News and Analysis

Dana Perino, a former White House press secretary, debated former Congressman Barney Frank in the Only at GW Debate Sunday. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

Dana Perino, a former White House press secretary, debated former Congressman Barney Frank in the Only at GW Debate Sunday. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

Updated Mon. March 23, 2015 at 3:09 p.m.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Ben Marchiony.

Barney Frank and Dana Perino squared off at the Only at GW debate Sunday, hosted by the College Democrats, College Republicans and Program Board.

Frank, a former Democratic congressman, is widely known as the first member of Congress to voluntarily come out as gay, and is also known for his landmark bill, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform and Consumer Protection Act. Dana Perino, George W. Bush’s former press secretary, is currently a commentator for Fox News and was the second female White House press secretary.

Alex Rogers, a political reporter from Time Magazine, moderated the debate.

Didn’t score a ticket? Here are the three biggest takeaways from the event, hosted in the Jack Morton Auditorium:

1. How the U.S. will deal with Iran and Israel

Frank said that Israel isn’t in danger of losing support from the Democratic party, but Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s prime minister who was re-elected last week, is. He said that to be Israel’s friend, the U.S. has to show  support by ensuring they do what’s right, and supporting a two-state solution.

“I, as a long time supporter of Israel, am very troubled by Netanyahu’s mistakes. Israel is in danger of losing support in much of the world. It’s the role of America, as a friend of Israel, to make clear what’s in Israel’s best interests,” Frank said.

Rogers asked Perino about what she thought of Netanyahu’s comments on the two-state solution, and how willing she thought the Obama administration was to protect Israel internationally.

“We care about an Israel that’s safe, prosperous economies for surrounding nations, freedoms for women and gays, education, in particular, for girls. Israel can be a real force for change, in that regard,” Perino said.

2. Thoughts on 2016

Both candidates shared their thoughts on the upcoming presidential election in 2016, giving their take on potential candidates.

Perino was asked about Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tx., chances of running for president in the next election cycle, and she said that it’s early in the process to judge who will be the final candidates.

“At this point in the election cycle in 2008, conventional wisdom was that the two nominees were going to be Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani,” she said. “A good, robust, competitive primary can be a very good thing for the system,” she said.

Cruz announced on Twitter Monday that he was running for President.

Frank said Democrats haven’t had a “real contest” for their presidential nominee “out of respect” for Clinton.

“There haven’t been the real issues that generate a large primary operation,” Frank said.

Perino said that Clinton, the former Secretary of State, is being pushed to formalize her campaign and that she has “uncontrolled enthusiasm” from voters.

“I tend to look at these things from a media standpoint and a PR standpoint, there’s been a lack of enthusiasm not from the Democratic party, but from the media,” Perino said

3. A conversation with the audience

Audience members submitted questions for the debate, and Frank and Perino were asked about how they got into politics and what advice they would give to someone who wants to work in the field.

Perino said she started out answering phones for a congressman from Colorado, and eventually became his press secretary. She said the key to entering the field is is networking.

“My dad made me read the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News every day, and I would pick up two articles to discuss with him over dinner,” she said.

Frank also spoke about his early love for politics.

“When I was 14, I was a pretty normal teenager, but there were two things that set me apart from the other guys. One, I was attracted to politics. The other one was that I was attracted to the other guys,” he said. “I knew this was going to be a problem, because being a homosexual wasn’t very popular in 1964. I didn’t decide to be a member of a despised minority, so for me it was about working this out.”

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Mollie Bowman
Panhellenic Association president
“I really found out last semester and the semester before that this campus seemed rampant with sexual assaults to me, and we’ve all seen the survey data. And I think student leaders have really come together to unite with this issue in mind…”


Harrison Grauso
Thurston Hall Council president
“Since the University mandated that students are required to live on campus for three years, it has created a huge financial burden for a lot of students, and so far there hasn’t been any solution offered to those who can’t handle that additional financial commitment.”


Kirsten Dimovitz
Students Against Sexual Assault co-president
“We’re looking for things that are expansive, and for people who are willing to continue working with us and the different offices at GW to make sure that we’re coming up with creative ways to prevent this and to create a safer community on campus.”


Jennifer Bryan
Black Student Union freshman representative
“We do have a diverse candidate pool, and maybe some members from different backgrounds and multicultural organizations and communities in GW will be elected, and some of those voices can be heard in places sometimes they aren’t necessarily heard as often.”


Tim Stackhouse
Interfraternity Council president
“One of the things that we’re really focusing on is making sure that the people who step into the new roles of president and vice president not only have their own agendas, but are completing what has been started by other people in the past.”


Dylan Williams
Colonial Cabinet member for 2015
“Along with proposed peer-support networks as well as new services offered in the Colonial Health Center, I think that the Student Association needs to work really well with the University to help build those programs up so they don’t fall flat but are able to flourish and really, really support the school.”


Rob Todaro
Allied in Pride president, former Hatchet writer
“The most important issue for me in this SA election is implementing educational trainings for students.”

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Trustee Emeritus A. James Clark died of congestive heart failure in his Easton, Md. home Friday.

Trustee Emeritus A. James Clark died of congestive heart failure in his Easton, Md. home Friday. Photo courtesy of GW Today.

Trustee emeritus and construction magnate A. James Clark, the former chief executive officer of construction company Clark Enterprises, died Friday of congestive heart failure. He was 87 years old.

Clark died at his home in Easton, Md., the Washington Post reported.

Clark served on the Board of Trustees from 1988 to 1993, according to a release from University President Steven Knapp, who awarded Clark an honorary degree at University-wide Commencement in 2010.

“Mr. Clark’s generosity and friendship to our university will be greatly missed. We can take solace from the fact that his legacy here will live on for generations to come,” Knapp wrote in the release.

Clark Enterprises is one of the country’s largest construction companies and has also often served as GW’s construction company of choice, building South Hall, Shenkman Hall and the Science and Engineering Hall. The company also built FedEx Field, Nationals Park and the Verizon Center, the Post reported.

Clark was worth about $1.37 billion, according to Forbes. He was a notable philanthropist, creating the prestigious Clark Engineering Scholars program at GW in 2011 with an $8 million gift. The program awards scholarships to top engineering students. The Post reported that he also donated tens of millions of dollars to the University of Maryland, which named its engineering school in his honor.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Madelyne Ashworth.

The president of the Council on Foreign Relations think tank spoke about current events overseas and his career in international affairs on campus Thursday

Richard Haass, the former senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs at the National Security Council, came to the Elliott School of International Affairs for the event.

Elliott School Dean Michael Brown moderated the discussion, which was part of a series called “Leadership in International Affairs: Lessons Learned” that invites prominent government and policy leaders to talk about their experiences.

Here are the highlights:

1. A “failed region”

Hassas said the United States’ relationship with Israel was complex and affected by other difficulties in the region, including issues with ISIS.

Haass said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent peace talks will be productive, but acknowledged the potential for disaster and possible “spill over” conflicts in Israel, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf region.

“Things have to get worse before they get worse,” he said. “These things only end when outsiders impose or things just burn out… I see this going on for some time.”

2. The U.S. is unique diplomatically

Haass said U.S. relations with both allies and adversaries are in a unique situation, as the United States has found itself in a diplomatic paradox.

He explained that “alliance relationships” need certain levels of predictability. But the nature of the alliances cause difficulties in relationships with countries in conflict with current U.S. allies, including China and Israel, he said.

“This is an extraordinarily difficult period of diplomacy in the operational sense and foreign policy in the conceptual sense,” Haass said.

3. The key to leadership is ensuring plans become reality

Leaders with innovative roles often forget that while creating policy ideas is essential, implementing those policies is even more crucial, as Haass advises future leaders to first remember their role as administrators.

“Eighty percent of life is implementation,” Haass said, adding that forgetting to ensure ideas and policies are feasible can be destructive.

“The biggest mistake of smart people is they think that coming up with the right or best answer is essentially their work, and then they can leave it to others to do it,” he said. “That is the single worst idea you will ever have.”

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Brigadier General Tammy Smith spoke to students in the Women’s Leadership Program on Thursday. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith spoke to students in the Women’s Leadership Program on Thursday. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Sadie Ruben.

The first openly gay officer to come out while serving in the U.S. military since the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” spoke with students in the Women’s Leadership Program on the Mount Vernon Campus on Thursday.

Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith talked about the nearly 30 years she has spent in the military. She was promoted to brigadier general in 2012, becoming the first gay general to openly serve. That year, she married longtime partner Tracey Hepner.

Before speaking to students, Smith talked to The Hatchet about her experiences.

This interview has been edited for length.

What lessons do you hope to convey to GW students tonight? 

I want to tell my personal story so that people have an understanding that it really doesn’t matter where you came from. There are opportunities out there that wherever it is that you want to end up, it’s really possible. I also want to convey that you shouldn’t hold yourself back by other people’s stereotypes.

What obstacles have you faced being a woman in the military?

When I came in, one of the first obstacles that I faced was that not all the career fields were open to me. At the time I came in, you could be in logistics or administration, that sort of thing, and so there were just career fields that were unavailable that would limit your promotion potential. Now that is changing for women, so you see some of the things in the news and what we want to do is that we want to make all of our occupations gender-neutral where everyone can meet that standard. At the time, I was just happy to have an ROTC scholarship to pay for my tuition and to know that I would be going into some type of appointment when I graduated.

How do you think these obstacles relate to women in other fields?

I think that sometimes there are barriers for women to advance in an organization. But the ones I described in the military, those were set in policy, so everybody was aware that women could not be in the infantry at that particular time. I think that in corporate America, some of the barriers are sometimes more cultural and it is sometimes dependent on the organization that you work for. It’s more that the people who are in leadership roles can’t picture women doing particular types of jobs. I think it is all about the skills you bring to the workplace and what we should be focusing on is the talent that you have and not the stereotype we’ve overlaid on you.

What do you think have been the most defining moments of your career so far?

Probably one of the most defining moments early on was learning how to jump out of an airplane. When you do something that requires physical courage, it does a lot for your confidence and that confidence carries over to the many other things you do. So those people, whether it is jumping out of an airplane or if you are a rock climber, or anything that requires physical courage – there is confidence that comes with that. Another really defining moment in my personal career is that I served for 25 years and had to hide who I was because of the policy “Don’t ask, don’t tell” that prohibited gays and lesbians to be in the military. That was repealed in 2011 and for the first time I was able to be exactly who I was and to let the world know about Tracey.

What progress has been made in removing these barriers for women in the military?

There’s been culture changes of course in just the men who have come up now and who are in leadership positions. If you think about in 1980 was the first class of graduates from the military academy with women. So now the people who are generals and admirals, they’ve served their entire career with women. Unlike when I first entered in the early 1980s and the people who were in those positions of leadership had never served with women, so I think that helps culturally and then the effort to actually take the gender roles out of all of our jobs that’s being directed in part by Congress of course is going to be in compliance with opening up a lot of opportunities for women.

Do you think more has to be done regarding women in the military?

I think more has to be done not only for women in the military, but women in general. If you think about that we’re 50 percent of the population, we should be 50 percent of everything and at this point we’re not. I hope the new generation of young women joining the workforce, starting their own businesses, going into public service and joining non-governmental organizations carry with them the spirit of ‘I own 50 percent of this.’

How have you contributed to breaking down these barriers?

I try to be visible. I try to let people see me in my role as a leader. I also like to be visible in my life and the fact that I’m a woman married to a woman and I like to be able to see other people say that regardless of who you are, you can have a happy life.

How have you tried to break down prejudices against LGBT individuals in the military?

What you typically find out when prejudice exists is because they don’t actually know anybody who is LGBT and so they hold all of these assumptions about people. When they have a real conversation with someone who identifies in that way, it breaks down the stereotypes they had in their mind and the stereotypes get replaced with a real person, and so I think my visibility is important with breaking down some of those stereotypes.

How do you think you’re in a unique position to add diversity to the military?

I think people who end up in a senior role of course have more influence within their organization and so I think every senior leader has a responsibility to embrace not only diversity but also inclusion. They do that through enacting policy and also by being visible in inclusive-type events and they themselves creating that culture where everyone feels like they belong and can prosper.

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Members of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission met on Wednesday night to discuss the Corcoran College of Ar & Design. Judy Lim | Hatchet Photographer

Members of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission met on Wednesday night to discuss renovations to the Corcoran’s 17th street building. Judy Lim | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Anneke Ball.

A local advisory group backed the D.C. Preservation League’s application to designate portions of the interior of the Corcoran school’s 17th street building as protected on Wednesday night.

Next week, the Historic Preservation Board will hold a hearing to consider an application from the D.C. Preservation League and Save the Corcoran to designate parts of the interior of the building as historic. Officials from GW will attend that hearing to challenge the application because they say it will limit the renovations they’re able to make to the building.

Members of the D.C Preservation League said at Wednesday’s Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting that the building should be protected because of “its association with events that have made significant contributions to the broad patterns of our history”.

ANC chairman Patrick Kennedy said commissioners decided to endorse the proposal so that the historic spaces” will be subject to a high level of scrutiny should GW want to make alterations to them.”

The University still wants to make renovations to the building to expand classroom space, update study spaces and add more bathrooms. At a meeting earlier this month, officials said the proposal also designates the basement and second-floor galleries as historic, which limits GW’s ability to make upgrades.

Renovations to the 118-year-old building will also include bringing it up to code and fixing aging heating and cooling systems. In total, renovations will cost about $80 million.

But at the ANC meeting Deputy General Counsel Charles Barber said the University does agree that certain spaces in the 17th Street building, like the rotunda and the atrium on the first floor, are “worthy of recognition.”

“GW recognizes the importance of Corcoran as an iconic building,” he said. “It was built as a museum and as a school.”

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Updated: March 20, 2015 at 10:44 a.m.

This year’s three Student Association presidential candidates published a combined letter Wednesday afternoon pushing the University to divest from fossil fuels, a vote that will appear on the SA ballot next week.

Presidential candidates Alex Cho, Andie Dowd and Ben Pryde said in the letter that they “applaud the hard work” of administrators in advancing GW’s sustainability efforts. But, the candidates said officials must do more by divesting, a process that requires GW to disclose its investments in fossil fuels and removing them from the endowment.

Similar efforts are also taking place at Harvard University and Northwestern University, one of GW’s peer schools.

“We urge every student to vote for divestment, so that our collective concerns about climate change will be heard loud and clear,” the letter reads. Fossil Free GW delivered the letter to the student body through a post on their Facebook page.

The candidates wrote that if the vote passes, they will build “connections between our values as a University community, on sustainability and our local and global footprint, and our long term investment strategy as a forward looking perpetual institution” through discussions with students, faculty and the Board of Trustees.

The presidential candidates have also unilaterally supported increasing sexual violence education at Colonial Inauguration. Each issued statements saying they do not support GW’s chapter of the Young America’s Foundation seeking a religious exemption if LGBT sensitivity training becomes mandatory. The three presidential candidates and three executive vice president candidates also all wrote a letter to the editor of The Hatchet last week saying the next SA administration will support sensitivity training.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015 9:53 a.m.

The Watergate Hotel to reopen this summer

The Watergate Hotel will reopen this summer. Hatchet file photo.

The Watergate Hotel will reopen this summer. Hatchet file photo.

The Watergate Hotel will reopen this summer after a $125 million renovation, the Washington Business Journal reported Wednesday.

Construction on the building will finish this week, Jacques Cohen, principal at the renovation’s development company Euro Capital Properties, said. The redesigned hotel will resemble the iconic building’s original mid-century aesthetic, he added.

Euro Capital bought the hotel in 2010 after failed attempts to convert old hotel rooms into upscale condominiums. Original plans for construction proposed in 2012 projected the project would cost $70 million and be completed last summer. The company pushed back construction and upped the cost to $85 million last year.

The Watergate will have 340 rooms, up from its original 251, with the average size ranging from 400 square feet to more than 650 square feet.

The renovation adds space for events, including a grand ballroom, a junior ballroom and another meeting room.

The Watergate will continue to be owned privately, and Cohen said he hopes it will be a five-star hotel.

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Lashae Hunter (second from left) stands with her mother after being given her acceptance letter and SJT Scholarship to George Washington University by GWU President Steven Knapp. Judy Lim | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Lashae Hunter (second from left) stands with her mother after being given her acceptance letter and SJT Scholarship to George Washington University by GWU President Steven Knapp. Judy Lim | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet Reporter Kiara Bhagwanjee.

Lashae Hunter, a senior at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School, arrived at school Wednesday ready to go on a class field trip to the mall to continue work on her thesis project.

Instead, she met University President Steven Knapp, Director of Admissions Karen Felton and GW’s mascot, George, who were at her school to personally deliver an acceptance letter and a full-ride scholarship.

“I let them know that I would not let it go to waste, that I would do whatever it takes to stay in school and put this money to good use,” Lashae said.

Hunter and eight other seniors attending D.C. public schools were awarded the Stephen Joel Trachtenberg scholarship Wednesday, a full-ride scholarship program that was launched 26 years ago for high school seniors from the city.

Without the scholarship to GW, her family would have had to borrow money, apply for scholarships and take out student loans to attend the University, Lashae’s mother, Warrenrenia Hunter, said.

“It is a blessing, it is truly a blessing, I know she will accomplish what she is setting out to be at George Washington,” she said.

In order to be eligible for the scholarship, students must be nominated by their high school counselors, submit an application and participate in an on campus interview, which is the final component of their applications.

Those that apply for the scholarship are assessed holistically for their academic performance, the rigor of their curriculum, their extracurricular activities and the future they see for themselves with an undergraduate degree in hand, Felton said.

“Trachtenberg scholars distinguish themselves in high school and when they come to GW they are leaders through our programs and when they graduate, they go on to lead illustrious careers,” Felton said.

Knapp said the scholarship was a way to add diversity and richness to campus life, by bringing in local students who might not otherwise be able to attend the University.

“Frankly it’s very important to our democracy that people from all communities within the nation have the opportunity to benefit from what our nation makes available to them,” he said in an interview. “We’ve mobilized a university wide effort to get everyone to see college as a possibility in their future.”

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015 7:40 p.m.

AU under investigation for sexual violence response

American University has been added to the Department of Education’s list of schools under investigation for mishandling sexual violence on campus, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The investigation began March 11, but officials have not provided details about what prompted it. American is the second school in the District to come under scrutiny after federal officials launched an investigation at Catholic University early last year, the Post reported. GW is not on the list of 104 schools under investigation.

Rob Hradsky, American University’s dean of students, said in a statement to students that the school does not tolerate sexual violence in any form and promptly investigates all incidents.

“We take this news seriously and will use the opportunity to learn if there is more we can do to augment the significant commitments we have made in the last several years to create an environment that is safe, responsive, and compliant with the law,” Hradsky wrote in the statement.

Department of Education officials started looking closer at universities’ responses to sexual violence last spring. Department officials have said that the beginning of an investigation does not necessarily indicate a finding of wrongdoing.

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