The Forum

Commentary

Hatchet File Photo

Hatchet File Photo

It’s that time of year again: Candidates for the Student Association’s top posts are putting together their platforms and attempting to pick central issues that are not only achievable in their short terms, but that will also earn student votes.

As the campaigns get underway, three opinions writers offer their thoughts on what the candidates should include or leave out.

Take another swing at getting Trader Joe’s on GWorld

Andrew Costello is a junior double-majoring in political science and economics.

Hatchet File Photo

Hatchet File Photo

You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again: It’s time student leaders make another attempt to add Trader Joe’s as a GWorld merchant.

In addition to relocating the student health center, one of the key components of former Student Association president Julia Susuni’s platform when she ran two years ago was to get the nearby Trader Joe’s on GWorld. It was ambitious – getting the grocery store on GWorld was also attempted in 2007 without success.

Unfortunately, her plan was never realized, and efforts to continue the initiative have vanished. Although the SA is more used to negotiating with GW administrators specifically, the Trader Joe’s issue is one that students clearly care about and it should be taken up by this season’s candidates.

It’s not an unprecedented feat: Eight years ago, the Safeway stores on MacArthur Boulevard and Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown began accepting GWorld after pushes by the SA.

And it’s hugely important to students. Realistically, when one accounts for distance, only the Whole Foods Market remains a viable grocery store option for the majority of on-campus students, particularly after the closure of the Safeway in the Watergate complex.

Whole Foods can unfortunately be twice as expensive as its organic-foods competitor, Trader Joe’s, on an item-to-item basis. For many students, it just isn’t economical.

Susuni herself didn’t return my request for comment on this issue, but her former chief of staff and the current Residence Hall Association president, Ari Massefski, explained what went wrong under the former president’s tenure.

“The administrators at Trader Joe’s weren’t interested,” Massefski said. “She did everything that she possibly could.”

After conducting market research about Trader Joe’s and the benefits of accepting GWorld, and securing the full support of the GWorld card office, the SA approached the management of Trader Joe’s. Although the management at the 25th Street location was “all for it,” according to Massefski, higher-ups at corporate feared it would over-complicate their existing electronic payment system.

“They told us that they are a very lean organization without lots of infrastructure,” Massefski said, and they cited a “fear of it disrupting their system.”

Essentially, the folks at Trader Joe’s had little understanding of the GWorld system in general, viewing it as an clunky addition to their infrastructure that they could not afford. Consequently, they disregarded it.

That may seem like an insurmountable hurdle. But it’s been almost two years since Susuni’s campaign, and it could be worth a new attempt. Future SA presidents should not be discouraged by the inability of their predecessors to bring Trader Joe’s into the GWorld program, nor should they accept the company’s taciturn response as a defeat.

Rare is the campaign promise that is fulfilled by the first to make it. For example, former SA president Jason Lifton first proposed the idea of renovations to Gelman Library after he was elected in 2010, an initiative that took more than three years to come to fruition. And former SA president Ashwin Narla pushed for student space throughout the 2012 to 2013 school year, an initiative that finally became a priority when the University was drawing up plans for District House.

Although Trader Joe’s is currently reluctant to accept GWorld as a form of payment, history is not on their side. If SA presidents continue to maintain momentum on this issue, they will surely accomplish this long-awaited addition to students’ shopping options.

“After all, Trader Joe’s is a neighborhood grocery store,” Massefski said. “It doesn’t make sense that it wouldn’t accept the neighborhood’s form of payment.”

Commit to making junior housing affordable

Guillermo J. Martínez, a sophomore majoring in political science, is a Hatchet opinions writer.

After GW announced two years ago that juniors would be required to live on campus starting with the Class of 2018, the never-ending debate on campus over housing affordability was given new life.

The mandate pushed then-Student Association president Julia Susuni to try to make the issue of on-campus housing prices a priority during her tenure. After a thorough analysis of popular apartment buildings near campus, Susuni and the Residence Hall Association concluded that students living in junior housing pay about $3,000 more each year, on average, than they would living in off-campus options.

Although the University made a commitment to offering cheaper housing options to juniors, the recently released housing rates show little change – or, in many cases, increases to the price tag on the room of the same size.

It’s obviously not an issue with one clear, easy solution. But Susuni already did the legwork. The candidates for SA president and executive vice president this election season should take it up again and pledge in their platforms to work with GW to find solutions. We can’t let this problem persist any longer.

GW’s failed commitment is an excellent opportunity for the new SA leadership to take action on housing affordability for upperclassmen. They should continue the advocacy started by Susuni to make on-campus housing cheaper – or, at least, closer in pricing to nearby off-campus options. And they should push the University for answers about how the opening of District House will affect housing options, ensuring that prices are well-distributed across the various room sizes.

Hatchet File Photo

Hatchet File Photo

As a sophomore who will live on campus next year, it was dispiriting for me to see prices had increased from this year – even though that was expected, given that it happens each year. But the possibilities were also limited in comparison to this year.

The numbers are clear. For instance, juniors this year are paying $12,760 to either live in a two-person studio in City Hall, a four-person double bedroom in Dakota, or a single with a private bath in Mitchell. That same amount of money could also get juniors a room in Munson, JBKO, Guthridge, FSK and Fulbright – if these options were made available to them.

For rising juniors wishing to live on campus, these numbers are frustrating, but we’re not the class being hit hardest by it – that’s the Class of 2018, who are affected by the junior year housing mandate.

The SA should push GW to address these concerns before that class has to live through the unfortunate new policy. If they do, they’ll address a concern that is actively present in the minds of students across campus.

Instead of advocating for student space, propose changes to J Street

Felipe Chiriboga is a sophomore double-majoring in economics and philosophy.

It seems like candidates for top Student Association posts have perpetually based at least part of their platforms on increasing student space.

Now, it’s certainly important for students to have available spaces to hang out, study and host student organization meetings. But candidates should recognize that this problem isn’t caused by a lack of physical space: The spaces are already there but aren’t made attractive to students, so we simply aren’t using them. The solution lies in improving the existing spaces to suit students’ needs.

Instead of putting student space on their platforms, this year’s SA candidates should focus on encouraging GW to rebrand and renovate the existing student spaces on campus.

They should start with J Street.

Hatchet File Photo

Hatchet File Photo

We already know the campus dining venue is overpriced and low-quality, despite GW’s attempts to solve the problems associated with it. The venue is run by food provider Sodexo, and its 10-year contract with the University expires in 2016 – so now’s the time to start brainstorming ways to make J Street more attractive to students.

As the space is now, there’s no rational reason to go there. Sitting down for a meal in J Street is on the verge of socially unacceptable conduct. It’s associated almost exclusively with freshmen and is only used to grab a quick bite to eat out of desperation. Such stereotypes are harmful to both J Street and students. But there are ways to change the dining hall’s reputation.

There have often been attempts to improve J Street, but those have fallen short, and also haven’t had much recent support or involvement from the SA. But just because initiatives haven’t been successful in the past doesn’t mean candidates shouldn’t try this year.

The first step lies in making sure the existing spaces meet students’ needs. For J Street, this includes improving the service and quality of the food, as well as making the cafeteria financially and aesthetically attractive to students.

Appealing to clubs and organizations would be a great way to attract underclassmen. If J Street hosted all-you-can-eat buffet nights, for example, student organizations could attend as groups, bringing their freshman members with them, and sit down for a family-style dinner. Club sports, for instance, could carbo-load before competitions or students could be ensured a hearty meal during finals.

Then, incoming freshmen wouldn’t be so biased against the cafeteria. At first, they’ll be required to eat at J Street because of their meal plan. But if the dining hall is a place they enjoy, and a place they have memories of enjoying with their student group, they might return more often than sophomores and upperclassmen do now, and maybe traditions could even begin.

The student spaces that have been recently created – or are coming soon, like District House – won’t need any branding. The Science and Engineering Hall is brand new and already attractive to students: The building is visually appealing and hosts the necessary amenities for students to study and gather. By making it attractive, the building is now a space students want to utilize – and clearly they want as much access to it as possible.

Students can’t be forced to use these spaces – but they should be drawn to them. GW shouldn’t be satisfied with a “build it and they will come” attitude.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Monday, Feb. 23, 2015 12:36 a.m.

Op-ed: The sexual violence that has no name

Emily Hirsch is a senior majoring in English.

He was my teacher. I was 19 years old and had graduated from high school the year before. I never said no.

Legally, the incident was just poor judgment on both sides. Physically, there were no bruises. There was no force. This doesn’t fit the narrative of the girl who got drugged and raped at a fraternity party, nor does it resemble any sort of stereotype about a non-white stranger jumping out of the bushes and attacking the closest white girl.

It felt atypical. However, as I learned later, it was in fact devastatingly common. I know that I survived something, but I’m not exactly sure what it was. Although we didn’t have sex, it was as if I lost a piece of my virginity over a series of explicit Facebook messages, photos and a kiss. The loss seemed beyond my control.

Over the past year, I’ve been encouraged that the conversation about sexual violence has at last gained national attention. That being said, disproportionate space has been given to voices that earnestly offer solutions, rather than examine the unsettling reasons why the issue persists.

I idolized him – as a teacher, mentor and friend. I was looking for approval, for someone who would understand me and think I was smart. Much of my admiration for him was rooted in the assumption that nothing like this would ever happen. I thought I was safe.

In high school, long before I found feminism, I turned to television for guidance. “Pretty Little Liars” said it was romantic to fall for your teacher. “Gossip Girl” insisted that attempted rape mixed with alcohol was a minor subplot. And as much as I appreciate Shonda Rhimes as an important, well-intentioned entertainment icon, “Grey’s Anatomy” taught me that it was sexy to sleep with your boss. The most talented doctors slept with their bosses. Back then, I didn’t consider any of this particularly problematic.

I was naively convinced that if an authority figure took interest in me, sexually or otherwise, it was indicative of my maturity, intellect and some inherent special quality I had. But, really, it had hardly anything to do with me. It could have been anyone. I was probably not the only one. I was an easy target.

What makes this all so inexplicable is that there is no name for it. Any time I bring it up, which is rare, my go-to line is: “You know that teacher thing I told you about?” By definition, it wasn’t sexual assault, rape or even harassment – it’s come to be that “teacher thing.” At this point, I am desperate for a name, but I don’t know if one exists. Names mean validation, names are affirming – if I were to find a name for this, I bet I would cling to it. I would study it. I would have a framework for unpacking it.

Instead, I’m left with a slew of questions: If sexual violence is such a widely acknowledged problem in college, why didn’t I learn about it before I got here? Why did my high school sex education only focus on how to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases? Why did no one tell me the different definitions of consent? Why wasn’t there a discussion about the connection between sex and power? If that teacher thing isn’t called violence, then why did I feel so violated?

How is it that if this same scenario had happened just one year earlier – when he was still my teacher – he could have lost his job? In that year after I graduated, did his position of authority vanish? I can assure you, it didn’t. While he could no longer grade my papers, his influence over me was still strong enough to dictate almost anything else, including sex. If he had followed through on his effort to have sex with me that day I was in his apartment, would I have been able to say no? I doubt it.

Whenever I wonder whether I’m exaggerating the severity of that teacher thing, I remind myself that there is a reason why he didn’t want me to tell anyone. There is a reason why most of my high school classmates thought something was happening. There is a reason why I can’t suppress the memory of my tense body sinking into his seemingly inescapable couch. There is a reason why I hesitated until senior year of college to cultivate close relationships with professors. There is a reason why, even though these relationships are built on foundations of intellectual and emotional respect rather than coercion, I worry that they could end in disappointment.

I don’t want to conclude this piece with a big, sweeping claim about how I propose we fix the systemic conditions that make sexual violence pervasive. Plenty of people have already done that, and often done it well. My objective here is to share a story that I argue echoes countless others that have been veiled by silence because they don’t fit neatly into the confines of language and may never be deemed unlawful.

One of the most frightening types of violence is the kind that cannot be named. As upsetting as it was, there is nothing that special about my story. I am no anomaly. Far too many women I know have also endured moments when power operated so covertly that it was difficult to recognize, when true choice was absent, when sex became scary.

Want to respond to this piece? Submit a letter to the editor.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015 3:35 p.m.

Tales of a Merriweather evacuee

Devon Fitzgerald, a freshman majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet opinions writer.

A true, self-proclaimed “Merribitch” reports from the inside of the #MerriweatherDisaster2K15. Times are approximate.

Day 1: Tuesday, Feb. 10 (The Beginning of the End)
2 a.m. – I decide to leave the rest of my Arabic homework for the morning. “It’ll be fine,” I tell myself. “It’s never worked before, but this time will be different. I’ll wake up. I swear.”

7 a.m. to 7:15 a.m. – I ignore a series of my alarms before my roommate finally gives up on me and turns them off. The winner that I am, I sleep right on through until…

8:48 a.m. – Finally, I’m conscious enough to sit up and begin my homework from the night before. After a few minutes of work, I’m jolted by the sound of loud jackhammering. I think to myself, “Classic Merriweather.”

A minute or so passes and I begin thinking, “The jackhammers sound kind of different today. Almost like an alarm?” I figure it’s nothing, and go about my business.

After a few more seconds, I’m second-guessing myself: “Is this an alarm? Should I be concerned? Probably not.”

Finally, after the sound doesn’t stop, I realize this is 100 percent an alarm. I should probably get up.

I hop out of bed and run to the door, phone in hand. I peek out and see girls running down the hallway. I panic and don’t look back. I run out with them, barefoot and in pajamas.

(I was conscious of the fact that I was leaving the building without shoes. Really, I was. But I figured: “Nothing actually burns down these days. Odds are, this is a drill. Even if not, we’ll be back inside in no time – shoes and coats are for the weak.”)

Once I stumble out the front door of Merri into the cold for the first time that morning, I find myself amid a veritable crisis. Several campus police officers are gathered with my hallmates and resident adviser. They tell us there was a gas leak and we can’t gather next to the building – it’s too dangerous. The officers move all Merriweather evacuees to the Academic Building across the street.

Officials alert Merri-residents that gas levels are too high for the hall to be occupied, and say it should be another hour or so until we’re permitted to re-enter. The residents are moved to Post Hall, where they are very kindly given rations (bagels and whatnot) from Zime.

Almost all of us are in pajamas – most without shoes, clothes, books, phones, laptops and even bras – and stuck in Post Hall in that condition for the immediate future.

We email our professors (some understanding, others not so much) to let them know that we would not be attending classes due to the evacuation.

Residents try their best to stay calm and entertain themselves.

10:49 a.m. – We receive an email, stating the obvious.

email

Officials return bearing bad news and pizza. We won’t be allowed inside until the next morning at the earliest.

They later tell us that we will be given a police escort into the building, and we will have approximately five minutes to pack for three days.

To which I immediately respond, “I don’t have clothes for three days. I am not Olivia Pope. Why, oh, why did we not better prepare for the zombie apocalypse?”

We are told to find friends to live with, and if we don’t have any friends, the University could house us. After mentally surveying my list of close and personal amigos I would feel comfortable sleeping in the same room with, I realize all of my friends are these homeless people. The ones in this room. Right here. Homeless. Awesome.

12:38 p.m. – I re-evaluate all life choices up to this point.

2:14 p.m. – Many residents evacuate via Uber.

Later that day – We’re alerted that one of our fellow evacuees who didn’t have anywhere to stay was placed in an abandoned Greek townhouse by the Center for Student Engagement. I reach out, and luckily also receive confirmation to live in said townhouse.

luggage

2:45 p.m. – I head there with all my luggage and realize I am locked out of said townhouse.

3:02 p.m. – I’m given tap access to said townhouse and move in all luggage, as do several others. I’m no longer homeless, but still without sheets, pillows, towels, toiletries – oh, and lights in our rooms.

5:49 p.m. – Members of the University Police Department come in on a call, thinking we’re squatters. We tell them that we are in fact allowed to be here. They leave in disbelief.

7 p.m. – I attend a sister date with two members of Delta Phi Epsilon and tell tales of the day.

8 p.m. – I attend pledge study hours for DPE and begin receiving bags on bags of supplies.

10 p.m. to midnight – Members of DPE show up at the townhouse, one after another, with supplies for the masses. The common room truly begins to look like a refugee camp.

Day 2: Wednesday, Feb. 11
9:35 a.m. – Made it on time to my first class. Didn’t even have to wake up at 7 a.m. to run for a Vern Express.

By the end of the day, we’re surviving on a diet of candy, coffee and cookie dough from the Shenkman Hall basement.

sitting on floor

11:47 p.m. – I start to seriously wonder if “survived #MerriweatherDisaster2K15” could be listed on a resume.

11:48 p.m. – I start to seriously wonder whether delusion has finally set in.

11:54 p.m. – If the girls from Long Island and New Jersey reference Hurricane Sandy one more time, I’m going to sleep at the Lincoln Memorial.

Midnight – We celebrate the birthday of a Merriweather resident in true refugee fashion, complete with no cake and lots of blankets on a floor.

Day 3: Thursday, Feb. 12
2:54 p.m. – Still haven’t taken advantage of my newfound ability to order from Crepeaway. More and more residents slowly but surely gain permission to join us in the townhouse.

6:20 p.m. – Staffers from the CSE come to provide the Merribitches with pizza, pasta and salad.

10:30 p.m. – Residence Hall Association President Ari Massefski stops by to visit the refugees and takes a selfie, Ellen DeGeneres-style. The moment even grabs the attention of Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski, who has apparently become aware of the @merribetches Twitter account.

Day 3: Friday, Feb. 13 (Doomsday)

Residents begin to get antsy and acting on promises of “three days max.” Some pack suitcases for their return, while others are adamant about remaining.

Residents sit on the empty floor of the common room, listening to Taylor Swift and ordering $100 worth of Crepeaway.

All appears to be going well, but after the crepes have been consumed, tensions become high.

Day 5: Saturday, Feb. 14 (Oh, is it Valentine’s Day?)
9:35 p.m. – Tall, dark and handsome (eh?) man knocks on door of townhouse requesting a place to warm up from the cold. It’s beyond frigid out there, so we let him in, and he proceeds to stand in a corner for 10 minutes telling us about his small-town college in Michigan and the current trip that he’s on. He’s spending Valentines Day third-wheeling with his friend and his friend’s girlfriend for the day in D.C.

Sounds like a true Merribitch.

Day 5: Sunday, Feb. 15
Our chariot awaits – our chariot being the Vern Express. We’ve received word that we’re going home.

I, for one, refuse to leave this heavenly urban oasis.

They can drag my cold dead body from this townhouse. I shall not be moved. PC: @sakshiiib

A photo posted by Devon Fitzgerald (@devon_fitzgerald) on

Some reflections on this experience
– For starters, Merriweather now has an unauthorized flag.

flag 2

– Moreover, this was an incredibly frustrating and interesting experience for all involved.
– Apparently, this was not the first time this has happened. A tree fell on Merriweather in 1991, which caused a gas leak, according to a yearbook we found in our basement. (If a tree falls on Merri, does it make a sound?)
– Oh, and if you were wondering, rates for Merriweather Hall have been raised $360 for next year.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Michael Wenger is an adjunct professor of sociology and a senior fellow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a research institution that concentrates on issues of race.

Last week, FBI Director James Comey delivered a truly remarkable speech at Georgetown University. He told some hard truths about race relations in this country, and particularly focused on those between law enforcement and people of color. Much of what he said has been said before by President Barack Obama and especially by Attorney General Eric Holder.

But Comey is a middle-aged white man who came to the FBI during a Republican administration. So the “hard truths” he courageously told cannot easily be dismissed as someone playing the race card. His speech provides us once again with a unique opportunity to have that often-called-for national conversation about race.

First, the four “hard truths” that Director Comey shared:

  • “…law enforcement must be honest enough to acknowledge that much of our history is not pretty…”
  • “…Many people in our white-majority culture have unconscious racial biases and react differently to a white face than a black face…”
  • “…something happens to people in law enforcement. Many of us develop different flavors of cynicism… We must resist the lazy shortcuts of cynicism and approach… (a young black man)… with respect and decency…”
  • “…what really needs fixing… (are)… the disproportionate challenges faced by young men of color… (who)… grow up in environments lacking role models, adequate education and decent employment – they lack… opportunities that most of us take for granted. A tragedy of American life – one that most citizens are able to drive around because it doesn’t touch them – is that young people in ‘those neighborhoods’ too often inherit a legacy of crime and prison…”

While praising most law enforcement officials – like his own grandfather – as “people who risk their lives because they want to help other people,” Comey went on to say that “those of us in law enforcement must better understand the people we serve and protect – by trying to know, deep in our gut, what it feels like to be a law-abiding young black man walking on the street and encountering law enforcement. We must understand how that young man may see us.”

And in the question-and-answer period, Comey revealed that he was sending a transcript of his speech to all FBI offices to be used to start the needed conversation.

We should follow his lead. The “hard truths” he shared can be the basis for launching “hard truths” conversations between law enforcement officials and not just students of color, but all students – on this campus and on campuses across the country.

Such conversations should be catalysts for broader conversations between law enforcement officials and community members.

Another hard truth is that our continuing racial tensions and disparities result largely from ignorance of our history and how the legacy of that history affects us today. We don’t all have to agree, but we must talk. Talking will lead to better understanding, and in a nation in which most white Americans say they believe in justice and fair play, better understanding can lead to greater racial equity and healing.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Hatchet File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

Hatchet File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

Sean Hurd, a junior majoring in exercise science, is The Hatchet’s sports columnist.

The men’s basketball team has filled its job listing for a court general.

At the start of the season, there was a huge on-court leadership vacancy with Isaiah Armwood and Maurice Creek gone, and the team tried to fill the gap collectively.

HurdofftheCourt-e1416202803539

Senior forward John Kopriva is GW’s captain, but the Colonials turned to the four veteran members of the junior class to be de facto leaders of the team.

While the idea of collective leadership sounded nice, GW ran into problems as the season progressed, particularly on the offensive end of the ball. The team needed someone to step up and take control of the game – but instead it seemed like the members of the core four were waiting on one of their classmates to take the reigns. That led to stale offensive possessions and questionable shot selection – games that come to mind include those against Penn State, La Salle, George Mason and Colorado.

Beyond the ability to hit shots, the Colonials simply needed a player they could get behind.

Starting in late December, junior point guard Joe McDonald began to demonstrate how he could be “that guy.” It’s been incremental, sure, but it’s nonetheless a significant change for the Colonials.

With the score tied early in the second half of GW’s matchup against George Mason on Jan. 17, McDonald fell down in the backcourt with an apparent leg injury.

McDonald, who had sunk the go-ahead field goal in the Colonials’ double-overtime win over Richmond just days earlier, limped off the court and into the locker room. But leave it to McDonald – who’s often called a warrior for his tough-as-nails tenacity and demeanor – to return to the floor and aid his team to a 10-point win.

His grit has been there since the first day he put on a GW uniform. He displayed it no more boldly than last year, when he played almost an entire season with a bad hip and didn’t miss a single game.

McDonald has the utmost respect from his teammates. He leads by example on the floor: As Joe goes, the team goes. That was clear during Wednesday’s road loss to Duquesne. Despite a strong rebounding performance, McDonald went 2-12 from the field and 1-5 from deep. Of course, that’s not to attribute entire losses or wins to McDonald’s stat line, but the correlation is clear.

Since the start of conference play, McDonald is third on the team in scoring at 11.1 points per game and leads the team from three-point range, averaging 1.5 per game. McDonald has increased his presence on both sides of the ball, and in addition to leading the team in assists per game, he is the team’s second-best rebounder.

Until recently, all he was missing was the scoring ability. But he’s even begun to demonstrate that in conference play. McDonald confirmed it Saturday night with his overtime buzzer-beating putback against Dayton, adding to what is now a list of big shots during his GW career. In fact, I’d be shocked if head coach Mike Lonergan didn’t hand the ball to McDonald the next time a close game comes down to its final possession.

He’s a natural choice to step into the role of team leader – he is the point guard, after all, the game’s logical court general. Lonergan is on board, and even adamant about McDonald taking the next step. He told GW Sports after Saturday’s win that he’s pushed McDonald to not just be a leader but to “take ownership of the team.”

At the point guard position, McDonald has the natural ability to orchestrate, which may not have come as easily to players like Armwood or Creek, but perhaps to past leaders like Tony Taylor.

McDonald will have no better stage than Saturday night’s home game against a nationally ranked VCU team, which is looking to complete a regular season sweep and hand the Colonials their first loss at home.

McDonald always had the makeup of a team leader, he just needed a coach’s push.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Kathy Megyeri is a 1969 alumna who, along with her husband, decided to leave their estate to GW.

Nothing angers old alumni more than attacks on our alma mater, and I saw two of them in last week’s New York Times piece, “How to raise a university’s profile: Pricing and packaging.”

First is the constant comparison to Georgetown – hardly a fair one when the school’s location, educational philosophy and campus environment are so different, despite the fact that we share the same city.

But secondly and more importantly, the idea of an “abundance of rich parents buying their kids a degree from this expensive trade school but who really don’t learn much” is insulting and rankles the thousands of us alumni who had to work so hard while on limited incomes to accomplish our success in life.

It’s no secret that most of the students attending GW are borrowing money, applying for scholarships, taking out additional loans and temporarily working at part-time jobs or low-paying internships. They are hardly benefitting from mom and dad’s largesse.

I came to GW in 1963 because my parents thought I needed more exposure to the outside world than could be had in a small Midwestern farming community, and it was pretty heady for me to attend a school so close to the White House. A great deal has changed since I arrived on campus, but I’m sure – thanks to my continued relationship with the school as an alumna – that at least some students today have had similar experiences.

When I attended a class in the basement of Lisner Auditorium and met a 1956 Hungarian Freedom Fighter, I was exposed to someone with a wider view of the world than I had ever known.

He worked part-time at a restaurant to pay his tuition and I worked nights as a desk clerk at the Howard Johnson hotel across from the Watergate Hotel to pay my tuition. Later, it was thanks to the foresight of then-University President Joel Trachtenberg that the very same hotel became a GW residence hall – the Hall on Virginia Avenue.

On our date in August 1963, my classmate and I walked to the National Mall to hear Martin Luther King, Jr. deliver his “I Have A Dream” speech and listen to Marian Anderson sing. On our second date, my classmate (by then, my boyfriend) and I attended a “Barry Goldwater for President” rally at the D.C. National Guard Armory, where we met a young, enthusiastic Hillary Clinton – who was then a Goldwater girl and who will soon, in all probability, be the Democratic contender for the presidency.

Those kinds of experiences, coupled with the superb education we received, propelled us both into becoming lifelong learners, wherein we amassed five degrees between us from GW. No rich parents on our part, no “expensive trade school” education and no “limited” learning could have made our success or the accomplishments of so many of our fellow alumni possible. This remains true for GW students today.

It was all thanks to University leaders who made sure we had the best faculty and facilities possible, an education that would meet market demands and a sense of family in a location that would maximize our potential. That location, too, would expose us to like-minded individuals who valued education, worked to achieve success and were then committed to giving back to the institution they love.

All this may sound like an old-fashioned cliché, but these values transcend the cheap attacks I hear from those who really don’t know GW.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015 1:03 p.m.

Finding long-term love on Tinder

Hatchet File Photo by Desiree Halpern | Contributing Photo Editor

Hatchet File Photo by Desiree Halpern | Contributing Photo Editor

Robbie Dornbush, a freshman double-majoring in political science and communication, is a Hatchet opinions writer.

So Valentine’s Day has you thinking about a relationship?

Maybe it’s because your plans include cuddling up with your best friends, Ben & Jerry. Or maybe you were unceremoniously dumped by your good-for-nothing ex right before Valentine’s Day.

Now is the time to explore and search for that serious relationship you deserve. But where to start? Do you troll bars in an attempt to find your bae, only to be hit on by creepers? Do you scour the web for a lover and a friend only to be absolutely horrified?

Of course not. You go to Tinder and find the best of both worlds with only some of the negatives. Really.

How do I know the hookup app is a great way to find happily-ever-afters in addition to one-night Prince Charmings? Because I met my girlfriend of more than a year on Tinder.

After I stumbled on her profile, I took a look at her Facebook page. We noticed that we listened to the same music, had similar political leanings and even liked the same stupid pages, including “Let Cookie Monster host SNL,” which we both liked circa eighth grade. I decided to message her. A year later, and here we are.

In a way, apps like Tinder and Grindr have added a new dimension to online dating that we’ve never had before: a true randomness to meeting. Websites like Match.com use algorithms and data to calculate how well you match with someone, but something about that just seems too clinical, too forced, too desperate. On Tinder, the only factors are age and location, and the rest is up to you.

Searching for love virtually used to feel like the opposite of chatting up that regulation hottie by the bar. But Tinder changes that. By limiting the area in which you can find potential soulmates and presenting photos of them at their best, Tinder does give users the feeling of meeting someone random by fate at the bar.

Yet by also giving us little bits of information about people and making sure both parties want to interact, it takes away the sting of rejection and some of the awkwardness of talking for the first time.

Tinder has brought natural dating into the 21st century. It’s not entirely organic, and people still risk being cat-fished. But at least in my experience, Tinder has brought actual chance back into the search for a significant other, and it puts a spark into online dating.

I can’t guarantee you’ll meet your special someone over Tinder – but you never know. Your S.O. could be a swipe away.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Two feminists reflect on the arrival of one of the year’s most polarizing holidays for members of the movement.

Committing to self-love instead of wallowing

Sarah Blugis, a junior majoring in political communication, is The Hatchet’s contributing opinions editor.

This Saturday is Valentine’s Day, and like many people, I don’t have a date. I don’t have a boyfriend, and no one asked me to be his Valentine. Last year, I was single for Valentine’s Day for the first time in two years and I spent the holiday feeling sorry for my lonely self.

But if you’re feeling bad for me – or for yourself – you shouldn’t. This year, I’ve vowed not to be sad: Instead of worrying about having a romance-free Valentine’s Day, I’m going to love myself.

I recently came across a Tumblr post that encouraged people to love themselves on Valentine’s Day by buying chocolate, drinking a whole bottle of wine and even slapping their own asses. Though I won’t follow that plan exactly, it’s the idea I’m going for – and if you’re without a Valentine this year, you should try it, too.

My New Year’s resolution this year is to love myself – my body, my accomplishments, my life. If I were upset about not having a romantic night out on Valentine’s Day, it would be like giving in and saying I’m not good enough. I would have to ask myself, am I unhappy with my life just because I don’t have a significant other?

I won’t let that be the case.

For those of us who haven’t found a someone yet, we don’t have to view Valentine’s Day as proof of our own perceived inadequacies. Let’s fight the temptation by turning around the meaning of the holiday. It’s supposed to be about telling someone that you love him or her, but we should instead use the day as a reminder to love ourselves.

Grab a bottle of wine, toss some slice-and-bake chocolate chip cookies in the oven and watch a movie with your friends. Book yourself a massage, or buy one of those Lush Bath Bombs and treat yourself at home. Take a really long nap or go for a really long walk. Post a bunch of amazing selfies on Instagram. Do whatever makes you happy on Valentine’s Day.

As for me, I think I’ll start off the holiday with shopping – probably at Sephora – and then celebrate with some friends and drinks.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not saying romance on Valentine’s Day would be unwelcome (if I have any secret admirers, now would be the time to make yourselves known). And if you’re spending your Saturday with a significant other, good for you.

But let’s all remember that you don’t need a Valentine for validation. Besides, you can’t love anyone else until you love yourself, right? So let’s get started.

Let Feb. 14 pass you by unnoticed

Robin Jones Kerr, a senior majoring in journalism, is The Hatchet’s opinions editor.

There’s a big event on the horizon – a national holiday that will upend our weekends and for which everyone is making plans.

That’s right – it’s President’s Day, you guys!

OK, sorry for the lip. But in all honesty, that’s how I’ve been referring to this upcoming weekend. I haven’t mentioned its other association: Valentine’s Day.

Now that’s not because I’m a fire-breathing feminist (I am). It’s not because I’m dateless this Valentine’s Day (I am). And it’s not even because I’m single while my two closest friends are in relationships (also true).

I have no ill will toward V-Day – in fact, I don’t feel anything about it at all. I think that’s a sentiment worth expressing this time of year, when the pressure to have an opinion – any opinion – about the holiday is so immense.

(Oh, and rest assured: I realize the irony of writing about this for the opinions section, but sometimes the most refreshing take is to not have a take at all.)

Single folks seemingly have just two options: wallow alone in self-pity and ice cream, or get together with their similarly single compatriots and burn the paraphernalia of their exes in a trashcan like the ladies of “Friends” did that one time. Couples are supposed to go all out: don new outfits, buy gifts for each other and drop a serious chunk of change on a fancy dinner.

But we should remember that those are just tropes, and none of us are under any obligation to do anything – go out or stay home – or feel a certain way – angry, corny or sad.

One of my good friends here at GW has been with the same guy for almost six years. In fact, about a year ago, they got engaged. They’re one of the most serious couples I know – and you know what they’re doing on the 14th?

They’ll probably head to Barnes and Noble, she told me, and then grab some frozen yogurt before they head home to bake cookies and probably watch a movie. She knows the two of them will have more fun with a low-key celebration, so they’re not buckling under the pressure to go all out.

And most importantly – they’ll be doing what they love. If you insist on acknowledging the holiday at all, that’s the route to take. If you’re in a relationship and the two of you love to treat yourselves, power to you. If you’re single and want to pamper yourself, great. But if, like me, you don’t have any real feelings toward the day at all, that’s alright too.

As for me? I’m heading home for President’s Day weekend to spend time with my mom. We’ve tentatively planned to hit up an art exhibit, but other than that, our schedule is about the same as any other weekend I go home: We’ll sleep in, eat well and marathon-watch episodes of “Mad Men” we’ve already seen dozens of times.

That’s what we love to do – any day of the year.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Hatchet File Photo by Desiree Halpern | Contributing Photo Editor

Hatchet File Photo by Desiree Halpern | Contributing Photo Editor

Dan Grover, a junior majoring in English, is a Hatchet columnist.

Tons of GW students choose to go abroad every semester, and many have the time of their lives. With info sessions for the Focus on Fall Abroad Community coming up, and talk of next year’s travels flowing like GW Deli coffee, it’s time to think not of what will happen once everyone goes abroad, but rather what comes after.

I loved my experience abroad last semester, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. When people ask me if it’s weird being back, I have to say no – but it is a little annoying.

It’s annoying that I live “far away.”

Of course, I don’t actually mean that. But unfortunately, 1959 E Street, now the home of FOFAC, has a reputation among GW students for being the most distant residence hall. It isn’t necessarily true. E Street is certainly no farther from the center of campus than Mitchell Hall, or – in the reverse direction – City Hall, but the reputation sticks.

Which led me wonder: If the goal of FOFAC is to reintegrate students into the GW lifestyle post-study abroad, why are they housed at such a removed distance?

University spokesman Kurtis Hiatt told me the shift in housing was a result of the closing of the three residence halls that are being built into District House. Amsterdam Hall, as a result, has had to house more sophomores, and since E Street is only open to juniors and seniors, it makes sense to house FOFAC there – a community made up almost entirely of upperclassmen.

To which I said aloud, “Oh, duh.”

The logic behind the move makes a ton of sense, and I applaud the University’s aplomb at handling the housing crunch as it has. And I should be fair to FOFAC: The program isn’t mandatory, and I could have chosen to live in any on-campus residence hall – or even off campus, if I so desired.

I don’t hate living in E Street. I enjoy discussing experiences abroad with other FOFAC students, and I’ll happily keep my rooftop balcony even if I sometimes have to convince my friends that I don’t, in fact, live in Southwest D.C. Plus, E Street has some wonderful amenities (holla, free laundry).

But being removed from everyone I knew before I went abroad has been tough, and not having an available answer to the question, “Why is FOFAC in E Street, of all places?” has been just as frustrating.

Turns out, all I had to do was ask.

Now that we know, I implore my fellow students to stop whining. Sometimes University decisions make perfect sense. And do trek down to E Street to visit your formerly abroad friends every once in a while.

Potential headaches are nipped in the bud if we communicate with one another for the good of constructing what will be a beautiful new hall in the center of campus – and besides, for the truly lazy, 4-RIDE is available.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Melissa Holzberg, a freshman majoring in political communication, is a Hatchet opinions writer.

I was standing in a clearing on a mountain. The sun was just about to set, and I was about 20 minutes away from Charlottesville, Va. It was absolutely freezing and I hadn’t thought to wear a coat. In front of me stood a boy, a boy I really liked.

No, this isn’t the story of how my high school sweetheart asked me to prom or how my high school boyfriend asked me to stay with him during college. This was Nov. 15, 2014. We were 20 minutes away from the University of Virginia where this boy is a second-year student.

We didn’t date in high school, though we first met through our school’s mock trial club. We hadn’t ever talked about being in a relationship when we went off to college. But here he asked me a question. He asked me to be his girlfriend, and I said yes. Four months into my freshman year of college, and I chose to be in a long-distance relationship.

I know what you’re all thinking: Why would a freshman girl choose to enter a relationship in which she couldn’t see the person every day? Moreover, why would a girl want to commit to someone when she could have a social life here at GW involving boys?

I would be lying if I said the “what ifs” never crossed my mind. Being in a relationship itself can be a difficult task when, at 19 and 20 years old, we seem to be wired to put ourselves first and others second. Committing to just one other person is a lot of work, especially when you’ve committed to someone who can’t provide instant gratification.

While I’ve been told the negatives of being in a long-distance relationship by nearly everyone I have met – yes, thank you for reminding me of how much “it must suck” – I firmly believe that my decision was the right one for my boyfriend and me. With spring rush and Valentine’s Day right around the corner, more and more people have decided that they should inform me of just how hard my situation is.

Fraternity rush inevitably means open parties and a slew of new mixers to introduce new members of the Greek community to one another. Like so many other people on campus, I’m excited.

It’s enjoyable, if nothing else, to walk by fraternities’ open nights and see rushees trying to impress the brothers. And people who don’t enjoy a little eye candy on final hours – the final night of rush – are not making the most of their time.

But that doesn’t diminish my relationship status. Recently my boyfriend went through his own fraternity rush at UVA and let me tell you: It was the worst two weeks that we have experienced as not only a couple, but also as friends.

Anyone in a long-distance relationship or who even has a long-distance friendship can understand how hard it is to not be able to talk to the person whenever you want. Add in some parties, mixers and a tinge of jealousy, and you’ll understand why his pledge process will be difficult for me.

But this is my choice. College is a time to experience new things and see where your life could possibly go. For me, that doesn’t involve dating at GW.

My college experience includes a vacation every couple of weeks, when my boyfriend and I see each other and show each other off at our respective schools. My experience includes learning how to fight fair from more than 100 miles away, and dealing with rough patches that we can’t fix immediately because one of us has class or dinner plans that require him or me to be away from the phone.

Relationships are difficult, but they are also extremely rewarding if both people want to make it work. On Valentine’s Day, I’ll get to celebrate with my boyfriend. We’ll order in Chinese food and catch up on each other’s lives.

Couples on campus will have their plans, anti-Valentine’s Day parties will occur (and I’ll be a tad jealous that I won’t be partaking because they are a blast) and then Feb. 15 will come. My boyfriend will go back to his school, and we’ll pop our little bubble and re-enter the world.

That bubble makes it worth it to me. Long-distance relationships aren’t for everyone, and even relationships aren’t for everyone. But far be it for 114 miles to stop me from being with the person I love.

  • Permalink
  • Comments