 council Democratic primary, according to the A.P. He was ahead of incumbent Yvette Alexander 60 percent to 33 percent with more than 90 percent of precincts reporting.

Gray lost to now-Mayor Muriel Bowser in 2014 as his administration was embroiled in a campaign finance scandal.

Ward 2 Council member Jack Evens, who represents Foggy Bottom, ran unopposed in his Ward 2 primary.

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