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GW Law School alumnus John Duncan won his 15th term in Congress Tuesday. Public domain photo courtesy the United States Congress.

GW Law School alumnus John Duncan won his 15th term in Congress Tuesday. Public domain photo courtesy the United States Congress.

This post was written by reporter Helen Elston.


George Washington University Law School, 1973
Running for reelection in Tennessee’s second district

An alumnus of GW Law School snagged the majority of votes for his congressional seat for the 15th time Tuesday night.

John Duncan Jr. received 75 percent of the votes compared to his Democratic opponent, Stuart Starr, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

Duncan, 69, has been the representative of Tennessee’s 2nd district since 1988.

The congressman, who was the only Republican at the primary stage, has never faced any serious or well-funded opposition in his 15 consecutive terms in office.

Duncan told The Hatchet that he would like to restrict federal loans that do not hold their increases to the rate of inflation or lower the loans. He added that university prices should be held steady.

“I am interested in changing two things: healthcare and college tuition,” Duncan said. “With governmental subsidizing of such areas, the cost explodes.”

Duncan has also been involved in many committees and caucuses since his time in office, including vice chairing the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure since 2013.

Duncan suggested his time at the GW Law School helped his later political career, saying that his position as a State Trial Judge from 1981 to 1988 may have helped him gain political respectability.

“I have nothing but good things to say about my time at George Washington,” he said. “The advantage now is that people can go into politics from any field. in fact, people may have more respect politically if they started outside of politics.”

In late October, Duncan co-sponsored the Obama Bailout Prevention Act alongside Marco Robio, attempting to prevent governments from using taxes to bail out insurance companies he believes were caused by Obamacare.

Duncan is also opposed to Obama’s recent gun law amendments, which will expand the program of background checks, create a more expansive tracking of guns and report more failed attempts of gaining arms.

“Creating more bureaucracy and spending many millions more will not reduce gun violence,” Duncan said.

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Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016 11:04 p.m.

Experts debate meaning and impact of Brexit

Nile Gardiner and Rod Hunter debate the impact of Brexit. Ethan Stoler | Hatchet Photographer

Nile Gardiner and Rod Hunter debate the impact of Brexit. Ethan Stoler | Hatchet Photographer


This post was written by Hatchet reporter Meredith Hessel.

Packed into GW Law School’s Moot Courtroom Tuesday, dozens watched a debate about the United Kingdom’s recent vote to leave the European Union, widely known as Brexit.

The Federalist Society, the national organization concerned with constitutional laws, organized the event between a U.S. citizen, Nile Gardiner and a U.K. native, Rod Hunter.

Gardiner is the director of the Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom and a former policy researcher for Lady Thatcher. Hunter is a senior non-resident scholar of the German Marshall Fund, a former director at the National Security Council and former special assistant to President George W. Bush.

Law professor and former interim dean of the school Gregory Maggs moderated the debate and focused his questions on Brexit, the economy and trade.

Here are some highlights from the panel:

1. Taking back control

Most experts thought those in support of Brexit – which consisted of a small group of conservative rebels – would lose this battle to the political elites, but that wasn’t the case, Gardiner said.

“Sovereignty and self-determination are at the heart of the Brexit debate,” Gardiner said. “It was about taking back control of people’s lives and destiny.”

Gardiner said separating from the EU allows Britain to define itself and could possibly lead to other countries following in the U.K.’s footsteps.

“The European Union is suffocating,” he said. “It’s crucial to understand why British people felt the EU was a constraint rather than an engine. If we see the EU starting to change, we will see more European countries exiting the EU.”

Hunter said the telling phrase for the U.K. is “take back control,” as in that the British wanted to make sure they were represented in their government.

“In a time of economic stress, a sense of disarray in politics, a time where where the elite seem disconnected from popular concerns probably resonates,” Hunter said. “Just as I think you see turmoil in the U.S. election.”

2. Not a mirror of U.S.

Seventy-two percent of people in the U.K. – totaling more than 30 million citizens – voted on Brexit, Gardiner said, showing it was an important issue to the public.

“It’s significant that the main Brexit campaign was very outward looking about British leadership in the world and Britain playing a bigger role on the world stage and advancing their presence partly through free trade,” Gardiner said.

But Gardiner said the U.S. election is more negative.

“There is a lot of anger over here, a lot of isolationism, a lot of protectionism,” he said. “The presidential election is very inward looking. Brexit was very positive. The messaging was very optimistic.”

Hunter said he found some similarities in both voting systems.

“There is an increasing separation of elites and where they live and the typical average American,” Hunter said. “That may be reflected in some of the politics today — ‘Middle Finger’ politics. There’s an undercurrent that is somewhat similar.”

3. Hurting trade

The value of the pound dropped by 11 percent the night after the U.K. decided to leave the EU, which led to some skepticism on the decision’s impact on trade and manufacturing, Hunter said.

“The pound is falling to the lowest level in 35 years,” Hunter said. “The reason why it’s falling is uncertainty and uncertainty about access to the market in the future. Investors have access to the European market, so why would they go to the UK to invest.”

But Gardiner said even though the pound dropped at the time, recent economic trends show improvement.

“The pound increased over the past few weeks, the FTSE 100 reached a 16-month high last week—the stock market is absolutely soaring,” Gardiner said.

Despite the trade and foreign policy rules, Gardiner said he is sure Britain will be able to distinguish and improve its identity through Brexit.

“It is good for Britain, Europe and the United States,” Gardiner said. “You will see a stronger Britain, a better ally for the United States and you will see Brexit prompting positive changes in Europe with the decentralization of power, a greater emphasis upon economic freedom, a greater emphasis on free changes.”

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Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015 2:17 p.m.

D.C. official vows to get D.C. flag tattoo

D.C. Council member Mary Cheh agreed to get a tattoo of the D.C. flag on a radio show last week. Hatchet File Photo

D.C. Council member Mary Cheh agreed to get a tattoo of the D.C. flag on a radio show last week. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by staff writer Emily Robinson.

A D.C. Council member will be following through on her promise to get a tattoo of a D.C. flag, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Council member and GW Law School professor Mary Cheh joined in on a pact to get the tattoo on WAMU 88.5’s “Kojo Nnamdi Show” on Friday.

Since 2012, NBC reporter Tom Sherwood, who is the political analyst on the radio show, has said he would get inked if someone made a donation of at least $5,000, The Post reported. He lowered the required gift to $3,000 on the show last week, giving Cheh and Nnamdi the chance to join in on the pact.

At first, Cheh tried to back out of the pledge, claiming she meant she would only get the tattoo if someone donated an additional $3,000. But a spokeswoman for Cheh said the council member decided to go through with it anyway, after seeing the potential tattoo’s hype on social media.

“I can confirm the council member is getting the D.C. flag tattoo,” Cheh spokeswoman Kelly Whittier told The Washington Post. “She’s just being a good sport and participating in it still. She was like ‘yeah, why not?’”

Cheh said the tattoo would also be a symbol for her support for D.C. statehood, she told NBC Washington.

“I’m also a staunch D.C. statehood advocate, so when I was presented with the opportunity to join Tom and Kojo in the D.C. flag tattoo pledge, it was no question that I wanted to participate and support everything this effort stands for,” she told the news organization.

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Paul Schiff Berman, vice provost for online learning and academic innovation, will return to the GW Law School full-time faculty in January. Hatchet File Photo

Paul Schiff Berman, vice provost for online learning and academic innovation, will return to the GW Law School full-time faculty in January. Hatchet File Photo

Updated: Oct. 23, 2015 at 9:54 a.m.

Paul Schiff Berman, the vice provost for online education and academic innovation, will step down from his post in January to serve as a full-time faculty member of GW Law School, Provost Steven Lerman announced Thursday.

Berman, who led the law school for 18 months, transitioned to the vice provost position from dean in 2012 after facing declining enrollment numbers. Months later, some faculty members said they had planned to oust Berman from the school after disagreeing with his leadership style and poor decision making, and had plans for a vote of no confidence in the leader.

Since leaving the law school, Berman has spearheaded online education initiatives that University leaders have started to lean on more heavily as enrollment numbers in graduate programs dropped and online learning offered a more inexpensive alternative to in-person courses. More than 100 online degree and certificate programs are now offered through GW.

Berman also oversaw the launch of three massive open online courses and the start of an in-house program where faculty and officials can work with animators and technicians to enhance online materials.

Berman said he was looking forward to concentrating on teaching and research full-time. He has maintained a faculty position since taking on the vice provost position.

“I commend President Knapp and Provost Lerman for having the vision to create this important university role, and I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to serve the university in this crucial strategic area,” Berman said in the release.

Lerman said in the release that Berman has done a “tremendous” job in building GW’s online course portfolio.

“I’m extremely grateful for his efforts over the past three years to help develop new and innovative courses, and look forward to his continued contributions to the university community as a member of the GW Law faculty,” Lerman said.

No replacement for the vice provost position was announced in the release, and plans for a search were also not stated.

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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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Udated: May 28, 2015 at 8:53 p.m.

GW ended the suspension of the student who posted a swastika on his floor of International House in March, The Times of India reported Wednesday.

The member of the primarily Jewish fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau, was suspended and faced a possible expulsion from the University after he placed a gold swastika he brought back from a spring break trip to India on a bulletin board in International House. The student claimed the act was not an expression of hatred but was stillexpelled from the fraternity.

University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar declined to confirm the ending of the student’s suspension, citing a GW policy not to comment on the results of individual student cases.

Harsh Voruganti, the associate director of public policy for the Hindu American Foundation, wrote a letter to University President Steven Knapp on behalf of his organization last month, saying the University’s suspension of the student alienates GW’s Hindu and Buddhist groups who may use a swastika symbol for religious purposes. Voruganti said he was asked to testify at the student’s disciplinary hearing with the University.

Voruganti, an alumnus of GW Law Schoool, said in an interview that GW made the right decision in ending the student’s suspension and not going forward with an expulsion because of the factors surrounding the case. He said the student obtained the symbol in India, where many people practice religions like Hinduism and Buddhism that may still use swastikas, and the student’s intentions with posting the symbol were unclear.

“I think that would have a very chilling effect for students who want to display the symbol for religious purposes,” Voruganti said.

GW law professor John Banzhaf said in an interview that GW could have been subject to legal liability if it had taken further disciplinary action against the student, including facing potential charges of defamation and false light. He said the case could be considered religious discrimination because the student could have posted the symbol with the intention of educating the community about its religious significance.

“It seems very clear that expelling him would be a violation of local and federal law,” Banzhaf said.

The incident occurred after three swastikas were reportedly drawn on the walls of International House in February, causing members of GW’s Jewish community to become concerned for their safety. Knapp released a statement after the first incident saying both cases would be investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department as hate crimes.

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GW Law School Dean Blake Morant congratulates graduates and their families. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

GW Law School Dean Blake Morant congratulates graduates and their families. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

At the GW Law School commencement ceremony in the Smith Center on Sunday, graduates learned they could be anything from attorney general to a lawyer for a major corporation.

Keynote speaker Bobby Burchfield, a 1979 alumnus and partner at the D.C. law firm King and Spalding, listed former GW law students like U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Barbara Keenan and Senator Harry Reid as examples of what graduates could accomplish.

1. Lawyers are not lab mice

Burchfield, who has argued at the Supreme Court and served as general counsel on George H.W. Bush’s reelection campaign, shared a popular joke about lawyers being unethical and untrustworthy.

“People love to make fun of lawyers. Did you hear that research laboratories have replaced mice with lawyers? Yes they have,” he said. “The lab workers get too attached to the mice and there’s some things that mice just won’t do.”

Burchfield said that although there are many stereotypes about the profession, lawyers can also be national leaders who use their work to help others. He added that graduates needed to find their “moral compass.”

2. Bringing the ‘royal jelly’

Graduate speaker Helen Clemens reminisced about her law school orientation, where a guest lecturer told students that if they wanted to be successful, they would have to “bring the royal jelly.”

“He never quite explained what he meant by this,” Clemens said. “I think that I might have been the only person in the room that understood the analogy he was trying to make.”

Clemens said that as a beekeeper, she knew that royal jelly is a nourishing food that honeybees produce for their young in order to make them strong.

“I think that what that lecturer was trying to say that day was to always bring the best that you can and to give others the best of yourself,” she said. “Although his meaning may have been a little bit lost that day, and that catchphrase is something we’ve chuckled about since, I’m so grateful I am graduating with a class of students that have most certainly brought the royal jelly.”

3. Honoring a classmate

Law school dean Blake Morant asked the audience to join him in a moment of silence for Mark Lee, a fourth-year law student who died in December.

“He was a great classmate, an extraordinary son and a friend to many,” Morant said.

As Lee’s family joined Morant on stage to accept a Certificate of Commendation on Lee’s behalf, they received a standing ovation from the audience.

4. A memorable connection

Morant closed the ceremony by telling the Class of 2015 he felt a special bond with them because they were graduating during his first year as dean.

“You’re my first class and we will always be connected as a result of that,” he said. “It’s like my children leaving the nest.”

Morant said he was reminded of his own law school commencement, during which one of his fellow graduates’ 100-year-old grandmother played the foghorn.

“While the trumpets will hopefully not sound out quite so loudly today, we joyously and enthusiastically salute this Class of 2015,” he said. “As you go forward, please remember that with the knowledge you have gained of the responsibility to use the law, to help others and build a better world for all.”

Like these photos? You can purchase your personal photo from this graduation ceremony online at: www.hatchetphotos.com

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The GW Law School fell from the list of the top 20 law schools in the country in the latest rankings by U.S. News & World Report. File Photo by Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

The GW Law School fell from the list of the top 20 law schools in the country in the latest rankings by U.S. News & World Report. File Photo by Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

The GW Law School slid out of the list of the top 20 law schools in the country while other graduate programs improved in the rankings released by U.S. News & World Report this week.

The law school is now ranked No. 22 nationwide, tied with programs at the University of Alabama, the University of Iowa and the University of Notre Dame. GW had previously tied for No. 20 with the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and the University of Southern California, but the school held onto its No. 2 ranking for part-time programs.

The selectivity of the school’s full-time law programs dipped for the second consecutive year, but other factors in the rankings, like median LSAT scores and median undergraduate GPA, held steady. Last spring, University officials hired Blake D. Morant to lead the school.

GW School of Business graduate programs rose seven spots to No. 58, tying with Baylor University and the University of Alabama. The school had dropped nine places last year to No. 65. The Graduate School of Education and Human Development also leaped forward three places to tie with three other schools at No. 55, after sliding down 11 spots last year.

Both schools saw large improvements in the rankings for online program, with GSEHD making the top 10 for online education programs and the business school jumping up 20 spots to No. 44 for its online MBA program.

GSEHD is in the middle of implementing an 18-month plan to improve enrollment, which has included creating more online courses.

The business school is in its first year of leadership under Dean Linda Livingstone. The previous dean, Doug Guthrie, was fired after the school overspent by about $13 million.

The engineering school saw a steep drop in the rankings, with graduate programs falling nine places to No. 99 and tying with four other institutions. Administrators hope the recent opening of the Science and Engineering Hall will improve the reputation of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, whose graduate programs improved to No. 90 in the nation last year.

The School of Medicine and Health Sciences also took a hit, dropping from No. 60 to 67 for research and tying with four other medical schools. School leaders are looking to raise $225 million in the next few years as part of the University’s $1 billion fundraising campaign, with about $50 million of the money SMHS raises expected to go toward research.

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A top leader at the American University Washington College of Law accused the GW Law School of poaching students in a Facebook post this week.

Anthony Varona, the associate dean for faculty and academic affairs at American University’s law school, wrote that he thought GW’s move to bring more than 50 transfers from American University was “downright predatory” and caused “quite a bit of disruption” at the school. Varona’s post was republished on the TaxProf Blog on Wednesday.

GW’s law school enrolled 97 transfer students this year, 54 of which had attended American University during their first year in law school.

GW also enrolled 539 first-year students. Their average GPA (3.71) and LSAT score (165) matched those of the fall 2013 class. But universities don’t have to factor transfer students’ scores into the data they submit annually to the American Bar Association.

Sophia Sim, the GW Law School’s associate dean for admissions, told the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog that GW “does not actively solicit for any transfer student, by virtue of our location and robust curriculum we attract a strong transfer pool.”

“GW Law selects transfer applicants based on their prior law school performance because the best indicator of how well a student will do in law school is how well they have already performed in law school,” she told the Journal.

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The GW Law School is among one-third of American Bar Association-approved schools to grow its enrollment this fall. Hatchet File Photo.

The GW Law School is among one-third of American Bar Association-approved schools to grow its enrollment this fall. Hatchet File Photo.

Updated: Dec. 29, 2014 at 6:32 p.m.

Enrollment at the GW Law School rose again this year, with the number of students entering the school increasing by more than 10 percent for the second consecutive year.

The school enrolled 539 first-year students in August, according to data submitted to the American Bar Association. The 57-student increase comes as GW has tried to return its enrollment to the school’s traditional level while maintaining its admissions standards. Meanwhile, fewer students nationally have applied to law school.

This year, GW’s newest class size is 3 percent larger than it was in 2010, the Washington Post reported, the last year the number of students who enrolled in American Bar Association-approved law schools grew.

GW’s law school is among one-third of American Bar Association-approved schools to grow its enrollment this fall.

This year’s fall class kept its average GPA at 3.71 and average LSAT score at 165 for the second year in a row. That should bode well for the college, which saw its selectivity take a dive when it added more than 80 full-time students last year.

The college also maintained its focus on enrolling minority students: 53 percent of the class is female, and 37 percent of students are considered minorities, the same as last year.

Of the total number of students, 504 are full-time and 39 are part-time. The law school is ranked No. 20 nationally by U.S. News and World Report, and No. 2 for its part-time program.

The University of Southern California Gould School of Law, which is tied at No. 20 with GW, also saw its 1L class size increase this year, jumping from 175 to 202 students. The University of Minnesota Law School, also tied at No. 20, saw a decline from 221 students to 193.

Neighboring Georgetown University, ranked No. 13, increased enrollment from 544 students to 580.

GW’s school shrunk its class size two years ago, but it surged last year to help maintain funding. GW has one of the largest law schools in the country, and, like the University, it is largely tuition-dependent.

Blake D. Morant, who took over the school’s deanship in September, will have to decide whether to continue growing the school’s enrollment or cut back as he oversees his first admissions cycle this year.

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