Newsroom

News and Analysis

Updated: June 25, 2015 at 12:14 p.m.

Students looking to cool off and study for summer classes on the Mount Vernon campus might have to find a new spot.

Eckles Library is operating with partial electricity after a power outage, according to their website. Because of the outage, the building is operating without air conditioning. The cause of the outage was not included in the statement.

“Due to a power outage, Eckles Library is open and operating on generator electricity only. The latest estimate from PEPCO is that power will not be restored today,” the release said.

The library’s 24-hour computer lounge will remain “fully operational” and students can still check out books, but all Colonial Inauguration events scheduled in the library will be moved to other locations on the Mount Vernon campus, according to the release.

The release said the library will remain open as long as possible.

University spokeswoman Candace Smith confirmed that power was restored to the building at about 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Updated: June 26, 2015 at 5:11 p.m.

GW’s total debt load has increased to about $1.9 billion, the highest-ever total, after officials took on additional debt this week.

Officials added $350 million of new debt, and about 94 percent of that total will be used to pay off existing debt, according to a report from Moody’s Investor Service. Still, Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s, the two credit rating agencies that grade the University’s overall financial health, kept their top-tier A ratings despite the added debt and said GW’s financial outlook is stable.

And as officials pay back existing debt, that total will drop to $1.7 billion by the end of July and to $1.6 billion later this fiscal year, University spokeswoman Candace Smith said.

Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz said in an email that adding $350 million in debt will still benefit GW in the long run because officials can “take advantage of favorable market conditions and low interest rates.”

“Taking advantage of market conditions has helped the university make strategic investments for the long-term health and viability of GW,” Katz said.

The two credit rating agencies also kept GW’s A-level ratings last year after officials added on $300 million debt to lock in lower interest rates and help pay for major construction projects like moving Student Health Service to campus.

Moody’s gave GW an A1 rating, the same as last year, but listed concerns like a debt load that is about 1.4 times the revenue it brings in from day-to-day operations and a “weaker” operating performance in fiscal year 2014.

Ken Rodgers, an analyst at S&P, said the University’s ratio of financial resources to debt is relatively low for the “A” category among its peers. S&P kept its same “A+” rating for GW.

“That’s just one measure,” he said. “The rating incorporates a lot of different aspects.”

GW’s “stable outlook” was also based on an improving operating cash flow margin, the amount of money it generates from operations, which increased from 7 percent in fiscal year 2014 to 9 percent this fiscal year, according to the Moody’s report. GW’s tuition revenue is also growing, according to the report. The University depends on tuition for more than 70 percent of revenue.

“The stable outlook also assumes the University will be able to generate revenue growth and manage expense increases more closely than in the last half decade as expense growth has outpaced revenue growth,” the report said.

Robert Kelchen, an assistant higher education professor at Seton Hall University, said a school is doing “pretty well” if their cash flow margins are above 5 percent.

He added that GW is in the company of many other schools in deciding to refinance existing loans and lock in historically low interest rates.

“For the past five to seven years, colleges have been borrowing essentially as much as they can,” Kelchen said. “It’s been a great time to build new buildings with the interest rates being low and the construction costs being low.”

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:

The Hatchet incorrectly reported that GW’s debt load had reached more than $2 million. GW’s debt load is about $1.9 billion and will decrease as existing debt is paid back. We regret this error.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services have not fully implemented more than half of the safety protocols recommended almost a decade ago, an auditor’s report found Thursday.

Former mayor Adrian Fenty created the Rosenbaum Task Force in 2007 in response to the 2006 death of New York Times reporter David Rosenbaum, who was mugged and severely injured. D.C. emergency services mistook him as drunk and failed to prioritize his treatment, which resulted him in succumbing to his injuries. The committee listed 36 safety recommendations for D.C.’s Fire and EMS, Department of Health and other related agencies.

Only 11 of the recommendations have been implemented since that time. 15 of the goals have not been accomplished and the other remaining suggestions were either partially done or rescinded after their completion, according to the report from D.C. Auditor Kathleen Patterson.

“We found that the District’s overall implementation on the recommendations on the Task Force on EMS report is incomplete,” Patterson said in the report.

A major recommendation not addressed was that EMS and fire workers receive at least basic training to be able to respond to situations in both fields, allowing the two agencies to overlap their duties in a case of emergency. The auditor’s report cited FEMS hiring 23 employees to only work in a single field, violating the organization’s policy.

The task force also suggested that emergency responders transport uninjured intoxicated people to sobering facilities for treatment, a goal that has not yet been addressed. The audit found no such facilities in D.C. which means emergency transporters must take intoxicated individuals to hospitals.

Acting DCFEMS Chief Gregory Dean responded to the audit Thursday, saying the agency is “hard at work” trying to implement the recommendations. He said his organization has increased the number of ambulances available during peak hours and created new management positions to like a new assistant chief of EMS and a new medical director.

“I am committed to taking a collaborative approach, with the broader community and the council to achieve our goal of providing the highest quality of professional and compassionate pre-hospital care to people who need it,” Dean said in the statement.

The D.C. audit office launched the investigation in February after a string of incidents drew attention to the emergency agency. A woman died and more than 80 Metro passengers were hospitalized after their Metro car filled with smoke shortly after leaving the L’Enfant Plaza station, and the family of a D.C. man who died last year after collapsing across the street from a fire house filed a lawsuit against the local government for wrongful death earlier this month

  • Permalink
  • Comments

The man found dead on a sidewalk at 24th and M streets last Wednesday was 22-year-old alumnus Keaton Marek, the Metropolitan Police Department confirmed Monday.

Marek, who graduated last month, “came off the roof” of the 2400 M Apartments, said his mother, Cynthia Marek. MPD officers had responded to a radio call for a “man down” at about 12:43 a.m. last Wednesday and found Keaton Marek lying face down and unconscious on the sidewalk, according to police records. He was not breathing and had suffered severe head trauma, according to police records.

MPD’s homicide unit is investigating the case, MPD Assistant Chief Peter Newsham said in an email. He added the homicide unit is involved in all cases that are “unattended deaths,” meaning Keaton Marek was not under the care of a doctor when he died. The chief medical examiner has not yet released an official cause of death in the case.

Keaton Marek graduated in May with a degree in political science, University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar confirmed. He is from Kenmore, N.Y. and was a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity and the GW College Democrats, his mother said. He had also worked as a campus security aide since 2013, according to his LinkedIn page.

Cynthia Marek said about 30 GW students are traveling to his memorial services in New York this week.

“He was one of those people, and there are a lot of people at GW like this, that wanted to improve the world,” she said.

Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski said in an email that officials are “deeply saddened” to learn of Keaton Marek’s death.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time,” Konwerski said.

Members of the community can contact Mental Health Services at 202-994-5300. Those concerned about a current student can complete a CARE Network report form.

Jacqueline Thomsen contributed reporting.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

GW will add a program on extremism to its Center for Cyber and Homeland Security according to a University release Monday.

The program will be led by counterterrorism experts Lorenzo Vidino and Seamus Hughes. Vidino has written several books on terrorism and is an expert on terrorism in Western countries and on government initiatives to combat radicalization. Hughes has worked at the National Counterterrorism Center and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The program will focus on forms of extremism, especially in the United States, that researchers will analyze to create counterterrorism policy solutions. Experts with experience in counterterrorism, including government officials, scholars, former extremists and counter-extremism specialists, will also be part of the program and will assist families dealing with issues related to radicalization.

“The current terrorist climate calls for a dedicated and sustained effort grounded in empirically based research,” Frank Cilluffo, director for the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, said in the release.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

The local chapter of the National Black United Front invited community members and activists on Friday to speak and perform music in honor of the nine victims of the Wednesday shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.

The vigil, held at the African American Civil War Memorial drew a large crowd despite a looming storm.

The vigil, held at the African American Civil War Memorial drew a large crowd despite a looming storm.

 

Attendees chanted the names of the nine victims of Wednesday night's shooting – Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Myra Thompson, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lee Lance, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. Daniel Lee Simmons Sr., DePayne Middleton-Doctor and Susie Jackson.

Attendees chanted the names of the nine victims of Wednesday night’s shooting – Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Myra Thompson, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lee Lance, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. Daniel Lee Simmons Sr., DePayne Middleton-Doctor and Susie Jackson.

 

Nkechi Taifa performed a poem on Denmark Vesey, a former slave. Vesey helped found Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where Wednesday's shooting took place, and was executed for his role in planning a major slave revolt in Charleston, S.C. in 1822. Taifa was one of many community members who presented poetry or music as part of the vigil.

Nkechi Taifa performed a poem on Denmark Vesey, a former slave. Vesey helped found Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where Wednesday’s shooting took place, and was executed for his role in planning a major slave revolt in Charleston, S.C. in 1822. Taifa was one of many community members who presented poetry or music as part of the vigil.

 

Activist and D.C. Council candidate Eugene Puryear spoke at the vigil demanding an "international perspective in how we mourn" and a "revolutionary mindset" in organizing  movements to combat oppression.

Activist and D.C. Council candidate Eugene Puryear spoke at the vigil demanding an "international perspective in how we mourn" and a "revolutionary mindset" in organizing movements to combat oppression.

 

A Black Liberation flag, or Pan-African flag, waves over the crowd as the final words are delivered at the vigil.

A Black Liberation flag, or Pan-African flag, waves over the crowd as the final words are delivered at the vigil.

 

An attendee protects his newly lit flame as light rain falls. The attendees then held a moment of silence lit by candlelight.

An attendee protects his newly lit flame as light rain falls. The attendees then held a moment of silence lit by candlelight.

 

As attendees finish lighting their candles, Symone Sanders prepares to release nine balloons, each representing one of the victims.

As attendees finish lighting their candles, Symone Sanders prepares to release nine balloons, each representing one of the victims.

 

Attendees released nine balloons at the end of the vigil.

Attendees released nine balloons at the end of the vigil.

 

 

 

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Clutch your iPhone a little tighter on the Metro.

Metro Transit Police officials said Friday that there’s been an increase in iPhone 6 thefts over the past month on the blue, orange and silver Metro lines, the Washington Post reported. While cellphone thefts have been on the rise over the past year, the most popular cell phone to be stolen is the iPhone 6, according to the report.

Metro officials have cited six thefts that they believe are related. Most of the incidents were reported both aboard trains and stations, and specifically around Eastern Market and the easternmost stations of the orange and blue lines.

Thieves often take the phones out of users’ hands and usually when the train stops at a station, making for an easier getaway.

Metro police recommend riders not use their phones near train doors and escalators, and to activate tracking services on the phone so officers can try to recover it if it is stolen.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Peter Sacco was an ANC commisioner for two and a half years before his resignation in May. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Peter Sacco was an ANC commisioner for two and a half years before his resignation in May. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Staff Photographer

A move to Columbia Heights won’t stop Peter Sacco from being part of Foggy Bottom’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission.

The recent GW graduate and former ANC commissioner was hired as executive director for the ANC 2A, which covers D.C.’s Foggy Bottom and West End neighborhoods, at a meeting Wednesday night. Sacco recently resigned from his former position as a commissioner because he moved out of Foggy Bottom after his graduation.

Sacco said in an interview the ANC hasn’t had an executive director since 2013. He will perform some of the same roles he had when he served as secretary on the commission, including keeping minutes and web development.

“My goal in the position is really to keep pushing and keep thinking of ways that we can handle the administrative functions of the ANC better,” Sacco said.

He said he will focus on making the ANC more transparent and efficient, specifically by implementing a system of live streaming meetings online. He said that he has heard from several people, including Foggy Bottom Association President Marina Streznewski, that they would be interested in being able to view the meetings online.

Sacco said he still has to work out some legal aspects before he sets up the live stream system through YouTube Live, a program that airs live videos and then saves them for later viewing on YouTube.

“I hope to have it by the next meeting or the meeting after that,” Sacco said. “We have heard from several people that that was something they’d be interested in.”

The former ANC secretary formally resigned from his two-and-a-half-year term as a commissioner on May 18 because he moved out of his GW residence hall and could not continue to be a commissioner because of a district residency requirement. The executive director position does not have a residency requirement.

“The thing I’ve been telling everyone is that I’m not going anywhere and I still want to stay involved in the neighborhood,” Sacco said in an interview after his resignation last month.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Friday, June 19, 2015 1:51 p.m.

Man reported dead at 24th and M streets

A more updated version of this story can be found here.

Updated: June 23, 2015 at 8:33 a.m.

A man was found dead from unknown causes on a sidewalk about four blocks from campus early Wednesday morning, according to a Metropolitan Police Department report.

University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar confirmed that the man found at 24th and M streets was not a GW student.

MPD officers responded to a radio call for a “man down” at 12:43 a.m. on Wednesday and found him lying face down on the sidewalk. The man “was unconscious, did not appear to be breathing, and appeared to have severe head trauma,” according to the police report.

A paramedic tried to provide aid with “negative results,” according to the report, which did not list a possible cause of death.

The man was not named in the report. His ethnicity was listed as Asian/Pacific Islander and no age was given. (Update: The incident report was incorrect. MPD Assistant Chief Peter Newsham confirmed Keaton Marek is white.)

A witness said he was walking westbound on the south sidewalk and “heard a loud ‘thump’ and disregarded the sound,” according to the report. The witness continued walking and discovered the man on the sidewalk. Two other witnesses told police that they also saw the man.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Another GW student group formed this week to support the ever growing field of presidential candidates.

Colonials for Jeb, a page in support of former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who announced his campaign for the Republican nomination for president on Monday, launched Sunday night. The page currently has more than 50 likes.

William Hanna, a senior and creator of the Facebook page, said while the group is not affiliated with Bush’s official campaign, he hopes events the group is planning to hold, like phone banking, happy hour fundraisers and planning events, will help students learn more about Bush’s positions on issues.

“We’re here to talk to all students that are interested in our message,” Hanna said. “We’re here as a sounding board, he’s an option, this is why we feel he’s the best candidate.”

He said the group is planning to register as a student organization at the beginning of the school year and is open to working with other student organizations, including non-political ones, as the campaign season heats up.

In May, a group of GW students launched a group in support of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who is running for president as a Democrat. Earlier in the year, students launched a similar group for Hillary Clinton, who is also running for president as a Democrat.

  • Permalink
  • Comments