News and Analysis

Updated: Sept. 25, 2014 at 4:57 p.m.

A female nurse reported that a man forcibly fondled her at the Medical Faculty Associates building on Thursday.

The woman reported that she was allegedly grabbed on the buttocks by a patient in the urology department on the second floor of the MFA building, according to a GW Alert sent Thursday at about 12:30 p.m.

The alert described the suspect as a 70-year-old black man, who is about 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighs about 200 pounds. He was reportedly wearing a white button-down shirt with blue stripes and brown shoes and was carrying a dark blue sweater. The woman described the suspect as “having an ‘African accent.’”

Officers searched the area, but the suspect had left the building and was not found, according to the alert.

Wednesday night, a female student reported that a man had forcibly fondled her outside the GW Deli.

This post was updated to reflect the following corrections:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the incident in the MFA building occurred on Wednesday. It occurred on Thursday. The Hatchet also incorrectly reported that the incident outside the GW Deli occurred Tuesday night. It occurred Wednesday night. We regret these errors.

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Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014 8:23 p.m.

Student reports forcible fondling outside GW Deli

A female student reported that a man forcibly fondled her in front of the GW Deli on Wednesday.

The woman was walking on the sidewalk in front of the deli, located at 2133 G St., when the man passed by and allegedly grabbed her buttocks, according to a GW Alert sent Wednesday at about 7:45 p.m. The alert described the suspect, who the student did not know, as a 5-foot-8 Indian man in his mid-20s.

He was reportedly wearing a white shirt and black pants, and was carrying a red and black backpack.

Officers searched the area but have not yet found the suspect, according to the alert.

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From left to right: Scott Sklar, Carol Werner, Todd Foley and Jerry Bloom, leaders from government, financing, solar, and low-income housing organizations, discuss how to use solar energy to generate wealth in lower income communities. Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

From left to right: Scott Sklar, Carol Werner, Todd Foley and Jerry Bloom. Leaders from government, finance, solar and low-income housing organizations discussed how to use solar energy to generate wealth in lower-income communities. Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporters Julia Arciga and Genevieve Tarino

The GW Solar Institute held the nation’s first conference on solar power for low-income communities Tuesday.

Presentations and panels in the Jack Morton Auditorium were part of the sixth annual Solar Symposium and featured solar energy experts from across the country.

Here are the top takeaways from the day of events.

1. Solar job growth

Rhone Resch, president and chief executive officer of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said the solar industry is the fastest growing industry in the nation.

There are more than 143,000 Americans working in the solar industry in over 6,000 companies, with a new solar installation occurring every two and a half minutes, according to the National Solar Job Census, a study conducted by the Solar Foundation.

2. Low-cost energy

Resch said the best way for low-income families and communities to start using solar energy is to spread information about the alternative energy source.

“What I found with anybody who installs solar on their roof is they’re very proud of having solar,” Resch said. “It’s a sign of patriotism, its a sign of independence, it’s a sign of lowering your carbon footprint. And they talk about it. And so it ends up being a very grassroots type of communication and feel.”

Frank Sesno, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs, presented a video that detailed the economic benefits of solar energy for low-income families.

The short film explained how low-income families spend a larger percentage of their income on electricity than the average household, but they could install solar panels and supply their own power instead of paying for electricity. Any leftover solar power could be sold back to power companies.

Over half a million homes and businesses now have solar power installations, and enough solar power is expected to be generated during 2014 to power 1.5 million homes, according to the most recent data from the Solar Energy Industries Association

3. New proposals

Hannah Masterjohn from Vote Solar, a grassroots organization that works on climate change policy, proposed that average citizens partner with electric utility companies in a program called “Shared Solar.” Participants could receive discounts on their electricity bills for their involvement.

Beth Galante, a chief efficiency officer at PosiGen, proposed a standard solar system for use in homes, primarily those in poverty. Galante said PoliGen could guarantee to provide those who have the system with a profit in the first year. She said she hopes to increase demand within the solar industry as a whole.

“Solar is sexy,” Galante said.

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This is the second episode of “Page Nine,” a web series delving into The Hatchet’s most compelling stories. We’ll interview a Hatchet writer every week to flesh out one of the top stories from our eight-page print edition.

This week, The Hatchet sat down with Morgan Baskin, The Hatchet’s assistant culture editor, who wrote about a campaign to rid D.C. of fossil fuel investments. Along the way, she discovered an alumnus leading the push and how his group went to New York in the hopes it would boost its campaign.

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Sen. Omeed Firouzi, U-At-Large, who sponsored the bill, said other universities have seen positive results by housing similar student support services within current counseling structures. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

Sen. Omeed Firouzi, U-At-Large, who sponsored the bill, said other universities have seen positive results by housing similar student support services within current counseling structures. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

Students are one step closer to having a peer support hotline after the Student Association Senate passed a bill Monday in favor of a “Peer Support Program.”

The bill marks the first step in implementing a main tenet of President Nick Gumas’ platform to create a student-run support system that would supplement University Counseling Center services. With the Senate’s backing, Gumas said he will continue speaking with administrators to map out the system, but noted that the program could take two years to become a reality.

Students manning the phones would go through a semester-long training to answer calls during scheduled hotline hours. They would learn how to discuss issues prevalent on college campuses like suicide, body image and LGBT issues, Gumas said.

“Part of the peer support’s job will be to refer students to appropriate resources if necessary, but a lot of students just need to talk,” Gumas said. “Like, if you’ve had a stressful day, you feel like you’ve failed an exam, you got in a fight with your best friend and you’re just really frustrated and you just want to vent, that should be a resource available for students.”

Gumas stressed that the program is not meant to replace counseling services offered by the UCC, but rather would provide an anonymous outlet for students who want to chat about issues they might be too embarrassed or uncomfortable to bring up with friends.

Sen. Victoria Goncalves, CCAS-U, who co-sponsored the bill, said the service could also help students who are hesitant to talk to a professional. Goncalves said one of her close friends could have benefited from an anonymous student-run hotline: Her friend wanted to reach out to someone for help, but was too intimidated to go to an “authority figure.”

A University department like UCC or the Division of Student Affairs would likely manage the day-to-day operations and training, Gumas said.

Sen. Omeed Firouzi, U-At-Large, who sponsored the bill, said other universities, including the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell, Hamilton and Northwestern universities, have seen positive results by housing similar student support services within current counseling structures.

“I have reached out to peers in times where I needed help, and I can only imagine how much even more helpful it would’ve been had those peers been armed with the kind of professional training that the peers in this program would have,” Firouzi said.

-Iliana Hagenah contributed reporting.

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GW alumnus and former Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii). Hatchet file photo used under Creative Commons license.

Alumnus and former Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii. Photo used under Creative Commons license.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Emma Tyrrell.

The New York Times identified the late alumnus and Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, as one of the officials to have allegedly made comments about weight loss to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., the newspaper reported Monday.

Inouye, who died in 2012 after representing Hawaii in the Senate for 48 years, reportedly made comments about Gillibrand’s weight and appearance, which she wrote about without naming him or other officials in her recently-published memoir, “Off the Sidelines.” The Times cited “people with knowledge of the incident.”

Gillibrand has not confirmed whether Inouye was the man she referenced. Her memoir details the incident, and reports that a fellow official took hold of her waist and said, “Don’t lose too much weight now. I like my girls chubby,” Politico reported.

Gillibrand has moved to the forefront of the national debate about sexual assault in the past few months, and is now sponsoring a bill aimed at improving how the military handles sexual assault cases.

Inouye, a Democrat, was the first Japanese American to serve in Congress and a famed war hero, earning the Medal of Honor for his service in World War II.

Last year, some students suggested that GW’s under-construction residence hall be named for the alumnus, who graduated from the GW Law School. The name District House was chosen for the building, which will open in 2016.

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Monday, Sept. 22, 2014 9:37 p.m.

Student reports sexual abuse in The Statesman

A female student anonymously reported last week that she had been sexually abused by another student a month ago in The Statesman.

The female student reported that the other student had forced her into a sexual act while they were both “under the influence of alcohol,” University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said.

The incident allegedly took place the night of Aug. 21 into the early morning of Aug. 22. UPD marked the case as closed in the crime log.

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Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014 3:30 p.m.

Sigma Chi celebrates 150 years at GW

Junior Oz Fishman, a member of Sigma Chi, accepts a scholarship during an event marking the chapter's 150 years on campus. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Junior Oz Fishman, a member of Sigma Chi, accepts a scholarship during an event marking the chapter’s 150 years on campus. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Genevieve Montinar.

Sigma Chi celebrated 150 years on campus Saturday as active members, alumni and University leaders came to the chapter’s F Street townhouse to honor one of GW’s oldest fraternities.

Here are the major takeaways from the event:

1. Service and philanthropy

Chapter president Eric Estroff highlighted the group’s successful philanthropy, pointing out that members surpassed their original $800,0000 fundraising goal for the fraternity’s signature Derby Days philanthropy event last year. Now the brothers are aiming to raise at least $100,000 at this year’s Derby Days.

The fraternity also plans to host sexual assault prevention training for all Greek chapters at the University, the first program of its kind.

2. Historical significance

Walter Cooner, the president of the chapter’s housing trust, spoke about how the group managed to stay intact during the Civil War, when many other fraternities were divided and shut down during the conflict.

The fraternity chose not to take sides during the war, and the Sigma Chi chapter at GW continued to grow, Cooner said.

3. Alumni relations

Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski called the chapter’s 150-year anniversary “something we want to celebrate.”

He highlighted the fraternity’s alumni, whose donations have helped Sigma Chi expand.

“We’re excited that they’re on campus and we’re actually really excited that they have a really active prominent alumni who are so committed to their current students,” Konwerski said.

The fraternity also awarded scholarships between $500 and $1,500 to the chapter’s brothers.

Bruce Casner, president of the Epsilon Education Foundation and a member of Sigma Chi, thanked the chapter’s 1,600 alumni who have helped financially support the fraternity and its members.

“In the last 30 years we have given tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships in academic awards,” Casner said.

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Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014 4:46 p.m.

Junior pronounced dead Friday identified

The student pronounced dead Friday morning was 20-year-old junior William Gwathmey, according to police records.

Gwathmey had gone to several nightclubs, consumed alcohol and used cocaine the night before, according to a Metropolitan Police Department report. He returned to a room in The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton on 23rd Street, where another man later found him “unresponsive and unconscious” on a couch and called 911.

Emergency medical technicians checked Gwathmey’s vital signs with “negative results” and performed CPR before taking him to GW Hospital. A doctor pronounced him dead at 8:46 a.m.

Gwathmey, who was studying in the GW School of Business, lived in New York City, according to the report.

He was a 2012 graduate of Collegiate High School in New York City, where he played varsity basketball, tennis and was a member of the Young Republicans, according to his LinkedIn page. He worked for the New York-based construction company Regele Builders Inc. during the summer of 2013.

Gwathmey’s family did not immediately wish to comment.

MPD is investigating the case. A spokesman said Saturday that he could not confirm an official cause of death because the D.C. Medical Examiner’s report is not yet complete.

The University’s Division of Student Affairs is “reaching out directly to those students most affected by this devastating loss to offer support,” according to a University statement. Members of the community can contact the University Counseling Center at 202-994-5300.

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Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014 3:31 p.m.

White House intruder treated at GW Hospital

The man who jumped the fence at the White House on Friday was brought to GW Hospital after the Secret Service apprehended him, the Associated Press reported.

Omar Gonzalez, 42, made it into the White House before officers arrested him behind the doors. He was then taken to GW Hospital after complaining of chest pains, the AP reported.

GW Hospital spokesman Steven Taubenkibel did not immediately return requests for comment.

Friday’s incident marked the second time someone crossed onto the White House grounds this month. A man was arrested Sept. 11 after he jumped the White House fence and made it onto the North Lawn.

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