News and Analysis

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.

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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Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor, was hired by Speaker John Boehner to sue President Barack Obama this week. Hatchet file photo.

Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor, was hired by Speaker John Boehner to sue President Barack Obama this week. Hatchet File Photo.

Republicans in the House of Representatives hired a GW law professor to sue President Barack Obama for alleged abuse of executive power.

Jonathan Turley, a professor of constitutional law at the GW Law School, is the third lawyer to be hired by Speaker John Boehner to lead the lawsuit against Obama, Politico reported Tuesday. Turley will challenge Obama’s delay of the Affordable Care Act provision that requires employers to provide healthcare to their workers.

The other lawyers both dropped the case.

In a blog post published Monday, Turley wrote that “unchecked Executive action is precisely the danger that the Framers sought to avoid in our constitutional system.”

“Without judicial review of unconstitutional actions by the Executive, the trend toward a dominant presidential model of government will continue in this country in direct conflict with the original design and guarantees of our Constitution,” he said.

This marks the second time Turley has attempted to bring Obama to court. He sued the president in 2011, arguing that Obama failed to seek congressional authorization to send troops to Libya. The case was thrown out in federal court.

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School of Media and Public Affairs Director Frank Sesno (left) speaks with

School of Media and Public Affairs Director Frank Sesno (left) speaks with Robert Ford, the former U.S. ambassador to Syria, on campus Wednesday. Greta Simons | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Paige Schoenberg.

A former U.S. ambassador reflected on the more than three years he spent in Syria with students on Wednesday.

Robert Ford, the former ambassador to Syria who stepped down earlier this year, spoke with School of Media and Public Affairs Director Frank Sesno about the takeaways from his career as a diplomat.

1. Physical presence matters

Ford said when tensions began to mount in Syria in 2011, he took the risk of traveling to Hama, the center of the nation’s protests.

“I [needed] to go myself and see if there [was] violence, whether from the regime side or from the protesters’ side,” he said. “An American witness [would] tell the world who started it.”

He said his trip also showed that the U.S. supported protesters’ rights to freedom of speech and assembly.

2. Make local connections

Ford said he made it a priority to reach out to “regular people” living in Syria.

He told a story about having tea with local men in Hama. He said within minutes, he was surrounded by a crowd of more than 30 people who wanted to tell him about the suffering they had experienced during the Bashar al-Assad regime.

Allowing citizens to simply share their thoughts can prove extremely effective, Ford said.

“Nobody said, ‘Ford, what’s the American position on [the situation]?’ They just wanted to, to talk,” he said.

Ford also spoke about a young man who was arrested and tortured to death for placing flowers in the barrels of the guns of Syrian soldiers, inciting the first defections from the Syrian army. Ford sent his condolences to the man’s family and brought diplomats from Japan, the European Union and France to his funeral.

He said while it can pose a security risk, it’s important for ambassadors to be active and immersed in communities.

“Just sitting inside the walls is not helpful,” he said.

3. Keep up with technology, but use it wisely

Ford advised American diplomats to use social media. Under his tenure, the U.S. embassy in Syria started posting policy updates on Facebook in English and Arabic.

The embassy also started to use Twitter, and found that most TV networks in the area picked up their posts, he said. Still, he added that ambassadors should not overuse the media.

“There was sort of a mentality that a lot of people in the State Department had – that the more you could get in the media, the better,” he said. “But that’s not always true.”

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Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 6:54 p.m.

Staff member of nearly 40 years dies

Judy Arkes, an academic editor for GW and longtime staff member, died Thursday. She was 73 years old.

Provost Steven Lerman said members of the University community would greatly miss Arkes, who had worked at GW for 38 years.

“She is someone who I think made the institution better,” he said at Friday’s Faculty Senate meeting. “For those of you who knew her in your time here, she will be very much missed. Our sympathies go out to her family.”

An administrator found Arkes unconscious in her Rice Hall office on Thursday at about 11:15 a.m. Arkes was having trouble breathing and was transported to GW Hospital, according to a police report.

Lerman said Arkes accomplished a variety of tasks during her time in the Office of Academic Planning and Assessment, such as convincing the University to transfer to electronic workflows and online bulletins.

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