Although the year may have flown by for some, it has been an eventful 366 days at GW. With major announcements like University President Steven Knapp’s departure from his post to hacked emails leading to the closure of GW’s Pi Kappa Phi chapter, the headlines keep rolling in – and it doesn’t look they’ll stop any time soon.
Here’s a quick recap of some of the top news stories at GW from 2016:
Body mix-up shuts down donor program
Three families filed a lawsuit against the School of Medicine and Health Sciences after it was revealed that the program had misidentified donors’ remains. Hatchet file photo by Olivia Anderson.
Officials shut down the body donor program at the School of Medicine and Health Services in February after realizing the remains of donors had been misidentified. Fifty bodies could not be identified as of February.
Officials said they had been aware since the fall of 2015 that the program’s management was not sufficient for families. In September, three families filed a class action lawsuit against the University for the “gross mismanagement” of the donated bodies.
A switch to open dining
The closure of J Street was one of several major changes made to GW dining’s options over the past year. Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor.
Officials announced in March that students would now use a new open-dining plan, meaning students were no longer required to spend money in a dining hall and instead had a set number of dollars to use at nearby vendors. Combined with the closure of the main – and infamous – dining hall J Street on the main campus, students entered the fall semester facing a whole landscape when it came to dining on campus.
The University also announced plans to host five restaurants in the new residence hall District House. Although one of the restaurants has opened, four remain untouched, a surprise to students who had expected to have access to eateries in the basement, and past the Halloween start date officials had previously given.
Feinman elected SA President
Erika Feinman celebrates after winning the Student Association presidential election in March. Hatchet File Photo.
Erika Feinman was chosen to become the president of the Student Association with 53 percent of the vote in March, becoming the first SA president to openly identify with a non-binary gender. They ran a campaign promoting student representation in the Board of Trustees, which a trustee committee began researching in August.
Bye to Bronson
Rapper Action Bronson was originally chosen to headline Spring Fling in March, until students expressed their disapproval of his song “Consensual Rape” from 2011. At first, Program Board released a statement recognizing the criticism but sticking with the performer choice, but later decided to remove the rapper from the lineup – a choice that garnered national attention and headlines.
A spring start to becoming Greek
Greek life groups will soon only be able to add freshmen members in the spring. Hatchet file photo by Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor
In April, the University announced that all sorority and fraternity recruitment will occur in the spring semester starting next year. Students planning on joining Greek life will need to complete 12 credit hours before being recruited, unlike any other student group on campus, which officials said will help students adjust to being at college before making such a major commitment. But the decision wasn’t without criticism: Greek life student leaders said they felt left out of the decision-making for deferred recruitment.
And that’s a Knapp
University President Steven Knapp announced that he will step down at the end of this academic year. Hatchet file photo
In June, University President Steven Knapp announced he will depart from his job in the summer of 2017. By the time he steps down, Knapp’s 10 year-long tenure will be marked by the completion of projects like District House and the Science and Engineering Hall, an major expansion of GW’s research portfolio and the start of major budget cuts to the central administration.
As Knapp prepares to leave, the Board of Trustees has begun its search for a new president. But faculty have criticized the selection committee as not being diverse enough when it comes to faculty representation, which they claim could potentially lead to essential candidates to be missed. In October, the Board of Trustees released the presidential profile, showing that GW is looking for a president who is dedicated to diversity and has creative fundraising ideas.
Former men’s basketball coach Mike Lonergan was fired in September after an investigation found that he “engaged in conduct inconsistent with the University’s values.” Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor.
Former men’s basketball coach Mike Lonergan was fired after allegations of verbal and emotional abuse surfaced in July against him, triggering a Title IX investigation into the accusations.
The University stayed quiet about the investigation until Lonergan was dismissed mid-September. Officials then said the inspection found he “engaged in conduct inconsistent with the University’s values.” Maurice Joseph was soon named as interim head coach for the men’s basketball team, which has a current record of 8-6.
Hacked emails shut down Pi Kappa Phi
The GW chapter of Pi Kappa Phi shut down in October following the DC Leaks release of emails from a White House staffer and former member of the fraternity, Ian Mellul. The emails included messages from the fraternity’s Listserv that did not follow appropriate student conduct according to Christina Witkowicki, the director of student involvement and Greek life.
RAs attempt to unionize
Resident advisers at GW are pushing to become the first unionized student group at a private university. Hatchet file photo.
Resident advisers at GW filed a petition through the local labor group, Service Employees International Union 500, late November after two years of planning to unionize. The University quickly appealed the petition.
Representatives from both the University and the group of RAs testified at a National Labor Relations Board hearing in December, where it was concluded both groups will submit briefs by Dec. 16 and will be informed of a decision after all the briefs are analyzed.
If the RAs were to unionize, they would be the first student union at a private university in the country.