News and Analysis

Lashae Hunter (second from left) stands with her mother after being given her acceptance letter and SJT Scholarship to George Washington University by GWU President Steven Knapp. Judy Lim | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Lashae Hunter (second from left) stands with her mother after being given her acceptance letter and SJT Scholarship to George Washington University by GWU President Steven Knapp. Judy Lim | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet Reporter Kiara Bhagwanjee.

Lashae Hunter, a senior at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School, arrived at school Wednesday ready to go on a class field trip to the mall to continue work on her thesis project.

Instead, she met University President Steven Knapp, Director of Admissions Karen Felton and GW’s mascot, George, who were at her school to personally deliver an acceptance letter and a full-ride scholarship.

“I let them know that I would not let it go to waste, that I would do whatever it takes to stay in school and put this money to good use,” Lashae said.

Hunter and eight other seniors attending D.C. public schools were awarded the Stephen Joel Trachtenberg scholarship Wednesday, a full-ride scholarship program that was launched 26 years ago for high school seniors from the city.

Without the scholarship to GW, her family would have had to borrow money, apply for scholarships and take out student loans to attend the University, Lashae’s mother, Warrenrenia Hunter, said.

“It is a blessing, it is truly a blessing, I know she will accomplish what she is setting out to be at George Washington,” she said.

In order to be eligible for the scholarship, students must be nominated by their high school counselors, submit an application and participate in an on campus interview, which is the final component of their applications.

Those that apply for the scholarship are assessed holistically for their academic performance, the rigor of their curriculum, their extracurricular activities and the future they see for themselves with an undergraduate degree in hand, Felton said.

“Trachtenberg scholars distinguish themselves in high school and when they come to GW they are leaders through our programs and when they graduate, they go on to lead illustrious careers,” Felton said.

Knapp said the scholarship was a way to add diversity and richness to campus life, by bringing in local students who might not otherwise be able to attend the University.

“Frankly it’s very important to our democracy that people from all communities within the nation have the opportunity to benefit from what our nation makes available to them,” he said in an interview. “We’ve mobilized a university wide effort to get everyone to see college as a possibility in their future.”

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015 7:40 p.m.

AU under investigation for sexual violence response

American University has been added to the Department of Education’s list of schools under investigation for mishandling sexual violence on campus, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The investigation began March 11, but officials have not provided details about what prompted it. American is the second school in the District to come under scrutiny after federal officials launched an investigation at Catholic University early last year, the Post reported. GW is not on the list of 104 schools under investigation.

Rob Hradsky, American University’s dean of students, said in a statement to students that the school does not tolerate sexual violence in any form and promptly investigates all incidents.

“We take this news seriously and will use the opportunity to learn if there is more we can do to augment the significant commitments we have made in the last several years to create an environment that is safe, responsive, and compliant with the law,” Hradsky wrote in the statement.

Department of Education officials started looking closer at universities’ responses to sexual violence last spring. Department officials have said that the beginning of an investigation does not necessarily indicate a finding of wrongdoing.

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The new GW Museum and Textile Museum, which opens on Saturday, includes textiles that are more than 5000 years old. Leah Edwards | Hatchet Photographer

The new GW Museum and Textile Museum, which opens on Saturday, includes textiles that are more than 5000 years old. Leah Edwards | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Robin Eberhardt.

Students and faculty can walk around the galleries of the GW Museum and Textile Museum starting this Saturday to get glimpse of ancient rugs and tapestries from around the world.

The new museum on G and 21st streets showcases carpets, clothes, maps and textiles dating back as much as 5,000 years. The museum has dedicated community space and staffers at the museum will host programs to help students engage with the artifacts, John Wetenhall, the museum’s director said.

“One of the things we strive to do is to make this room accessible for a broad group of students,” Wetenhall said.

Wetenhall added that museum staff purposefully set the museum’s closing time to 6:30 p.m., after business hours, during the week to accommodate students, faculty and neighbors who have work or class during the day.

The museum is began making the move to Foggy Bottom in fall 2012 after an 87-year stint in D.C.’s Kalorama neighborhood.

Here are some of the ways that the University is trying to open the museum to student participation:

The museum will place an emphasis on students, with  student-led tours and opportunities for students to intern and design exhibits. Leah Edwards | Hatchet Photographer

The museum will place an emphasis on students, with student-led tours and opportunities for students to intern and design exhibits. Leah Edwards | Hatchet Photographer

1. Students will be able to lead tours of the exhibits.

Wetenhall said the museum asks student tour guides to become familiar with at least one of the exhibits and then they can design a short 10-minute tour based on their preferences.

“We purposely asked the students to devise their own tours, rather us than telling them,” Wetenhall said. “We asked them, ‘What would you colleagues want?’”

2. Students can intern at the museum and gain hands-on experience.

Graduate student Warren Lewis interns for the museum and did the lighting for the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana exhibits in Woodhull House, connected to the museum. Those exhibits displays rare maps, drawings and letters, according to a release.

“To actually have a better understanding of how the lighting works, it’s been an amazing process,” Lewis said.

3. Graduate students can help design the exhibits.

Adriane Roberts, also a graduate student, helped to design the exhibits for the two Washingtoniana exhibits and the textile exhibit that will open in September. She said that she already received a job offer after she designed the displays in the museum.

“Just being part of the process for designing these opening exhibits, that was actually an amazing experience to get the hands-on process, from getting a list of the objects to a completed design,” Roberts said.

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Richard Kurin, the Smithsonian Institution's under secretary for history, art and culture, gave a lecture Monday about culture preservation after the destruction of several historical monuments in Iraq. Desiree Halpern | Contributing Photo Editor

Richard Kurin, the Smithsonian Institution’s under secretary for history, art and culture, gave a lecture Monday about culture preservation after the destruction of several historical monuments in Iraq. Desiree Halpern | Contributing Photo Editor

Updated: March 17, 2015 at 2:51 p.m.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Wanyan Xu.

Richard Kurin, the Smithsonian Institution’s under secretary for history, art and culture, spoke about protecting cultural heritage after a crisis in a presentation at the School of Media and Public Affairs Monday.

Kurin was invited by Bernhard Streitwieser, an assistant professor of international education in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, as part of his course, “UNESCO: Agenda for the 21st Century.” The course is part of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development’s UNESCO Chair in International Education for Development.

Here are the key points:

1. Cultural heritage brings all of us together

Earlier this month, the Islamic State posted a video of members destroying ancient sculptures in Iraq’s Mosul Museum because they claimed the works represented idolatry.

But Kurin said those “wonders of the world” can help us learn about the past while also gaining a better understanding of different cultures today.

“It’s not just about governments, states, it’s about all human beings and people,” Kurin said.

2. Many artworks are undervalued

Kurin showed a table of more than 1,000 heritage sites across the world – places with special cultural significance – but the United States was not included on the list. He said countries that have fewer heritage sites have undervalued their artwork and do not recognize the importance.

He said the United States has landmarks like the Statue of Liberty or the Grand Canyon, but hasn’t preserved the heritage of different cultures.

“[People] think these works of art are treasures as part of their nation’s identity, but they’re less important in terms of certification as a cultural heritage site,” Kurin said.

3. Preserving cultural heritage

Preserving heritage, a focus of UNESCO, is an area where Kurin said everyone can help out.

Kurin said heritage faces threats like natural decay, pollution, war and development. He highlighted specific sites in danger, like the Mostar Bridge in Herzegovina and the Borobudor Buddhist Temple in Indonesia.

To protect cultures, Kurin said UNESCO and other organizations need to provide emergency funding to support those areas. He also said there must be international cooperation among countries to raise awareness and public support.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the lecture was part of a series from the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The speaker was invited by Graduate School of Education and Human Development assistant professor Bernhard Streitwieser as part of his course “UNESCO: Agenda for the 21st Century.” We regret this error.

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The Metropolitan Police Department and University Police Department have launched a hate crime investigation after a member of the predominantly Jewish fraternity Zeta Beta Tau posted a swastika on the group’s bulletin board inside International House.

University President Steven Knapp said officials were “dismayed” Monday morning to find the swastika, which the student had acquired during a trip to India over spring break. The student “claims his act was not an expression of hatred,” Knapp said in a statement released Monday evening.

It is the second time in three weeks that the symbol has been drawn or posted in International House. Knapp said the incident from last month, when three swastikas were drawn on walls, will also now be investigated as a hate crime. Officials were previously investigating the case as an incident of vandalism.

“Our entire community should be aware of the swastika’s association with genocide perpetrated against the Jewish people and should be concerned about the extremely harmful effects that displaying this symbol has on individuals and on the climate of our entire University community,” Knapp said.

Members of UPD who have received anti-bias training will help the Office of Diversity and Inclusion investigate the latest incident, according to the release. Knapp said that since the first incident, officials have worked with GW Hillel and Jewish student organizations to offer “support and reassurance to students affected by this abhorrent act.”

Knapp said the University will also start a program to educate the community about the “damage that symbols of hatred do to us all.”

Two weeks ago, a Jewish rights group released a letter asking Knapp to formally apologize for the University’s response to the first set of swastikas drawn in International House. That petition was supported by nearly 20 other national advocacy organizations. Knapp responded saying that officials immediately removed the swastikas, communicated with students and were conducting an investigation.

Members of GW’s Jewish community expressed concern after the first swastikas were drawn in International House, with some saying the University didn’t do enough to properly handle the incident.

International Fraternity Council President Tim Stackhouse and Zeta Beta Tau President Nick Carr did not immediately return requests for comment.

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Monday, March 16, 2015 5:05 p.m.

Former GW graduate student convicted of murder

Rahul Gupta. Photo from the Montgomery County Police

Rahul Gupta. Photo courtesy of the Montgomery County Police

A former GW graduate student was convicted of murder Monday after a trial that lasted two weeks.

A Montgomery County jury found 25-year-old Rahul Gupta guilty after about four and a half hours of deliberations, the Washington Post reported. Gupta had started GW’s graduate program in biomedical engineering in fall 2013.

Gupta, who also earned his undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering from GW, told police officers in the early morning of Oct. 13, 2013 that he had killed his friend, Georgetown law student Mark Waugh, because he thought his girlfriend and Waugh had been involved romantically behind his back.

The Post reported that defense lawyers argued that Gupta’s girlfriend at the time, Taylor Gould, had actually killed Waugh. They said Gupta tried to save Waugh and at first confessed to killing his friend to protect Gould, who also earned a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from GW.

The three had been celebrating Gupta’s 24th birthday the night of the stabbing. Waugh, who was 23 when he died, and Gupta had known each other since high school. Waugh graduated from James Madison University and was in his first year of law school at Georgetown.

The three had gone out drinking for Gupta’s birthday before returning to the apartment where Gupta and Gould lived. Gould claimed in court that she drank so much alcohol that she blacked out. She said she woke up to find Gupta kneeling over Waugh and yelling at her to call 911. Officers arrived at about 3:30 a.m.

Waugh had been stabbed six times and slashed five times with a butcher knife, the Post reported.

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Updated: March 16, 2015 at 1:51 p.m.

Former Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and former White House press secretary Dana Perino will visit campus next Sunday for the third annual “Only at GW” debate series.

Each year, GW College Democrats and College Republicans each receive funding and co-sponsorships from the Student Association to bring current and former political figures to Foggy Bottom. College Democrats will host Frank, while Perino will come for the College Republicans.

SA Finance Committee Chair and presidential candidate Ben Pryde said the College Democrats received about $18,000 and the College Republicans received more than $27,000 from the SA for the event this year. Pryde said the College Democrats also used some of the group’s own revenues to bring Frank, but declined to give an exact figure.

Frank is the first member of Congress to voluntarily come out as gay.

Program Board organized the event with the two political student organizations by helping with press releases and promotion, Executive Chair Liz Moses said.

Members of the College Democrats and College Republicans will attend a reception following the event, where they can meet the speakers, Moses said.

Last year, David Plouffe, who worked on Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, and Charles Krauthammer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, participated in the debate.

The event will take place March 22 in the Jack Morton Auditorium at 6 p.m. Tickets are free.

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Candidates rush to get their posters hung outside of Marvin. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Candidates rush to get their posters hung outside the Marvin Center. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Catherine Moran.

Student Association candidates and their supporters covered campus with posters for their campaigns early Monday morning.

While you were sleeping, here’s what the morning looked like for students hoping to secure a position on the SA.

6:30 a.m.

Team members began grouping together in Kogan Plaza, braving the early morning darkness and chill.

“It’s a nightmare,” said Alyssa Weakley, who’s running for undergraduate School of Business senator. “It’s crazy, but it’s exciting.”

Executive vice presidential candidate Casey Syron said the posters were a way for candidates to have fun with their campaigns.

“It’s such a fun event that lets you geek out about politics,” he said.

7 a.m.

A few minutes before 7 a.m., the groups made their way to the H street Kogan Plaza entrance and waited for the signal to start postering.

Seconds later, a crowd raced toward the Marvin Center. Smaller groups hurried over to Phillips Hall or sprinted to University Yard.

7:15 a.m.

Supporters of candidates place posters outside of Marvin. Judy Lim | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Supporters of different candidates taped up posters early Monday morning. Judy Lim | Hatchet Staff Photographer

As the sun rose, the walls by the J Street entrance became covered in packing tape and multicolored posters. Team members ran supplies back and forth between the Marvin Center and Phillips Hall.

Columbian College of Arts and Sciences undergraduate senator candidate Erika Feinman said she preferred using social media over hanging up posters for her campaign.

“Everyone does something different,” she said.

EVP candidate Carlo Wood said he only hung up three or four posters to best utilize his campaign budget. EVP candidates are allowed to spend up to $1,000 on their campaigns.

“Moving forward, I hope this sets a precedent for others to feel comfortable to participate in future elections,” he said.

7:30 a.m.

Thirty minutes after the start time, the candidates and crowds had left, with only their posters as marks of the hundreds who came out earlier in the morning.

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First Lady Michelle Obama rang in the Iranian New Year, Nowruz, with a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. Kiana Robertson | Hatchet Photographer

First Lady Michelle Obama rang in the Iranian New Year, Nowruz, with a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. Kiana Robertson | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet Reporter Julia Arciga.

While you were spending your spring break at the beach getting tropical, First Lady Michelle Obama was in D.C. getting cultural.

The First Lady held a celebration in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday in honor of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year. Here’s what you missed:

1. Celebrating culture

To introduce Obama, University of Maryland student Ashley Azmoodeh spoke about her own family’s connection to the holiday and its importance.

“The most memorable celebration from my childhood, one that we continue to celebrate annually, is Nowruz, meaning ‘New Day,’” Azmoodeh said.

The First Lady paid homage to the holiday by noting its long history and cultural significance for people around the world.

“For more than 3,000 years, families and communities in the Middle East, Asia and all around the world, including here in the United States, have celebrated this holiday to mark the renewal of the Earth in spring time,” Obama said.

Obama also presented the White House Haft Seen, the traditional table setting of Nowruz. The Haft Seen, which translates to “the seven S’s,” features seven items placed on a table to symbolize seven new hopes for the new year, including blessings, patience, love, sweetness and rebirth.

2. Local traditions with a worldview

Nowruz at the White House was designed as a celebration of diversity and global connections. Guests, including local leaders in business, education, government and entertainment, packed the East Room.

Keeping with the local trend, guest chef Maziar Farivar of the Peacock Cafe in Georgetown cooked a meal for the guests. The menu aimed to celebrate the importance of family by taking old family recipes from White House staffers and giving them a gourmet upgrade.

“I think it’s so fitting that we’re holding this celebration here today because one of my favorite things about the White House is how it is truly the people’s house,” Obama said. “A house that reflects the diversity of culture and traditions that make us who we are as a country, and Nowruz is one of those traditions.”

The Maryland-based Silk Road Dance Company also performed dances from around the world.

“I hope that you feel at home, and feel the welcome, the love, the spirit of this holiday,” Obama said. “I hope you enjoy the food, the friendship and just being at the White House. Isn’t it cool?”

3. The renewal of a ‘new day’

During her remarks, the First Lady talked about the changing weather and arrival of spring in D.C., connecting spring to the themes of rebirth and renewal celebrated for Nowruz.

While presenting the White House Haft Seen, Obama mentioned some items that were displayed on the table.

“We’ve got grass sprouts that represent rebirth and renewal and nature. We’ve got an apple for health and beauty. We have crushed berry spice that represent the sunrise and the spice of life,” she said. “And after a long winter, we could use a little bit of all of that, right? We’re finally thawing out.”

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The National Collegiate Emergency Medical Services Foundation awarded EMeRG a Striving for Excellence Award, the first time the student-run volunteer ambulance service has won the honor since 2011, the University announced Wednesday.

The three-year award is similar to an accreditation, and recognizes emergency services on college campuses for their quality of care, training and community service.

In 2013, EMeRG raised over $8,000 for a dispatch system that allows the student team to take nearly all 911 calls on campus. EMeRG also responds to 911 calls in the city during high-demand times.

“What this award shows is that we’re able to link up with local emergency and police services, whereas in other places they’re not fully integrated with the community,” EMeRG manager Kevin Sullivan told GW Today. “We want to be trailblazers for other college EMS organizations to emulate.”

Students on EMeRG have also staffed major events in the city like the Marine Corps Marathon and Concert for Valor, according to a release.

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