News and Analysis



The number of alcohol violations recorded this Halloween weekend was the highest in seven years. Hatchet File Photo.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Jack Thomson.

The number of alcohol violations recorded this Halloween weekend was the highest in seven years, increasing only by one from last year’s numbers.

This past weekend, 22 cases of alcohol violations were reported to the University Police Department. Similar numbers were reported last year with a total of 21 incidents. Two years ago, the number of violations during the holiday weekend marked the fifth year of declines.

University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said in an email that UPD held two events to communicate with students about safety during Halloween weekend. The department hosted a “Coffee with a Cop” event Thursday in Thurston Hall, where UPD Chief RaShall Brackney and officers “talked with students and offered safety tips and reminders about Halloween weekend,” Csellar said.

On the same day, UPD also held a campus safety cookout on the Mount Vernon Campus to discuss safety leading up to the Halloween weekend, Csellar said.

Alexis Janda, the associate director of GW’s Health Promotion and Prevention Services, said the office offers online and in-person resources to inform students about things like alcohol, nutrition and sexual health.

She said her organization “works to educate students about a wide variety of substances so that they may make informed and responsible decisions for their health and wellbeing.”

The number of student disciplinary referrals for alcohol and drug violations dropped by about half last year, according to the annual security report.

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Updated: Oct. 31 at 3:50 p.m.

A part-time professor is in critical condition after he was assaulted near Dupont Circle this weekend.

Jason Chambers, a fencing instructor in the department of exercise science, was dressed in a silver Halloween costume when a man attacked him on S Street near Connecticut Avenue at about 4:20 a.m., according to police records. Chambers suffered a major blow to the head, witnesses told police.

He was “unable to communicate and provide details of the assault” when he was found, according to the police report.

Officers found the 39-year-old “almost motionless” on the sidewalk after the suspect had fled the scene. MPD assigned homicide detectives to the case because of the seriousness of Chambers’ injuries.

He was taken GW Hospital.

Note: A summary of this story in The Hatchet’s email edition incorrectly stated that the crime is being investigated as a homicide. It’s actually being investigated as an assault, though homicide detectives are on the case.

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Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell responded to recent concerns from the campus community about GW's reaction to emergencies in a forum at the Jack Morton Auditorium Thursday night. Avra Bossov | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Nadav Gavrielov.

The University’s top safety and security official sought to address recent concerns about GW’s response toward on- and off-campus emergencies in a forum at the Jack Morton Auditorium Thursday night.

The forum, led by Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell, included a question and answer format that allowed members of the GW community to voice their inquiries in-person and online as a way to better understand how the University’s emergency management team operates.

“What I’d like to do is talk about a few things that have come up as I have talked with students going around campus, students have emailed me, things we’ve heard over the last week or so quite frankly to really give you, I hope, a better understanding or a clearer understanding of why we do some of the things we do,” Darnell, who helped found the Center for Homeland Defense and Security before joining GW last year, said.

Beginning with an overview of safety and security at the University, Darnell outlined crucial programs like the emergency notification process, residence hall security, the threat assessment team, the 4-RIDE van service and the “see something say something” policy that encourages community members to report incidents to police.

In response to a question about the perceived overreaction among students to a shooting that occurred in Georgetown Halloween night, Darnell said he felt students reacted in a “natural” way “because we weren’t getting enough information out as quickly as we would have liked to.”

GW was slammed with criticism for waiting to send an alert out to the community after the shooting and the arrest of two armed suspects near campus. No suspects have been linked to the shooting that left a 17-year-old boy dead pending an ongoing investigation.

The first campus notification was sent more than an hour after the initial shots in Georgetown and a Crime Alert hit inboxes shortly after 1:30 a.m. University administrators said a technological glitch prevented the message from sending properly that night.

In the days following the shooting, GW launched a new alert system to send text messages directly to students, staff and faculty if there is an ongoing threat to campus.

“I think we have a system that’s more reliable, we think it’s faster,” Darnell said.

Besides the text message alert system, Darnell pointed out other methods of campus contact with the community, including desktop notifications, campus advisories and social networking.

He highlighted the use of Twitter as a means of disseminating information faster, adding that the University “can’t react sometimes as quickly as you can react on Twitter.”

“It’s usually a one-on-one transaction when you all are on Twitter. We’re trying to put out information to 25,000 people and with that comes a responsibility to not only put that information out in a timely manner but also make sure that that information is as accurate as it possibly can be,” he said.

Darnell was joined onstage by University Police Department Chief Kevin Hay, Director of the Office of Emergency Management George Nuñez, Director of the Office of Health and Safety William Flint and Dean of Students Peter Konwerski.

Hay touched on efforts to curb piggybacking at building entrances and the possibility of upgrading several blue lights on campus.

Throughout the forum, the group continually stressed the importance of community involvement in keeping the University safe.

“I have never been a part of any safety and security endeavor that’s been successful if the community wasn’t a part of that as well,” Darnell said. “And that’s really what tonight is about, is to solicit your feedback, to make you a part of this, to get your ideas, to get your suggestions because at the end of the day we’re only as safe and secure as all of us are being a part of this effort.”

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The 17-year-old boy from Southeast D.C. who was shot in Georgetown on Halloween night died Monday, according to Metropolitan Police.

In an incident that brought police near campus in search of armed suspects, Tyronn Vincent Garner was pronounced dead Monday at 8:10 p.m., according to an MPD release. Garner was shot Oct. 31 around 11 p.m. in the 2800 block of M St. N.W.

A 24-year-old D.C. man was arrested near the Foggy Bottom Metro shortly after the shooting, but no suspects have been linked to the shooting pending an ongoing investigation, MPD spokesman Anthony Clay said Wednesday.

MPD officers chased and arrested 24-year-old Andre Coleman and another man who got away, according to court documents cited in The Washington Post. Coleman was charged with carrying a pistol without a license, after witnesses said he left the scene following the shooting.

-Priya Anand contributed to this report.

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As students gear up for tricks and treats on Halloween, the University is taking special proactive measures – the holiday is a peak time for student misconduct, the director of Student Judicial Services said.

Tara Pereira, assistant dean of students and the head of SJS, said that her office can identify certain peak times when students misbehave by tracking calls to the Community Concern Hotline, and that the University has prepared countermeasures for unruly students on Saturday.

“The George Washington University has once again engaged in proactive planning to address the upcoming events of Halloween. Especially with the holiday falling on a Saturday this year, we have redoubled our efforts,” Pereira said.

Pereira said the University is coordinating with the Metropolitan Police Department, and “just a few of the steps being taken to curb inappropriate behavior,” include an additional University Police Department presence and Neighborhood Action Team patrols. The University will also provide alternative activities on campus and has educated students and housing staff, Pereira said.

Michael Akin, executive director of international, government and community affairs, said that the holiday draws increased occurrences of misconduct.

“Halloween is a time when we expect increased activity,” Akin said. “Each year we undertake a number of efforts to proactively address these issues.”

Pereira said neighbors have also been encouraged to report any misconduct to the hotline.

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