Newsroom

News and Analysis

duques_file

Officials expect Point Chaud Cafe and Crepes to fill GDub Java’s old spot in Duques Hall by January. Hatchet File Photo.

Crepeaway is going to have some on-campus competition.

Point Café and Crêpes will replace GDub Java’s former space on the ground floor of Duques Hall in January, the University announced Monday.

The crêpe shop, which already has two locations in D.C., will offer students sweet and savory crêpes, paninis, coffee, tea, European sodas and gelato, according to a release. Workers began construction in the space last week.

Students will be able to use GWorld at the location and purchases in the shop will count toward Dining Cash.

Officials expect Wiseguy NY Pizza and Beef’n’Bread to open for limited hours in the next weeks in the lower levels of District House, according to the same release.The other incoming vendors for the building – Chick-fil-A, GRK Fresh Greek and Sol Mexican Grill – do not have a set opening date but are still expected to open in the next couple months.

GW will continue to offer “District Days” on weekdays between noon to 2 p.m., where students can buy meals from GRK Fresh and Sol Mexican Grill until the vendors in the building officially open. And students can now purchase meals at set $6, $8 or $10 prices through some of the dining partners that accept dining dollars.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
University President Steven Knapp was one of more than 180 university presidents who showed support for undocumented students in a letter released Monday. Hatchet file photo by Olivia Anderson | Contributing Photo Editor

University President Steven Knapp was one of more than 180 university presidents who showed support for undocumented students in a letter released Monday. Hatchet file photo by Olivia Anderson | Contributing Photo Editor

University President Steven Knapp joined more than 180 other university presidents nationwide in a letter supporting a program that prevents the deportation of young undocumented citizens.

The group of presidents signed the letter in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The program exempts children who entered the country before their 16th birthday or before June 2007 from deportation – meaning many of those impacted by the legislation are of college age.

The letter – part of an effort first started by Pomona College – supports the continuation and expansion of DACA and urges leaders to do so as well.

“This is both a moral imperative and a national necessity,” the document reads. “America needs talent—and these students, who have been raised and educated in the United States, are already part of our national community. They represent what is best about America, and as scholars and leaders they are essential to the future.”

The University does not require applicants to disclose their immigration status and is “committed to supporting” DACA students, according to its website on undocumented student enrollment. Students and experts say they are concerned about the impact of President-elect Donald Trump’s proposed policies on immigration, like the deportation of all undocumented citizens, on the existing international student body and how it could affect enrollment for those students in future years.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Sen. Arian Rubio, CCAS-U, sponsored a bill calling for Student Association election dates to be set between March 1 and April 15. Lisa Blitstein | Hatchet Photographer

Sen. Arian Rubio, CCAS-U, sponsored a bill calling for Student Association election dates to be set between March 1 and April 15. Lisa Blitstein | Hatchet Photographer

The Student Association Senate passed a bill Monday night allowing the Joint Election Committee to set the dates for this academic year’s SA elections.

The dates for the SA general election have varied in the past: in 2015, elections were held on March 25 and 26, after spring break, and elections for this SA were on March 9 and 10, before the break.

The senate voted 26 to two in favor of a bill which stipulated that while the committee may choose specific dates, those dates must be between March 1 and April 15.

Sen. Arian Rubio, CCAS-U, said he sponsored the bill to ensure that the elections do not fall on a law school or graduate program recess, which could limit student engagement in the voting and campaign process.

“This legislation makes sure the needs of the community will be involved in the dates of the election,” Rubio said.

The senate also voted unanimously – with three abstentions – in favor of an amendment to hold student organizations financially liable if they are not using the resource center supplies responsibly.

The amendment calls for the finance committee to charge student group’s SA accounts up to the price of whatever items were lost, damaged or never returned. If funds in the account are insufficient, the committee can withdraw the amount from the student group revenue accounts or deduct from future allocations.

Earlier this year the SA opened the resource center for student groups to have access to the most commonly requested office supplies like scissors and poster paper.

Sen. Devan Cole, CCAS-U, sponsored the bill but was not present. SA Chief of Staff Rayhaan Merani said the bill should not be a significant issue as the majority of the supplies are under $10, meaning any fines would not be a significant burden to student groups.

The amendment was added to a bill stipulating that if student groups use funds for prohibited reasons, they may be fined up to the entirety of their remaining funds or be ineligible for allocations for the remainder of the fiscal year. Prohibited expenses include using funds for gambling, as contributions in both on and off-campus elections, as gifts or prizes, to compensate members, for financial securities like stocks or to buy any University-prohibited items like weapons or drugs.

The resignations of Sen. Guarav Sharma, SoB-G, and Spencer Legred, the vice president for student activities, were also announced.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Monday, Nov. 21, 2016 4:41 p.m.

Alumnus named Rhodes Scholar

An alumnus received a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship this weekend, according to a University release.

Josh Pickar, who graduated from GW in 2014, is the second GW-affiliated recipient of the scholarship, which provides an all-expenses-paid study abroad at the University of Oxford in England. Pickar will study global governance, diplomacy and comparative social policy at the University of Oxford, according to the release.

The Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest international fellowship program in the world and recipients are sent to Oxford to study the promotion of international understanding and peace.

Applicants must be endorsed by their college or university. This year 2,500 students sought endorsements, and 882 were endorsed by 311 different colleges and universities, according to the Rhodes Trust release. Candidates undergo three levels of review: the university level, state committee level and district committee level. Thirty-two individuals are then selected to represent the United States at Oxford for a duration of one or two years.

Pickar, who graduated early from high school and finished his international affairs degree at GW in two years, said in the release that his dream is to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations or secretary of state, which he described as “lofty goals.”

Pickar said in the release that when he was at GW, he had the opportunity to intern for then-Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., where he researched environmental policy and racial discrimination.

“It was the first time that I really got to work in policy and understand how what you’re studying affects the real world, and it was just a really useful experience,” Pickar said.

Pickar also studied at GW Law for a year before transferring to the University of Chicago Law School.

Pickar has worked with the International Refugee Assistance Project, to help grant asylum and relocation for an LGBT Iraqi refugee to the U.S. after the refugee was assaulted by his family and exiled, according to the release.

Pickar, who speaks Russian, French and Spanish fluently, and is learning German, Italian and Arabic, said in the release that he has a passion for global communication and understanding other cultures, laws and politics.

“In order to be an effective policy or lawmaker, you have to be able to communicate with other people, so I hope to be able to use languages to work on international treaties or negotiation and better understand why different countries feel a certain way about policies from the U.S.,” Pickar said in the release.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Laurie Koehler, the vice provost for enrollment management and retention, said GW's new test-optional policy helped to create the most diverse freshman class in University history. Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor.

Laurie Koehler, the vice provost for enrollment management and retention, said GW’s new test-optional policy helped to create the most diverse freshman class in University history. Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor.

Updated: Nov. 21, 2016 at 3:22 p.m.

The Class of 2020 is the most diverse group of students in University history, officials announced Monday.

Officials enrolled a freshman class of 2,523 students out of the more than 10,000 prospective students admitted to the University. About 40 percent of applicants for the class were accepted at GW.

The Class of 2020 includes a 33 percent increase in students from underrepresented minority groups, which now make up 20.2 percent of this year’s class, compared to last years 14.9 percent.

Laurie Koehler, the vice provost for enrollment management and retention, said in an interview Monday that while the University does not set numerical targets for any specific populations, she and other officials acknowledge the benefits of a diverse social and classroom setting and will continue to work toward improving diversity on campus.

“There is an obvious benefit to students from learning from each other, from people with different perspectives,” Koehler said.

The number of black freshmen increased by 84 percent, from 4.7 percent of last year’s class to 8.8 percent for the Class of 2020. Similarly, Hispanic student enrollment rose by 11 percent, from making up 9.2 percent of last year’s enrolled class to this year’s 10.5 percent.

The number of freshman who receive Pell grants – federal funding given to low-income students that does not have to be repaid – also increased, with 15 percent of the class receiving the class compared to last year’s 13.8 percent, according to preliminary numbers. This figure has now been steadily increasing at GW for more than a decade.

The percentage of first-generation students also increased by 14 percent from last year, with 13.9 percent of this year’s freshmen identifying as a member of that group. Students and officials have focused on supporting this group of students over the past year, with the addition of office hours and monthly dinners for first-generation students.

Koehler partially attributed the rise in diversity to the new test optional policy in which GW no longer requires SAT or ACT scores from applicants as a way to attract more underrepresented groups. Of the total enrolled class, 29 percent did not submit test scores. This was the first applicant pool under this policy.

“We adopted our test-optional policy to diversify an already outstanding applicant pool by reaching out to exceptional students who have been underrepresented at selective colleges and universities,” University President Steven Knapp said in a release. “Our experience this first year under the new policy would seem to validate that approach.”

Improving accessibility for students has been a major focus of the Knapp administration in recent years. More than two years ago, Knapp unveiled a task force on access and success to help bring more low-income students to campus. And he and Koehler have both prioritized helping students stay and succeed at GW over the past year, including several partnerships with groups that help bring minority students to campuses.

Koehler said admissions offices across the country acknowledge that high school course difficulty and GPA are more accurate predictors of future academic success than test scores.

While test scores were not considered for nearly a third of the enrolled class, the median academic GPA did rise from 3.64 last year to 3.66 this year.

“We know every student admitted is capable of being successful,” Koehler said. “Test scores have never been the tipping factor.”

The yield rate, or portion of admitted students who actually end up attending GW, also dropped to 24.7 percent from last year’s 25.5 percent.

Koehler said that more than half of the applicant pool had applied to an average of 10 universities, which can make it more difficult to determine which institution an admitted applicant will enroll at. The fastest way to improve the yield rate would be to admit academically weaker students, a step GW is not considering, she said.

The applicant pool for the Class of 2020 increased by 28 percent, the largest jump in more than a decade. Officials remained within their goal of enrolling 2,500 to 2,600 students.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that more than half of admitted students had applied to an average of 10 institutions. That statistic applied to the entire applicant pool, not just admitted students. We regret this error.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Eve Zhurbinskiy, a commissioner of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission, won re-election for her ANC seat.   Jillian DiPersio | Hatchet Photographer

Eve Zhurbinskiy, a commissioner of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission, won re-election for her ANC seat. Jillian DiPersio | Hatchet Photographer

A junior was re-elected to the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission, D.C. officials announced Saturday.

Eve Zhurbinskiy will sit for two years on the ANC after running for the seat as a write-in candidate. No candidates formally ran for the seat, and she campaigned for her seat at the School Without Walls polling place for 13 hours on Election Day.

“I’m honored to be re-elected to the ANC, and I’m excited to continue to work for students on the ANC,” she said.

Zhurbinskiy ran as a write-in candidate after not receiving 25 signatures from permanent residents over the summer. She represents some locations on campus in the ANC, including eight residence halls and eight Greek houses.

During her next term, Zhurbinskiy said she plans to improve accessibility to rape kits, advocate for sidewalk repairs, help to prevent sexual assault at bars through the Safe Bars program and develop a discount for GW students and staff members for Capital Bikeshare.

Within the past few months, Zhurbinskiy backed a bill to make feminine hygiene products tax-free in D.C. and spoke against GW’s decision not to support a D.C. Council bill providing District workers with 12 weeks of paid leave.

Last year, she fought against legislation allowing the University Police Department to patrol off GW’s campus. She also proposed improvements for lighting in the I Street Mall and introduced a proposal laying out plans for students to use the Metro for $1 a day.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
D.C. Fire and EMS found the Falafel Bus food truck fire that injured three people Wednesday was caused by improperly refueling the truck's generator. Hatchet file photo by Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor

D.C. Fire and EMS found the Falafel Bus food truck fire that injured three people Wednesday was caused by improperly refueling the truck’s generator. Hatchet file photo by Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor

The fire that injured three people and destroyed a Falafel Bus food truck on H Street on Wednesday was caused by an employee refueling a gas generator while the truck was on and while food was being served in the truck, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

The fire started on the outside of the truck and then spread quickly when it reached the inside because of the fuel feeding the stoves inside the food truck, The Post reported.

Safety guidelines for food trucks stipulate that the gas should not be refueled while the truck’s engine is still running or while food is being served. A representative from D.C. Fire and EMS told The Post that the workers should at least turn off the truck and allow it to cool down before refilling the gas tank, but the driver should ideally drive the truck to a gas station to refill it.

Three truck employees, two women and one man, were taken to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, according to The Post. One patient was in critical condition Wednesday.

“Improper fueling is now believed the very likely cause,” Doug Buchanan, a spokesman for D.C. Fire and EMS, told The Post.

A student created a crowdfunding campaign for the people injured in the food truck fire the day the fire happened. The campaign raised more than $8,000 as of Friday.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

AT&T donated $450,000 to GW to establish a politics and policy center dedicated to indigenous learning, according to Indian Country Today Media Network.

The AT&T Center for Indigenous Politics and Policy will be the University’s first center dedicated to indigenous learning, the release said. The gift was made in honor of Native American Heritage Month.

AT&T also sponsors the Native American Political Leadership Program, a full scholarship pre-college program open to Native American high school students.

Ali Eskandarian, the dean of the College of Professional Studies, said in the release that the establishment of the center displays the University’s commitment to diversity.

“We’re excited to establish a unique center in Washington, D.C. to study Native American politics and policy, and we are grateful for AT&T’s support,” Eskandarian said. “This is an important opportunity for the university in its continued commitment to diversity.”

The gift is part of AT&T’s more than $1 million donation to furthering education for Native American students. The company also donated $600,000 to the American Indian College Fund.

Cheryl Crazy Bull, the president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, said in a release that the support from AT&T will help more students access high school diplomas and post-secondary education.

“American Indians face many unique challenges to getting an education,” she said. “And Native youth experience some of the lowest high school graduation rates nationwide.”

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Members of the D.C. Council supported a bill that would provide overtime pay during snow emergencies. Ethan Stoler | Hatchet Photographer

Members of the D.C. Council supported a bill that would provide overtime pay during snow emergencies. Ethan Stoler | Hatchet Photographer

Updated: Nov. 18, 2016 at 10:40 a.m.

This post was written by reporter Chase Smith.

In an effort to provide better walkability during snow emergencies like January 2016’s “snowzilla,” D.C. Council members met at the John A. Wilson building to hear testimony for proposed amendments to current snow and ice removal legislation.

The District spent $55.3 million in response to the January blizzard, or eight years worth of snow removal budgets in response to the emergency. This new legislation would authorize Mayor Muriel Bowser to enter into an agreement with the Business Improvement Districts and Main Streets programs for snow and ice removal from sidewalks, curb cuts and crosswalks in their district or program area during a snow emergency.

Ward 6 Council Member Charles Allen, who proposed the amendment, said representatives from BIDs and Main Streets programs worked to clear snow and ice for the businesses and residents in their areas voluntarily. The D.C. organizations help improve conditions for people working in D.C. businesses and using District streets.

However, the BIDs and Main Street programs were not compensated for extra hours of snow and ice removal and instead millions were paid to contractors with little to none of it going to sidewalk shoveling.

Allen said he would like to see this conversation about pedestrian accessibility to be moved along because he has seen many people walking and not driving in the first few days of a snow emergency.

“I would love to be able to say out of that 55 million, five percent went to making sure we had clear pedestrian paths,” Allen said. “I would wager not even five percent, I would be surprised if even one percent, went to that pedestrian experience for clean and safe sidewalks.”

Representatives from the Main Streets programs in D.C. and BIDs testified in approval of the proposed amendment at the hearing.

Charlie Whitaker, the CEO of Career Path D.C., said the new amendment would allow his team to purchase more ice melt in snow emergencies, because last year’s blizzard saw them exhaust their whole years supply of ice melt in two hours.

“I love to see kids go to school on time every day,” Whitaker said. “If we could remove snow at a faster rate and more efficiently, we can keep our government open, our kids can get to school on time and we won’t have to worry so much about our seniors slipping and falling.”

Kyle Todd, Executive Director of Rhode Island Ave. Main Streets program, said his team rose to the occasion and removed “tons” of snow during the blizzard in January.

“However, when it came time to pay them overtime, well, that’s why we’re here today,” he said.

He added they could have removed the snow very quickly with the appropriate equipment and that it should be purchased in advance so his team can have proper training before the next big winter storm hits.

Natalie Avery, the executive director of the D.C. BID Council, said the current situation of D.C. prioritizing road clearing instead of sidewalk clearing should be changed.

Avery expressed frustration with street plows that push snow back onto already cleared sidewalks, which “erases hours of work.”

Ana Harvey, the director of the Department of Small and Local Business Development, testified in support of the proposed legislation on behalf of Bowser.

Harvey said the January snowstorm taught the city that they need to be ready for unexpected snow emergencies while also thoughtful of budgetary considerations.

“This bill explores a potential solution by allowing the Mayor to enter into agreements with BIDs or Main Street programs for snow and ice removal and improving efficiency by utilizing existing government resources,” she said.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported the Ward 6 Council member as John Allen. His name is Charles Allen. We regret this error.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Florence Harmon, center, said the light from an illuminated Hilton Garden Inn sign shines into neighbors' homes. Max Wang | Hatchet Photographer

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Florence Harmon, center, said the light from an illuminated Hilton Garden Inn sign shines into neighbors’ homes. Max Wang | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by reporter Marisa Sinatra.

Members of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission unanimously voted to oppose a modification that would allow the Hilton Garden Inn in Georgetown to have an illuminated sign on their property.

Community members said they have been arguing against the sign at the hotel since 2008 when the hostel was first established at the corner of 22nd and M streets. Commissioner Florence Harmon said residents opposed the sign during the original hearing for the sign because they did not want to have a bright light shining into their homes.

Harmon referenced a zoning commission order from Nov. 28, 2008, where it agrees with the ANC that the sign cannot be illuminated in order to respect the residents in the community.

At the monthly meeting Wednesday night, Harmon argued on behalf of the residents of the neighborhood, emphasizing that the light from the hotel sign was intruding on their homes and that the decisions made by Hilton Garden and its team were damaging to the community.

In front of representatives from the hotel and the hotel’s layers, the firm of Holland and Knight, Harmon said the legal tactics made by the Holland and Knight team were “very questionable” in getting the zoning commission to agree to the sign.

Harmon said the hotel’s counsel went behind the ANC to the zoning administrator and got an order saying that a sign on the exhibit from the zoning commission allowed them to install the sign anyway.

“The sign was illegally installed,” Harmon said. “It was installed in violation of the express terms of the zoning commission.”

Harmon added that the Holland and Knight’s actions would not facilitate trust and community engagement for the business.

“It is really important for any business owner in this community to build goodwill and build good trust,” she said. “Some of the tactics that have been done by Holland and Knight are not the kid of tactics that would build goodwill and build good trust with the community, because a lot of your business will be community-based.”

Jessica Bloomfield, a representative from Holland and Knight, said the sign in question is located at the top of the hotel’s facade facing east. It is horizontally mounted, backlit, shows the name and logo of the hotel, and is about 3.5 by 12 feet in size, she said.

Bloomfield said she believes the sign is smaller and less intrusive than other signs in the neighborhood and that it is consistent with designs approved by D.C.’s zoning commission.

“Having that sign is essential to the success of the hotel,” Bloomfield argued. “It was designed specifically for that building.”

Shaun Burchard, who was at the meeting representing the hotel, said he did not have much to do with the sign because he just came into ownership of the hotel this year, when the sign was already in place.

“We’ve partnered with Hilton and obviously, the identity package that goes with being a branded hotel is significant to our customers to feel comfortable with what they are buying,” he said.

A resident from the community, Sarah Maddux, said she was at the meeting in which the signage was initially discussed.

“I would like for you to know that I was in the room with the architects when it was designed and discussed,” she said, “From the very first day, we were emphatic about not having that sign there.”

She also argued that the hotel did not accommodate the residents in other ways in which they requested. She said the neighbors requested to use one of the meeting rooms in the hotel for free, a chance they did not get.

“If you want to be a part of this neighborhood, take that sign down,” she added.

Patrick Kennedy, the chair of the ANC, said the community put a lot of time and money to enforce not having an illuminated sign in that Georgetown hotel.

“I have never had an ordeal like this for any other project that has come across our desk, and that’s where my frustration comes from, a lot of it,” he said.

  • Permalink
  • Comments