News and Analysis

Updated: July 22,2015 at 2:27 p.m.

Two suspects are now in custody after an attempted off-campus carjacking early Wednesday morning, a Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman confirmed.

MPD officers shot at the suspects as they fled in the direction of campus, according to a campus alert. MPD spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said the suspects were not injured by the gun shots.

MPD officers notified the University Police Department of the situation at about 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday, according to a campus alert.

A male suspect had been captured by police by 3:40 a.m., and another unarmed suspect had fled in the direction of campus. The second suspect was captured after a resident student alerted UPD to a “a suspicious person hiding” by Munson Hall at 22nd and I streets, according to a campus alert.

GW sent two text messages and three emails about the incident, with the first text alert arriving at 3:42 a.m.

“Residual” police activity on campus continued into the morning, according to the alert. As MPD continues its investigation, officers are at the Foggy Bottom Metro station, on 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. and at 23rd Street,. 23rd Street between H and G streets was partially shut down as part of the investigation, but fully reopened by 8:45 a.m.

“Campus safety is a community responsibility, and we thank our community member for her awareness and actions, which led MPD to be able to make a quick arrest,” one campus alert said.

Jacqueline Thomsen contributed reporting.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015 4:42 p.m.

Metro adds fire and rescue liaison


Metro announced a new fire and rescue liaison Monday. Hatchet File Photo.

Metro has added a fire and rescue liaison to watch over its control center, transportation officials announced Monday.

The uniformed firefighter will work 40 hours a week at the Rail Operations Control Center to “help coordinate emergency communication between Metro and first responders,” according to a Metro press release.

“”The new fire/rescue liaison at the Rail Operations Control Center gives first responders ‘eyes and ears’ on Metrorail operations and will serve to further strengthen the coordination between our operations staff and emergency personnel,” Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik said in the release.

Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor said in the release that in the first few days, the liaison helped support more than two dozen incidents.

The person hired to the position will also provide policy recommendations and give extra training to rail controllers, according to the release.

The new position comes after smoke filled a Metro station in January, leaving multiple people injured and one woman dead. That incident led to a federal report of Metro, which found that the transportation’s safety system was “inadequate.”

In February, Jack Evans, who represents Ward 2 for the D.C. Council, said he fully supported building a second entrance for the Foggy Bottom Metro station, a move community members said would improve passenger safety at one of the busiest Metro stations in the District.

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Researchers at GW may have found a new way to attack staph infections and deadly flesh-eating diseases.

Lance Price, a professor, and Cindy Liu, a visiting scholar, both of the department of environmental and occupational health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health, were part of a research team that has identified a kind of bacteria that can push out certain nose infections, including staph infections that can sometimes lead to diseases like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. The study was published in the journal “Science Advances” last month.

Price said in a release that staph infections often reside in the nose but typically don’t affect the rest of the body and don’t raise any concerns for their hosts.

“Staph is an asymptomatic colonizer. It can live on us and spread silently to other people without ever showing any signs,” Price said in the release. “But once there is an opportunity — if you get sick or have a break in your skin — these bacteria can infect you.”

The “good” bacteria is Dolosigranulum, which can be used in a probiotic that could be inserted into patients’ noses to kill the infection, Price said.

Liu, a medical doctor, said in the past, people had considered all bacteria to have negative effects on people. But as research pushes on, there has been more proof that certain bacteria can help fight infections.

Price and Liu said the infection-fighting bacteria could help prevent staph and MRSA infections in people who are at high risk to contract them.

“The less bacteria you have, the less likely you’re going to come up positive on culture,” Price said in the release. “Our findings show that those who carry low amounts of staph, which are often women, could be unknown reservoirs of staph and spread it to others who can carry more.”

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015 11:21 a.m.

GW to offer MOOC on baby boomer retirement

Updated: July 21, 2015 at 1:06 p.m.

As baby boomers get ready to retire, GW is gearing up to teach on the generation’s latest transition.

GW announced this month its fifth free online course, covering retirement for baby boomers, set to begin in September 2016. The details of the course, including its structure and its target audience, have not been announced because the course won’t go live for more than another year.

The baby boomer generation, made up of those born between 1946 and 1964 after the end of World War II, is now reaching retirement age which could have dramatic economic and social consequences as the largest generation eases out of the work force.

Frank Sesno, the director of the School of Media and Public Affairs, is featured in a video on the website introducing the MOOC. He said in the video the online course will discuss how the retirement structure is changing and how members of the baby boomer generation are taking pro-active steps toward changing their lifestyle choices.

“The objective is to give solid, unbiased viewpoints and relevant information to help people understand and enrich their next stage in life,” Sesno said in the promotional video.

Sesno declined to comment further through a spokeswoman on the course’s structure and the importance of teaching a class about retirement.

Peter O’Shea, the associate vice provost of online learning at the State University of New York at Albany, said that baby boomers, who account for more than 75 million people in the U.S., will face a more complicated retirement process because of the number of people leaving their posts at the same time. O’Shea said a course specifically on retirement is unique.

“Considering the shifting demographics in the U.S. and globally, it does seem to me that a MOOC on retirement decisions for baby boomers could be of great interest to many,” said O’Shea.

The Graduate School of Political Management launched a MOOC last April that teaches students about how companies can anticipate other businesses’ actions. The course was an attempt to increase enrollment at GSPM, where enrollment for the most popular degree decreased by 30 percent from 2010 to 2013.

Paul Schiff-Berman, vice provost for online education and academic innovation, said in a statement that more details on the baby boomer course will be released as the project progresses.

“GW has chosen to launch a small number of MOOCs in areas of distinctive strength for the University or where we can make a unique contribution,” he said.

Schiff-Berman also noted the increasing number of online programs across the University, including MOOCs. More than 70 online programs are now offered by GW.

James McCrary, a retirement plan consultant at Sage View, an investment firm, said in an email that most students currently enrolled in college have parents from either the baby boomer generation or Generation X, which generally refers to people born in the years from the early 1960s until the late 1980s. By learning about the most recent changes to retirement, such as the introduction of 401(k) plans, baby boomers are able to personally set aside money for their retirement instead of relying on their employer.

“Bottom line is there has to be accountability at the employer level to want retirement plan health and for employees to be willing to learn on company and personal time,” he said.

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GW students aren’t the only ones #ReadyForHillary.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at Lisner Auditorium in June. File Photo by Desiree Halpern | Senior Staff Photographer

GW faculty and staff members donated more than $20,000 to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who spoke at Lisner Auditorium in June. File Photo by Desiree Halpern | Senior Staff Photographer

Thirteen out of the 14 GW faculty and staff members who made donations to a presidential campaign this quarter gave money to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to campaign spending reports released Wednesday.

GW faculty and staff members’ donations to Clinton, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president, totaled more than $20,000. Donations to the campaign from GW professors, attorneys and other employees ranged from $3 to $2,700.

The average donation to the Clinton campaign among GW employees was more than $1,500. Kateryna Pyatybratova, a program coordinator, donated the most to the campaign, giving $2,703 in two separate gifts – one of $2,700, the limit an individual can donate to a candidate in an election, and the other being $3.

Helen Veit, a research associate, and Bradley Failor, a copywriter, both gave Clinton donations in the form of three installments of $225 each. Associate Vice President for Communications Sarah Gegenheimer Baldassaro also donated $1,000 to Clinton’s campaign.

Clinton had previously received support from GW students in the months leading up to her campaign announcement.

Overall, Clinton reported more than $46 million from more than 250,000 donors.

Only one other GW employee donated to a different campaign. Caitlin Summers, a senior public affairs specialist for the Elliott School of Public Affairs, gave $250 to Republican candidate and former governor of Florida Jeb Bush, according to his financial disclosure reports. Last month, GW students formed a group to support Bush’s run for the Oval Office.

Bush’s official campaign reported raising roughly $11.5 million in donations.

None of the other candidates running for the presidential nomination received donations from GW employees and none of GW’s top administrators have made donations to a campaign during the the past financial quarter.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015 5:46 p.m.

Delta Sigma Phi to join campus in October

Delta Sigma Phi will join campus as GW's 16th fraternity this fall. Hatchet File Photo

Delta Sigma Phi will join campus as GW’s 16th fraternity this fall. Hatchet File Photo

Updated: July 15, 2015 at 5:50 p.m.

Delta Sigma Phi fraternity will become GW’s 16th fraternity this fall, concluding a months-long decision-making process.

The Interfraternity Council voted to add a chapter last October, after more than half of the students who signed up for rush ended up not joining a fraternity. Greek leaders said then that adding a new chapter would help students end up in a group that was a better fit.

Delta Sigma Phi was one of three options Greek leaders considered last winter, after sorting through letters from other interested national organizations. The Greek community at GW is more than 30 percent of students, and has swelled in recent years.

Delta Sigma Phi will not participate in general fraternity rush in the fall. Instead, the fraternity’s national organization will send two “recruitment specialists” to campus for six weeks starting in October, according to a press release from IFC President Keaton White released on Wednesday. The specialists will hold meetings and gather referrals for potential members from student leaders, staff and faculty at GW, according to the release. For the next five weeks, the specialists will recruit students through “group presentations, group bonding activities and a service project,” the release read.

“Their first new member class will be called the ‘founding fathers’ and they will have the opportunity to shape the fraternity into something uniquely them while adding something different, yet unified, to our GW Greek community,” White wrote.

Kappa Alpha and Sigma Alpha Epsilon are the most recent fraternities to join campus, both opening in 2011. Sigma Alpha Epsilon had previously operated as an unrecognized chapter for more than two decades.

Two fraternities have also recently closed on campus. Alpha Epsilon Pi was kicked off campus in January 2014 following a string of hazing and drug violations. Tau Kappa Epsilon’s chapter was closed last January following an investigation by GW.

Delta Sigma Phi will also join several other campuses in October, including the University of California – Los Angeles and the Rochester Institute of Technology, according to its website. There are currently 106 Delta Sigma Phi chapters across the country.

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Students will have the opportunity to experience presidential campaigns first-hand next semester through a new program in GW’s Semester in Washington Politics program.

GW is partnering with Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire and the Bipartisan Policy Center in D.C. to create an interactive class between the college campuses on politics and elections, with a focus on the presidential nomination process for the 2016 election, according to a release published Wednesday.

Guest lecturers, including political thinkers and reporters like Democratic strategist James Carville and Mitt Romney’s campaign manager Matt Rhoades, will visit classrooms on both campuses. Students from both universities will interact via videoconference.

Gregory Lebel, an assistant professor of political management and the director of the Semester in Washington Program, has worked with officials at Saint Anselm to establish this new program over the past year. He has also combined the Semester in Washington Program with some students in Graduate School of Political management, giving the graduate students an opportunity to also participate.

Lebel, a New Hampshire native who has been “involved in and excited by” presidential politics for years, said in an interview that the 2016 presidential election provided the ideal opportunity for a partnership between D.C. and New Hampshire.

“We have the opportunity to let students see what the presidential nomination process looks like through the lens of Washington, through the parties, and so on and so forth, and to have the opportunity to augment that with a view from one of the states – New Hampshire, being one of the best to see it,” Lebel said.

GW students will travel to New Hampshire for a week in October to work on a presidential campaign of their choice in Manchester, N.H. Lebel said the open presidential seat in the upcoming election will allow students a chance to work on multiple campaigns of both parties.

“This gives them the opportunity to see politics playing out first hand,” Lebel said. “They get to see how a presidential campaign takes shape and then runs.”

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Duques Hall, School of Business

The GW School of Business announced three new concentrations for its business administration major. Media Credit: Hatchet file photo.

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Lila Weatherly.

The School of Business is adding more concentration options for students this fall, building on a series of recent curriculum changes at the school.

Concentrations in accountancy, entrepreneurship and business analytics will become available for students in the business school in the fall semester, a university official confirmed last week. The school now offers a total of nine outlined concentrations, including international business and marketing, for students majoring in business administration.

Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou, the associate dean of undergraduate programs at the school who’s leaving GW in September to lead McGill University’s business school, said in an email that the concentration in accountancy gives students in the school an option to receive a general business education without losing out on learning more about accountancy. The school also offers a bachelors degree in accountancy, which requires more accounting classes and fewer business core courses, like marketing.

“The concentration in accountancy was created to provide students with the opportunity to study more accountancy while providing them with the breadth in business associated with the B.B.A. curriculum,” she said.

She also said that the entrepreneurship concentration will be a more distinctive opportunity for business students at GW.

Students have the opportunity to apply to create their own concentration within their business administration major if the nine options offered don’t suit them. A popular one of those create-your-own concentrations turned out to be entrepreneurship, Bajeux-Besnainou said.

“The concentration in entrepreneurship was the single most selected individualized field of concentration in our B.B.A. program,” she said. “It will provide our students with a unique perspective and knowledge about innovation and entrepreneurship.”

GW has amped up its focus on entrepreneurship in recent years, with faculty working to create a minor in entrepreneurship and participation in programs like the GW Business Plan increasing.

Bill Holder, the dean of the Leventhal School of Accounting at the University of Southern California, said accounting skills are an important foundation for a business student to have, especially one considering starting their own businesses.

“[Investors] are going to want to know, what are the financial prospects here?” he said.

Holder said that, for this reason, entrepreneurship and accounting are extremely valuable — not only separately, but together.

“The primary focus is the vision for the business you’re going to launch and try to nurture to success, but understanding those metrics, understanding those cash flows and performance, are all important to the entrepreneur in order to be successful,” Holder said.

The concentration in business analytics, which focuses on interpreting massive amounts of data, has the potential to bring in more students to the business school, said Murat Tarimcilar, a decision sciences professor who took part in putting the concentration together, in April.

Graduate schools enrollment across the University have declined in the past few years, placing a larger emphasis on increasing undergraduate enrollment.

Officials say that the new concentrations will have the same field requirements as all previous ones, including five courses in the field of each concentration and one international field course. This formula differs from the ten field courses and one international field course required for a major, potentially allowing students to double-concentrate.

The concentration addition comes along a string of improvements at the business school. The school announced in January 2013 a new bachelor of science in finance, the requirements of which were streamlined in April.

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Katie Causey | Photo Editor

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier. Katie Causey | Photo Editor

City leaders and experts met at GW Law School on Tuesday afternoon to talk through White House recommendations on community policing.

The roundtable, which included Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier and was led by Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie, reviewed recommendations from a White House task force, and covered topics ranging from police training and assessment to militarization and the use of body cameras, which MPD piloted in October. Analysis of policing strategies has been an ongoing national conversation following police brutality in cities like Ferguson, Mo. and New York City.

Roger Fairfax, an associate dean at the law school, also participated in the round table. The group reviewed more than 150 recommendations about modernizing policing from a President Barack Obama-appointed White House task force, some of which Obama mentioned in a speech to the N.A.A.C.P. on Tuesday.

Lanier, who is in her eighth year as police chief, said that in order for the 18,000 police departments around the country to reform, there would have to be a shift not just in programs, but in philosophy.

Ward 5 Council member Kenyan Duffie led a roundtable about policing strategies at GW on Tuesday Katie Causey | Photo Editor

Ward 5 Council member Kenyan Duffie led a roundtable about policing strategies at GW on Tuesday. Katie Causey | Photo Editor

“Really, the agency is responsible for a philosophy and a policy,” Lanier said. “[That] means that citizens of the community feel like they matter, that police officers are being fair [and] that information that’s important to public safety is made public.”

Lanier cited opportunities for police officers to show community members that they are engaged and accountable, like officers’ following up with phone calls after a crime is reported. She also said the department could work on acknowledging community members’ involvement in solving or reporting crimes. MPD officers also often attend community meetings in Foggy Bottom and other neighborhoods across the city to give crime updates and field residents’ concerns.

In a push to be more transparent, departments can also explain what’s happening behind the scenes without divulging classified details of crimes being investigated, she said.

“We’re kind of guilty in our profession of saying, ‘That’s under investigation’ or ‘I can’t discuss that.’ Some of those things are protected under grand jury rules,” she said. “But there’s always something we can say. If crimes are being committed and you’re not very open with public disclosure…the community thinks you’re hiding something,” she said.

Delroy Burton, chairman of the D.C. Police Union and other panelists, like Michael Tobin, the executive director of the Office of Police Complaints, agreed that reforms to make police officers more like guardians and less like warriors – an analogy used more than once during the meeting – would require an overhaul in training and more money.

Overall, the D.C. Police Department received high praise from the panelists, most of whom were D.C. natives, for its stringent analysis of effective crime reduction, its efforts to diversify the department and Lanier’s leadership.

Laura Hankins, a public defender, said she became “a fan” of Lanier after she heard the chief admit that the a police department strategy “didn’t work.” The admittance, Hankins said, is an example of how honesty can help bridge the gap between communities and police departments.

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In the D.C. Council’s last legislative session before the fall on Tuesday, lawmakers proposed several pieces of legislation that targeted crime in the District, The Washington Post reported.

Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans, who represents Foggy Bottom, introduced a bill that would require Metropolitan Police Department officers to tow and impound cars if the officer had probable cause that the owner was involved in prostitution. Calling the bill “Honey, I lost the car,” Evans told NBC Washington the measure was meant to deter people from trying to pick up prostitutes because they would be embarrassed to lose their car for the crime.

Evans said prostitution is becoming a problem in the District and the law would deter people from driving out of state to downtown D.C. to pick up prostitutes. He passed similar legislation in 2005 that gave a local agency permission to tow people suspected of supporting prostitution, but said it hasn’t been effectively enforced.

Anita Bonds, an At-Large council member, proposed legislation that would require universities in D.C. to permanently mark a “scarlet letter” on the academic transcripts of students convicted of sexual assault. She cited a survey from The Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation that found 20 percent of college females in the past four years had an unwanted sexual experience at school.

“I hear these statistics and I am as outraged as many in the community are,” Bonds told The Washington Post.

Bonds also proposed a bill that would make it illegal to financially exploit elderly residents of D.C., saying the older population is “less equipped to recover from the loss.”

Kenyan McDuffie, the Council member from Ward 5 and the chair of the Council’s Judiciary Committee, introduced a bill that would increase fines for multiple offenses of having illegal dirt bikes and ATVs in the city. The bill would keep the current $250 fine for the illegal vehicles on the first offense, but increase punishments for later offenses to up to a $1,000 fine or 180 days in jail for a third offense.

“I have heard from countless residents, and police officers about the illegal use of dirt bikes and ATVs,” McDuffie said in a press release. “Currently our laws just do not serve as a sufficient deterrent to the use of these machines. Dirt bikes and ATVs are not appropriate for use on our roads, are dangerous, and have been used completely irresponsibly on sidewalks and in packs to intimidate pedestrians and drivers.

The bill against dirt bikes were co-sponsored by Council members Charles Allen from Ward 6 and Brianne Nadeau from Ward 1.

The Council also confirmed 20 appointments by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, including Gregory Dean, the new chief of D.C. Fire and EMS, and five other agency heads.

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