Saturday, February 28, 2009

SA and student activists are taking steps in the right direction

"Why do all the students here at GW care so much about changing food services? Isn't the food here pretty good," a Professor asked my SMPA class Thursday night.

It's because the SA doesn't have any real control, a student answered. In the end, it's really the administration that gets the final say on everything here.

I think my classmates sentiments are well founded, but feel the sudden outpour of support for improving JStreet has more to do with the minimum spending requirement at the food venue.

Are students just looking for a cause or is there something more to movements like that to get Qdoba in JStreet?

I think there's something more. I think the movement to get Qdoba/Chipotle in JStreet represents the desire of students to take back control and participate in student government.

Most significantly, I think the fact that the SA has been so responsive both in the GWblogspot debate and in answering questions shows a move in the right direction. It shows that SA candidates this year are aware of their role as respresentatives of the needs of the student body.

After witnessing the SA's involvement here on GWblogspot, I feel more confident that either Julie Bindelglass or Kyle Boyer will speak to the administration on behalf of GW students.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Follow-Up...

... to my previous post. I also had some general questions about the effects of the bill to ask the students here at GW, but they didn't quite fit in with the direction I took that post in.

So here they are: Are you registered to vote in DC? If/when DC gets representation in the House, would you change your registration to here? (After all, we do get some pretty interesting characters on the ballot in this town...) Do you think DC should be getting representation?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

(Also, Re: Lindsay's comment to the original post: I know why Utah was picked as opposed to, say, Oklahoma or Utah - but with the need to satisfy swing Republicans no longer such a major concern, I wondered why Dems were even bothering to offer the second, balancing seat at all.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It's Time to Get Your Vote On!

Anyone remember November? Anyone remember how energized people were to vote? For the first time in years, people flocked to the polls (and students sent in absentee ballots) to cast their vote in history. So why bring up November today, at the end of February?

Because it is election season, GW style.

For a week, more than 50 candidates have spent every spare moment vying for your vote. From the 6am wake-up call for postering to long nights spent speaking to student organizations to debating one another in front of peers, the candidates in this election have proved they are dedicated to their respective campaigns.

The issues on the table range from student space to dining and from grad life to student orgs. Election season at GW is a time when the issues are put on the front burner and everyone on campus starts thinking about what matters to us most.

Vote because you want to see changes in Jstreet. Vote because you live down the hall from someone wearing a campaign tshirt. Vote because you have a preferred candidate that you think will best represent students. The point is, it's time to take ownership and vote.

Vote online Wednesday and Thursday from 9am-9pm at

The writer, Julie Bindelglass, is a guest blogger on and is currently running for S.A. President. More information on Julie and her campaign to Take Back the S.A. can be found on her website,

SA/PB/MCGB Voting Starts Today

This years elections are taking place from today and tomorrow.

You can vote online at My GWU or Portal (law students) from February 25th at 9:00 AM to February 26th at 9:00 PM.

The Candidates:

There are currently no candidates for ESIA-G,SPHHS-U, SPHHS-G, SMHS-G, and MCGB-G. If you have student-government aspirations, you can be elected as a write-in candidate.

Presidential and EVP candidates need to obtain more than 40 percent of the vote, otherwise there is a runoff election on March 11th and 12th.

Have thoughts on the elections? Voice them in the comment section!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Boycotting the J St. Money-pit

The Hatchet has been misleading in it's assertion that the J Street spending requirements cannot be changed. Too many of us within the student body are contented with this defeatist attitude, especially considering that students have not considered every method through which we can bring about change on this ever-important issue.

The SA should seriously consider calling for a limited boycott of Sodexho services if conventional negotiating can't get the job done. In my dealings with food service providers I've learned that nothing speaks to these companies like money; if their revenue stream is threatened, their listening abilities magically improve. Since students are the chief patrons of J St. venues (forced patrons, though some of us may be) we are certainly entitled to use this leverage to get Sodexho to listen to our demands. The J St. spending requirements do not benefit a single student on campus, and Freshmen and Sophomores in particularly must not be fond of forcing to contribute over $50 million each year to Sodexho in undeserved patronage. Should Sodexho snub our modest proposal to restore the GWorld system to what it was like just two years ago, the SA should be prepared to request that Junior and Senior students forgo J St. patronage entirely, and ask underclassmen to spend as little more than what they must. Additionally, the SA could raise additional funds by selling "J St. Stole My Lunch Money" T-shirts, also brinigng more attention to this important campus issue. Plus, I assure you they'd be sweet shirts.

As someone who has negotiated with food service contractors during my involvement with the West Des Moines city council in 2006, I'm best equipped with the knowledge and experience to argue for real change on this issue. I'm disappointed that despite holding powerful positions within the SA, Boyer, Bindleglass, and Polk have failed to bring any improvement on this issue this entire year. Although these are wonderful candidates, at this critical time the students need someone who is seriously ready to take on this issue, and that's where I come in.

A boycott would definitely be the last-resort option, but students should seriously be ready to embrace it if we're going to get serious about reclaiming our money from Sodexho. A good business earns its patronage rather than mandating it, and by this measure Sodexho has not been a good company to for the past two years. Considering what we pay for tuition, GW students clearly deserve better treatment from Sodexho.

Coming Soon: Taxation, Representation?

In 2007, at the very end of my first semester in DC, the Senate killed the District of Columbia Voting Rights Act. Despite the Democratic majority in the chamber, support from eight aisle-crossing Republicans, and the fact that every "nay" voter knew damn well that they could expect spit in any burger they ordered in the district limits for the foreseeable future, the bill fell three votes short of beating the filibuster. And here's the thing: that was with an extra seat for Utah tagged on, in the interest of bipartisanship.

Now, in the context of 2007, that makes sense. DC is overwhelmingly Democratic, and extending the reach of voting rights generally tends to be a Democratic issue. The one seat the Dems held in '07 wasn't going to do the job. Add a seat for rightie Utah, though, and you eliminate the first problem from the Repub calculus and gain two GOP co-sponsors.

But here's the thing: this year, with the stronger Democratic majority, the bill is back. In fact, it just passed the Senate yesterday afternoon, and is expected to pass the House by next week. This is awesome. My question is... why add Utah this year? This is a pretty minor quibble, I guess, since it passed a cloture vote earlier today and is headed towards the considerably more receptive (and, you know, filibuster-free) House, who passed the Act 241-177 in '07. But since the addition of the extra Utah seat was primarily intended to soothe the palates of Republicans, a more-than-sufficient eight of whom voted Yea this time, and since the bill gained the cosponsorship of two republicans outside of the Utah delegation this year, and lost the cosponsorship of Bennett of Utah, and since Utah will inevitably get another Rep. in 2012, after the census, anyways... Why keep their seat in the bill? Why concede that gaming the thing is more important than giving 600,000 people actual federal representation?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Liveblogging the 2009 Hatchet Debate

Farhan and I are live blogging the 2009 Hatchet Debate. Feel free to join us in Jack Morton or via liveblog! Just press the arrow below to watch and chime in!

GW fanfare falls epically short this year

In an earlier blog post, I wrote about that surprising lack of involvement and student support for GW sports. I grew up in Los Angeles, a die-hard UCLA fan with season tickets to games at Pauley Pavilion (the basketball mecca of the west coast, where they only hang banners for National Championships ((GW hangs banners for making the tournament)) ). In Westwood, success was not measured by regular season victories, those were expected, but rather by postseason accomplishments. But most of all UCLA knows how to fill a stadium. 

In the most recent Hatchet, there was an article highlighting the absences of the Colonial Army on campus this year. As a freshmen and a huge basketball fan, the fact that I never knew about the organization is somewhat shocking. I would have joined, I would have even paid the $15 membership fee. Yet I had no idea that such a group existed. The Hatchet wrote:
In a season when the men's basketball team needs the most support, its primary fan organization has largely fallen off the map.
I agree that fan support always helps a team. But maybe the situation is reversed. Maybe the fans fell off because the team didn't hold up their end of the deal. Also, the outreach to freshmen failed to bring support to the organization that relied on new student support. 
Part of the problem, Danau said, has been a lack of interest in the floundering men's basketball team from freshman - typically the group's most active members. More than 80 percent of this year's members returned from last year, and overall membership is significantly down from the group's peak in 2005-2006, when it had more than 1,000 members. Danau, Miller and Carpenter all said the group's role is to find creative ways to raise interest in the team when it is struggling.
I look forward to this organization reaching out to students like me. And until then, I hope I get an experience like this in my tenure at GW.

Program Board

You know, I'm all for fun things going on around school. I'm all for great concerts, and stuff. But the Program Board this past year has gotten me a little disappointed. Mostly because they've been an entirely reactive group. I haven't seen them take the initiative in doing much of anything.

It's for that reason that I'm supporting Calder Stembel for Program Board Executive Chair. Maybe this isn't the proper forum, or maybe it's bad that I'm his roommate, but I've known the guy for two years now, and I have a problem believing anyone else could possibly do better than he would.

Remember Fall Fest? Yeah. Bad news bears.

But right now we all have the successes of the Jason Mraz concert on our minds, so we're apt to think the current chair is doing a good job...I'd like to say that no she is not. She's planned great concerts, but on outreach to other student organizations, on interacting with faculty to create a better program environment here on campus, and on talking to students to find out what they want, she has failed.

If you want to learn more about Calder, check out his website.

Edit and Disclaimer: This blog in NO WAY ENDORSES ANY CANDIDATE FOR ANY OFFICE. This post is ENTIRELY MY opinion, and carries no weight what so ever. Again, this is an independent blog WITH NO ENDORSEMENTS. We are running an open forum and these are MY OPINIONS ONLY, and should only be taken as such.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Get Your GW Deli Gear Now!

With all the talk on this blog and the buzz around campus about dining options available to GW students, or the lack thereof, there has been no mention of the little spot at 22nd and G Streets that will always have a special place in my heart, and without a doubt serves up the best sandwiches, sides, and empanadas in the Foggy Bottom area: The GW Deli.

If you've never eaten there... I'm sorry. It has been a staple on campus since the 80s, based on reports I have received from Alumni, the food is definitely delicious, and there is very wide range of foods you can order, not just run-of-the mill sandwiches. You really must try it.

For those of you who already enjoy what is usually simply known as "The Deli," you can now buy GW Deli Gear online and sport it around campus to promote this fine little eatery.

Buy a hat or a shirt - support Joe and his sandwich-makers and a local business that has serviced our campus with a wide range of dining options for 20+ years.

I'll Stop Complaining...

There's been a lot of talk on the blog about issues at GW and how they can be addressed. But the movement to get Chipotle/Qdoba and our recent SA online debate have shown that our opinions are valuable.

I'll be honest, in the past four years I have often complained about certain aspects of GW life without making any real effort to change things. I genuinly appreciate the work of SA and my fellow students to take this next step.

CCAS candidate Dan Keylan, a participant in the GWblogspot online debate, said in response to a question regarding food costs on J St,
Prices in J Street are indeed ridiculously priced. Unfortunately, getting prices lowered will be a difficult task. The best chance we have is to start complaining, through emails to GW dining services, and even facebook groups. Believe it or not, the University does actually listen if enough people complain. I'll admit there is little the SA can do to improve the price of J Street Cafe unless a significant number of students help in voicing their disapproval of the outrageous prices.

So next time something really "grinds your gears," vent on GWblogspot, or send a letter to the SA. Like Keylan said, there's really not a lot they can do without proof that something is really an issue--i.e. students complaining.

What's the deal with SMPA?

Why is SMPA within the Columbian College?

As a senior graduating in May with both a degree and minor from SMPA, I still don't know. Sure, at some point in time I found myself annoyed with the extensive class and credit requirements in both SMPA and the Columbian College. But I guess that didn't motivate me enough to find out why it's a school within a school. So I asked some of my friends in SMPA. Turns out they don't know, either. A recent gchat conversation:
Me: do you know why smpa is within columbian?
My friend: nope, not a clue, really
Aside from, at times, being unhappy with the number of class requirements, I don't really care the reason. I've absolutely loved my experience in SMPA. I've had thought-provoking classes, formed close relationships with professors and mentors, and made incredible friends (who I know I'll stay close with long after we leave GW).

So with graduation on the horizon, I began to look forward to celebrating my time in SMPA. But then I saw the graduation week schedule, and noticed that SMPA isn't having any special ceremony or reception. In fact, we're the only "school" at GW that isn't having one. Is it because SMPA is within the Columbian College? If that's the case, why does GW even bother calling SMPA its own school?

Again, I'm not sure I care about the answers to these questions. I'm out of here in a few months, and I never really cared all that much in the first place. I do, however, care about one last hoorah with the people who contributed to an awesome and enlightening undergraduate experience -- therefore, we're currently planning an SMPA graduates event, details to be announced at a later date.

And of course, if you're just starting off in SMPA and have a problem with the number of requirements or something, by all means, you should make some noise and make a change. It's your experience.

Did the GW Hatchet endorse Kyle Boyer?

A picture appearing above the fold of last Thursday's edition of the GW Hatchet showed two student volunteers for Kyle Boyer's campaign putting up posters outside the Marvin Center.

The title of the article reads, "SA hopefuls poster campus." Boyer's name appears 10 times in the picture while no other candidate's sign can be seen in full.

The story itself is about the stampede of students that fought for the best wall space around campus.
crowds of students restrained by yellow tape bolted across the street, election posters flying, ready to fight for the best wall space in the University's most public areas.
According to the Hatchet, postering is the election "season's biggest and most cutthroat" event, and understandably so. Name recognition is key in these races as many students don't attend debates or online forums, but do pay attention to signs on the way into J Street.

Since name recognition is so paramount, winning a spot on the Hatchet's front page is a pretty big score. Especially since the actual story that accompanied the front page picture can be found buried within on page 3.

The GW Hatchet showed a huge lack of editorial insight when they published a large picture of Kyle Boyer's name on the front page, without the story necessarily being about Boyer, and without the headline being attached to the image.

The story is about earning the best spots on campus to hang posters. The Hatchet gave Boyer's his best yet.

View the PDF of last Thursday's Hatchet here

SA on Twitter?

I recently read the Hatchet's SA Election Guide and was struck by Presidential candidate Julie Bindelglass's suggestion that the SA use interactive tools like Twitter to communicate with students and ensure greater transparency. Quite a novel idea.

So, I thought, what would the SA's Twitter page look like? Below, I've tried my best to visualize it.


10:00 PM Feb 1: Campaign season coming up. Time to beat up on Vishal. Next year's SA will be even better.

8:00 AM Jan 21: Inaugural float, which cost $88,000, was a great success. Ask anyone.

2:51 PM Nov 24: The Hatchet penned a really nasty story today suggesting we've failed at everything. Well, you know, we just agree to disagree. We're great.

1:00 PM Oct 27: The Hatchet writes, "Students flock to Unity Ball." That's how you know the $50,000 we dropped on it ($20,000 from the student fee) to put fraternities and sororities in the same room was worth it.

11:20 AM Oct 7: After some tough work, it's time for a 2-week break. We're so much more like the real Senate than you knew.

10:01 AM Oct 7: Gave student orgs $350,000 from the student fee account, 17 percent of the money they requested, and now they won't shut up. But what could they possibly want $2 million for?

12:47 PM Sept 5: Thought we'd go swimming today, so we turned our $700,000 budget into crisp $1 bills. Pool party!

2:31 PM Sept 1: Took ourselves very seriously today.

10:06 AM Aug 26: Going to the Nationals game!! It's going to be AWESOME because Vishal is paying!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Can We Trust You With Our Money?

In our previous post that called for questions for SA candidates, some students were wondering why some organizations received a significant drop in funding while the SA spent large amounts of money on programming events like the Unity Ball.

Nick Fabiani wrote about what he called "flagrant abuses by the Aswani administration concerning financial matters" and identified the Unity Ball as one, while reader Elana pointed to how this year's SA "cut serious funding to a large majority of student organizations in an unprecedented manner," including an over-50% cut for her own GW Ballroom organization. Reader Omar also asked, "how can you regain our trust and confidence in such an important position?"

SA candidates: Is financially supporting events like Unity Ball, while cutting funding for student groups, a responsible use of student money? If yes, please explain to groups like GW Ballroom why slashing their budget by over 50% was good decision-making. If no, please explain to Aswani why his decision to fund the Unity Ball was bad decision-making.

How will you increase the overall transparency of the SA?

In GWBlogspot's online Student Association forum, a recurring theme in students' questions involved the SA's transparency. Students worry that their concerns have been neglected by the SA, and that the trend will continue.

How will you increase the overall transparency of the SA and ensure that our voices are heard? Some readers have suggested participating in frequent public forums (like this one) and posting legislation online for student commenting before approval.

Matt writes:
In response to a lot of the criticism that student government has gotten over the past year, would you agree to participate in forums like this on a somewhat regular basis to answer questions and take in student feed back on a variety of issues?
Sam asks:
The Obama Administration has gone through great lengths to increase transparency in the federal government. Will you also make this effort?

If so, will you make a similar pledge to post bills online for student commenting 5 days before they're signed?
Andrea asks:
How are you planning to ensure that GW students voices are heard by the administration?
All SA candidates are invited to respond to the the aforementioned question and we would encourage students to engage the candidates in back-and-forth discussion on this issue between now and the election on February 25th and 26th.

Thank you for your participation and we look forward to your responses.

It's Debate Day! What's the most important issue facing GW students?

GW students want to know what SA can do for them!

Today's online debate will serve as an opportunity for candidates to tell you how they plan to evoke positive change at GW.

Therefore, we believe it would be appropriate to begin today's SA Liveblog debate with Valentina Montoya's question:
What is the most important issue facing GW students, and how will you work to fix it?
This is an invitation to all SA candidates and students to engage in a back and forth discussion. During this discussion, SA candidates will have the opportunity to tell GW students how their term will improve the GW community and what they will do to fix major problems.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Got a Question for SA Candidates? Ask Here!

On February 25 and 26, GW students will be voting in the Student Association election. Campaigns have already started rolling.

GWBlogspot is hosting a first-of-its-kind online forum, giving you the opportunity to interact directly with the candidates for every SA office right here on this blog. Have a question about an important issue? Want to know more about them? Ask here!

Numerous candidates for SA President, EVP, and Senator have already agreed to participate -- answering your questions and then engaging with you back and forth in the comments section.

Here's how it will work:
  • Between now and 11:59pm on Thursday, February 19th, submit your question in the comment section of this post. If you like someone else's question, please write a comment saying so--that will help lift it into the top 5. If you have multiple questions, please post them separately, not all together.
  • On Friday, February 20th, GWBlogspot will post the top 5 questions, each in their own post -- and we'll let all SA candidates know they can begin answering. We'll also invite you to comment back and forth with the candidates. This is intended to allow bottom-up discussion, as opposed to the typical top-down debate format where the moderator and candidates have a louder voice than the voter. The top 5 questions will be linked to the top lefthand area of GWBlogspot through the election, so voters and candidates can continue the dialogue every day.
Now's the time to get started! Submit your questions below!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Yes, SA, you may have a flood of worthless candidates

I am not a fan of SA politics (But I want you to run for an office - to learn why, keep reading).

Actually, I am not a fan of the SA in general. It produces huge egos and personalities who feel entitled to engage in public fights over issues that, 95% of the time, will not impact me and only affect those actually having the arguments that we are all forced to read and hear about.

Despite this, I am going to write about SA politics. I am not an expert on the venerable institution and I have only stumbled across this issue recently, but it has got me absolutely fuming.

Here you can find the "Decision and Orders of The Court of the George Washington University Student Association" (here is the full opinion) that affirms the passage of a bill stating that signatures are no longer required to run for a position within the SA (See, that's why I want you to run).

Here's a post on The Hatchet's website by Emily Cahn. An excerpt from the article is below (the emphasis is mine):

Signatures are no longer needed in order to run for a position within the Student Association after the Student Court voted to sustain the SA Senate’s veto override from this Tuesday night’s meeting.


SA President Vishal Aswani’s Vice President for Judicial and Legislative Affairs, Jordan Chapman, claimed that two-thirds of the entire senate body must vote in order to overturn a veto. However the court sided with Boyer, asserting that two-thirds of senators present and voting at the meeting was enough to garner a veto override.

Because the Court’s decision came a day before the candidate registration period ended, the Court ruled to extend the registration period until noon on Feb. 17, giving candidates an extra three and a half days to get their name on the ballot.

A longer version of that story is expected in Tuesday's Hatchet.

This means several things, some more immediate and some more lasting, if indeed judicial precedent exists in the SA (from my basic knowledge of the organization, it probably does not):

1. Fuzzy Math
Forevermore (if precedent applies), not the whole SA Senate, but a simple 2/3rds majority of a QUORUM of Senators can override a Presidential Veto. A quorum (from my basic understanding of this institution) is 13 Senators. Bear with me, readers, because now is when we get into the procedural stuff that Mr. Robert and the SA Barons like to opine about.

Quorum is 13. 2/3rds of 13 is 8.67, and since we won't be chopping up any of our upstanding SA Senators, that makes 9. If 9 people constitute 2/3rds of a quorum, that means that 9 senators (of around 30) can override a Presidential Veto. Talk about undermining the executive branch.

In short: 9/30 = 2/3.

Figure it out, GW, because now it's law.

2. Kyle Boyer: Masochist
Current SA Executive Vice President (who presides over the SA Senate) Kyle Boyer is a candidate for SA President.

Mr. Boyer was the main proponent of the "9 votes constitutes a 2/3rd majority in a 30 person governing body" legislative philosophy that prompted the lawsuit in the GW SA Court. He was the primary defendant.

Congrats on taking away one of the primary powers of the office you are pursuing, Mr. Boyer!

Ouch. Maybe should have thought of that one.

Number 3 (with a bullet): A High Probability of Crappy SA Candidates - You can be one too!
Yes, GWBlogSpot reader, you can be an SA Senate Candidate with naught but a pen stroke! Just fill out this form, drop it off at the Marvin Center Room 433/436 before noon on Tuesday, and you're in!

You don't have to campaign, you don't have to walk around and gather signatures to prove that you actually WANT the job, you can just fill out the form and further dilute the already somewhat milquetoast field of candidates for any number of SA offices.

I encourage everyone to take advantage of this unique opportunity to really mess with one very annoying institution.

Sign up to run - it's as easy as signing your receipt at Pita Pit. No, it's even better, it's free! And your name will be on a ballot! A real ballot! How cool is that?

Think of all the things you could do, even if you don't win! "George Washington University Student Association Presidential Candidate 2009" would look awfully impressive on a resume!

No effort necessary! Run for the SA, and turn it in before Tuesday at noon at the Marvin Center Room 433/436.

It's just too amusing not to.

Bye Bye Hippo?

We all remember the Hippo scare, when the news broke that the university may be ending the use of the Hippo as our unofficial mascot. The university almost immediately came out and said that, no, there was just confusion over the ordering of the Hippo merchandise with the bookstore, and that the Hippo would remain the unofficial mascot. The Hippo, they argued, while being used less often for televised events, would still be an important addition to campus life. But then this week the Hatchet reported that the Hippo still is being ignored by the administration. The Hatchet talked to the people at the bookstore, and reported this:
Follett Regional Director Nancy Sattler, who supervises University Bookstore Manager Pat Lee, said this month that the only hippo-related items the bookstore carries are key chains, decals and the remainder of the "alive and well" T-shirts - which were created after reports of the hippo's phase out.
Does this sound like the University is really trying to save the Hippo?

To be fair, though, this may not be a bad thing. I'm a member of the first class to enter with Steven Knapp as President, so maybe I just don't get it. But I like Big George, and I don't really get why the Hippo even exists. What's the point of an unofficial mascot? So, if you feel strongly about this, post a comment. Convince me that the Hippo should stay.

GW and the RIAA: BFFs?

The Recording Industry Association of America has filed suit against a senior and an alumnus, according to the GW Hatchet. The two are charged with downloading and uploading copyrighted material using peer-to-peer file sharing networks on the university's network.

The RIAA has continually received criticism for the tactics that helped bring suit against GW students. After gathering a list of offending IP addresses, the RIAA hands the information over to universities and expects them to match the computer's address to a student, and deliver a pre-litigation letter explaining the offenses.

The universities that comply with the RIAA argue that the delivering of notices allows students to have more time to determine a proper course of legal action. If settled out of court - which most cases are - the student could end up paying a few thousand, rather than a few hundred-thousand if the suit were to go to court. Tufts University uses this rationale when distributing notices for the RIAA.

While many universities work with the RIAA to deliver notices of illegal action, some universities are taking a strong stand against such tactics. The University of Oregon, for example, teamed up with the Oregon Attorney General to push back against the RIAA. Claiming that students often share internet connections, Oregon is arguing that is is nearly impossible to conclusively link an IP address to a single individual.

In a dorm room environment, roommates, friends and acquaintances often use our computers. And considering that robust internet connections at most universities allow one to download a song in less than a minute, criminal actions can be carried out with a quick click of the mouse. Oregon would say that unless the RIAA knows for a fact who was using the computer at the time that the copyrighted materials were downloaded, they don't have a case.

Here's the meat of the motion to quash the RIAA's tactics:
7. [We] have attempted to identify all seventeen alleged infringers and have been unable to do so.

8. Five of the seventeen John Does accessed the content in question from double occupancy dorm rooms at the University. With regard to these Does, the University is able to identify only the room where the content was accessed and whether or not the computer used was a Macintosh or a PC. No login or personally identifiable information, i.e. authentication, was used by the Does to access the University's network because none is required. The University cannot determine whether the content in question accessed by one occupant as opposed to another, or whether it was accessed instead by a visitor.

9. Two of the seventeen John Does accessed the content in question from single occupancy dorm rooms at the University. No login or personally identifiable information, i.e. authentication, was used by the Does to access the university's network because none is required. The University cannot determine whether the content was accessed by the room occupant or visitor.
The encouraging bit about universities standing up to the RIAA is that its working. Harvard University has been increasingly critical of the strategy used by RIAA and has subsequently seen a complete end to pre-litigation notices being delivered to the university. Other Boston schools are still getting flagged, however Harvard remains untouched. Most likely, the RIAA is scared of fighting the crimson legal team.

The question now is, did GW have our best interest in mind when they agreed to match students to IP addresses for the RIAA? Should our university really be acting as the investigatory arm of the RIAA?

Next Stop...Adams Morgan

Thanks to an anonymous tip, I have narrowed my efforts for a shuttle to local nightlife. Like other schools that have attempted to facilitate bar hopping students, I think GW should provide a shuttle running between Adams Morgan and campus. Even a minor fee for use would be cheaper than a $10 cab ride and would eliminate the mile-long walk from the metro required of students who refuse to cough up the cash.

Emory University understood the value of providing students with a shuttle to spots outside the range of public transportation.
“The goal is to show students places in Atlanta they might not otherwise be able to go,” College Council Vice President Elizabeth Farrar said. “We haven’t finished compiling a list of destinations [for this program], but we are open to student feedback. Ideally, we would like to expand the program to run shuttles every weekend.”
Northwestern University worked with a local bar to set up a student shuttle provided by the business. The 1800 Club transported students from campus to the bar; thereby, facilitating bar hopping and earning business.
I would love to hear more ideas from anyone interested in proposing such an intitiative to SA or the GW administration. THANKS!

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Preshow Interview: GW Blogspot Sits Down with PB

Last night as many GW students enjoyed the start of the college-weekend, approximately 50 students were camped out in the Smith Center preparing for tonight's Ben Folds/Jason Mraz concert.

I had a chance to sit down with Tiffany Meehan, the Executive Chair of Program Board, to talk about everything from the green aspects of the concert to why it's a two set show.

According to a Program Board Rep, PB sold close to 50% of tickets on the first day.
Tickets are still on sale for $33 at the GWU ticket master.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Delicious Thin Mint, Where Art Thou?

Word on the street is that some woman was selling Girl Scout cookies in front of Gelman library on Wednesday.

Does anybody know if she will return? Or where one could procure these delicious cookies close to campus?

Setting up shop in the center of a college campus is certainly a smart move for troops. College students love food, especially desserts. And although Girl Scout cookies are a bit pricey, students don't seem to mind shelling out some cash because the money goes to (1) a good cause, and (2) good food.

Apparently some people have an issue with Girl Scout moms doing all the work. According to recent CNN iReport on cookie-selling, some people are simply not down with Girls Scouts taking credit for their parents' work.

Reporter John D. Sutter looked at one mom in particular, who sold cookies for her "busy" daughter. Sutter said of the parent's actions:

In doing so, she would have to step into an ethically dangerous world.

She would have to become an office cookie pusher.

Okay, I understand how this could be an ethical issue. But really, I just want to buy some boxes of cookies.

So whether it be the Girl Scouts or another representative selling them, I'm in. Just let me know where to go.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

GW, it's time to dump Sodexo.

So, listen, GW. It's time we had a talk. I've been hanging out with you for a while now, and things have been going pretty well. I like my classes, my professors, my internships, DC in general... but, um, there's a problem.

It's Sodexo.

I just hate to see Sodexo holding you back like this. You've got so much potential, you could be so great, if only you could get over Sodexo. Sodexo doesn't treat you right, and he definitely doesn't treat me right, and you know what? It's time to move on.

Slightly more seriously: Sodexo's management of J Street is a train wreck. unreasonably high by-weight prices at the cafe that make the pathetically few healthy options a splurge (fresh fruit: heavier than greasy/rubbery/unidentifiable crap that's been over a sterno for 7 hours), a meal plan that hands Sodexo a good chunk of cash every semester whether or not you can palate their food, and exactly zero hours on weekends (it's not that they think college students don't eat on weekends, it's just that, well, hey, when you've already got our money, why bother being convenient?). I could go on, but in the interest of avoiding any more unbearably run-on sentences, I won't. Suffice it to say: I've been doing some research (i.e. poking around on the internet for the last half hour), and hey, guess what, of the comparably sized colleges I've looked into, not a single one offers a dining hall not open on weekends. nor does a single one offer less than twice as many on-plan restaurant options.

Anyways, to the action plan. What can we do about it? Well, as is often the case, the same thing we do about genocide in Darfur and the tragedy of Pluto's demotion to "trans-neptunian object":

(A postscript: a similar, if more practically attainable, goal has already been discussed on this very blog last week.)

(A final postscript... yes, I know, ten-year contract signed in 2006. Whatever. Maybe if we start yelling about it now, in eight years GW will notice we're not happy about it.)

(A really seriously final postscript, for any typo-hounds: yeah, it's called Sodexo now. no more silent 'H'.)

Monday, February 9, 2009

GW Men's Basketball won!!!!

Its official. The 11 game losing love-fest is over. Now what happens. The Hatchet reported  
The streak has been snapped. GW's men's basketball team no longer finds itself mired in an 11-game skid after picking up an 87-62 win over Fordham Saturday afternoon at Smith Center. The victory, the Colonials' (7-13, 1-7 Atlantic 10) first since Dec. 23, 2008, took shape early. Powered by eventual 19-point, six-rebound and 17-point, seven-rebound performances from junior Damian Hollis and senior Rob Diggs, respectively, GW was able to open a double-digit advantage within the game's first eight minutes. As play continued, the lead continued to balloon, culminating in a 33-point lead for the Colonials at halftime.
The Colonials will match-up against La Salle on Wednesday at the Smith Center. to defend their tiny winning streak. Is it possible GW fans could ask for two wins in a row? As for now, the Colonials just need to keep a positive attitude and remember to spread the love around. 10 Colonials scored in the win and that kept fresh legs on the court at all time. 

Smaller Concerts @ GW?

Like many GW students, I'm looking forward to friday's Jason Mraz/Ben Folds concert. While I'm all for large concerts, I sometimes wish that GW had smaller, more intimate concerts on campus.

This past Saturday I headed to the Tavern at American University to see a free concert with Matt Nathanson and Adam Day. The Tavern is like the Pub at the Vern, only larger and the neon lighting gives it a Xanadu feeling.

Due to some sound and security issues, the organizers insisted that a majority of the audience sit down and Nathanson had to play acoustic. It ended up being a good thing as everyone had a better view, and Nathanson got to showcase his talent.

Despite the tech issues and 80's lighting, Nathanson performed a good show. He sang both new and old songs, danced, interacted with the crowd, and even did a cover of Jesse's Girl.

Below is a video of Nathanson performing "Come on Get Higher". My apologies in advance for the poor quality. The combination of neon lighting and my mediocre digital camera didn't produce the best video:

What do we think readers? Would GW students come out for a similar show?

Sound off:

Everyone has used it. That wonderful resource for students taking a class with an unfamiliar professor. What I'm referring to, of course, is If you haven't been acquainted with the site, check it out. At the very least, you will be amused. At best, you will learn something about a future professor that will either incline or disincline you to take his or her class.

From the site: is the Internet's largest listing of collegiate professor ratings, with more than 6.8 million student-generated ratings of over 1 million professors. Each year, millions of college students use the site to help plan their class schedules and rate current and past professors on attributes such as helpfulness and clarity. Online since 1999, currently offers ratings on college and university professors from over 6,000 schools across the United States, Canada, England, Scotland and Wales with thousands of new ratings added each day.
I must admit, I always check it before signing up for a class and have found the reviews to be, on the whole, correct. I like to think that, perhaps, it has made my college experience thus far more enjoyable and helped my ability to learn by assisting me in picking classes with professor I know I will be able to work with.

In addition to checking the site, I reciprocate by ranking my professors after every class is finished. I am not a believer in free-rider-ism.

Most of my friends do the same thing as I do, but I know some who scoff at the very idea of an online clearinghouse for professor reviews. Everyone's entitled to their opinion, I suppose, but it's hard for me to imagine life without this wonderful site.

Below this blog post is a link to a comment section, and I want to make this post interactive... I want your opinion on this sometimes-contentious issue between students and certainly amongst students and faculty.

So tell me: if you are a user of RateMyProfessors, what do you think of it, what are some of your experiences? If you aren't a user, what are your initial impressions of the site? Will you start using it? Does it offend you? It's open season in the comment section. Have at it.

It's your turn to sound off. Let's turn this soapbox into a dialogue.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Gelman: Open Your Windows

Today was the most gorgeous day Washington, D.C. has seen in quite a while. The sun was plentiful, and the temperature may have even reached 60 degrees.

Yet, at 7:00 p.m., Gelman Library feels like a sauna. On second thought, Gelman is always this hot. Whether it's 10 or 80 degrees outside, the temperature inside this miserable place of study is not conducive for working. 

This problem could be solved quite easily: by allowing us to open the windows. I presume the windows are sealed as a safety precaution. That's fair enough. But why not put hinges on the windows that allow them to open a little bit?

If the university has no qualms about shelling out $88,000 for the inaugural float, they should be willing to spare a few bucks for a project that would make it easier for students to study. Right?

Challenge to SMPA 194

SMPA 194 Students: I took this class last year and have been keeping up with the blog. Was talking with Professor Green the other day and had a few thoughts for you all...

The critics are challenging the "academic rigor" of your class. First, you're about three weeks into the semester... they need to check their expectations for three class meetings 2) blogging is just one component on the class, about 25% if I recall correctly 3) as an alumnus I continue to view Professor Green's class as one of the most practical and professionally applicable I took at GW.

All this aside, I challenge you to get more creative. If a facebook group will help you achieve your objective, than by all means go for it. But if you're just using the various tools in the web2.0 toolbox for sake of using them, don't. A lot of organizations have started social networking, online video, podcasts, twitters and so on with no real mission or purpose... simply just because everyone else is doing it.

Speaking of tools, what makes posts go viral? Well (attempts at) humor for one thing...

Youtube videos, like the one I made for this class above (my first ever) as well as more serious ones, take more time and effort than creating facebook groups, but they work -- we got hundreds of hits from videos that other students and I posted. Even though it is not really part of your grade, driving traffic to this website is an important goal. Doesn't matter how good your posts are if, as a whole, you're not giving people a reason to visit the site. Except for the hatchet staff, I mean "anonymous" critics... don't worry about keeping them, they're a built in audience.

(Updated to clarify video hits sentence in the last paragraph.)

Is Recording Class Lectures Productive?

Some people have posed the question of whether recording classroom lectures is a productive endeavor.  Many administrators, as well as some students worry that recording lectures will cause students to skip class because there would no longer be a reason to go to class.  But if one were to try this out, they would come to realize that skipping class to watch a class on a small laptop screen is not that convenient, and has no interactivity.  In addition, many professors have a classroom participation grade, which would deter students from skipping class and watching every session online.  

Most importantly, the hypothesis that students will skip class to watch lectures online is empirically false, according to a study regarding lecture recording technologies by six university professors.  The study indicated that that students preferred going to see lectures in person because they wanted to meet their friends, they felt that the presence of the lecturer had value , they felt that live lectures were more motivating, they wanted to be able to communicate with the lecturer, and they felt that if they just kept putting off lectures, they would never end up listening to the recordings.  And according to another study about a trial at Duke University in 2005: 
Allaying the concerns of many faculty, students continued to attend class regularly despite the availability of recorded lectures. While the Duke faculty involved in the pilot did not keep attendance figures, simple observation demonstrated that students not only continued to attend in their usual numbers but also became more interactive during class sessions, using the time to ask questions derived from their review of recorded lecture materials.

Should UPD carry guns?

As the University continues to decide whether to arm our campus police, I thought it would be a good idea to open this discussion to everyone on the GW Blogspot community.

The Hatchet did a three part series on whether GW should arm our UPD, and the one I found the most interesting was the one about whether leaders in the community think it would be a good idea. To be honest, besides students, the people in the surrounding communities have the most to gain or lose from having our UPD being armed. If this initiative goes well, then they will get the added benefit of yet another security force in the area. If it goes poorly, then it will be incredibly dangerous to have all of these armed people in the area. The Hatchet wrote:
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Asher Corson, Foggy Bottom's top elected official, said giving University Police Department officers guns is a "horrible idea."

"I don't want those individuals with guns, and I think they are the most unprofessional people at the University," said Corson, a 2006 GW alumnus. "I am not comfortable with them having guns."

He added, "A not-for-profit organization does not have the means, resources and accountability to be armed."

And I can't help but agree. The vast majority of UPD officers I encounter seem to be uncommitted, unprofessional, and not entirely the most trustworthy people. The thought of them having guns make me incredibly nervous. That's what the Metropolitan Police Department is for. They have the resources and time to devote to proper training and oversight so that their officers can carry guns. Ours? If the university only does this half-way, like it does usually with its new initiatives, then I even MORE doubt that it will end poorly.

And now I'd like the open up the debate here. What do you all think?

I need a cheap ride to Madam's Organ!

4-Ride is a fantastic service, which is why I am wondering--could it's services be expanded?

I've often thought that I would use 4-ride much more often if its services reached further into the city--like to Adams Morgan. The tytpical cab ride, according to Taxi Fare Finder DC, is $10! And that's if you plan to tip the driver ONLY a buck.

While 4-ride is typically used by off-campus students to get home late at night, there are a number of other creative uses I've seen in my four years here at GW:

*Bringing home groceries
*Traveling with luggage
*Assistance with late night walking to and from local bars

While I personally have never felt the need to use 4-ride (except once when the people I was going out with refused to walk), I recognize its value and potential.

What if a few stops were designated off campus? For example, Adams Morgan, The U-Street Corridor, and Chinatown. Students could purchase a pass at the beginning of the year, or pay 4-ride drivers per trip for service into the city.

The school would make money, students would get a discounted fare, and trips into the city would be safer for students.

The Arkansas Traveler reported that the University of Arkansas recognized the need for off campus service and utilized a similar plan to the one outlined above.

"We found that 25 percent of the people getting picked up were going to campus," said Tammy Lippert, a member of the SR committee. Lippert said the fixed bus route will allow Safe Ride vans to make more off-campus stops. The bus route and the extra vans available for off-campus transport will make the program more efficient, she said.

No more fear of being taken advantage of by cab drivers familiar with the late night college crowd. And no more walking a mile in the dark to the Adams Morgan metro at 2 a.m.

Leave me a comment below regarding what you think!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Take Your Vitamin C

On Thursday, the GW Hatchet reported that Student Health Services saw 30 cases of the flu just last week alone.

According to the article, SHS saw 40 cases of the flu during the entire month of February last year.

So, what gives?

SHS medical director Isabel Goldenberg said:
Only 1,500 students received an influenza vaccine at several locations sponsored by the SHS this year.
I doubt anyone is surprised with this data, considering everyone has a sick friend or is sick themselves. Just last week, one of my roommates was diagnosed with bronchitis, and another with bronchitis and sinusitis. I was treated for some unknown virus with an array of prescriptions, and am now only beginning to get better.

All I can say is: take care of yourselves. It might be too late to get a flu shoot, but that doesn't mean you can't keep your immune system in good shape throughout the rest of the winter season.

You can't avoid every virus, but you can try and fight sickness off by getting good sleep, eating healthy, washing your hands, etc.

And I don't really know if vitamin C and those emergency packs really work, but they do taste good.

Gelman Furniture, the New Post Secret?

In my UW20 class, a large part of our discussion was concerning the literary merit of graffiti. Some literary experts argue that the "criminal" classification of graffiti is misguided and a rejection of the thoughts, words, and opinions existing behind the paint on the wall.

In some cases, as the GW Hatchet points out, graffiti art can be considered community service.

Although not as established, and in most cases not as artistic as the graffiti you would see around the District and in other cities, a case can be made that the markings on furniture in George Washington University's library similarly represent the thoughts and opinions of the GW community.

Looking around at the markings and carvings on study spaces can entice some to become angry, while prompting others to laugh, and most to shake their head in disapproval.

The following are some markings quoted verbetum from two cubicles on the third floor:
"Sleep here. A five min dose off and that's it. 10 min the most. OK... stick to it five. Yes..."

"I flow in The Tide
She knows I'm here
She knows I'm hers"

Obama rocks"
(written below arrow pointing to comment above is "socialist")

"GW girls

"I spend too much time reading these comments"
For those of you who have spent too much time reading the comments, or any time at all really, I'm sure you have come across your fair share espousing racism, sexism and my favorites - simple proclamations of profanity. I will not be posting those here.

What is interesting is that the furniture, which is "graffitied" quite often, acts as a fluid forum. One student writes a comment on the wall of the cubicle and leaves. A student down the road sees the comment and responds or adds on to the original sentiment of the author.

But what do the markings, if anything, represent? Are they a chance for students to write down their thoughts and feelings with anonymity? Are they similar to the "Post Secret" phenomenon where random people anonymously send in post cards bearing their deepest and darkest secrets?

The founder of Post Secret, Frank Warren, made a sold out appearance at GW last month. Arguing to the importance of anonymity and expression, Warren told the crowd:
"And right now there seems to be a big demand for people to share their secrets in a public way beyond what's happening on the Web anonymously.
Are GW students sharing their secrets "in a public way" through writing on the desks in the library?

As petty and inappropriate as some of the writings might be, GW students took the time to carve them into a desk. I ask why? And I wonder what they tell us about our student body.

Friday, February 6, 2009

GW Housing Needs Change

University housing costs do not make sense. As a junior or senior, a student has the option of living with 3 of his friends in a quad in Ivory Tower or City Hall for eight months out of the year at a cost of $10,815. Or they could live a block or two off of campus in an apartment where the rent costs nearly as much total money -- for the entire year.

Living in an apartment, students also wouldn't have to deal with spending a fortune to keep their belongings boxed up in D.C. over summer.

Four students living together two blocks away from campus at Winston House or the Savoy (where utilities are included) would each pay about $870 per month. Each would pay more than $1,300 a month in a smaller setup in a GW dorm. How can GW explain this enormous difference in cost?

Unfortunately, some nearby complexes have implemented policies that either intentionally or unintentially bar most students from renting there. A recurring issue I've found in my hunt for a home for next year is that many seemingly affordable apartment complexes have adapted to tough economic times by changing their policies to prevent guarantors (i.e. parents) from paying a student's monthly rent.

There are ways to get around this policy, but only if you have a large chunk of money in your own bank account.

I recently toured an apartment at Columbia Plaza, conveniently located on 23rd St., and was disappointed to find the complex has such a policy. GW actually has a deal with Columbia Plaza that allows parents to pay for their child's housing there, but this only applies to graduate students.

With the economy in shambles, it's time for GW to meet its students needs by providing more affordable housing on campus and working with nearby apartment buildings to develop policies work for students.

If you agree, please join the GW Housing Needs Change Facebook group.

Fill Out This Petition

Hey Everyone! Here's an online petition to get Chipotle or Qdoba in J-Street! It's really quick to fill this petition out! Your feedback is really appreciated! Just fill out the info below and hit submit!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


SIGN PETITIONS TOMORROW! 5-7PM OUTSIDE OF J-Street! I'll be sitting at a table and you'll be able to sign an official petition trying to get Chipotle/Qdoba in J Street!

FILL THE COMMENT BOXES TOMORROW! All day there will be comment boxes placed on The Vern, Columbia Square, and at J-Street! PLEASE FILL THEM OUT! Say how you want Chipotle/Qdoba to be in J Street and express your opinions about GW's dining plans like how J Street should be opened on the weekends and should have later hours, and how we don't have an all you can eat plan like many other universities!

If we all participate tomorrow then when we give the petition and the comments to GW Admin they'll realize how we need to change GW's dining programs!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Study Room Reservations? No Way.

There have been murmurings throughout the hallways of the Gelman Library and in the pages of the illustrious GW Hatchet about a new system for “study room reservations” that could soon be coming to the library to regulate the amount of time rooms could be used by individual groups of students.

The main complaint by those supporting the proposed system is that groups (labeled "squatters"), under the current model of "first-come-first-serve," are taking advantage of the spaces by holding rooms for several days or longer and are therefore not allowing for fair use of the group study rooms by the entire student body.

Personally, I do not use study rooms anymore. I find them counterproductive. However, as recently as Spring of 2008 I counted myself among the "squatting" bunch during periods when many of my friends had exams or papers due at the same time I did, or if I had friends taking the same classes as I was. While together, we could discuss the material, and feel more comfortable than if we went into one of the very loud areas of the library where talking is allowed.

Not to mention that during finals there are oftentimes literally zero study carrels available during most hours of the day. Being part of a “squatting” group provides peace of mind – knowing that no matter when you go to the library, you will have a place to sit and do your work.

While 10+ people "squatting" in a study room on a rotating basis for 96 hours or more is certainly not an “inalienable right” for GW students, it is something I would like to retain the option of doing, should I ever need to work with others on an extended project for a course, or just want the peace of mind that there is a seat waiting for me during finals period..

I’ve made a facebook group to try and voice this opinion. Join it. Add your voice to the growing chorus of former and current “Gelman Squatters” who want to continue the time honored practice of hunkering down in a study room for days on end to ace that final exam or crank out that term paper.

Maybe we can stop this policy from happening before it’s even put in place. Join the group. Showing support for this is the first step to victory.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Let continue to 'green' GW

In the January 29th edition of the Hatchet, there was an article highlighting less energy used in residence halls across campus. One residence hall in particular, building JJ, located on F St. next door to Potomac Hall, has made great strides to lower its environmental footprint. 
The Green Living and Learning Community in Building JJ has been a leader in the challenge, reducing their electricity consumption by more than 50 percent. Other top electricity conserving halls were Guthridge, 2206 F Street and Francis Scott Key residence halls. "It's such great news," said Kelsey O'Boyle, a resident of Building JJ. "When we were planning this LLC, we didn't just plan it for us, we wanted to spread green living to the rest of the campus. In the past few years, GW has not been so green, but GW has been very cooperative recently." Building JJ features motion-sensor lights in the hallways, energy-efficient refrigerators, and low-flow toilets and showerheads.
So I propose that all dorms in GW follow the lead of Building JJ. It is essential to do our part to 'green' our campus and if students rally around this idea, that is not only cost-effective in the long run and does not require such a drastic change in lifestyle, the University will take notice. Step 1: Join this facebook group to show your support for the initiative. Step 2: talk to your freinds. Let the University know that we want motion sensor lights in the hallways as a first step. Step 3: coming soon. 

Asking Me for Money isn't the Solution

With the doom and gloom of the economy dominating the headlines, many universities are finding ways to help their students afford school.

However, in true GW fashion, instead of cutting costs, the University is attempting to ask students to give more money.

As previously mentioned in this blog, some student leaders are working to implement a mandatory $25 fee that would be used to improve library services on campus.

At the most recent SA Senate meting it was reported that some members of the GW community are working on implementing George’s Green Gift, an additional voluntary gift that would go towards GWU’s green initiatives. Similar to a UC Berkeley program, the money from George’s Green Gift would be controlled by the Office of Sustainability.

I e-mailed Cory Antonakos, SA Director of Green Initiatives, for some more clarification:
This initiative is for a voluntary gift that would not be required by anybody. The purpose of putting it onto the tuition bill is to make all students and parents aware of the opportunity that they would have to donate money toward green initiatives at GW. Because this is not part of the Student Association fee and is not a required addition to tuition, George's Green Gift would not be put to a referendum. Right now, we are in the final stages of writing a concept paper and a letter to President Knapp about the green gift. We are also collecting student signatures for a petition in support of the green gift.
When asked about whether the state of the economy would affect receptiveness to George's Green Gift, Antonakos went on to state:
I think that the student body supports green initiatives and would like to see GW implement some more significant green projects. I think that the students would be receptive to the opportunity to donate money toward sustainability projects on campus. I have already spoken to many students who are supportive of George's Green Gift.
Like many GW students I’m a fan of both sustainability and improving Gelman. But, asking students to fork over extra cash isn’t the solution. There are a variety of useless projects and initiatives (inaugural float anyone?) the University has undertaken this year

The economy is in bad shape, and with many universities reorganizing and trimming budgets, it’s time for GW to follow suit. Instead of asking students to chip-in extra money, GW needs to look at its own budget, and figure out its priorities.

Want GW to be more fiscally responsible? Join the facebook group.

GW Getting Left Behind on the Technology Front

In my last post, I argued that it's time for GW to jumpstart it's plans to start recording classroom lectures at GW.

The fact is that there are numerous reasons why classroom lectures should be recorded.
  • students can re-listen to parts of lectures where professors explained the night's homework assignment
  • students can listen to lectures that they have missed, maybe they were sick or had an extracurricular activity that precluded them from attending class
  • students can use the recording to review before exams
  • students can re-listen to lectures to further their understanding of the material and notice key connections that they may have missed
  • non-native english speaking students can re-listen to lectures
  • faculty members can listen to their own lectures, and those of their colleagues, to improve their teaching
If you agree that classroom lectures at GW should be recorded, click here to join the facebook group.

Mismanagement at the SA

I don't think anyone is entirely surprised with the article that came out in the Hatchet this past week (Sorry that the link doesn't go directly to the will be updated when the Hatchet website starts working again). Needless to say, it is just another instance of Vishal and the rest of the SA financial committee being more or less incompetent coming to light.

It made me think back to the Unity Ball in the Fall semester. As the Hatchet reported then:
A semiformal ball this Saturday designed to celebrate diversity and Greek-letter life on campus will cost more than $50,000, with at least $20,000 coming from student fee allocations, according to Student Association documents and event planners.

$50,000! And $20,000 of that coming from the student activity an event that not everyone could attend and that those attending STILL had to pay $20 for. It seems a little messed up to me.

As an officer for the GW Ballroom team, I was disappointed when the team got only 50% of what we got last year in cosponsorships for our major fall competition in Ohio. But after hearing about the Unity Ball, and the way in which Vishal has managed to do almost nothing as SA President, I was livid.

I voted for Vishal last spring because he promised to fight for students, and promised that, because he wasn't interested in being a politician, he wasn't going to use the position as a resume builder. Well, apparently he isn't using the position for anything.

If you are interested in organizing to fight SA Funds Mismanagement, join the facebook group here.

GW Loves Money, Part Deux

In 2007, I paid GW $2,920 to intern -- for free -- at MTV Networks.

That's right. I shelled out almost three grand for my unpaid internship, where I worked about 45 hours a week.

I absolutely loved the job. I also loved living in New York City. But without any income, I accumulated a fair amount of debt living on my own. And the additional GW price tag of almost three grand didn't help.

While I had promised myself not to take another for-credit internship again, another great opportunity appeared this past summer, and I couldn't turn it down. The price per credit? 970 bucks.

I do understand that GW needs to charge some amount for students to receive credit for their summer internships. And yes, students can opt to receive non-credit recognition by the university for their summer internships. But if you're doing some serious work in an internship and want academic credit, you shouldn't have to pay almost $1000 for each credit. It's outrageous.

Unpaid internships can be a financial burden, especially if you're living on your own in a new city. Being required to pay an extra few thousand on top of it is, frankly, unfair.

Last year,
Rare is the internship that doles out more than minimum wage, and who can afford to spend a summer working 40 hours a week for peanuts? Probably not a college student with a typical financial aid package.
Summer internships -- paid or unpaid -- should not just be available for a privileged few who can afford the GW rates. They are unique and valuable experiences that everyone should have a shot at.

GW should encourage students to pursue summer internships without any concerns about credit fees. If students wants credit for their hard work, they should get it, without going into deeper debt.

The university prides itself on helping students to get internships. It should take its efforts one step further, and provide financial aid to students who might not otherwise be able to afford unpaid summer internships. If anything, it should lower the credit prices.

If you're interested in getting the university to change its summer internship payment policy, or are just pissed off, join the Facebook group.

Who Wants a Discounted Metro Fare? I Do!

For students at universities that lie in the heart of major U.S. cities, public transportation is key. As such, it is not uncommon for universities to strike deals with the city's transit authority to allow students to ride for a discounted fare. Unfortunately for students in the D.C. area, no such discount exists.

According to the Metro website, seniors (65+) and disabled riders are the only ones who qualify for reduced fares.

In addition to seniors and disabled riders, children under 4 can ride free with an adult. Older than 5, yet younger than 65? Out of luck. However, the site does mention a student discount:
Special discounted student farecards and passes are available for District of Columbia residents.
The aforementioned statement is the only mentioning of a "student farecard" and such a farecard as of now is confined to inner-city public schools, and not universities.

So lets take my situation: I'm 20 years old, a student at GWU and fortunately not disabled. I'm an avid metro rail user, taking the metro to and from the Capitol, Monday through Friday. Since I have to ride during rush hour, each trip sets me back $1.65. This might not seem like a lot, but it adds up. Here's the math:
  • (Daily) $1.65 x 2 = $3.30
  • (Weekly) $3.30 x 5 = $16.50
  • (Monthly) $16.50 x 4 = $66.00
Now, for those GWU students who are on their own financially, as I am, this is a pretty large monthly expense. So I propose that we work with the Student Association to fight for a student discount at metro stations within the District of Columbia.

Not only would it lighten the impact on our pockets, but it would encourage more students to use D.C.'s great public transit!

Voice your opinion at our Facebook group!

Outside the Bubble

To everyone who was lured into a UW-20 class by its sexy name only to be disappointed:

I am not saying all UW-20 classes are a snooze. In fact, the class I took freshman year was fantastic! I would just like to suggest a class that will not only improve the writing skills of GW students, but will also enhance their college experience in D.C. The class produces a 25-30 page papers, after all.

I am proposing a class that would provide students with the opportunity to give back to the residents of D.C. and improve the relationship of the university with the community.

Assignments would include, but not be limited to:

-Interviews with local residents
-Work with locally oriented non-profits
-Study of local music/art/culture

Such assignments will no doubt lead students to involvement with fantastic local organizations, like M.O.M.I.E.'S TLC, a local non-profit that "nurtures the genius in children."

I am proposing a class that explores D.C. and ALL it's neighborhoods. The class would focus on a number of assignments leading up to a paper focused on an originial aspect of the city of interest to the student. There's so much to explore outside the federal enclave--join me in asking the university to dedicate a class to its exploration!