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Vice President for Human Resources Sabrina Ellis and Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Planning Forrest Maltzman attended a town hall meeting on last month, fielding questions from staff members about GW's rollback of employee benefits.  File photo by Katie Causey | Photo Editor

Vice President for Human Resources Sabrina Ellis and Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Planning Forrest Maltzman attended a town hall meeting on last month, fielding questions from staff members about GW’s rollback of employee benefits. File photo by Katie Causey | Photo Editor

University officials released more details on employees’ health insurance coverage Monday after staff members asked for more clear communication from administrators.

The new specifics of the health insurance policies for most University employees — which will eliminate pharmacy deductibles and establish a new network of labs aimed at saving money — follow a June announcement that the University would absorb any increase in health premiums past 3 percent for 80 percent of employees. Staff members in a town hall last month asked for University officials to be more upfront about changes to benefits.

Sabrina Ellis, the vice president for human resources, “will continue communicating about the changes through the fall open enrollment period,” the release said.

“These concepts are solutions that have been put in place by many organizations to control health care costs,” she said in the release. “They allow the University to take steps now that will reduce increases in the future.”

Employees first saw their benefits shift in September when University President Steven Knapp said that GW would roll back its tuition benefits this January, a move that would save the University about $750,000.

The decision to keep the premium increases at bay was one of several recommendations made by a benefits advisory committee created by Knapp last year after the University faced objections to scaling back tuition benefits.

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The University will officially open a research center to evaluate how faculty teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics at the undergraduate level.

The STEM Academy will launch in October, under the leadership of Jerry Dwyer, the current director of the STEM Center for Outreach, Research & Education at Texas Tech University according to a University release. Dwyer was selected by a committee of faculty in the schools involved in the collaboration.

Professors in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Graduate School of Education and Human Development will all be part of the STEM Academy, which aims to expand research funding and classroom practices for STEM students and professors at GW.

“The way I see it, the STEM Academy will be a facilitator and catalyst for development in undergraduate teaching, especially in STEM areas,” Dwyer said in a release.

Provost Steven Lerman said earlier this year that the director of the STEM Academy would bring a vision of the center’s future and work to include more faculty in the collaborative program.

“He is an experienced director of a STEM education center, he has long been known in the mathematics community for his efforts in mathematics education and outreach and has a strong record of funding and sponsorship for his initiatives,” Rahul Simha, a professor of computer science who headed the search committee for the STEM Academy director, said in a release.

The University’s strategic plan requests $2 million to $4 million to create and develop the STEM Academy.

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If a member of the Class of 2019 finished online sexual assault prevention training by Thursday night, he or she could win hundreds of dollars – to spend at the GW bookstore.

Incoming students who completed Think About It, a new online sexual assault training module by midnight on Thursday were entered in a drawing to win a $500 campus bookstore gift certificate. Students also had to register for an in-person training session during Welcome Week to be entered, University spokesman Kurtis Hiatt confirmed in an email. This was the first time this incentive has been offered to students, although it is also the first time the online training has taken place.

While some studies have found incentives like the chance to win a gift card offered by GW can be effective in getting students to engage in events, reports and experts have doubted just how many students are actually motivated to participate by the possibility of earning extra money or winning prizes.

All students are required to complete both this online module and an in-person session about sexual assault during Welcome Week for the first time this year. Officials expanded training sessions during CI and Welcome Week after they received pushback from students for only requiring the online module.

The GW Title IX office tweeted a reminder to students to complete this training early for the chance to win Thursday.

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Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015 5:32 p.m.

Gun crimes up 20 percent so far this year

Gun crimes in D.C. have increased nearly 20 percent so far this year compared to 2014, according to new data.

There have been 1,183 gun crimes so far in 2015, according to a new report from the District Office of Revenue Analysis. About 430 of those crimes have occurred this summer, according to data collected through July.

Last summer, there were 333 gun crimes across the city. And with a total of 78 murders, homicides are also up about 18 percent this year, WTOP reported.

The Foggy Bottom neighborhood is one of 17 to see either a decrease or little change in gun crimes over the last year, according to the report. The Metropolitan Police Department has tallied two gun crimes in the neighborhood so far this year, down from four last year.

The biggest decrease in gun crimes occurred in the Deanwood, Burrville, Grant Park and Lincoln Heights neighborhoods, which is a mostly residential area in Northeast D.C.

The Dupont Circle and Georgetown neighborhoods both saw increases in gun crimes over the past year, with increases of two and four crimes, respectively. The largest increase in gun violence occurred in the area surrounding Union Station, with a total of 69 gun crimes so far this year – an increase from 32 in 2014, according to the data.

The area around Capitol Hill reported 41 gun crimes in 2015, more than double the total in 2014.

The Cathedral Heights area, which surrounds the National Cathedral, is the only neighborhood on the list that reported no crimes involving guns over the past two years.

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The U.S. Department of Justice launched Changing Our Campus on Wednesday — a website that aims to help colleges deal with sexual violence on campuses.

The U.S. Department of Justice launched Changing Our Campus on Wednesday — a website that aims to help colleges deal with sexual violence on campuses. Screenshot taken from changingourcampus.org

The United States Department of Justice launched a website Wednesday aimed at helping faculty, staff and students at colleges deal with sexual violence.

The site, called Changing Our Campus, includes results from research studies on sexual assault, stalking and dating and domestic violence. Other parts of the site include resources for survivors, bystanders and educators, and interactive self-assessments for college students and administrators to take to ensure a school is in accordance with the campus safety law, Title IX and the Clery Act.

One part of Changing Our Campus that has not yet launched is called “Your Campus,” which will feature resources specific to types of campuses, such as historically black colleges and universities, faith-based colleges, community colleges and four-year institutions. A note on the website said the page will be completed this summer.

The website will provide specific resources for certain types of campuses.

The website will provide specific resources for certain types of campuses. Screenshot taken from changingourcampus.org

Since the release of “Not Alone: The First Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault” in April 2014, the federal government has prioritized dealing with sexual violence on campuses through efforts like the White House’s It’s On Us campaign, which GW signed on to last year.

Legislators on the Hill are also considering bills that would reform responses to sexual assault on college campuses.

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Updated: Aug. 6, 2015 at 10:47 a.m.

A Metro train derailment caused major transportation delays for D.C. passengers Thursday morning that could stretch into the afternoon.

A train carrying no passengers derailed outside the Smithsonian Station early Thursday morning, according to a Metro press release. There were no injuries to the operator, but service was suspended between the Federal Center SW and McPherson Square stops for the Orange and Blue lines, the release stated.

“Metro personnel are working to restore normal service as quickly and safely as possible. However, at this time there is no estimate on when normal service will be restored,” the release stated.

Silver Line trains are only running between Wiehle-Reston East and East Falls Church to prevent further congestion, according to the release.

Metro’s interim general manager Jack Requa said at a press conference Thursday that the damage to the Metro car and the surrounding station was “relatively minor,” but the area where the derailment occurred is a difficult space to “re-rail equipment.”

“We have brought in all of our resources from across the system to assist with the re-railing process to get it done as quickly and safely as possible,” Requa said. “There is a possibility that this afternoon’s service will be affected.”

The Smithsonian and Federal Triangle stops are closed, and all Metrobuses in D.C. will provide free transportation for passengers affected by the derailment, according to the release.

In July, Requa testified before Congress over safety concerns after a fatal incident in January near the L’Enfant Plaza left one woman dead.

As D.C. residents searched for alternate ways to get to work during rush hour, some commuters tweeted their frustration with the derailment.

Jeanine Marie contributed reporting.

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GW School of Business Dean Linda Livingstone attended a meeting about helping women in business at the White House on Wednesday. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

GW School of Business Dean Linda Livingstone attended a meeting about helping women in business at the White House on Wednesday. Hatchet File Photo.

The dean of the GW School of Business formally committed the school to helping women in business at a White House event Wednesday.

The Council on Women and Girls and the Council of Economic Advisers hosted business school deans from across the country at the White House on Wednesday, according to a White House release. Linda Livingstone, dean of the business school, was one of 45 deans who has committed their schools to a set of best practices to support women in business and were invited to meet at the White House event.

Livingstone, who took over as dean of the business school last year, has been known for championing women in business. Livingstone said in an interview last year that she promotes women in business education, and she thinks business courses should be designed so they’re valuable for everyone including minorities and women.

Wednesday’s meeting brought together both university and business leaders to discuss the best ways to make business work well for groups like families in the 21st century.

The schools agreed to focus on goals including ensuring women better access to business schools and careers, creating a school experience that prepares students for the work force, ensuring career services for graduates and demonstrating how successful businesses are run.

The Council of Economic Advisers also released a brief Wednesday in light of the event, explaining the issues women in business face and how schools can work to encourage their success.

Colleen Murphy contributed reporting.

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On Tuesday afternoon, activists from the women-led social justice organization CODEPINK combined hula hooping with peaceful advocacy in Lafayette Square near the White House. The activists led “hooping for peace” to show support for recent nuclear negotiations with Iran.

In a landmark agreement with six nations including the United States last month, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear capability in exchange for lifted financial and oil sanctions, the New York Times reported. As part of the agreement, Iran will reduce its stockpile of the enriched uranium used to make nuclear weapons by 98 percent.

CODEPINK activist Tighe Barry described the event as “a fun way to get people aware of the Iran deal.”

Nicole Radivilov | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Medea Benjamin, a D.C. resident and co-founder of CODEPINK attended the event. Nicole Radivilov | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Nicole Radivilov | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Tourists and local residents joined in on the hula hooping. Nicole Radivilov | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Nicole Radivilov | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Alli McCracken, a D.C. resident and coordinator at CODEPINK, was one of the organizers behind the event. The inspiration for the event was to host a fun alternative to often-depressing protests. Nicole Radivilov | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Nicole Radivilov | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Media and passersby look on as activists hula hoop and share information about the Iran deal. Nicole Radivilov | Hatchet Staff Photographer

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Updated: Aug. 13, 2015 at 10:35 a.m.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Natalie Maher.

One multicultural Greek fraternity brought home two awards this month for its work on campus and around the city.

GW’s chapter of Iota Nu Delta, a South Asian interest-based fraternity, won national awards for chapter of the year and president of the year at the fraternity’s national convention in Boston. Despite only having eight active brothers at GW, the chapter beat out 13 other Iota Nu Delta chapters across the country.

Fraternity President Akhil Chandra said part of his chapter’s success was its presence across the city, including the Maryland and Virginia area, rather than limiting the chapter just to campus, and added that the awards were based on aspects like philanthropy, academics and involvement on campus.

Chandra said the fraternity participated in a peanut butter and jelly drive on F Street and mentored under-privileged children and students at the Perry School Community Service Center on M Street.

The fraternity’s small size sometimes makes it difficult to fully involve with other fraternities and organizations on campus, Chandra said, and added that the chapter relies heavily on alumni for added support.

“Our fraternity is pretty young, so our alumni are pretty young,” Chandra said. “They’re very enthusiastic because they joined the fraternity for the same reasons we did.”

Iota Nu Delta is also a national partner of the South Asian Marrow Association of Donors, and GW’s chapter held a bone marrow registration this past fall. The chapter is also part of the National Multicultural Greek Council, a group of fraternities and sororities that are historically focused on a specific ethnicity or background.

Chandra said that as the fraternity focuses on dedicating its time to the South Asian and D.C. communities, the chapter will spend more time recruiting new members for the upcoming years.

“I’ve worked so hard for three years now, so I want to get more people to carry on the legacy and all the work [Iota Nu Delta] has done so far,” Chandra said.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Iota Nu Delta was a Southeast Asian-interest fraternity. Iota Nu Delta is a South Asian-interest fraternity. We regret this error.

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Donald Trump has dominated social media since launching his campaign. Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Gage Skidmore under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license

Donald Trump has dominated social media since launching his campaign. Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Gage Skidmore under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license

The Graduate School of Political Management confirmed what we already knew — Republican presidential candidate and billionaire Donald Trump has taken over the Internet by controlling most political conversations on social media over the past two months.

GSPM published a two-pronged report Tuesday that has analyzed the political social media landscape since March. The project is part of the PEORIA Project, a partnership between GSPM and data analysis company Zignal Labs.

The second half of the report chronicled Internet activity about the 2016 presidential campaign from May 16 until July 19. GSPM researchers tracked each candidate’s “echo,” or number of mentions by social media users. Trump has “overwhelmed the presidential campaign conversation” online, but only 0.2 percent of that attention translated to traffic on his website, the report said.

The researchers found that Trump’s Internet takeover is “all the more impressive” because he was hardly mentioned on social media before announcing his candidacy on June 16. Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., is the only candidate to increase his or her share of the conversation since Trump jumped in the race.

But all that noise might not mean good things — the researchers found discussion of Trump has mostly been negative. Mentions of immigration increased 54 percent after Trump entered the race, perhaps a connection to Trump’s controversial comments about immigrants.

The researchers also looked through top posts on Twitter and found that candidates centered their tweets around different themes — but still, Trump remains one of a kind.

“Analysis of top tweets reveals a significant topical divide: for some candidates, the top subject was the campaign and the issues; for a second group, celebrities, holidays, and breaking news; and for a third group, Trump himself,” the report said. “Only the first group’s tweets stayed on message.”

According to the number of references on social media, researchers also concluded only eight of the 20 candidates they followed appear to be real contenders. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had the most popular individual tweet, with a tweet about climate change receiving 57,000 retweets.

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