Sunday, June 29, 2008

CI's Student Gift: A Free GPS

This year at CI incoming freshman will leave campus at the end of day three with a brand new GPS system. Before you become emotional and start to complain about the money GW spends on CI... keep reading.

Student and Academic Support Services led by Brian Hamluk have created a GW Guide to Personal Success (GPS) program where each incoming freshman will be paired with their own staff GPS advisor in a major university office. GW employees from the Admissions staff to UPD officers will each receive four to five new colonials that they will guide through their time at GW. Even four lucky students will receive Chernak as their very own GPS.

As a GW student, the one complaint I hear the most is how bureaucratic the university has become and how difficult it is to get an answer. With GPS, I can only hope that students will feel more connected to the "higher powers" and become enabled to get answers and assistance efficiently. Who better than a UPD officer, a SASS employee, or Robert Chernak to help you get your financial aid package reevaluated or to give you advice after you get written up.

With all the programs I have seen at this university I think GPS will be one of the most beneficial and meaningful to students if it really does work as planned. Thank you GW for realizing the needs of students and making an effort to rectify a long term problem.

So, GW students, will you use your GPS??

Saturday, June 28, 2008

DC, are you really going to restrict cheap transportation when gas is $4?

Under the headline "Banishing buses to L'Enfant," GreaterGreaterWashington.com's David Alpert reports:

DDOT is planning to force all low-cost bus carriers, like Bolt Bus, DC2NY, and the Chinatown buses to stop loading in Chinatown and at various other spots around the city (a few pick up in Dupont Circle), reports the Examiner (via DCist). Instead, all buses will have to load and unload at a special zone at 10th and D Southwest, right by the L'Enfant Metro. This seems like a terrible idea.
He also rightly points out, "At L'Enfant, there's nothing." Seriously, it's a dead land.

As a native New Jerseyan, I've traveled often from DC to the New Jersey/New York area. When I was a student at GW, to save money I took the bus. I remember the long slogs via metro to Union Station and then carrying my heavy bags from there to the Greyhound station several blocks away in a rather desolate part of town. When my trip back to DC would arrive late at night, walking several blocks in that desolate area didn't feel very safe. (Since then, I've noticed that buses make an extra stop at Union Station, eliminating the walk--though you still get a better seat if you get on the bus at the main station.)

These days, I mostly take the train or drive. With Amtrak's financial problems, their prices have gone up and up--veering me toward driving when I don't need to do work on the train. But now with record-high gas prices, the cost incentive to drive is nearly eliminated.

It was a huge breakthrough moment when I came across the new bus service DC2NY, which runs buses from DC to NY for $30 or less, with wireless Internet service, and which leaves from Dupont Circle! What convenience! (They even pamper you with free bottled water, and take a vote about whether to have a movie.) No longer do I need to slog my bags on a metro, then walk to a station, wait, and check in--I merely walk a few blocks to Dupont and board the bus. And the neighborhood is totally full of people, very safe.

Dupont is also quite proximate to GW. If I were still a student, I'd much rather go there than Union Station. Or, as an activist-type, I'd probably run a campaign urging people to contact DC2NY, asking them to make a stop at GW! At least around breaks when lots of students go home.

DC's proposed new policy would cut off all flexibility and convenience--dooming travelers who want to be cost-efficient to go to desolate areas of town, and dooming creative business types like the DC2NY crew from figuring out new markets and matching demand with supply. I almost wonder if someone in the government is friends with a businessperson in L'Enfant and was lobbied to bring travelers there against their will.

Anyway, David Alpert has set up a new Facebook group to protest this potential decision. Multiple people have joined while I was writing this post--obviously it's a hot cause. Hopefully, smarter heads will prevail at DDOT.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The CI Experience

Colonial Inauguration Session 2. I never thought I'd see the day. You know I'm usually not one to completely go crazy over a topic, but I must admit that CI really did blow my mind. Yeah, I had some awkward introductions (like my first one, where it was completely quiet in an elevator with my family and him) and some cheesy moments (like when we had to get hyped up for the fight song when there wasn't a particular event going on) but the fun you have with the Cabinet (which if you get to know them, they're actually great people outside of the hype) and with the buddies around you (late night visit to G-town) make CI a great experience. I was caught in quite a few situations that put me up to the test, but here are just a few tips to maybe help you take in the GW community:

1. Keep an open mind.
Most likely there aren't people that will fit the "role" you think they fit. Correction: No one there fits an "assumption" of themselves. Especially since this is your first time as a student, make sure you befriend everyone, because they're probably cool people.
2. Enjoy the environment.
From chilling late nights with the cabinet, and talking to friends in another persons dorm, the environment you get there is so much different than that you get in high school.
3. Have fun!
Don't analyze the structure of their schedule or see what you might think is corny or what you might skip. Enjoy everything that is there at GW because aside from the amount of effort in it, it really is pretty fun.

So when you enter your dorm room, find your roommate(s), and meet the cabinet, understand that this will be one of your favorite times of the summer. Because if you can't love this for what it is, a 2.5 days packed with fun/chill/crazy things to do, I assure you, you won't take it in full force. With that being said, do you think you will enjoy CI (did you already?)? and how did you like the cabinet (not just skits, but who they were)? I'm out for now, see you all in the fall!

Noel B.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

CI, Day 1

So, I arrived to CI for early check-in late Friday night, not knowing what to expect. As I walked to the Marvin Center Saturday morning to check in with my academic school, I was greeted with way too much energy and spunk for 8:30 in the morning. The CI cabinet was already in hyperdrive, being incredibly welcoming and incredibly energetic. I quickly dismissed them as some crazy hirees by the admissions office, but I was proven wrong later. Later on in the evening, while watching the skits that the Colonial Cabinet leaders put on, I was amazed. The skits dealt with common misconceptions about them based on how they look, their heritage and culture, the activities they participate in, or other lifestyle choices. Afterward, they discussed how GW helped them, accepted them, and what they learned from being in this kind of environment. The frank candidness and realness that they portrayed was moving and inspiring. I encourage everyone to get to known this year's Cabinet by looking on the CI Cabinet Website. They are all truly amazing people, but a big shout out to my small group leader, Mark. What did you guys think of the Cabinet? Any particular favorites or highlights?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Relief from the Summer Heat

As much as I love DC summers, the sometimes unbearable weather makes me miss shady NY beaches. To make up for the lack of beaches, I settle for pools. As all GW students know, there's a pool at the Vern. However, as noted by a previous guest blogger, Elizabeth, the Mt. Vernon pool isnt always ideal:
Vern is happening as Foggy Bottom gets increasingly foggier in this blistering heat and GW students (and GW interns) are jumping on the shuttle and heading to the Vern for the wonderful in-ground pool.

And the residents of the Foxhill district have the same idea. GW sells season passes to residents of the area which provides an interesting dynamic. 50% GW, 20% rich Foxhill parents, 30% screaming kids.

So what's the secret alternative? DC public pools. They are free to DC residents (but you don't need ID to get in, so essentially, they are free to everyone), full size, and usually not overcrowded. There's one in Foggy Bottom, 2 blocks up from Trader Joe's, at 2500 N St NW. The hours are Monday - Friday 1-8 (closed on Tuesdays) and Sat-Sun : noon - 6.

It's worth the 5 minute walk from campus, I promise.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Speaking at CI

So I don't know if anyone who went to kickoff could tell, but I got a chance to have about 5 or so minutes to speak at opening. It was beyond fun, although I was nervous like no tomorrow. I've got to ask though, anyone not like what I said or wish I said something else?

After being on cabinet last year and being S.A. President now, I kinda feel like this ball full of GW knowledge.

So let me ask y'all this- what do you want to hear from someone speaking at CI?

I'm a man of the people :)

Studying Study Abroad Options

Juniors study abroad.

Obviously not all juniors, and not always as juniors either, but I hope to be one of the many who do.

GW's Study Abroad Office webpage is really pretty. I liked all the colors and exciting program descriptions. In fact, I was hard-pressed to find a program that didn't interest me.
Then I remembered a conversation I had with GW grad last semester. I had been looking at programs in England, and the University of Leeds sounded fantastic:
Students will find challenging courses taught by faculty at the forefront of academic development while living in the UK's most popular student city...Through clubs, societies, the International Student Office and the Study Abroad Office at the University of Leeds, students participate in an active social and cultural life.
He, who will be referred to as John because that is his name, assured me that would be an awful choice and the only place to even consider in England is London. A few other SMPA classmates strongly agreed that I stay away from Leeds. Now, as I actually buckle down and look for a program, I remembered that conversation and I'm thinking about how much I (and anyone else who may read this) could benefit from good, specific study abroad advice.
I have specifically narrowed down my countries of interest to the following: England, South Africa, Costa Rica, Greece, Spain, Italy, South Korea, and... Canada. I am also considering all other countries.

If you've studied abroad or have an idea where I can look to get a legit understanding of what I may be flying around the world to get myself into, please share!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pre-CI Jitters!

Only a few days away from the start of CI2, the CI I will be attending, I can't help but feel way too many emotions. I'm excited to get down to DC, have some fun, and learn a lot about GW. I fear that maybe CI won't be that great, and I'll have doubts about GW. I'm nervous to meet new people, hoping to meet someone I click with, but also just hoping to actually venture out and talk to people. I'm happy that I'm going down to CI (a night early!) with a few friends from my high school, so that I have at least those 3 friendly faces to be confused and amazed with the whole time. And I'm sad that college orientation helps mark yet another step away from the comfort of tried and true friends, the comfort of high school, and toward the unsure yet full-of-potential 4 years that will be my GW education. Thankfully, the CI Website has all the information you need to scare you, inform you, and fill you with excitement. What are your thoughts? What are your feelings as your CI date gets closer? What are your expectations for CI and what do you plan to do once you're there? Let me know that I'm not alone!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Freshman Dorm Room Essentials

Scenario: You walk into Linens and Things, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, or ____________ (insert cheap dorm supply store here). You realize you have no idea where to start on your dorm room shopping. You don’t want to be the student with so many suitcases your roommate can’t get through the door, but you don’t want to be the weird kid with only a backpack and one pair of underwear. So, what do you do?

Naturally, you end up doing one of two things. You either over-pack and become the roommate who takes over the entire room with their crap, or you under-pack and get labeled as the weird kid who never changes his or her underwear.

If this sounds like you, worry no longer. There is a way to avoid this situation entirely! Yes, due to the experiences of some kind, caring upperclassmen that have already been through the GW first-year housing experience, we mere freshmen can save ourselves from dorm hell and social embarrassment. With the help of various GWU sophomores, juniors, and seniors, I have compiled a “Top 10” list of tried-and-true dorm items that you simply cannot live without.

10) A reliable alarm clock. It may seem trivial, but many of us freshmen are stuck with at least one morning class a few days a week. Having a reliable alarm clock will not only ensure that you wake up for this class, it will ensure that you wake up for this class on time. If you like music, try an iPod alarm clock. Just attach your iPod the night before and wake up to some smooth tunes. 5-in-1 Wobble Clock, Brookstone, $30. iHome iH9 Dual Alarm Clock Radio for iPod, Apple Store, $99.95.

9) Last minute cleaning products, particularly Febreze and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Perfect for almost every “sticky” situation, Febreze and a Magic Eraser will work miracles. Febreze is a great odor eliminator, easy to use, and most importantly, requires no effort. Just pull the trigger when your friends (or even worse, your parents) are seconds away from walking into your smelly dorm room. Mmm, the fresh scent of meadows and flowers. Magic Eraser, which really is magic, will take any sticky or nasty substance (yes, even when you’re not sure what it is) off of almost all solid surfaces. All you do is wet the sponge and rub the gunk. Alas, instant clean up. Febreze Air Effects Air Refresher Meadows & Rain, CVS, $3.29. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Disposable Household Cleaning Pad 2 count, CVS, $3.19.

8) Any poster or d├ęcor for the walls. Your dorm will be your home for nearly a year. Make it feel like home. Whether it be, for us native Miamians, a painting of our gorgeous South Beach shoreline, or your favorite Animal House poster, put something up on your walls! You may not be planning to spend too much time in your dorm room, but it is a comfortable touch for when you are attempting to sleep (for once). College Posters, AllPosters.com, $6.99-$29.99.

7) Kitchen supplies. So, we freshmen may not get kitchens, but we do get microwaves and refrigerators. We will buy a limited amount of groceries (soda, cereal, milk, bread). We will probably go out to eat, and will probably save our leftovers for a late-night snack. Do yourself and your roommate a favor and don’t drink straight out of the milk carton, and don’t burn down your dorm by heating up your food in those plastic containers they give you your leftovers in. Buy some cups, a few plates and bowls, and a few sets of silverware. Your roommate and your flammable items will thank you later. Kitchen supplies, Urban Outfitters, $3.49-$17.99.

6) Shelving with removable joints. This shelving is ideal for storage in our small freshman dorm rooms. Whether you put it next to your desk, beside your bed, or in your closet, these stackable compartments are helpful to organize all of those things you might usually lose. Poly Cube Set, Target, $14.99.

5) A Swiss Army knife or a multi-use tool of some kind. Make sure it has screwdriver attachments and pliers. The simple reason for having one is that chances are, by the end of your freshman year, you will need a screwdriver or pliers. The more complex reason for having one is with, in addition to the main blade, a smaller second blade, tweezers, toothpick, corkscrew, can opener, bottle opener, slotted/flat-head screwdriver(s), phillips-head screwdriver, nail file, scissors, saw, file, hook, magnifying glass, ballpoint pen, fish scaler, hex wrench w/bits, pliers and key chain, when won’t this tool come in handy? For you more technologically-advanced students, the newest Swiss Army knives are being made with a laser pointer and a 2 GB flash drive. Whichever you choose, make sure you’re set with your basic needs for a quick fix-up when your best friend trips over your laptop and steps on your Xbox. Swiss Army SwissChamp, Swiss Knife Shop, $15.95-$70.95.

4) Laundry supplies, and Complete Idiot’s Guide to Doing Your Laundry. Ok, ok, don’t get excited… because that book doesn’t exist. But according to a GWU student, laundry supplies are essential. “I wouldn’t have survived the first week without detergent, a drying rack, a laundry basket, an iron and ironing board, and a Tide-to-Go Stain Stick,” the sophomore recalls. Luckily, the great thing about some of these larger items, such as a drying rack, is that they can be shared between you and your roommate. So, sort out with your roommate who is going to bring the iron and who is going to take the laundry lessons from Mom, and viola! Clean and pressed clothes. Laundry supplies, Target, $2.99-$69.99.

3) The obvious technological devices. Had to throw this one in here because it’s horribly important and it could potentially be forgotten. GWU doesn’t provide you with some of the most important things we use in this day and age, including a laptop, TV, DVD player, Xbox, Wii, iPod… the list goes on and on. Bring the technology you see being a part of your every day life. Chances are, you aren’t going to want to go down the hall to watch your favorite TV show, and your friends probably aren’t going to be nice about letting you run on the treadmill with their iPod. Like the laundry supplies, you might want to work out with your roommate who is going to bring the TV and who’s responsible for the Wii… and keep in mind that you don’t need more than one DVD player when you only have one TV to watch movies on. Don’t forget to bring the appropriate chargers and cables to run your entertainment systems, either. Technology, Best Buy, $20.99-$399.99.

2) A lock box. As much as you think you’ll remember on move-out day where you stuffed your Social Security card at the beginning of the year, or that your passport isn’t fair game when it’s under the socks in your dresser, you’re wrong. Prevent loss or theft of your most important items by bringing a security box to put your identification and money items in, like your money, checkbook, insurance cards, passport or visa, and Social Security card. You won’t regret it when you’re able to get out of your dorm with your extra cash that much faster on the way to a shopping spree at the Eastern Market. Black Security Box, Target, $19.99.

1) Bed elevators. Why the most frequently recommended item? See for yourself. “There just isn’t enough storage space in the dorm room, and the beds are too low to fit things under. I couldn’t have fit half of my items in my room without making this extra storage space under my bed.” Bed elevators are simple to set up, and will save you from having to cram your empty suitcase in the back of your closet. Simply slip one under each of your four bedposts and the underside of your bed becomes instant storage space. Best of all, they’re sold right out of our school bookstore. Bed elevators, GWU bookstore, $12.99.

Hopefully this list will equip you to take on the nightmare of move-in day. Other less common suggestions that you should consider purchasing are a tool box, a first aid kit, a hanging shoe rack for your closet, extra tea/coffee, your own work desk chair, a full length mirror, some kind of lamp for extra lighting, and extra batteries. GWU has a great checklist of items as well, which can be found here.

Additions? Subtractions? Additional advice from upperclassmen? Questions from freshmen? Feel free to comment, of course.

Thanks to upperclassmen Cory McCrummen, Logan Dobson, Steve Casazza, Joe Buono, and many others for their input. Now you underclassmen know who to thank when your grade in Chemistry 001 is saved by your alarm clock or when your mom compliments you on how clean and Febreeze-y your dorm room smells when she comes for Parents Weekend.

And freshmen? Do yourself a favor and pass this blog entry on to your future roommate; you don’t want to end up with their excess crap taking over your half of the room, or having to wonder about that same pair of dirty underwear night after night.

Recommend a weekly poll

We'll have the Colonial Inauguration poll up all summer, for all the incoming folks to take.

But we need some fresh weekly polls too. Can you recommend some?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Marines, Puppies, and Mental Health

Recently, GWBlogspot has brought to light the petition to punish the marine who threw a puppy off a cliff in Iraq. GWBlogspot also broke that justice had been served, and the Marine was being expelled from the Marine Corps.

Ian's comment regarding the Marine was "but wouldn't making the marine stay in Iraq be a better punishment than making him come home?". Now, yes I agree, what this Marine did was awful and punsihable, and so far from the ideals of the Marine Corps and this Marine deserves to lose his benefits and his job. But could this act of violence be evidence of the mass epidemic of mental health issues in the military today? And if so, should we help the Marine (and all his fellow Marines and soldiers) rather than punishing him?

TIME Magazine ran an article regarding the rise of antidepressants being issued to soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan:
While the headline-grabbing weapons in this war have been high-tech wonders, like unmanned drones that drop Hellfire missiles on the enemy below, troops like LeJeune are going into battle with a different kind of weapon, one so stealthy that few Americans even know of its deployment. For the first time in history, a sizable and growing number of U.S. combat troops are taking daily doses of antidepressants to calm nerves strained by repeated and lengthy tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. The medicines are intended not only to help troops keep their cool but also to enable the already strapped Army to preserve its most precious resource: soldiers on the front lines. Data contained in the Army's fifth Mental Health Advisory Team report indicate that, according to an anonymous survey of U.S. troops taken last fall, about 12% of combat troops in Iraq and 17% of those in Afghanistan are taking prescription antidepressants or sleeping pills to help them cope. Escalating violence in Afghanistan and the more isolated mission have driven troops to rely more on medication there than in Iraq, military officials say.
The article goes on to discuss the theory that prescribing antidepressants to soldiers helps keep the soldier already deployed to the Mideast deployed longer:
Military families wonder about the change, according to Joyce Raezer of the private National Military Family Association. "Boy, it's really nice to have these drugs," she recalls a military doctor saying, "so we can keep people deployed." And professionals have their doubts. "Are we trying to bandage up what is essentially an insufficient fighting force?" asks Dr. Frank Ochberg, a veteran psychiatrist and founding board member of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.
While the rates of mental illness and antidepressant drug use are on the rise in the overall population, the fact that these drugs are being used and perhaps over-used in the military is cause for concern. And how is mental health affecting individual soldiers? Maybe there's more to the soldier who tossed the puppy. Maybe he's suffering, too.

Justice served!!! Puppy killer punished

Back in March, James called on gwblogspot readers to sign a petition standing against puppy killing soldiers. Now, justice has been served, and the marine who threw the cute little dog off a cliff is being expelled from the marines.

I'm glad to know there were consequences for this random act of violence... but wouldn't making the marine stay in Iraq be a better punishment than making him come home?

What's the deal with.... GW?

So my staff and I have been working non-stop since Spring Break after I won the Student Association Presidency but I have to pose this question to everyone...

What's the deal with GW?

Or more specifically, what's wrong with GW? Is it dining? Is it printing fees? Is it advising? What is it that makes YOU unhappy when it comes to GW and what would you do to fix it?

It's funny, I was talking to a few friends of mine and they said that it's the small things in life that GW fails at.

"It's hard to care about a school when there's never enough soap in the Marvin Center bathrooms, when students have to pay for a transcript, or when I have to stay on hold for twenty minutes just to talk to financial aid for three minutes."

In the spirit of blogging, I thought I'd end this post with one of my favorite songs... Enjoy!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Class Registration


I'm wondering, how many of you incoming freshman had an interesting time signing up for classes?

I don't know about you folks on the east coast, but for those of us out west signing up for classes on the Monday, June 9th registration date was far from fun. According to my school of thinking, the sooner you log in, the more classes there are available. Since registration was to begin at 8:00 AM Eastern Standard Time, that meant waking up fifteen minutes before 5:00 AM my time (PST) to prepare my list of classes and login.

When I woke up at 4:45 and made my way towards the computer, I was hoping that this would be the earliest I would ever have to wake up for a George Washington University event. When I was ready to begin registration, I sat at the computer stressfully awaiting the stroke of 5:00 AM. When it came, I entered in my CRN's as fast as I could and clicked "submit". I got all of the classes I wanted except for the apparently popular U20 Sports writing class.

I hope next year that the freshman course registrations are more tailored towards west coast students, or one could just choose to sign up on one of the many other days available, but where's the fun in that?

For more info about class registration, you can visit GW's freshman class registration page

What's Happening At Mount Vernon?

Title graphic that says, What's Happening @ Mount Vernon This summer, the Vern is happening as Foggy Bottom gets increasingly foggier in this blistering heat and GW students (and GW interns) are jumping on the shuttle and heading to the Vern for the wonderful in-ground pool.

And the residents of the Foxhill district have the same idea. GW sells season passes to residents of the area which provides an interesting dynamic. 50% GW, 20% rich Foxhill parents, 30% screaming kids.

Very rarely do GW students and their neighbors get to interact so closely. In fact, yesterday some Foxhill mother was too busy sun-bathing to hear her three year old son running poolside screaming crying. I took it upon myself to help her child get his beach ball out of their bag. All the kid wanted was the ball. He laughed and jumped back in to the perfect water with my one small action. I feel like a great GW student and citizen for volunteering five minutes of my Sunday to help the poor child.

So, stop heading to the food banks to give your services to the communtiy. Just head to the Vern. And stay hydrated.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

is this what the article was talking about?

So I was just on youtube watching a video and all of the sudden FRED comes on!!

Maybe this was the advertisement thing that the article on Digg was talking about...the one I mentioned during my presentation. They are advertising for zipit messenger.

this. kid. has. problems.