Monday, March 31, 2008

Sex on College Campuses - Fact or Myth?

Recently, the New York Times Magazine published a cover story about abstinence groups on college campuses, notably Harvard.  

The article, titled "Students of Virginity", laid out the story of Janie Fredell, a student at Harvard.  She grew up in the midwest, surrounded by abstinence-only culture:

There was a time when not having sex consumed a very small part of Janie Fredell’s life, but that, of course, was back in Colorado Springs. It seemed to Fredell that almost no one had sex in Colorado Springs. Her hometown was extremely conservative, and as a good Catholic girl, she was annoyed by all the fundamentalist Christians who would get in her face and demand, as she put it to me recently, “You have to think all of these things that we think.” They seemed not to know that she thought many of those things already. At her public high school, everyone, “literally everyone,” wore chastity rings, Fredell recalled, but she thought the practice ridiculous. Why was it necessary, she wondered, to signify you’re not doing something that nobody is doing?
But, as the article goes on to describe in great detail, she then went to Harvard, and found herself surrounded by sex. She went to Harvard because it's a good school and has a lot of name recognition, even though "people back home called it 'godless, liberal Harvard''.  To make a (very long) article short, it then goes into detail explaining the origins and goals of a number of campus abstinence groups, including the Anscombe Society at Princeton and True Love Revolution at Harvard

This article piqued my interest because it shows that the abstinence only education that many conservatives are pushing on high school students is clearly now infiltrating college campuses, and it begs the question: Should you wait?
Having graduated from the Catholic University of America, I know every reason and argument for abstinence: sex should be used only in the context of marriage, virginity is laudable, premarital sex causes divorce.  But the founders of these groups are going much farther.
According to the New York Times article, Janie Fredell believes that sex will cause people to be bound by hormones forever:
She began talking about oxytocin, the hormone released at birth, in breast-feeding and also during sex. True Love Revolution gives it the utmost significance, claiming on its Web site that the hormone’s “powerful bonding” effect can be “a cause of joy and marital harmony” but that outside of marriage it can create “serious problems.” Released arbitrarily, it can blur “the distinction between infatuation and lasting love,” the Web site cautions, making rational mating decisions difficult. Fredell said oxytocin could also bond people who didn’t necessarily want to be bound, and “you can bond yourself to the wrong guy in the wrong situation.”
In addition, Justin Murray, the co-founder of True Love Revolution, believes:
“We found a huge body of scholarship that suggested conclusions that nobody on our campus was making,” he says. They posted the conclusions on their Web site — the belief that “ ‘safe sex’ is not safe”; that even the most effective methods of birth control can fail; that early sexual activity is strongly associated with all manner of terrible outcomes, from increased risk of depression to greater likelihood of marital infidelity, divorce and maternal poverty. Premarital abstinence, on the other hand, is held up by True Love Revolution as improving health, promoting better relationships and, best of all, enabling “better sex in your future marriage.”
But these arguements are exactly the arguements that have proven factually false in the abstinence only debate.  And these abstinence groups starting on college campuses are showing that the inaccurate abstinence only sex education President Bush has forced on high schools is now permeating into colleges, where young men and women are far more likely to be sexually active.
Luckily for GW students, the University has a liberal policy os sex education and birth control.  The University Health Services offers contraceptive counseling and the University Counseling Center offer information on sexual communication, men's and women's sexual problems. But if abstinence-only thinking can be popular at liberal schools like Harvard and Princeton, then how long until GW may be affected?  
That answer depends on the students, and how their actions shape the University Community.  

EXCITING FOR SMPA STUDENTS!! .....*NEW MUSEUM "NEWSEUM"!!!


Some of you may have already heard (or all, I don't know), but for those who haven't this may be exciting. There is a new museum opening up in Washington, D.C. called Newseum. It is an interactive museum of news and journalism. The original Newseum was in Rosslyn, Virginia which apparently attracted "more than 2.2 million visitors in 5 years" says Wikipedia. It has moved across the Potomac to expand and be an even greater success.

There mission statement is:

"To help the public and the new media undestand one another better."

Their design team, when building the new museum, had three goals:

1.To design a building that would be an architectural icon, easily recognized and remembered by visitors from around the world. 2.To create a museum space three times as large as the original, with the capacity for more than two million visitors a year. and 3.To celebrate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution — in particular, its freedom of the press and free speech protections.

The Newseum allows its visitors to do many hands-on activities such as being able to play the role of a reporter has newsbreaks, explore the terrors of 9/11 through the news, and see award-winning Images and Photographers who took them. For advanced ticketing, click here.

Because Sometimes You Gotta Laugh

GWBlogspot was featured in the April Fools' day edition of The Hatchet:



Apparently we were beaten the first round by logic. But then logic lost to swastikas, and swastikas lost to EBK, and--let's be honest--who could hope to beat EBK?

Just thought I'd point that out to everyone.

Speaking Truth To Power

There’s a controversy brewing over the choice of Julian Bond, the head of the NAACP, as this year’s commencement speaker. Mike talked about this, and I figured I'd add my thoughts to the fray as well.

After the University made the announcement, the College Republicans came out swinging, complaining that Bond had insulted their party, accusing them of exploiting racial bigotry for political gain. In a Letter to the Editor published in Monday’s Hatchet, they play some creative games with history, trying to inoculate themselves against charges of racism by pointing out that some Democrats opposed racial integration and civil rights laws decades ago.

While the charge is technically true, it’s also misleading. In the 1960’s and ‘70’s, there was a part of the Democratic Party—mostly white, conservative, southern, pro-segregation—who didn’t support civil rights reforms. I use the past tense, though, because those bigoted conservatives o longer Democrats—long ago they became Republicans, which is just what the GOP hoped for.

After the civil rights movement knocked down racial walls and ended segregation, the GOP saw an opportunity to win over racist anti-segregation southerners by appealing to their bigotry. Beginning with Richard Nixon and continuing until today, the GOP’s plan to win those voters over—known as the ‘Southern Strategy’—was a complete success. It’s why the solidly-Democratic south became the solidly-Republican south, and it has been a key to GOP electoral victories for decades.

Now, a lot of Republicans used to pretend the Southern Strategy didn’t exist, but that became hard to do after Ken Mehlman, the then-head of the RNC, came out and apologized for the Southern Strategy. Of course, he didn’t have GOP Senators and Congressman who benefited from the Southern Strategy resign, nor did that stop the National Republican Senatorial Committee from running an undeniably racist campaign against African-American Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. in 2006.

Nor has Mehlman’s apology stopped the Sothern Strategy fro being used by the right wing. Take this example: the right-wing loves to refer to Sen. Barack Obama by his full name—Barack Hussein Obama, because they’re trying to scare voters by implying some nonexistant connection to Islam. Confront them on it and you’ll get feigned confusion—“It’s not racism, we’re just using his middle name. What’s wrong with using his middle name?” Well, when’s the last time we heard about John Sidney McCain III? Or Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton? Or Willard Mitt Romney? Or Michael Dale Huckabee? This line of attack only works because Obama’s an African-American; if he were a white guy with a funny name, this particular smear would have be impossible to pull off.

And don’t even get me started on the immigration debate, where right-wing opinion leaders regularly transgress (and then some) into undeniably racist territory.

Like this:

See, we don't live in Africa where people settle arguments with machetes. We live in a country where we settle it with arguments… There's multiculturalism for you. There's immigration for you. There's the new America for you. Bring them in by the millions. Bring in 10 million more from Africa. Bring them in with AIDS. Show how multicultural you are. They can't reason, but bring them in with a machete in their head.

And this:

In discussing recent riots in Paris suburbs with guest Steve Emerson, Glenn Beck likened the rioting there to the purported situation in the American Southwest, where "[y]ou've got people coming here that have no intention of being Americans. They say, you know, 'Hey, this is our land. We deserve it back.'"

And this:

On Hannity & Colmes, Buchanan asserted: "[t]he American majority is not reproducing itself. ... Forty-five million of its young have been destroyed in the womb since Roe v. Wade, as Asian, African, and Latin American children come to inherit the estate…[y]ou've got a wholesale invasion, the greatest invasion in human history, coming across your southern border, changing the composition and character of your country….”

And these guys aren’t fringe elements of the right wing—Michael Savage is the third highest-ranking radio personality in the country, with an audience of over 10 million listeners. Glenn Beck has a primetime television show on CNN Headline News. Pat Buchanan ran for the GOP Presidential nomination in 1992 and 1996, and was an advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan.

Getting back to the initial point of this post, nobody—Julian Bond included—is saying that every Republican is some kind of bigoted Nazi. To say or imply so is to take his words completely out of context. But at the core of his over-the-top, sensationalistic rhetoric lies a small, hard kernel of truth—that the Republican Party has, does, and will continue to benefit from old-fashioned racial bigotry. If the GOP doesn’t like this, perhaps they should aim their criticism toward the racist elements in their own party instead of shooting the messenger.

The fact that Bond is loudly and unapologetically willing to point out this inconvenient truth is what angers the Republicans the most, and it’s exactly why he’ll make an excellent commencement speaker. Who better to teach us about the real world than a man unafraid to speak the truth, even if it happens to offend some of the audience he’s speaking to?

CALL TO ACTION: Sign the petition in support of Bond's selection, and then make sure you get your friends to sign as well.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

College Republicans and Commencement

The Universities' decision to invite Julian Bond, the leader of the NAACP, to deliver the Commencement Address has sparked much controversy among campus conservatives. On Thursday, leaders of the College Republicans wrote an Op-Ed in The Hatchet stating, "Bond, the chairman of the NAACP, is not just a critic of the Republican Party - he spews hatred toward our party in a perverse and stereotypical way. It is unfortunate that a University with such wide global reach would turn to a man whose intolerance reportedly led him to compare the Republican Party to both the Nazis and the Taliban, and whose narrow-mindedness led him to claim that we only appeal to the 'dark underside of American culture, to the minority of Americans who reject democracy and equality.'"


The College Republicans, silent when leaders of their party make mean-spirited and divisive attacks against other patriotic Americans, have chosen this moment to locate their righteous indignation and have chosen to use it to attack GW for inviting a true American leader to speak at Commencement.

For many years, the Republican Party has employed a strategy which seeks to exploit our nation's racial history. Note that I am not accusing Republicans of being racists; instead I am arguing that they use race as a wedge issue, similar to gay marriage or a woman's right to chose.
Does the phrase "Southern Strategy" ring any bells? In the late sixties President Nixon and his strategist Kevin Phillips developed a strategy for Republican victories based on using racial tensions to their advantage. So instead of attacking Mr. Bond, my friends in the CR's should check their history books on their parties' shameful use of race.

The CR's claim that theirs is the Party of Lincoln. I doubt that the man who emancipated the slaves would feel comfortable in their party today. Republicans continue to use race as means to divide. For example, with the prospect of the first African American nominee for President, the RNC recently commissioned a poll to determine how far it could go in attacking a black or a female candidate. This shameful strategy shows how little the "Reactionary Party" has progressed these past 40 years.

The hypocrisy of my Republican friends is a bit ridiculous. We should welcome Mr. Bond to campus and hear what message he has for us. I for one am excited to see what he has to say.

If you are as taken aback by the words of the CR's as I was, I would encourage you to say so in The Hatchet. Letters to the Editor can be submitted to letters@gwhathcet.com.

Karl Rove: "My tail and horns are retractable."

I'm not sure if David actually got a chance to watch Karl Rove speak since he was busy capturing some excellent footage of CodePink outside, but I caught most of the speech on CSPAN.

There were really two highlights to the event. First, four students took Alex's advice and brought in a HUGE sign reading "WAR CRIMINAL" (seriously, how did you guys sneak that in?). Next, someone actually asked Karl Rove why people think he's a "fundamentally bad human being." To which, Rove replied:
"First of all, the tail and the horns are retractable...Look: I'm a myth! I mean, I'm like Grendel of Beowulf; I'm not often seen but people talk about me a lot. I don't know."
Thanks to Think Progress for the video.



Some things went unreported, however:
  • Kyle Bowyer, SA VP-elect was there.
  • I'm fairly sure someone yelled "Fuck you Karl Rove!", but everyone around me was laughing so I couldn't hear the response, but Mr. Rove said something quasi-witty because his "followers" laughed at his retort (can anyone confirm this?).
  • He outright said that Bush didn't mislead Americans about the war
  • He said that since Billary and Ted Kennedy said at some point Saddam was dangerous, it's a lie for Obama to say the war was a bad idea.
  • The first half was about how bad Clinton vs. Obama is for Democrats and that they'll lose in November because of it.
  • He tried to call out Barack on not being a professor at U. of Chicago, which is dumb, because the school published this press release stating he, in fact, was. People there bought it.
  • The party I was at lost interest during the Q&A section so I didn't hear this first hand, but later a friend told me a student asked Rove if he still thought John McCain had an illegitimate black child in South Carolina to which Rove said "That wasn't me." (here's a Boston Globe article that reports otherwise).
  • I realized that only at GW would students spend a Friday night caring about Karl Rove in any way, shape, or form.
I really encourage people to make this video a posted item on Facebook to share with your friends at GW and other schools. Let's see if we can get it to 5,000 views!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Code Pink @ 1957 E St (updated)


As has been covered extensively on this blog (including a call to protest), Karl Rove visited GW on Friday at the invitation of GW's Yong America chapter. Students were poised to protest but apparently ended up having better things to do Friday evening (or choose to do so inside). Code Pink on the other hand was there and made quite a ruckus outside 1957 E St., where the event was held. Here are two videos I took:



Also had a strange run in with "Karl"... I stopped filming when he stood 4 feet away and just stared at me...



There were over a dozen UPD and MPD officers outside to keep an eye on the protesters. It appears GW students have become accustom to such events and take it in stride. Note the student in the bottom left of this picture just sitting and reading a newspaper -- sitting between the cops and Code Pink that is.

UPDATED: Fixed typos, added clarification about lack of protesters outside.

Tired of Amtrak stealing your money???


I had a hard week last week, and on Thursday night I decided I wanted to get out of DC for the weekend and go home to southeast PA. No problem, except that by the time I get back to DC Sunday night I'll have spent $130+ on transportation.

Amtrak is easy and fast, but not cheap. Every GW student who lives up the I-95 corrider knows this. It is also well known that a variety of 'China town' busses can get you to Philly and NYC for cheap, but at the mercy of beltway-megalopolis traffic.

Thankfully, consumerist.com (originally saw it at wonkette) recently highlighted an alternative: BoltBus. While it doesn't solve the traffic problem, it does solve the problem associated with sitting on a bus for four hours: boredom. And how does it do this? FREE WIFI!!!

Taking the bus instead of the train would make my commute a bit longer and a little less convenient, but with Wifi at least I could spend my time aimlessly surfing the web (or doing my blog posts on time, instead of waiting until I have my 3-month-old nephew throwing up on my shoulder).

And did I mention you can get a ticket for a dollar? And win an iPhone?

Turning Intellectual Discourse into Action?

So as college students, we're supposed to be sitting on the grass with a hookah pondering political philosophers. Things are a bit different at GW: the hookahs may look too sketchy for the security clearance half the people expect they will need, and the 20 hour internships seriously cut into the grass laying time.

But occasionally, we do need some intellectual discourse.

This weekend, the bi-annual honors program symposium discussed "Our Undemocratic Constitution," based on the book by Sanford Levinson, one of the leading scholars in constitutional law. The question Levinson posed both in his book and to symposium participants was whether it is time to hold a new Constitutional Convention and ultimately adopt a new Constitution. A more detailed summary of the book can be found on Levinson's blog, but in short, Levinson believes that parts of the Constitution need to be reexamined, especially presidential veto power, life tenure of the Supreme Court justices, the elapsed time between Election Day and Inauguration Day, the equal distribution of votes in the Senate, and most importantly, the Electoral College. Since the amendment process in the Constitution makes it almost impossible to fix these structural problems, perhaps it is time for a new one. In its own words,
Our Undemocratic Constitution boldly challenges the American people to undertake a long overdue public discussion on how they might best reform this most hallowed document and construct a constitution adequate to our democratic values.
We debated the ideas, but ultimately, this is not a school where students have patience for the theoretical. We decided that it's useless to talk about a Constitutional Convention. However, we were convinced that the Constitution is broken, and we wanted to hear how to fix it.

We got some encouragement on one specific issue from another panelist, Jamin Raskin, who is a Maryland State Senator. People are getting frustrated with the Electoral College, so some states are trying to make the system irrelevant from the state level. Maryland is currently working on an amendment to its own Constitution that would give its electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote. NJ and IL have already passed similar measures.

Lesson of the day: don't rule out state level politics for a course of action even on federal issues. If you're from Maryland, contact your local representatives and let them know what you think of this change in vote distribution. If youre not from Maryland, look up your own state representatives and perhaps show support for similar measures.

Ultimately, everyone complains that it is up to the public to demand action, but the public is apathetic. Well, we're here getting the ideas, so perhaps it is up to us to start the action.

Friday, March 28, 2008

News Judgment at the Hatchet.... SUCKS


So after all our posts about a lack of substantive journalism, The Hatchet has decided to change it's lazy reporting habits and dig deeper to find out what's really happening on campus. Right? Think again. In yet another bland issue, this week's Hatchet reports that the former site of DJ's Fastbreak is under construction:

"... construction is moving ahead despite the absence of definite plans for the student space, which will be on the first floor of the building..."
Whoopdy-freakin-do. A building on campus is under construction.

How can you write an entire story about space that's under construction and not delve into what's going to be built there?!?! Rather than ask the important questions and pressure administrative officials to take action to procure student input on an important use of our tuition dollars, The Hatchet has decided that the mere fact the building is under construction is “newsworthy.”

News judgment at The Hatchet sucks. To let them know you won't read until they start doing serious journalism with meaningful news angles, email Editor-in-chief Jake Sherman at jsherman@gwhatchet.com.

Did You Really Expect "The Beast That Ate Foggy Bottom" To Do Anything Else (Requesite "CVS Is Good" Post (FAIR N BALANCED!))

Sorry Andrew and James but this CVS thing is totally reasonable. I hear you, there could be a better use of the space. Give me a used book store, a cool record shop, a venue to keep good local artists out of the Galaxy Hut and in the actual district.

Should GW have asked for student input? Yes, absolutely. This thing was mismanaged from the beginning and the result is a store that none of us want or, really, even need. Here is what you're overlooking though. It's going to be profitable. And maybe that is enough.

GW is always be looking for money, not necessarily due to greed but because this little quasi-state is an expensive place to run an institution. Could they have taken a shot with this place and given us a nice little cafe? Yeah they could have and I would have been psyched. But profits from a swanky cafe don't exactly pay for new buildings. They had a chance to create an actual "college hangout" (think Chubby's from Boy Meets World) and instead went with a business, but they didn't do it because they hate fun. This university is and always has been profit driven. When you need money could there be a better source than a proven profit center like CVS?

I'm at the point where I could not care less about the ambiance of the area, I am much more focused on where the school is going. Really, if you're looking for something fun to do hit the Red or Green Line. Stop anywhere and you can find a cool bar, venue, or falafel shop. Foggy Bottom isn't cool and never will be. Throwing in one bar that is going to get overrun with mixers will not change that. So you'll never use the CVS, me either, it will still have a hand in funding the University. The money collected from CVS may end up being more useful to the students than anything else that could have been put in that space. It's just going to be a lot less fun.

Still looking for a way to subvert the education-profit complex (or just love deals?) scope I heart CVS for their index of coupons (special thanks to the new anti-CVS facebook group.) Paying only $4.99 for Centrum? That will show 'em.

Aswani on the Tower Records CVS Plan: "I do support seeing a CVS there"

As part of The Hatchet's coverage of the decision to make the old Tower Records space into Foggy Bottom's tenth CVS, newly-elected SA President Vishal Aswani, when asked about his thoughts on the matter, told the paper:

"I do support seeing a CVS there just because as a GWorld vendor - as a partner in the GWorld program - it's just a significant opportunity for students to use their Colonial Cash there at a resource that is kind of multi-purpose," Aswani said.

He added that this CVS would be more convenient than other locations in the area because of its proximity to GW's non-undergraduate population, including law school students and the Marvin Center staff.

"What's going to be a great thing about having that CVS there, because it's a GWorld partner, it will help educate the graduate school population on the advantages of using GWorld," Aswani said.

While I recognize that Aswani represents all students, including law school students, and while I think he is right for praising the GWorld-friendliness of the new store, he fails to address the following:

A) There are two GWorld-accepting CVSs within three blocks of the law school - at 1901 Pennsylvania Avenue, and at 1900 K St.

As a visual, here are directions from the Law School (2000 H St. NW) to those CVSs:


View Larger Map



View Larger Map

B) The CVS aside, Aswani makes no mention of the fact that GW administrators bascially dismissed GW students in their comments on the matter:

"Will we actively seek input from the student body? No. Are there mechanisms for student input? Yes." [University Spokesperson Tracy] Schario said." ("CVS may occupy vacant space in Shops at 2000 Penn," The Hatchet, January 28, 2008)

"University spokesperson Tracy Schario said Monday that the CVS would benefit both the campus and the businesses housed in 2000 Penn.

'I think you have to look at the context of that particular space,' Schario said. 'It's in an office building, and while it's in a GW-owned building and in a campus environment, it's a heavy mix of business customers first and students second.'" ("CVS to open in 2000 Penn.," The Hatchet, March 27, 2008)

While it may be too late to do anything about this issue, I am hopeful that in the future Aswani will recognize that in some cases, standing up for students means standing up to administrators.

In the meantime, all those opposed to the construction of another CVS in Foggy Bottom can join the "We Don't Need Another CVS!!!" Facebook group.


"The Terminal" Situation Launches Financial Concerns

Replace the airport with a library and Tom Hanks with sophomore Marco Chomut and GW has a story that rivals "The Terminal" plot right on campus.

My friends and I were shocked to read in this week's Hatchet about a student who actually had to resort to living in the library for the past month due to what began as a small bureaucratic complication. According to the Hatchet:
Chomut's troubles began during his first semester as a freshman, when a registration hold was placed on his student account because his records did not verify a mandatory vaccination, he said. After the paperwork cleared, he registered for classes in February 2007 for the spring 2007 semester, Chomut said.
While even Chomut admits that he probably could have done more initially to avoid the situation, this is not the first I've heard about a bureaucratic complication blocking student registration and snowballing into academic/financial disaster.

I understand GW's operational costs are huge and require student funding. Also, that it's difficult to compel students to do anything, much less something costly like paying a multi-thousand dollar tuition bill. However, I doubt that even one student has ever just completely disregarded paying their tuition forever. And, if that's the case, GW's academically-handicapping registration hold policy is too harsh and unnecessary.

Sometimes students need a couple extra weeks to iron-out financial, among other, details. GW is not a tax-collection agency; it's an educational institution. If student's failing to pay tuition is not a rampant problem on campus, then GW is responding inappropriately.

I propose that GW institute a one-time grace period for students who have failed to comply with financial, or some other paperwork obligation, by registration time. With this policy, students who do not have a history of irresponsibility would still be able to register for classes and have a certain window of time to fulfill their obligations to the University. If, after that time, the student fails to fulfill his obligations, then GW has the right to automatically drop that student from his courses.

While the risk of GW not getting its money is minimal, with a registration hold, a student losing out on necessary classes is almost guaranteed.

Email the Office of the Registrar at regweb@gwu.edu to suggest this, or another, registration hold policy.

Come back to GWBlogspot for updates on this issue.

Not at GW, but close enough


Also see Chels: Protecting Mama

So Hillary has been at GW twice in a month. On Wednesday evening, Chelsea Clinton and Hillary Clinton were technically off-campus at the DAR Constitution Hall (two blocks away from GW). I got a flyer on campus a few hours before and decided to go. I went alone because none of my friends support or even respect Senator Clinton. It’s unfortunate that I have to hide my support of a candidate who I feel represents me and fights for the issues I care about on the most politically active campus in the country.

Behind Hillary on stage, were several GW students; most from the GW college democrats.
“I like to think I’m my mother’s most enthusiastic supporter, but there might be a few rivals in the crowd tonight.”
I felt moved watching Chelsea Clinton speak so admirably about her mother. I knew Chelsea was smart but she showed by the way she articulated herself and held the crowd, how much she has matured over the last decade.

Do you think that Chelsea has been an effective campaign tool or do you think she really is being “pimped?”

I don’t know if it’s just me but I want Hillary back again. Contact President Knapp (202) 994-6500 and sknapp@gwu.edu, or the College Democrats democrat@gwu.edu to request Hillary as a future guest. Or even commencement speaker.

Two Things I Find Hilarious

This is a really short blog because I just read the Hatchet and it made me happy.

Number one, after James' post on the CVS it was nice to see that the Hatchet made it a front page story when the news finally came out that it would be in fact a CVS. Good work James on doing some reporting for the Hatchet involuntarily.

Second, I was reading about the article on the new editor Eric Roper and the FIRST sentence states,
Conducting a readership survey is one of the first goals Eric Roper hopes to accomplish when he takes over as The Hatchet's editor in chief in May.
HMMMMM??? Do you think maybe this blog is putting a bit of pressure on those at the Hatchet to actually talk to students??? WHAT? Asking students their opinion...that's just crazy! Thank You to the Hatchet for following GW BlogSpots lead in being more responsive to the STUDENT!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Our worst fears realized: CVS No. 10 is on it's way

As first reported by James back in January, as one of the options for filling the empty Tower Records space, GW was considering leasing the building to CVS, making the spot the tenth CVS within walking distance of the GW campus.

Yesterday, word came from The Hatchet's blog that CVS had signed the lease and would be moving into the spot. A story on the deal is expected to run in tomorrow's Hatchet.

Since it was apparent that the school's administration sought no student imput on putting up another CVS, and since many people I spoke with were and still are opposed to the idea (with many more to surely follow once this story hits The Hatchet tomorrow), I propose the following calls to action to counter the "red menace":


2) Write a letter to the editor of The Hatchet and express your displeasure with not only the CVS, but with the GW administrators failure to take student input into account.

3) If and when it opens, boycott the CVS!!!

Viewing the "Homestretch" In a New Light

Note: This entry is as much an expression of opinion as it is a personal catharsis.

Every time I get one of his letters, I wonder how many freshmen actually heed Dean Siegel's words. Admittedly, I do my best to ignore the emails about the Freshmen Feasts (never finding them *that* appealing to warrant going) and the invitations to all of the events that he promotes (I have gone to one, but it included a former professor of mine with whom I had a very good working relationship). It is a bad habit, since he does some absolutely great work for the Class of 2011 that should not be neglected.

But I really do hope that freshmen don't ignore his latest letter, which speaks to the issue of mustering the ability to just push through the final six weeks of the spring semester:
You have six full weeks to live up to your own goals and you have to work against all the 'spring seductions' that Washington, DC will present. Yes, it will be 75 degrees one day soon and more than your books will beckon.
And it's true. The post-vacation blues are usually easy to get over, but knowing that I will be home in six weeks makes it extremely difficult. I suppose that going home in 4 weeks for the weekend only to return for the last two is a flatly stupid decision, but I think we all need moderation especially in these closing weeks.

So I approach Siegel's letter with some mixed emotions: he is absolutely right and people should not simply succumb to pressure and falter in the very end. But it is a hard request to make, and I definitely do think that it would be possible to succeed academically but also enjoy DC's "spring seductions" (although I suppose I will be doing that in the great, wonderfully chemical state of New Jersey).

But seriously, the Cherry Blossom Festival is irresistible, so why pass it up? The main point is, as students we should not have to force ourselves into a false dilemma. Succeeding academically and enjoying life in the District, while it may be a little bit harder towards the end of the semester, do not have to be opposing goals.

I recognize that is a different type of call to action (but it does deal with behavior). It is simply that as students we should slow it down, scale back our nerves and take advantage of our last opportunities to enjoy the capital city while still pulling through our finals. Siegel also mentioned Fall 2008 registration, which will begin in April as another reason not to become complacent in the warm weather. But that still feeds into the idea of the false dilemma.

We can calmly choose our classes and complete our assignments, breathe in the air, visit the cherry blossoms in the same time period. There is no need to go berserk and forget about the nicer things in life, especially in a city that usually smacks of scandal.

Monday, March 24, 2008

An Ode to My Cleaning Lady!


I am going to be perfectly honest: right now, I am sitting in my room perfectly content and in a great state of mind. I didn't have any recent news about GW, since I just got back from Spring Break. I can't complain about anything because: 1. Jst recently brought in Fuze...so that will shut me up for a few day 2. I just got back from Paris and 3. the weather isn't terrible cold. So, I just looked around my room being all clean and everything and thought I should take a moment to put the spotlight on Beverly (aka Bev aka my girl).

Bev is a dear friend of room 720 in Thurston Hall. She is a hero. Not only can she turn a disgusting room to a immaculate one, but she is also a great person for advice. I'll never forget the day she told me to stay in school. This is some great advice. I was in the midst of midterms and I was ready to up and leave! Whether you are in a good mood or bad, she is always there to make you laugh. When she comes in the room with her friend, the two of them are a hilarious pair.

I live for the day Bev comes through that door. I think everyone should appreciate the cleaning lady as much as I do. What are you going to do next year (for those freshies) without her? Too many people I speak to are so unappreciative of their lady. They clean your room and never ask for things in return! It is one thing GW has certainly done RIGHT!

TAKE ACTION AGAINST GW OFFICE OF STUDY ABROAD


I appreciated thoughts from both Ian and Bernadette about the cost of study abroad at GW. Both bloggers, along with the Hatchet, made worthwhile contributions important to continuing to engage students and the administration on this issue.

First, I must disclose that I agree with Ian's point about financial aid. But I would take it one step further by noting that I think the problem of over-priced study abroad once again stems from GW's outrageous sticker price.

I too, like Ian, disagree with Bernadette's point that studying abroad shouldn't be about spending money, because let's face it the world revolves around money and you can't get to the other side of the planet without it.

That said, I want students to make their voice heard and let the Offices of Financial Assistance, Student Accounts, and Study Abroad know that they 1) disagree with the study abroad policy and 2) demand a change.

By flooding their email inboxes: finaid@gwu.edu, studyabr@gwu.edu, and sao@gwu.edu, we can make a difference.

If you think GW should stop overcharging it's students, send an email to those offices and 5 friends who you think would agree.



Petition: Stand Against Puppy-Killing Soldiers

Recently, a video clip surfaced of a US soldier and his buddy throwing an innocent puppy off a cliff in what looks like Iraq. You're there to defend America and bring freedom, not needlessly kill animals!

Join over 11,000 others who have signed the petition!


US Soldier throws puppy off cliff

Tell the US Military to take action against US soldiers abusing animals in Iraq. This is not an isolated incident. Actions like these hurt America's moral standing in the world and only distract from bringing our brave men and women home from the war.

Throw the book at these guys! Sign the petition here!

Karl Rove Must Really Hate Republicans

(Seems like I'm late to the party on this one.)

GW Young America's Foundation--the class acts who brought us Ann Coulter and Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week--are bringing former Bush Administration official Karl Rove to campus.

Sometimes, I wonder if GWYAF are all just a bunch of closet liberals, discrediting conservatism by inviting some of the craziest right-wing charlatans out there.

This time they're handing the microphone over to Karl Rove, who's nothing less than the biggest political failure in Washington--remember, Rove brought George W. Bush from a 90% approval rating to a 30% approval rating in just a few short years.

Most of the political debacles of the past several years can be laid squarely at Karl Rove's feet--he was called 'Bush's brain' because nearly every political decision that came out of the White House had to go through him first. So this is the guy who brought us brilliant triumphs of conservatism like the Iraq War, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, Terri Schiavo, Social Security privatization, the response to Hurricane Katrina, Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy, $3.50-a-gallon gasoline the Patriot Act, and so many others.

This is the guy who famously predicted that--in the face of every indication, every poll, every piece of available information--the Republicans would gain Congressional seats in the 2006 midterm elections. Arguing with an NPR reporter, Rove infamously quipped
"You're entitled to your math. I'm entitled to 'the' math."
It's pretty clear--Karl Rove is the biggest failure in Washington. If I were a conservative, I wouldn't be inviting Rove to come speak at my campus--I'd want him tarred and feathered for ruining my party and my country. Thanks to Karl Rove's bungled political machinations, both the Republican Party and conservatism itself have been discredited in the eyes of the American people.

So, should we go to his speech and hold up signs? Chant? Splash fake blood around and turn our chairs the other way?

Nah. Honestly, no protest could hurt Karl Rove any more than he's hurt himself.

So, what should we do about Rove's visit? Well, we should go see him speak.

And while he speaks, we should sit there in awe before the man who almost singlehandedly destroyed the Republican Party.

Is the Economy affecting College affordability?

Unless you've been living in a cave or under a rock for the past few months, you've probably realized that we are in the midst of an economic crisis, most notably with mortgages but also with credit and the stock market.  While I am aware of the economic crisis, I haven't noticed my lifestyle change all that much in the past 6-8 months.  But, as a recent college graduate and soon to be graduate student (hopefully), my major expense is my student loans, and this made me wonder if the current economic crisis is really affecting college affordability.  I mean, gas and groceries cost more these days, but does college?  

A quick search of the New York Times website led me to an article in from March 15.  The article covered Secretary Margaret Spellings' testimony to the House Committee on Education and and Labor.  In her testimony, Secretary Spellings assure the Congress that the Department of Education would be ready to meet the demand for student loans if banks and private lenders should find themselves unable:

"Federal student aid will continue to be available,” said SecretaryMargaret Spellings, testifying before the House Committee on Education and Labor. Although a “small number” of lenders have stopped making loans in the federally guaranteed program, she continued, “other lenders have stepped in to meet student needs.”

Facing tough questions, at times, from lawmakers, Ms. Spellings said the Education Department was monitoring market conditions and collecting information from colleges to find out whether their students had been unable to borrow. She said that, if necessary, the direct-loan program, through which students borrow directly from the government, could double the amount of new loans to student borrowers.
While Ms. Spellings did assure Congress that loans would be available, the one thing the Bush administration has taught me is that I should never believe anything a Bush appointee says.  Really, I question everything the administration says or does.  So of course, I wonder how ready the Treasury Department and the Department of Education is to really handle the imminent lending crisis. 

On the positive side, however, we here at GW shouldn't have to worry too much about it.  According to a recent Kiplinger's Personal Finance study, GW is ranked among the top 50 best values in Private College.   
Regarding GW's cost, the editors write, "Financial aid for students who qualify either for need-based or merit assistance brings the cost to a much more doable $32,000." GW will provide $118 million in institutional financial assistance for undergraduates in 2008-2009.
Interestingly, the article did not note how many students pay only 32,000 a year for a school who made last year's City Paper as the most expensive university in the country. Hopefully for those students paying the full $50,630, Secretary Spellings was correct about the readiness of the government to help. 

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Why 22andF's, DC Partyline's, Highlife Entertainment's, & KNOVELTY's Emails to Me Seem Illegal

***Disclaimer: I like to have fun just as much as the next guy. I go to clubs semi-regularly and usually have a good time. That said, this post needs to be written, because I've heard too many complaints from too many people about these groups.***

When Max mentioned that endorsement email from 22andF Productions, I realized that I, too, had gotten that email. I also realized that this is the only legal email the group has ever sent to me.

According to the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, there are several requirements email marketers must meet when sending out commercial emails. The law defines a "commercial email" as:
"...any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service (including content on an Internet website operated for a commercial purpose)."
There are several other requirements, highlighted (confusingly) by the Federal Trade Commission.

Here's a rundown of the law's main provisions:
  1. It bans false or misleading header information.
  2. It prohibits deceptive subject lines.
  3. It requires that your email give recipients an opt-out method
  4. It requires that commercial email be identified as an advertisement and include the sender's valid physical postal address.
  5. It prohibits "harvesting" email addresses from Web sites or Web services that have published a notice prohibiting the transfer of email addresses for the purpose of sending email
These are the most important aspects of the law. It looks to me that 22andF and others violate, in particular, 4 and 5.

Along with 22andF, three groups I regularly receive promotional emails from are DC Partyline, Highlife Entertainment, and KNOVELTY entertainment. All of them send me illegal messages on a weekly basis. This week, here's how 22andF appears to violate the law.

22andF

On Feb. 6, I received this email from a sender named "22andF Productions" with the address 22andf@gmail.com.

To the best of my knowledge (22&F, correct me if I'm wrong), I've never signed-up to get emails from the group. I have never "opted-in," or requested that they include me on their list of people to whom they send commercial emails.

This is particularly important, because their email service provider, Ezine Director (the provider for all the groups) explicitly states in its Abuse Policy that lists must be opt-in:
"Ezine Director requires all subscriptions to be obtained through direct permission from the email address owner to the publisher/list owner. This can be accomplished through single or double opt-in process. The email address can not be a borrowed or purchased subscription/list.

Ezine Director also requires publishers to agree with the Terms and Policy, which states all subscriptions on any given list are volunteered by the recipient him/herself prior to using Ezine Director."
In fact, the only interaction I've ever had with the group is that I joined their Facebook group after a "friend" invited me. That said, the page says nothing about me also signing up for the list by joining (see screenshot).

Even IF joining their Facebook group is their "opt-in" process, that would be a violation of Facebook's privacy policy that states:
"Any improper collection or misuse of information provided on Facebook is a violation of the Facebook Terms of Service and should be reported to privacy@facebook.com."
Scraping email addresses from users' profiles in order to send spam email would CERTAINLY be considered a "misuse of information provided on Facebook."

Just to double-check, I looked at 22andF's website to see if I might have inadvertently signed up there. Given that the site has no email capture form, that's not even a possibility.

Also, if you look at the body of the email itself, there is no physical postal address for 22andF provided. While in this instance I could wager a guess it was at 22nd and F St., the fact of the matter is it still is required. Look at the screenshot to see it done correctly.

The only reason the "KK4SA" endorsement email was legal is because it's technically a political message, which doesn't have to comply with CAN-SPAM.

The penalties for violations like these come at fines of up to $11,000 each. One team of spammers were levied $1.3 million in fines each and spent 5 years in prison. You can see what's happened to people found in violation of the law here.

If you're on 22andF's or any other club promotion group's list, and are sick of their emails, there's several steps to take. Report them to Ezine Director by complaining at abuse@ezinedirector.net or forward the emails to the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov for review.

If you are from 22andF and would like to contact me directly about this post, please indicate so in the comments section. I'm sure there are lots of people on your list who genuinely appreciate your service.

In the interest of some sense of brevity, I'll hold off on analyzing the rest of the groups until next week, but DC Partyline, Highlife Entertainment, and KNOVELTY are just as guilty by sending me emails that violate the same requirements as 22andF.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Campus Safety / Complancency

The Hatchet is reporting a 7% murder rate jump in the District last year after the figure hit a 21 year low in 2006 (with only 169 killings... keep in mind the District is a tiny 68.3 square miles).

However, despite this rise in murders, the GW area has remained largely safe and crimes tend to be of a non-violent nature.

None of these killings occurred in the city's Second District - an area of the city which encompasses Foggy Bottom - though the number of assaults with a deadly weapon has increased in the area, peaking in September with a high of 16, according to MPD data.

"The Second District has continued to have a very low rate of homicides. The prevalent crime problem in the Second District has continued to be property crime, burglaries and thefts," said Dolores Stafford, chief of the University Police Department, in an e-mail.

The Washington Post keeps an interactive crime tracker that overlays crime reports on a map of DC. It is amazing to see the difference between campus and most all other areas of town (though do keep in mind UPD statistics are not included in this... only MPD).

So, while its reassuring to know that campus has remained relatively safe, I feel many students has become complacent and allow themselves to be put in situations that are unnecessarily risky.

Remember the basics you learned as freshmen like staying to groups at night and take simple steps that could make a big difference like putting UPD's phone number in your cell -- I didn't realize we were supposed to call them first until just the other day after this incident became big news on campus and the administration sent an email around with the number. Its (202) 994-6111 fyi...

Website Problems for The School of Media and Public Affairs


Although it may not be the most timely of topics, I've been meaning to write about the School of Media and Public Affairs website for awhile. My thoughts?

It's awful.

Since before I even applied to the Political Communication program, I've been disappointed by the school's website, given that most students who are seeking information about the SMPA will go to it for information. This disappointment has only grown after I've taken SMPA classes and seen not only that the SMPA is a proponent of new media and effective media strategies. Judging from the website, it seems that the school couldn't care less about the use of the internet in media, which is far from true.

My chief complaints:
a) It lacks coherent organization structure - when I was first applying to the political communication program, I had to click through four or five links until I found the application and information I was looking for. In many other instances on the website, information about the school and programs was hard to come by.

b) It casts a negative impression of the school - by this, I mean that for many potential students, this website is the first experience they have with the program. What does it say to those students when the website of a school based around effective media looks like articles thrown onto a webpage?

d) It's just plain ugly - at first glace, it comes off looking like a Geocities webpage template from the late 1990s.
It's amazing that the SMPA doesn't understand the importance of a good website. Perhaps they would be well served talking to creators of the University of Maryland's Communications Department website, which looks how the SMPA's website should - that effort was put into it. Then, they should sit down with their web designer and begin planning a new website that shows they practice what they preach - that the internet is a powerful outreach tool that, when used with some effort, can be truly beneficial to the SMPA.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Who Cares?

Instead of doing work in the library I started clicking on every single on of my friends away messages not really caring what they were doing but just because I was bored and up popped this lovely link about Hilary Clinton.

In it the ABC News states that they did
An initial review by ABC News of the 17,481 pages of Sen. Hillary Clinton's schedule as first lady, released today by the National Archives
First I laughed literally out loud that they probably made some poor interns go through 17 THOUSAND pages and they happened to figure out that Hilary MAY have been in the White House when the "dirty deed" took place. I laughed even harder that ABC News feels this is something that matters.

Because honestly WHO CARES if she was in the near proximity of this act. What are they trying to do? Are they trying to humiliate her more by stating HAHA you were right there and didn't do anything?? Or are they trying to show that they take the time to go through all of these papers for some breaking news?

Either way it seems like a waste of time to me. Cool you did some investigative reporting, how about you do some of that in issues that actually matter!

Rove to Speak at GW, Hilarity to Ensue

According to the Hatchet Karl Rove is coming to speak at GW.


This rules.


My friends attending the University of Iowa saw him a few weeks ago and said it was the most hilarious thing they had ever seen. From student loudly screaming "YOUVE GOT BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS" to half the audience turning their chairs around when he came out to the myriad questioners who (according to my friend Dave who I cannot link here. Actually yes I can (that right there is called journalistic integrity) would just "shout out personal attacks but then end them with a question mark to get the mic".

Seriously, try to hear the questions or the answers over the patently hilarious audience members (or just click on any moment. I promise every second of this video is GOLD).

Let this be my call to action GW students. Let us do this. Learn to scream LIAR, understand how to be escorted out by the police, practice your raucous clapping, learn synonyms for treason... We too can do this. We too can be totally uproarious on youtube.

Point is our old friend Sergio Gor is again giving us all something to write about and to join together in our communal appreciation of LOLs. Dont let him down.

March 28, 7 PM

Karl Rove Coming to GW- hopefully with less controversy

The Hatchet annouced last Thursday that Karl Rove would be coming to speak to GW's Young American Foundation at the end of March. YAF is very much looking forward to this event.
"We wanted to bring in someone big," President of YAF Sergio Gor said. "We figured he would be a great match for us."

This is the same group that brought Ann Coulter to speak earlier this winter. Hopefully this guest speaker will spark less controversy than the last. Unlike Ann Coulter, no one can deny that the things Rove will speak of will be both important and legitimate. He is one of the very few people that can help us understand the disaster that was George Bush's presidency, and how Bush got to the White House in the first place. Whether we agree with YAF, Rove, George Bush, or the Republican Party,this is one guest that should not cause GW to get blasted with criticism for having invited. We as a students need to support his invitation to campus, what he says will help us to understand what has happened to America over the past 7 years.

When Politicians Get Dirty, So Does the Media

I was as shocked and horrified (less shocked, still horrified) to learn about the Spitzer prostitution scandal and I think it's important that the media broke the story.

With that said, here is my grievance:
When politicians get busted for acting vulgarly, it doesn't give the media license to follow suit. I thought about this while reading Brendan Polmer's opinion article "When will they learn? Sex and politics, always a volatile mix" . I know that hypocrisy and political sex scandals undermine voter confidence in government and, for that reason, I agree with Polmer's frustration. At the same time, exercising vulgar language to report on obscene actions strikes me as hypocritical, too.
For example:
Soon enough, the world will know way too much information about Gov. Spitzer's misguided genitals - just as we all know about Bill Clinton and that disgusting blue dress, Mark Foley and his masturbation habits, David Vitter and his diaper fetish, and Larry Craig's wide stance. Gross.
I forgot about the blue dress, didn't know about Foley's masturbation habits or Vitter's diaper fetish, and never took the time to think about Larry Craig's "wide stance," until media, including a college newspaper opinion article, felt it necessary to report the crude details.

Vulgar actions don't warrant vulgar media analysis. Comment on Washingtonpost.com and the let media know if you want to keep reading stories like "Mayflower, Client 9's Sinking Ship."

Students should be treated better by study abroad

I have to respectfully disagree with Bernadette's post about the cost of study abroad at GW. While I'm glad GW didn't make any money off of her because she ended up at an expensive program, The Hatchet's editorial was spot-on calling the University out for charging DC calibrated tuition to students studying in less expensive countries. It is painful to hear colleges dish out excuses for ripping students off.
The explanation from Wheaton College's president for their home tuition policy echoes GW's own cited by the Office of Study Abroad. In a letter to the editor, administrators from the office state that the University still relies on funds from every student, even those abroad, to "provide the level of education and services the student expects upon return."
Using the same logic, shouldn't the University charge students GW prices for credit transferred from community college? Another glaring problem:
In other words, GW offers significant scholarships because home tuition costs more, creating a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle.
This is a problem not only for study abroad students. This vicious cycle is what drives GW's sticker price over 50k while the University gives out more financial aid than any other school. In her post, Bernadette said that paying GW tuition "made the process simpler," but don't we deserve an easy-to-navigate process that doesn't rip students off?

Hillary loves her some GW


So Hil has been to GW twice within a month. Have you seen the admissions brochures? (I have – I work in admissions!) Well Hillary’s on the cover of what all of our visitors see. And Monday morning, while in Marvin talking to prospective students and their parents, one asks, “What’s going on over there?” “Oh, Hillary Clinton is here. You know, as usual!”

I’m pretty sure Hil is a big fan of GW. Here she is on February 25th at Lisner:



Thank goodness for YouTube or I would have missed this. I haven’t been keeping up with Ellen lately but I wonder who she is endorsing. She also rocked out with Barack last October:



It’s great that Ellen and talk show hosts can have a little fun with candidates. And it’s great that GW students can be there to watch. If you’re curious about who Ellen is endorsing, ask her on her website.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

More on Study Abroad

Going through the Hatchet, I noticed yet another article criticizing GW's study abroad policy:
The University's policy that charges students the same tuition while they are enrolled abroad as when they are on campus has received some well-warranted attention. Furthermore, students have consistently reported trouble with the study abroad process. At a University that takes so much pride in its students abroad and places emphasis on international perspective, it seems counter-intuitive that more is not being done to make international study more affordable and simpler. This page believes that the University needs to reconsider its tuition policy and rethink the process involved.
Yes, it is true that GW's home tuition is more expensive than most study abroad programs. I remember being outraged at first, but looking back, I really can't complain.

First of all, going abroad isn't about saving money. If my goal was to save money, I would spend my summers taking classes at a community college and try to graduate early. Going abroad was about the experience Since I knew that I would be the same amount to study abroad as to stay at GW, I figured that I may as well study abroad. I was able to chose a program based on my academic needs, not on my thriftiness (I'm a European studies concentration, but I probably would have ended up in Latin America, not Europe, if i were seriously looking at program costs.)

Paying GW tuition made the process simpler. Credits were easy to transfer because I chose a relevant program. I didn't have to apply for new scholarships because my merit scholarship was still the same. I loved having the study abroad office at my disposal to answer the ridiculous amount of questions and issues that inevitably came up. I'm sure that I wasn't the only neurotic student hounding the study abroad office, and all I can say about them is that I'm grateful for their help.

Working with the study abroad office isn't difficult; it just requires paying attention to deadlines and taking the time to stay on top of the process.

In the end, GW didn't profit from me. I ended up in Copenhagen, which was one of the more expensive programs. I successfully fought GW not to charge me a meal plan because it didn't make sense in the context, and I even got a trip to Russia paid for by GW.

I thought students at GW approached campaigns and elections seriously, but I may be crazy

I really did think that.

I know that the SA elections are over and I am not here to pontificate on the results, lament the loser or even praise the winner. There is much work to be done and the Aswani administration will be coming in, like it or not. But I am not going to even talk about how many are either satisfied or dismayed by this reality. Rather, I want to point to one incident that happened to me during campaign season.

Just over a week ago I received the following email:
At 22 and F, we're all about real parties for real students without all the bullshit. While we normally don't get involved in politics, we wanted to let you know that we have officially endorsed Kevin Kozlowski for SA President.

We not only need a student leader who can get the job done, but someone who is a real student and knows how to have a good time. Kevin will make sure that partying on campus is easier than ever, and will have an open ear to the GW social scene.

Check out his website at KK4SA.com.

No matter what - be sure to go online TODAY to vote for Kevin at www.gwelection.com. It takes just three seconds and you can do it from home.

We hope everyone has a great Spring Break! Don't forget to vote TODAY!
And I was incensed. I even sent an email back (which I am sure was promptly deleted, if read at all) saying that in my judgment that was not a sufficient criterion for someone to earn my vote. To be clear, I do not think that the mainstream GW community thinks like the person that wrote that email; in fact, I am sure that at our University where we hold our standards high, most people did carefully consider their vote when they went online to cast it.

But I am equally sure that there are those who did not carefully consider their vote and instead relied on this endorsement when making their decision. Is that not regrettable? Since when did an endorsement from a party promoter become a valid determinant of a vote for something like the Student Association (which does have a significant impact on student life at GW despite what you may hear)? I am not saying that the opinions of party promoters are not valid, because they certainly are. But we should not hear and the honor endorsements from them as representatives of organizations whose concern, while it may deal with student life and entertainment, is not exactly the most pressing. Certainly not pressing enough for me to vote based on what they believe or articulate.

I guess in the fashionable and all-too-often self-aggrandizing culture of GW these endorsements apparently do matter. But their candidate did not win, and so I am not convinced that many people heeded their email. I would love to believe that no one did, but I am not sure of this either and I cannot prove it definitively.

If anyone thinks I am nagging or trying to proclaim my own moral superiority, well, then, I direct you to two things. First, 22 and F Productions' website. They state that their mission is to target people who are:
looking for the hottest parties, bottle service, and sickest events, without all the run-around.
Sure, entertainment does relate to student life, as I said before. I am not going to ignore the fact that, yes, students naturally pursue entertainment, especially when they find themselves surrounded by a city that is capable of offering it to them. To deny this would just be stupid. But one such institution in the city, however, that does not offer entertainment, at least not the kind that students find in clubs, is the Student Association.

So it does not makes sense to me that 22 and F productions would endorse a candidate for the SA election since it does not have a stake in the outcome of that election. Come on, this is what you learn about in basic high-school level government courses: stakeholders and players. The SA is a player, but 22 and F is not a stakeholder and therefore should not concern itself with the player really at all.

22 and F Productions is not a stakeholder because it is not affected by the SA and does not fall under its oversight. Unlike myself, who works for an academic program that is subject to University regulations and decisions, the party promoters of 22 and F are not University employees. Their endorsement is an example of unsolicited involvement in an SA election that would be analogous to involvement by any other off-campus organization that is not affiliated with the University. And students obviously do not need any other off-campus organization to unjustly interfere with the SA election, so why not apply the same standard to 22 and F?

Besides, by its own admission, 22 and F Productions says:

We normally don't get involved in politics.
before it made its "official" endorsement. As if it was so important that this time, just this once, it had to get involved in the political process.

As a call to action, I would request that anyone interested in this email 22 and F Productions as I did with a very simple note: that their "endorsement" is inappropriate given that it is made as an exception and not as part of a consistent practice and also because it is made from an organization that is not regulated by the SA. It does not have to be a very long note, but it should be a jab at the promoters who think that they have the credibility to make an endorsement.

Let them know that the SA is an organization dedicated to solving serious issues at GW. It is not - and will never become - another marketing arm of a party promoter.

Oh, and one other thing. Be careful that you address your reply to 22andF@gmail.com. The reply feature to their automatic email that I received is constituted in such a way that your reply is sent to an address that automatically bounces it back to you. I knew this when I realized that my reply was not sent to 22andF@gmail.com but rather to "bounce-live-964802880-73326261@ezinedirector.net"

Talk about credibility.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Brooks – GW’s Sirius Black?


In a March 12th blog on the GW Hatchet website, the Hatchet revealed that they had an email from senior Chris Brooks to the members of the Order of the Hippo. The Order is a secret society here at GW and on March 10th, the Hatchet published an invitation from the Order to their new initiates. The uncovered email is posted:

“It’s no big deal. Everyone knows we exist and thinks they know everyone involved and exactly what we do. In fact, they know very little and that’s what makes this enjoyable from our end.”

Brooks appears to be nervous here. Is he worried that his mishap in sending the invitation to the work addresses has not upheld the integrity and nature of the society? His entire email is screaming “I messed up, don’t shun me.” The Brooks charm is in full swing here as he eloquently brushes off the Hatchet’s article as low on substance, blames the leak of the invitation on outsiders opening mail, and says that you can’t believe everything you read in the Hatchet. True but sometimes they’re on to something.

If you are curious about the Order of The Hippo, you should act. Skip the Hatchet – they’ll take their secrets to the grace. Track down Trachtenberg and find out what he knows. Better yet, find Chris Brooks and get the story: brooksc@gwu.edu or hippo@gwu.edu. We know what happens to Sirius Black at the end of Order of the Phoenix. This might be the “final curse” for Brooks, if you know what I mean.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

"Hi UPD...there is a strange old man in our house...what is it you said? hang on your e-merging someone??"


For those of you who read BasilQHJ's diary, it would be hard to imagine that UPD could be any worse. Shockingly, they have out-done themselves!

I am a member of the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma at GWU. Aside from being the best ;), it is ranked as the smartest group on campus. Two weeks ago, we had a situation. For privacy purposes, I have changed the name of the girls involved in this story. My friend Alex went downstairs in the basement of the Kappa house (on Townhouse Row) to check on some test files. She notices there was a strange man sitting on our couch. When she asked the man who he was and why he was there his response was shady to say the least. He said he had a migrain and really had to use the bathroom and he was leaving any minute. Alex told him to leave right away. When Alex went upstairs she asked the girls in the kitchen if they had seen the man leave. They told her they hadn't seen anyone leave. This meant the man was still in the house. They quickly called UPD. My friend Jenna said that when she called UPD they were extremely non-chalant and laid back. Scared out of her mind she hung up and called 911 (MPD). MPD was also shockingly laid back about the situation. No one came to search the house. One of the other girls in the house searched through the house later on and did not find him. They assumed he left. Six hours later, my two friends Sally and Suzie went to the basement to eat late night food (because they didn't want anyone else to eat it). About 20 minutes into their feast, they heard a strange noise from behind the couch. Sally went to look what was there and found the man, sleeping in between the couch and the wall. They screamed for about 20 minutes, and ran upstairs. They said that the man was looking for "Alex". FINALLY UPD came to search the house. The man had left and the house was totally safe again. It was reported that this man was later arrested at American University for the same thing, and the police were able to trace him back to us because the man had stolen a girl in my sorority's wallet.

Now, I don't know about you...but this makes me frightened. Seeing as I plan to live in that house next year, GWU better straighten out their safety situations. I find it truly disturbing how not even half way through they emerge 240 kids, yet they can't even show up to an emergency in a sorority house. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Oh, and in case the story wasn't bad enough, when UPD finally showed up at the house they yelled at the girls saying that we should have never called 911 because this wasn't a "real" emergency.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Matt Stoller Speaks to GW Internet & Politics Class

On March 10, 2008, Matt Stoller (founder of OpenLeft.com) spoke to the Internet & Politics class at George Washington University. Some videos are below (more forthcoming) and more will be located here.

Matt Stoller: Bush Dogs Don't Fit Their Districts



Matt Stoller: Blogs Hold Groups Like EMILYs List Accountable



Matt Stoller: A 2006 Critique of EMILY's List Losses



Matt Stoller: OpenLeft Leans Obama