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Harvard political philosopher and best-selling author Michael Sandel speaks in Lisner Auditorium on the dilemma of ethics in a market economy. Nicole Radivilov | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Political philosopher and best-selling author Michael Sandel speaks in Lisner Auditorium about the dilemma of ethics in a market economy. Nicole Radivilov | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Lila Weatherly.

Political philosopher and Harvard University professor Michael Sandel visited Lisner Auditorium on Thursday to explore ethical dilemmas in politics and society with students.

The lecture was part of a series for business students endowed by Board of Trustees member Richard Blackburn.

Here are a few takeaways from the lecture:

1. Posing questions to the audience

Sandel gave students examples of ethical dilemmas and asked them to take sides: Would it be OK to auction off a rhino hunt to raise money for conservation? What about putting a sticker price on immigration?

Those topics sparked heated debate, but Sandel said that’s what he was aiming to do.

“We need to revive the lost art of democratic discourse, and that means we need to learn the art of engaging with one another. Very much like we’ve done today,” Sandel said.

2. The ‘skyboxification of American life’

Sandel said there is less discourse among Americans now because classism keeps people of different socioeconomic backgrounds from interacting. He called it the “skyboxification of American life.”

At baseball games years ago, Sandel said, “There were always more expensive box seats and cheaper bleacher seats.”

“Everybody ate the same stale hot dogs and had to wait in the same long lines in the restrooms. When it rained, everyone got wet,” he said.

Now, baseball stadiums have luxury suites that keep some people from the rain. With separation between the rich and poor, not everyone has the same experience. That separation can make it difficult to solve ethical issues, Sandel said.

“Those who are affluent and those with modest means live and work and shop and play in different places. We send our children to different schools,” Sandel said.

George Washington University Trustee Richard Blackburn introduced Michael Sandel as part of Blackburn's annual lecture series. Nicole Radivilov | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Richard Blackburn, a member of the Board of Trustees, introduced Michael Sandel as part of Blackburn’s annual lecture series. Nicole Radivilov | Hatchet Staff Photographer

3. ‘We won’t know until we try’

Sandel said to be most effective, people with different views should talk to each other with mutual respect.

“We need to engage more directly with the competing values of the ethical convictions, and moral and spiritual convictions, that citizens bring to public life,” he said.

He pointed out that in a pluralistic society where people disagree on values, it is important to reason with and listen to others.

“Not because it will lead to an agreement, but because we won’t know until we try,” Sandel said.

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Friday, Jan. 23, 2015 6:19 p.m.

Asbestos removal in Strong Hall confirmed

Updated: Jan. 24, 2015 at 1:44 p.m.

The University is removing asbestos in Strong Hall, officials confirmed Friday.

University spokesman Kurtis Hiatt said the asbestos removal will be finished by the end of the day and the replacement of the ceiling and insulation will take place over the weekend. He said the asbestos did not create a health hazard for those who were in the building.

“During the abatement process, workers followed all applicable health and safety standards and regulations. Air samples were taken and showed there were no hazards to the GW community,” Hiatt said on Friday.

Hiatt said last week staff members were called to fix a leaking pipe in the second-floor bathroom, and had to then remove asbestos in a small part of the room.

On Thursday, a toilet overflowed in a second-floor bathroom, which Hiatt said caused water to leak into the lobby. Hiatt said that the leak prompted staff to remove asbestos from the ceiling of the lobby.

“We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate Strong Hall residents’ patience as we resolve any remaining issues,” he said.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that an overflowing toilet caused water to leak into Strong Hall’s lobby on Friday. The incident occurred on Thursday. We regret this error.

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Pamela R. Jeffries, vice provost of digital initiatives at the Johns Hopkins University, will take over as dean of the School of Nursing in April. Photo courtesy of The Johns Hopkins University.

Pamela R. Jeffries, vice provost of digital initiatives at the Johns Hopkins University, will take over the School of Nursing as dean in April. Photo courtesy of the Johns Hopkins University.

GW tapped its fourth top administrator from the Johns Hopkins University to lead the School of Nursing, the University announced Friday.

Pamela R. Jeffries, Johns Hopkins’ first-ever vice provost of digital initiatives, will take the helm of GW’s newest school on April 6. She’s been a nursing professor at the research hub since 2009.

“Leading a new nursing school in its early years is a unique opportunity and one that few nursing leaders are privileged to experience,” Jeffries said in a release. “It is a challenge I eagerly accept, and I look forward to sharing the rewards of success with faculty and students.”

Her research has focused on innovation in nursing education, and she has worked with groups like the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

Jeffries earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Ball State University in Indiana and her master’s and doctorate degrees in nursing from Indiana University School of Nursing, where she later served as the associate dean of undergraduate programs.

She will take over a school that has grown its enrollment and faculty since it was established in 2010. Jean Johnson, the school’s inaugural dean, stepped down from the role last month, about a year and a half after she announced she’d take a sabbatical and fall back into a teaching and research role.

Mary Jean Schumann took over as interim dean on Jan. 1, and will remain in the position until Jeffries starts this spring.

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Judy Smith, the inspiration for the inspiration for Olivia Pope on the show "Scandal" will speak on campus next month. Photo by flickr user roanokecollege used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Judy Smith, the inspiration for Olivia Pope on the show “Scandal,” will speak on campus next month. Photo by flickr user roanokecollege used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Olivia Pope may be fictional, but her real-life counterpart will be making her way to GW next month.

Judy Smith, the crisis manager who serves as the inspiration for the show “Scandal,” will give the keynote address at GW’s Black Heritage Celebration. The event, which will be held on Feb. 2, is part of the University’s series of events celebrating Black History Month.

Doors at the Dorothy Betts Theatre in the Marvin Center will open at 6:30 p.m., and seats will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Smith, who runs Smith & Company, a crisis management and communications firm out of D.C., has counseled top Washington figures from Clarence Thomas to Monica Lewinsky. She is now a co-executive producer of the show based on her consulting practice.

GW is no stranger to the hit ABC show. Star Kerry Washington is an alumna and gave the University’s Commencement address in 2013.

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Director of the Office of Military and Veteran Student Services Victoria Pridemore, left, and Associate Provost for Military and Veteran Affairs Mel Williams host a Military Town Hall to gain insight into how their offices can better help military students. Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Director of the Office of Military and Veteran Student Services Victoria Pridemore, left, and Associate Provost for Military and Veteran Affairs Mel Williams host a Military Town Hall to gain insight into how their offices can better help military students. Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet Reporter Catherine Moran.

Dozens of student veterans discussed the issues they face on campus and how the University can support their unique situations at the National Veterans Center Tuesday.

The discussion, hosted by the GW VALOR and the Office of Military and Veteran Student Services answered questions ranging from fiscal concerns to strengthening the veteran community.

Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the event:

1. Keeping college affordable

The Office of Military and Veteran Student Services is working to update its website and newsletter with more information about external scholarship opportunities for veterans, Victoria Pridemore, the associate director of military and student services, said. Several students asked about the best ways to gain the financial support they need to attend GW.

She added that VALOR scholarships are only available to students who are not 100 percent eligible for the GI Bill, or who have run out of their military funding.

Mel Williams, associate provost for military and veterans affairs, said he and others work to make sure that scholarships line up with GI Bill benefits so students can receive as much financial support as possible.

“We wanted our VALOR students to focus on academics and not have to worry about where the next dollar is coming from,” he said.

2. Strengthening a community

Pride more said the University will offer more opportunities for student veterans to work together both on and off-campus, such volunteering with the D.C. Department of Veteran Affairs later this month.

The University Counseling Center also hired a counselor with experience working with student veterans and students in military families this year.

“UCC has a really strong interest in making sure that the veteran community is heard and that you guys are made visible,” said Sarah Skelton, a veteran student services coordinator at the UCC.

3. Compiling experiences

Williams said his office has tried to learn more about about GW’s student veteran population to adjust the types of services and support they offer.

“We have better knowledge of our VALOR students now than we did two years ago,” Williams said. “Feedback is that we’re doing something special to support veteran students and families.”

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Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015 10:08 p.m.

No decision yet for ousted GW Chabad leaders

The Steiners prepare for shabbat dinner in their home last week. The D.C. Court of Appeals did not make a decision during a hearing Tuesday on whether they could remain on campus leading GW Chabad. File photo Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

The Steiners prepare for Shabbat dinner in their home last week. The D.C. Court of Appeals did not make a decision during a hearing Tuesday on whether they could remain on campus leading GW Chabad. File Photo by Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Pim Anukularmphai.

Three D.C. Court of Appeals judges did not come to an official decision at a hearing Tuesday on whether Rabbi Yehuda Steiner and his wife, Rivky, could continue to lead GW Chabad after they were fired last year.

In December, four months after the Steiners were fired from their roles at GW Chabad, a D.C. Superior Court judge decided the Steiners were banned from holding Chabad events on campus. Last week, a stay on that injunction allowed them to temporarily resume Chabad events until a final decision was made.

Senior Judge Vanessa Ruiz, Associate Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby and Associate Judge Stephen Glickman said Tuesday that the Steiners could continue to hold events while they wait for a final decision.

About 1,500 students, alumni and parents have signed a petition in support of the couple, and last week more than 100 students attended the first Shabbat dinner of the semester, hosted by the Steiners.

Rabbi Levi Shemtov had fired Yehuda Steiner for breaching his contract and failing to notify Shemtov in a timely manner about financial donations or GW Chabad activities.

Chancey Bratt, who represented Steiner, said the non-compete clause banning the couple from campus was “overbearing. The judges did not say at the hearing when they would come to a final decision.

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Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015 9:37 p.m.

SA elections to be held in March

Voting for student body positions will take place on March 25 and 26, the Joint Elections Committee announced Wednesday.

The elections, which are for positions on the Student Association, Program Board and Class Council, will be a month later than last year’s.

“All of us on the JEC are very excited to begin the 2015 student body election process,” JEC chair Zachary Speck said in a release. “We look forward to working with all the prospective candidates in the coming months to elect the new group of top student advocates.”

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Harry Reid will undergo eye surgery at GW Hospital on Monday.

Doctors told the Senate Minority Leader on Tuesday that he will need surgery to fully restore vision in his right eye, according to a release. He had injured his eye, broken several ribs and broken bones in his face during an exercising accident on New Year’s Day.

“His broken ribs are healing well and he will continue to maintain a busy schedule next week as his right eye heals,” Kristen Orthman, a spokeswoman for Reid, said in a statement Wednesday.

The top Democrat returned to D.C. on Tuesday but did not attend the State of the Union. He had been working from his Nevada home while recovering from his injuries.

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Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015 1:49 p.m.

Knapp kicks off two-day food summit

Dr. Kathleen Merrigan, executive director of sustainability at the George Washington University, delivers the opening keynote speech at the Annual Food Tank Summit, held in the Jack Morton Auditorium. Sara Gleysteen | Hatchet Photographer

Kathleen Merrigan, executive director of GW’s Sustainability Institute, delivers the keynote address at the annual “Food Tank Summit,” held in the Jack Morton Auditorium. Sara Gleysteen | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Ryan Lasker.

GW kicked off a two-day “Food Tank Summit” in the Jack Morton Auditorium on Wednesday, hosting panelists to talk about agriculture and the business side of the food industry.

University President Steven Knapp opened the summit, which will include nearly 90 speakers who are experts in topics like sustainable food research and agricultural studies.

“I am struck by the depth of [GW students’] interest in living healthier lives and their desire to know more about where their food comes from,” Knapp said.

The event is co-hosted by the Food Tank, a nonprofit that works to address problems in the global food industry, like hunger and obesity.

Kathleen Merrigan, the executive director of GW’s Sustainability Institute, keynoted the event.

“Food, first and foremost, is a political problem,” she said.

Merrigan highlighted child hunger, arguing that one way to address it is to ensure women have the same opportunities as men. Merrigan joined GW last winter after working as the second-highest official in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“The World Bank and the Food Agricultural Organization have both put out reports that say if women were given the same access to education, to resources, to leadership positions as men, world food production would increase by 30 percent, which is the equivalent of feeding 150 million people,” Merrigan said.

Knapp’s wife, Diane Robinson Knapp, also spoke about her work with GW’s Urban Food Task Force – a group of faculty, students and volunteers that has launched initiatives to offer cooking lessons and bring bags of produce to low-income areas of the city.

Robinson Knapp, whose background is in clinical nutrition, said there has been a “groundswell of interest and involvement” in the task force since it launched in 2012.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Kiara Bhagwanjee.

President Barack Obama highlighted education as a key driver to improving the economy’s future success at his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Obama told members of Congress he hoped to work with them to offer free community college around the country and enhance tax credits for education and child care. Those initiatives would help ease the financial pressures on middle class families, he said.

He told the story of a  middle class family from Minnesota, who have struggled to pay off student loans, save for retirement and pay for childcare, which Obama said cost as much as a year of tuition at the University of Minnesota for their two children.

 “Helping hardworking families make ends meet. Giving them the tools they need for good-paying jobs in this new economy. Maintaining the conditions for growth and competitiveness. This is where America needs to go,” he said.

Building on an announcement earlier this month that he’d seek to create a plan for free community college, Obama said that having a higher education degree would give more Americans an edge up in competitive job openings.

He praised a job-training program established by Vice President Joe Biden that prepares community college students for higher-paying jobs in fields like coding, nursing and robotics.

“Free community college is possible,” he said. “I want to work with this Congress, to make sure Americans already burdened with student loans can reduce their monthly payments, so that student debt doesn’t derail anyone’s dreams,” he said.

Obama also urged businesses to follow in the footsteps of companies like CVS and UPS, asking that they offer more educational benefits and paid apprenticeships.

“We believed we could prepare our kids for a more competitive world,” he said. “This plan is [their] chance to graduate ready for the new economy, without a load of debt,” he said.

Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, who gave the official Republican Party rebuttal, didn’t directly address any of Obama’s goals for education, instead focusing on issues concerning Obamacare and the generation of jobs for Americans through international markets.

Other Republicans, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), questioned how Obama’s community college goals would be funded during and after his speech.

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