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Mid-campus motorcades and internships on the Hill have paid off for GW students again, as the University was named the most politically active campus in the nation by the Princeton Review for the third year in a row.

This year Georgetown and American Universities fell off the top 20 list after being ranked No. 9 and 10, respectively, last year. Vassar College and the United States Military Academy rounded out the top three this year.

President Barack Obama Stephen Colbert was interviewed during one of the final tapings of the Colbert Report, held in Lisner Auditorium last year. The Princeton Review named GW the most politically active campus for the third straight year on Monday. Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

President Barack Obama Stephen Colbert was interviewed during one of the final tapings of the Colbert Report, held in Lisner Auditorium last year. The Princeton Review named GW the most politically active campus for the third straight year on Monday. Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This year GW hosted a number of political figures on campus, including Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia and a taping of the Colbert Report featuring President Barack Obama, which could have helped secure the top spot for most politically active campus.

The University also came in second for “College City Gets High Marks,” beat out for the top spot by Tulane University in New Orleans. No other universities in D.C. landed on this list.

Based on students’ ratings of dorm comfort, GW inched up one spot to No. 11 on a list of best dorms. In an overall review of the University, the Princeton Review reported that some students called the “dorms like palaces,” even after social media criticized housing conditions a couple of years ago.

GW also slid in the rankings this year on a list of most popular study abroad programs from No. 12 to No. 17, beating out Georgetown University by one spot. All lists were based on rankings from student surveys.

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Updated: March 12, 2015 at 9:04 p.m.

President Barack Obama signed a presidential memorandum Tuesday to make it easier for students to afford college and pay off loans.

The executive action will push the Department of Education to create a state-of-the-art complaint system for students to use and allow simpler monthly payments for paying back loans. It will also mean creating additional ways for the federal government to analyze student debt trends for legislative and regulatory changes in the future.

“We need the tools to make sure that students can get a good education but also that they aren’t loaded down with huge debt,” Obama said Wednesday on a conference call with college journalists. “We’ve got to encourage higher education. And as everyone on this call knows, it’s never been more expensive.”

The president said the memorandum will help universities lower costs and help students “cut through bureaucracy” when paying off debt. The average undergraduate student accumulates $28,000 of student loan debt, he said.

Obama also announced the launch of his Student Aid Bill of Rights during a speech at the Georgia Institute of Technology on Tuesday, aiming to make it easier for those with student loans to understand and manage paying back their debt. Anyone can sign the document online.

“We want congressmen to sign up. We want state legislators and governors to sign up. We want college administrators to sign up and students and parents,” Obama said. “I want to mobilize this entire country around the issue of college affordability.”

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that by July 2016, borrowers will be able to file complaints about federal student aid directly to the Department of Education. Congress still has to approve the funding in the upcoming budget.

“It’s our responsibility to make sure the 40 million Americans with student loans are aware of resources to help them manage their debt, and we want to do everything we can to be responsive to their needs,” Duncan said.

Ted Mitchell, the under secretary of the Department of Education, said private universities, like GW, will be incentivized to lower tuition because the department’s nationwide scorecard allows students to compare the cost of attendance among institutions, and more expensive schools will be put in direct competition with public universities, which offer less expensive rates.

“Transparency plus a little healthy competition is going to influence all sectors of higher education,” Mitchell said.

College affordability has been a trademark of Obama’s administration: Earlier this year, the president sent a proposal to Congress to make two-year community college free. Five years ago this month, Obama enacted the biggest student loan reform in the country’s history by expanding the Pell Grant to $1,000 per student and capping loan payments at 10 percent of borrowers’ incomes.

GW has long been deemed one of the most expensive schools in the country, though it has since fallen from the ranks of the nation’s most expensive colleges.

The Board of Trustees approved a 3.5 percent cost of attendance increase for incoming freshmen in February, raising the price of tuition, fees and room and board to $62,285. That marks the eighth-straight year of about 3 percent sticker price increases, and the second year in a row that GW’s total cost of attendance has topped $60,000.

University spokesman Kurtis Hiatt said GW officials support federal efforts to make student borrowers’ options more transparent. The University has grown student aid in recent years through efforts like a philanthropic giving program, he said.

“GW also remains committed to the goal of making a George Washington education accessible to all who qualify for admission, and has significantly increased student aid in the last several years, including launching the Power and Promise Initiative to increase philanthropic giving for student aid,” Hiatt said in a statement.

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Top education officials in President Barack Obama's administration unveiled Friday the criteria that the government will use to evaluate colleges. File Photo by Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Top education officials in President Barack Obama’s administration unveiled Friday the criteria that the government will use to evaluate colleges. File Photo by Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

President Barack Obama’s administration unveiled a set of factors Friday that it will consider when publishing a college ratings system by the start of the next academic year.

The criteria didn’t address many of the concerns raised during a year-and-a-half-long nationwide discussion about the system, but did give some details about how the government will evaluate colleges. GW has already highlighted many of the areas federal education officials have identified in the past year as key areas of improvement for all schools.

Officials said in a release that they would look at the percentage of students receiving Pell Grants, how many lower-income students an institution enrolls, the number of first-generation college students and average net price.

They will also consider completion rates, transfer rates, short-term and long-term earnings, graduate school attendance and the percentage of students who repay their loans.

The administration didn’t detail how it would weigh each area or group together similar colleges. The system won’t rank colleges numerically like organizations such as U.S. News & World Report.

Nearly a year ago, GW launched a college access and affordability task force to find more ways to enroll lower-income students. Over the past several months, Forrest Maltzman, senior vice provost for academic affairs and planning, has led a study about how to improve the University’s graduation rates.

Obama’s plans could run into challenges when the Republicans take over both houses of Congress next month. Lawmakers could cut off funding for the initiative before the ratings have a chance to be released.

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Photos by Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer


Lines for Monday’s taping of “The Colbert Report” featuring special guest President Barack Obama snaked down multiple city blocks, as students started lining up early in the morning to get good seats.



University Police Department officers patrolled Kogan Plaza, where students lined up to enter Lisner Auditorium for Monday’s taping.



U.S. Secret Service agents, including those from the K-9 unit, were on duty around Lisner Auditorium in preparation for Obama’s arrival.



Stephen Colbert discussed the midterm elections results, the latest employment report and the ongoing health care enrollment process with Obama. He also tried to determine which numbers were in the U.S. nuclear launch codes, but Obama wouldn’t say.



Obama is seen on a TV screen backstage.



A teleprompter aids Colbert during his discussion with Obama.



Students packed Lisner Auditorium to watch Monday’s taping of “The Colbert Report.” Their tickets were assigned out via an online lottery.



Colbert shakes hands and takes photos with students after Monday’s taping of his show.



Colbert waves goodbye to a crowd of students who gathered in Kogan Plaza to watch him leave after his show.

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President Barack Obama will visit campus Monday to appear for an interview with Stephen Colbert, who will tape a special episode of "The Colbert Report" in Lisner Auditorium. File Photo by Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

President Barack Obama will visit campus Monday to appear for an interview with Stephen Colbert, who will tape a special episode of “The Colbert Report” in Lisner Auditorium. File Photo by Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Stephen Colbert announced that he will interview President Barack Obama during a taping of his show in Lisner Auditorium on Monday.

Only GW students could enter a lottery to win free tickets, which closed Thursday at 10 a.m. Students will be notified if they have won tickets before Monday, according to a University release.

Obama came to campus in fall 2011 for a World AIDS Day event in the Jack Morton Auditorium. He also gave a speech there about the deficit and fiscal policy in April 2011, held a town hall in the Marvin Center the year before and visited Lisner for Attorney General Eric Holder’s installation ceremony in 2009.

Also in 2009, the Obama family attended a GW men’s basketball game in the Smith Center.

Colbert had said on “The Colbert Report” Tuesday night that he would return to D.C. to tape an episode of the show at GW. The special episode is called “Stephen Colbert Presents: Mr. Colbert Goes to Washington D.C. Ya Later, Legislator: Partisan is Such Sweet Sorrow: A Colbert Victory Lap, ‘014.”

The host of the award-winning satirical news show spoke on campus in 2007 with NBC’s Tim Russert.

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Freshman Reed Westscott tracks election results on his laptop as other members of the College Republicans watch election announcements on TV. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

Freshman Reed Westscott tracks election results on his laptop as other members of the College Republicans watch election announcements on TV. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporters Brandon Campbell, Melissa Schapiro and Laura Whaling.

Cheers erupted from the Marvin Center Continental Ballroom as Fox News anchors reported that the Republicans had secured the necessary seats to win control of the Senate.

More than 50 GW College Republicans, many wearing suits, gathered Tuesday to watch the results roll in on big screens, celebrating each victory and coloring states red on a hand-drawn map. Republicans now control both houses in Congress, in a sweeping win that went better than many members could have anticipated.

Discussing political strategies and legislative priorities over the sounds of conservative TV pundits, volume levels swelled between projections of race outcomes and dropped whenever an announcement was made. And for the Republican students, most of those announcements were warmly greeted.

“It’ll be difficult for [President Barack] Obama to have his agenda, but it will be easier for Republicans to get things done in Congress,” sophomore Demri Scott said.

Freshman Lily Cunniff said she wished more students were engaged in the midterm elections, but was still happy with the night’s results.

“Midterm elections require a lot of deeper investigating,” Cunniff said. “People are apathetic, and most students and members of our generation look toward the easiest options, and will read a few celebrity tweets rather than read hours of CNN information and footage.”

The College Republicans celebrated when they finished their hand-drawn electoral map showing more red than blue.

“It’s a good change,” said College Republicans marketing manager Ian LeClerc. “It’s what the country needs. We don’t have to say it, the polls show it themselves.”

Republicans gained 11 seats and counting in the House. They also won at least six Senate seats that were “in play” – a big upset for Democrats.

Alex Pollock, the College Republicans president, said it was gratifying to see the results of the elections after members of his organization had helped campaign for several candidates.

“We’ve had people in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and actually we have people right now in Sen. McConnell’s victory party in Kentucky,” he said.

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Eric Holder, the U.S. attorney general and former member of GW’s Board of Trustees, will resign, President Barack Obama announced Thursday.

Obama said Holder, who has been a member of the Obama administration since 2009 and was the first black attorney general, will stay in office until a replacement is found and confirmed by the Senate. Holder was a member of GW’s Board of Trustees from 1996 to 1997, and received an honorary law doctorate from the University in 1998.

Holder’s Installation Ceremony, a ceremonial swearing-in for the attorney general, was held at Lisner Auditorium in 2009. Both he and Obama spoke at the event.

“I’m proud of what the men and women of the Department of Justice have accomplished over the last six years, and at the same time, very said that I will not be a formal part of the great things that this department and this president will accomplish over the next two,” Holder said Thursday at a White House press conference.

Holder met with leaders from GW and other D.C.-area universities in the spring to discuss ways to prevent sexual assault on college campuses and also spoke at a mental health awareness event for at-risk teenagers in Lisner Auditorium two years ago.

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Saturday, July 5, 2014 2:01 p.m.

José Andrés receives White House honor

Celebrity chef and University Commencement speaker José Andrés was honored Friday at the White House.

President Barack Obama recognized Andrés as an “Outstanding American by Choice” during a naturalization ceremony in which 25 members of the military, veterans and their spouses became U.S. citizens.

The Economist, Jose Andres

President Barack Obama honored chef José Andrés at the White House on Friday. Hatchet File Photo

Andrés, who became a citizen last November, was honored as part of a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services initiative to highlight the achievements of naturalized citizens who display a commitment to civic duty.

Andrés is the founder of the World Central Kitchen, a charity he established after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. He also serves on the boards of D.C. Central Kitchen and L.A. Kitchen, which focus on hunger problems in urban areas.

Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the president, tweeted a photo of Andrés and Obama with the message, “Congrats to @ChefJoseAndres for receiving the Outstanding American Award-he serves both delicious food & those in need.”

Andrés tweeted a similar photo, writing that he was “humbled” by the honor and “happy to be part of this great nation!”

In his remarks, Obama spoke about the 25 immigrants taking part in the ceremony and the urgency of immigration reform.

Obama vowed to “keep making our immigration system smarter and more efficient so hardworking men and women like all of you have the opportunity to join the American family and to serve our great nation.”

During his Commencement address this spring, Andrés, who immigrated from Spain 24 years ago, told graduates to reshape the American dream.

He has spoken out in favor of immigration reform in the past, notably in an op-ed in the Washington Post last December.

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The D.C. Council voted to pass a resolution Tuesday that calls on the Washington Redskins to change its name.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the Washington Redskins’ trademark registration Wednesday, but the team maintains its rights to the name and logo until all appeals are exhausted.

The ongoing debate over changing the Washington Redskins’ name reached a high point Wednesday when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decided to cancel the team’s trademark registration, calling it “disparaging” against Native Americans.

Opponents of the Redskins’ name, who call it a racial slur, have touted the decision as a victory, but the team’s management has said they still maintain many of the same rights.

While the patent office’s decision deals a blow to the $1.7 billion franchise, it doesn’t put the Redskins’ name and logo up for grabs. The team can keep its federal registration until it has exhausted all appeals.

The Redskins’ trademark lawyer, Bob Raskopf, released a statement Wednesday saying the team would appeal the decision. He defended the name, citing a 2003 federal court ruling that found it was “insufficient to conclude” the name disparaged anyone in the current time period.

The controversy over the name has prompted some media outlets to stop publishing it. The Seattle Times announced after the patent office ruling that the name “won’t appear again” in print or online.

And the Times isn’t the first paper to stop using “Redskins.” CBS Sports reported that several other major organization have already ceased publishing the name. The Washington City Paper announced in 2012 that it would call the D.C. football team the “Pigskins” as long as it was officially called the Redskins.

The D.C. Council passed a resolution in November urging the team to change its name, calling it “racist and derogatory,” though the legislators lack the authority to force a change.

President Barack Obama weighed in on the controversy last fall, saying he would consider changing the name if he owned the team.

“I don’t know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real legitimate concerns that people have about these things,” he said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Owner Daniel Snyder told USA Today last year that the team would “never” change the name. “NEVER,” he said. “You can use caps.”

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This post was written by assistant news editor Zaid Shoorbajee.

Congress scrutinized D.C.’s proposal to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana Friday, poking holes in the legislation that the federal government has the power to overturn.

A U.S. House of Representatives oversight subcommittee voiced concerns that the measure would have negative effects on public health and questioned whether it would be able to combat racial disparities in drug arrests, which was why many D.C. Council members supported it in March.

Congress has about 50 days to review the law, which Mayor Vincent Gray signed on March 31. Both houses of Congress would have to pass and President Barack Obama would have sign legislation to overturn it.

If approved, those caught with less than an ounce of marijuana in D.C. would face a $25 fine instead of criminal charges. Smoking in public would still be a misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of 60 days in jail.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s non-voting representative in Congress, attacked the hearing because it was the first in more than a decade to only focus on a D.C. law, the Washington Post reported.

Representatives also challenged the measure for possibly conflicting with enforcement of federal law.

Deputy Chief of the U.S. Park Police Robert Mclean said at the hearing that the change wouldn’t impact enforcement on federal land. Federal parks, which make up about 22 percent of the land that falls within city limits, are under the jurisdiction of the Park Police.

Those arrested on federal property for marijuana possession face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said GW would wait until Congress approves the law before it considers changing punishments for marijuana possession on campus. University Police Chief Kevin Hay said in October that students would still face disciplinary action if they are caught smoking in their rooms.

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