Sunday, February 28, 2010

WRGW: Is Anyone Listening?

In the past few days, a back and forth occurred between two writers for this blog about WRGW's coverage of the Student Association election candidates. Eric (a supporter of Xochitl Sanchez) asserts that the radio station unfairly favored Jason Lifton. Alex (the Assistant News Director for WRGW) shot back, defending the organization and his colleagues.

I'm here to say: It doesn't matter.

It would only matter if WRGW's coverage actually swayed anyone to vote for Lifton. And for that to happen, people would have to have listened to WRGW, or read their blog. And nobody really does. I'm not sure exactly what their audience is, but it can not be very large. I have never met anyone not affiliated with WRGW who listens to the radio station. It seems as though the staff of WRGW is very dedicated and impassioned about creating content...for themselves. As for the blog, there are no comments on any of the stories currently on the home page, and the YouTube videos embedded in one post have about 45 views each.

The Student Association allocated about $2,400 to WRGW for this school year for your operational expenses. That is more than was allocated to Allied in Pride, any of the major drama production groups, and the Muslim Student Association. I am 100% confident that the audience of Recess, Forbidden Planet Productions, and Fourteenth Grade Player shows is much more than the annual audience of WRGW.

Why does WRGW still exist as an organization? Why does it receive so much funding from the Student Association? Why does it occupy a large and valuable space in the Marvin Center. And why do people get so worked up about allegedly biased reporting by a news organization with an audience smaller than the capacity of an average Corcoran Hall classroom?

You Don't Have To Be A Spy To Work For The FBI


The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the established leader to protect and defend the United States against foreign and domestic threats and has the kind of national legitimacy that cannot easily be replicated. In turn, The George Washington University's 20/20 Insight and District Consulting, EdVenture Partners and the FBI have come together to effectively raise the FBI's profile with the public to acquire top professionals into its ranks.

Marketing Management seniors have created and in-class marketing agencies, 20/20 Insight and District Consulting to help acquire qualified undergraduates, graduates and young professionals become a part of this great organization. Many believe FBI positions are limited to agents and spies and those jobs appear to be unattainable. But, many have what it takes to become part of the FBI through Intelligence Analyst or Contract Specialist positions.

Both agencies will be holding events on campus in addition to information sessions on how to apply and find additional information. In addition to looking for flyers and posters in the weeks to come, you can join the recruitment now. 20/20 Insight and District Consulting want YOU for the FBI.

A Response: "WRGW 'News' Biased & Speculative Throughout SA Elections"

Let's first get my conflict of interest out of the way: my name is Alexander Laska, and I am an Assistant News Director for WRGW News.

Recently, my fellow Assistant News Director, Dan Keylin, was attacked on this blog by Eric Thibault - who worked for Xochitl's Sanchez's campaign - for injecting analysis into his coverage of the Student Association elections.  Now, Dan's a big boy and he can take it, but not only did Mr. Thibault provide a completely fact-free assault on my fellow AND, he also called all of WRGW News as a whole "biased" (just look at the headline), which is appallingly inaccurate.

Now, he had to provide a media critique for his Internet and Politics class, and I don't blame him for choosing WRGW News to pick on: after all, he has been a staff writer for The Hatchet, and one can hardly expect him to critique his own employer.  But let's delve into his claims and see if there is any truth there.

First, he criticizes Dan for calling Jason Lifton (who went on to win the election) the "overwhelming favorite," saying that he had nothing to back up this claim.  Well, first off, we have done several interviews with SA insiders (you can find these interviews on our News In Depth page), all of whom agreed that the race was Lifton's to lose.  Then there was the straw poll we did which, while not scientific, did have a large sample (yes, Eric, I took SMPA 51, too) and backed up Dan's claim.  Oh, and then Lifton actually won the election.  So was there evidence to support the fact that Lifton was the favorite?  Retrospectively, yes.  In fact, when Dan made that assertion, it would have been pretty difficult to say he wasn't the overwhelming favorite in the race, considering the fact that Lifton announced his candidacy two days before Sanchez, the only other candidate in the presidential race, announced hers.  If Lifton wasn't the favorite at that point, I don't know who was.  Maybe Steve Holt?

Eric next critizes Dan's assertion that Sanchez didn't let him into her Facebook group.  But here's the first thing Sanchez's group says:
Per election rules, this group has to remain a closed group. However, if you would like to join my group I will not turn you away!***
But she did turn Dan away.  So, essentially, she lied on her campaign page.  I would argue that this is something worth noting.  As for Eric's respose...
Who the hell cares? That's not news, that's your egotistical commentary.
Real mature, Eric.

From there, Eric goes on to rant about various other things regarding Dan's coverage of the SA.  I'll respond in order:

Campus Safety Needs to be a Top Priority

Three. That's the number of crime alerts we have received from the University in the last five days. If I were to go through all of my emails from the last month, that number would probably be closer to ten or more.

UPD increased patrols on the west side of campus at the beginning of the month, but crime is still a major issue on this campus. When I was a freshman, we never received multiple crime alerts in the same week, nevermind the continuous flow of monthly emails that we get now.

UPD and University administrators need to find a more effective way to address this problem and make it one of their top priorities. In every crime alert email, students are urged to take 4-Ride to avoid thefts. If that is the solution that the University has, it should be working towards an increase in the 4-Ride budget to ensure shorter waits times and more effective service of the system. They should also look into rerouting the Colonial shuttle routes to more central locations on campus. This could be a great supplement to 4-Ride but the shuttle system is not well utilized.

The easiest way to put pressure on the University to address this issue is to advocate loudly on behalf of the student body. Towards that end, this should be one of the top priorities for SA President-elect Jason Lifton and his administration. Time will tell if he can deliver on his campaign promises, but let's start with the issue of campus safety.

In the mean time, we could try submitting a number of 4-Ride feedback forms to get UPD's attention. Click here to find the form.

BREAKING NEWS: Get Gelman Going Facebook Group Gains over 1,000 Members

You've probably seen, been invited to, or even joined the Facebook group, "Get Gelman Going" this past week.

As of today, the group has over 1,000 members and currently stands at 1,029.

The group was created by junior Ryan Last, as a response to the overwhelming concerns for our beloved University’s library. As students at GW we’ve probably all noticed the same issues the group addresses: not enough outlets, better bathrooms, and the installation of security cameras.

Though a great idea, and one many students at GW feel is important, the Facebook group doesn’t clearly state how these changes will be implemented. Supposedly, Last would like to expedite the restoration of Gelman, which is somewhat dependent on the class of 2010's senior class gift.

If you have a story, comment or suggestion, you can email GetGelmanGoing@Gmail.com.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

GW: Keeping You Safe

Google has gotten a lot of buzz recently, and GW student email uses a Google server, so all of us have a right to be a little concerned over our privacy. Do not fear, for those students who are concerned about who has what information about you, GWMail, does not includee Google Buzz, it cannot be turned on, and thus there are no privacy issues (other than those already present when using GWMail.)


There is no expectation that all students use their @gwmail.gwu.edu address exclusively, and administrators know that. Given the substantial change within Gmail, the university failed to take action to alert its users that it would not impact the GW community. The privacy breech made its way through the internet, and GW students had a legitimate right to fear that their accounts could be compromised through Google Buzz, and the University failed to act in the best interest of their students.

For students like me who simply forward their GWMail to a Gmail account, there is a major privacy issue present. When the system was created your information became public, so now what you do online is now available to your friends, exes, professors, and anyone else who you do not want to know what you read on Google Reader, or your other web movements.
In a CNET news article, Google responded to Buzz concerns by saying:
“We designed Buzz to make it easy for users to connect with other people and have conversations about the things that interest them. Buzz was launched only a week ago. We've already made a few changes based on user feedback, and we have more improvements in the works."

Photo Credit 1

University Streamlines Financial Aid Process

Yesterday, the University announced changes to the process of applying for financial aid. In previous years, students have been required to fill out multiple forms and submit various tax forms. The process only reinforced to notion of a massive bureaucracy at GW. Ensuring the all forms submitted online, or faxed, was a terribly cumbersome ordeal. But, alas, the Office of Student Financial Assistance has recognized its own faults, and has corrected the problems.

For the 2010-2011 Financial Aid Application Process, students need not deal with tax forms and more than one online application. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as FAFSA. This one form will determine how much financial aid a student will receive. Federal tax returns and W-2 statements are not required, but may be if more information is needed.

Overall, this is great news for everyone at GW. For too long has nothing been done about the great amount of "red tape" within the University. Spending less than an hour to deal with an important part of planning for next year reduces a great burden on students. However, there should be a healthy dose of skepticism that comes with this announcement. Will the Office of Student Financial Assistance ask for tax forms from the majority of students anyways? And perhaps more importantly, how will simplifying the process affect the amount of aid students receive. If submitting less forms means a less accurate forecast of financial need, and possibly less assistance, then is this really the right way to go? However, we should commend the university for trying to correct a problem that has been a problem for too long. Here's the e-mail sent out yesterday afternoon:

Dear Students,

The university has evaluated the requirements for continuing student applications and developed a simplified process that should relieve some of the administrative burden from students and their families.

Continuing students are no longer required to file the CSS Profile and GW Application for Financial Assistance. Additionally federal tax returns, W-2 statements and verification worksheets are only required if requested.

To apply for financial assistance for the 2010-2011 academic year students should do the following by April 23, 2010:

~File the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.gov
~Submit the Verification of Family Member Enrollment (if there is another family member reported to be in college on the FAFSA)
~Submit the GW Family Grant Application (if there are siblings concurrently enrolled in GW undergraduate programs)

In an effort to streamline the process you do not have to download any materials or visit our office to pick up applications. The FAFSA renewal process can be completed online with your PIN and any other required forms can be submitted to our office through the mail or by fax.

All communications from the Office of Student Financial Assistance are sent via email to the student. Although periodic reminders will be sent regarding outstanding documentation, students should also proactively check for any outstanding requirements listed in GWeb under the My Eligibility section. The University does reserve the right to request further documentation to meet federal verification requirements or clarify conflicting data so additional documentation can be requested at any time. Students should continue to review their GWeb account even after award notifications have been sent.

If there is a change in circumstances that may impact eligibility for financial aid, students are encouraged to submit the Special Conditions Form or contact our office for further guidance in lieu of making changes on the FAFSA. Generally when changes are made to the original FAFSA, the individual will be selected for verification requiring the Office of Student Financial Assistance to clarify the changes and the need to request further documentation, such as the federal tax forms.

We are confident that this change in process will make it a bit easier for our continuing students to reapply each year and will enable our office to be more responsive to customer inquiries during the weeks preceding the start of each semester.

Sincerely,

Daniel E. Small, Executive Director
Office of Student Financial Assistance

Friday, February 26, 2010

WRGW "News" Biased & Speculative Throughout SA Elections

***It just so happens that this week, my Internet & Politics is requiring us to provide a media critique for a campus news outlet.

Finally, the SA elections are over and I can say what I actually think about WRGW's coverage of the whole thing. I'll be upfront and say that I was working on Xochitl Sanchez's campaign for the presidential race, but I think my analysis of their coverage is fairly logical and accurate. And that's more than I can say for their coverage of Xochitl's candidacy.

This first time WRGW revealed its bias in the presidential race was on Febuary 10th. And I guess if I'm being really honest, when I say WRGW, I really mean Assistant "News" Editor Dan Keylin. His opening blog about her candidacy stated that "at this point of the announcement process Lifton is the overwhelming favorite." Says who, Daniel? Do you have a poll to back that up? Because I didn't see one.

Dan Keylin will go on to make more statements like that for the next two weeks. More often than not, he has no substantial evidence to back up his claims. He also felt the need to add this disclaimer to the blog post I mentioned above:

"Interestingly, when I tried to join the group I was rejected, a little unexpected for an SA presidential candidate trying to gain some support early in the campaign."
Who the hell cares? That's not news, that's your egotistical commentary.

Ten days later on February 20th, Dan was at it again. I'll give him some credit though, his breakdown of Xochitl's debate performance that night was fairly accurate. But, he was sure to get his plug for Jason Lifton, calling Jason's debate performance "very, very strong."

I realize that the disclaimer at the top of this post said these were solely the views of the author. However, you can't be both an opinionated blogger and be seen as an objective "assistant news editor" at the same time. Pick one.

I'm going to keep going with the examples, because quite frankly WRGW News just really pissed me off this month. February 23rd, WRGW News posted its endorsement for Jason Lifton for President on its blog. Shocker. The endorsement points out that "Jason will be able to hit the ground running on these policy matters from day one." Didn't Hillary Clinton already use that line?

To be fair, she also received some positive/neutral coverage from WRGW on the 23rd. But the post that talked about Xochitl's advantage with the freshmen vote wasn't posted by Dan, it was posted by Alexa Vogel.

And I've saved the best for last! I couldn't help but laugh when I read the results of the polls that were conducted by WRGW. WRGW released a straw poll from their debate, which I conveniently can no longer find on their Web site. From that poll, Dan speculated that Xochitl would be getting a larger number of PIKE and Phi Psi votes based on the results of the straw poll.

First of all, the poll was conducted with 50 participants. Anyone that knows anything about polling, would tell you that you need at least 100 participants in a perfectly weighed poll to be even close to accurate. Second, there was only one Phi Psi in the room that night and he didn't vote!!! Where Dan Keylin got that "analysis" from I'll never know. It certainly didn't come from the poll.

The second poll, was of 369 voters for the Presidential race. But, the poll states that results only reflected likely and very likely voters (aka 58% of 369, or 214 people). They don't have any numbers as to how many of those were freshmen, sophomores, juniors, or seniors and don't include graduated students. Now the poll again acknowledges that is not scientific, but it's so unscientific that why even publish it?

My last example comes from Dan's most recent post, today. He called the results of the election, a "surprising nail-biter." By who's standards was that surprising? Based on his poorly conducted poll, I guess I can see his point though.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

73,958!


Today, we received an e-mail from the university with great news-- 73, 958!

That's 73,958 community service hours logged towards the goal of 100,000 hours set by First Lady Michelle Obama. According to the e-mail, we're on track towards completing Mrs. Obama's goal, with the hours finished by the first of May.

This means there are 26,042 community service hours left to log, and there is no shortage of opportunities to serve with the university.'

For example, this Sunday is the 8th annual Senior Prom, an event held in the Marvin Center which hosts senior citizens from around the district.

Also, GW's Relay for Life will be held in 46 days (April 10, for those of you who can't compute that fast). Many student organizations have already begun their contributions; visit the site for more details.
Each and every day there is a way to serve; do your part so our university can have the fantastic commencement speaker it deserves!

Monday, February 22, 2010

I'm On a Board Mother F*cker

I just happened to stumble across this irreverent video produced by the GW Law Review 2010. It's a parody of The Lonely Island's Grammy-nominated"I'm On a A Boat", which has reached YouTube legend status since it premiered on Saturday Night Live in February of 2009. It's pretty funny, mostly for it's tool-ishness and the amount of effort the cast put into it. After taking a look at the YouTube page of the user who uploaded the video, it seems the person has made dozens of these types of videos filmed in the GW Law School. Most have only a handful of views, but some are worth a look if you have a sense of humor that leans towards the irreverent, gross, or satirical. Warning: Language is NSFW in most of the videos.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Week of Classical Music

Classical music lovers in the District can rejoice this week, as there is a full-fledged schedule of more performances than one could ever attend. Beginning on Friday, February 26th, famed Russian conductor Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Opera will be performing at the Kennedy Center. Also on the 26th, the trio of violinist Christian Tetzlaff, cellist Tanja Tetzlaff, and pianist Lars Vogt will be playing at the Wolf Trap. On Saturday the 27th, Polish pianist RafaƂ Blechacz will be making his DC debut, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will be hosting a program of Mozart and Beethoven. In addition to these concerts, there will be many free performances in and around the District, including flutist Harold Jones and pianist Peter Vinograde at the National Gallery of Art and the Altenberg Trio at the Library of Congress.

Convenience Or Privacy?


The Hatchet recently had an article on a new breed of student cards with built in SmarTrip capabilities. Students and staff at American University have been testing the system, but GW has announced that technology is not currently an option for our University. How disappointing?

Such a system would be fantastically convenient for GW students, especially if the mandatory Colonial Cash could be used on the Metro. However the issue of lost or stolen cards would become more significant. It's tap and travel ability could be easily exploited by those who had 'acquired' a card. And also there is a question of personal liberty. At what point do we start to worry about all our info being in one place; our name, our address, our money and now our movements. I find that a little scary. I'm torn between a world of convenience and a world without privacy!

I'm Sorry Does Not Quite Cover It

No one is an exception to human error. One particular human error caused devastation to about 200 Early Decision II applicants as they were congratulated on being accepted into the University and just hours later, that acceptance turned into rejection. Because ED is binding, once accepted, students must withdraw their applications from other schools. Luckily, the mistake was corrected within hours so students did not withdraw from their backup choices. Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions Kathy Napper offered her apologies Wednesday.

"A very small number of Early Decision 2 applicants received the email in error. We realized the computer glitch soon after it was sent and have already sent an apology email to those students."

The reason for the emails was the delay of acceptance packages because of the snow. However, as a student who had a younger sibling go through the GW application process this year, I am curious about the necessity for the second email that caused this confusion. GW notifies students a week beforehand of the date when their acceptance will be shown online and they receive an acceptance package about a week after that. But, there was never a second follow-up email. Senior Vice President for Student and Academic Services Robert Chernak commented:

"In the normal procedure, after the early decision is made we send an e-mail out and then we follow up with an official package of acceptance. In this situation, the snow really slowed up the delivery of the acceptance packets...So Kathy [Napper] felt that it would be a good idea to send an e-mail to those people who were accepted, that was the theory, for Early Decision II. As those instructions went down the chain of command in the admissions office to the operational level, the individual who sent out the e-mail... touched the wrong button on the list."

The GW Hatchet was first to report the story but it was soon picked up by the local news in addition to national. To cut GW some slack, it is not the first university to make this mistake. Last year UCSD sent acceptance letters to all 46,377 applicants including the 29,000 who were rejected. GW is lucky not to have affected more than 200, but an apology letter might not be enough for the accepted rejections.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

In Thursday’s Hatchet Edition, the Opinions page was graced with an article not usually seen in the paper.

Kelly Zentgraf, a junior, wrote about her personal battle with an eating disorder, in honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which begins on Sunday.

As another junior girl, hailing from a wealthy suburb in Connecticut, I certainly have been exposed to this crippling disorder. I have watched some of my closest friends become afflicted with the disease, which means I am forever “on watch” for weight-loss, and constantly asking about food-intake. It was the norm in my high school for girls to have lost ten pounds by graduation and to never eat anything during lunch period. (Though, as Zentgraf points out in her article, eating disorders can afflict people of both genders of any age or sexual orientation).

As for the reasoning of the disorder, Zentgraf says this:

The commonly known reasons are as follows: low self-esteem, poor body-image, underlying depression and/or anxiety. But I have also met individuals who starved and binged and purged for altogether different reasons: as responses to the most extreme traumas and as methods of the most violent self-annihilation. I have met people who cannot even name a reason for why they did those things. "It just felt natural, it felt right," they say.

I commend Zentgraf, to the nth degree, for being able to publicly share her emotional story and for bringing awareness of eating disorders to the GW community. Among my GW friends, her article has initiated conversations over dinner. If you haven’t read the article yet, I hope you will chose to do so now and learn a bit more about eating disorders, from someone who has experienced one.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Make the SA Candidates Hear You

This Friday, February 19th, WRGW News will be hosting the first official Student Association Debate at 7pm in the Marvin Center Ampitheater (3rd floor).  From Director Jared Pliner:
Today, it is my distinct privilege to announce that WRGW News - a division of WRGW/GWRadio - will host and moderate the 2010 WRGW News - Student Association Debate for the very first time in the station's 81-year history.

We are excited for this wonderful opportunity to serve and inform the GW community this election season, and it is my hope that this will become an annual tradition for many years to come.
The debate will be in two parts, the first featuring EVP candidates Jon Binetti, Logan Dobson, Josh Goldstein, and Rob Maxim and the second featuring SA Presidential candidates Jason Lifton and Xochitl Sanchez.  Pliner, along with Assistant News Directors Dan Keylin and myself, will ask the candidates questions in a typical debate format.

But more importantly, we'll be allowing you, the students, to ask questions of the candidates.  They can be about anything: what do you care about?  What bothers you about GW, or the way the SA works?  What do you want next year's administration to do for you?  It is important to make sure the candidates are aware of your stances on the issues so that you can hold them accountable and make them earn your support.

Even if you don't have a particular question you'd like to ask, this debate is still an excellent opportunity to find out about the candidates and their platforms before going to the (online) polls on February 24th and 25th.

And if you can't make it to the debate in person, you can listen live and follow our live blog of the event.

Hope to see you there,

Alexander Laska
Assistant News Director
WRGW News

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Crime Alerts: The Ultimate Stereotype Enhancer

George Washington University is a school in a very urban location. Along with this comes one of the problems that come with living in any city: Crime.

The numbers of robberies around campus this year has increased significantly. Along with each robbery comes an email from GW, explaining the incident and the subject, and read something like this:
Robbery at Gelman Library Starbucks

On Tuesday, Feb. 16, at approximately 12:10pm, a robbery occurred in the Gelman Library Starbucks. A suspect attempted to steal an unattended laptop when a witness stopped him. The suspect forcibly pulled away from the witness, and fled the store with the laptop. The suspect was pursued by another witness and was stopped across the street and the laptop was recovered. The suspect then fled the area and was last seen entering the Foggy Bottom Metro Station. GW Police Officers searched the area for the suspect, but were unable to locate him.

SUBJECT DESCRIPTION: Black male, approximately 6' 1", 130 lbs., wearing a dark colored leather jacket. The suspect was described as being between 17 and 20 years old.

This email was sent over 24 hours later than the crime occurred. Aside from the ridiculous dimensions of the suspect (6'1", 130 pounds?), there is no point in even putting it in the email. There are thousands of 6'1" black men in dark colored jackets that travel across our campus each day, and these suspect descriptions only serve to increase racial profiling.

No one is going to find this specific guy 24 hours after the crime occurred based on the description, and all that students get out of emails like this is that there are black men running around our campus stealing things from people. It's time that GW stopped this ineffective and unnecessary policy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Excellence Award Season

You've heard of the Academy Awards, but have you heard of GW's Excellence Awards?
This year is the 25th anniversary of the Excellence in Student Life Awards, and the celebration will be help on Wednesday, April 21st.

Awards will be given to students, faculty, staff, and student organizations. Nominations are open until March 5th; visit SAC's Student Involvement Events site.

Most upperclassmen know the best part of the Excellence Awards isn't the awards themselves, it's the dessert reception afterwards. It's usually held in Kogan Plaza, and past sponsors have included Cold Stone Creamery and Maggie Moo's Ice Cream and Treatery. The secret is to get to Kogan Plaza early though, before the ceremony lets out, because the line begins early!

Elephants banned in classrooms, “vengeance” reportedly “coming to professors like a bag of bricks with tusks.”

Last week’s Hatchet included another editorial about the proliferation of laptops in classrooms. The argument is that laptops allow students to look up words like proliferation when they’re listening to their wise, mustached sage of a professor. From where I’m sitting, a 20-year-old student talking about the necessity of electronics is a lot like a CEO talking about the efficacy of bonuses. The arguments may be passionate, but they always ignore the elephant in the room: reality. And the reality of a classroom full of blue lights and motionless man-moths is a lot like…having an elephant in your room. In fact, if a student spent as much time staring at elephants as he did laptops, he would engineer an equally compelling argument. Let’s say I’m that student…

Banning Elephants Hurts the Environment

Capturing the brutal elegance of the elephant is an elusive goal for any writer, but soon that beauty will go from elusive to extinct. Overzealous professors—most of them born before we invited Discovery’s Planet Earth into our homes and elephants into our classrooms—are making every effort to banish them. Simply put, these tweed tyrants are poaching our greatest ally in the game of learning, and by willfully ignoring the benefits of these heroes, they are just asking for 10,000 pounds of trouble.

I believe it was Sir Isaac Newton who said “If I have seen further, it is only because I am soaring on the hilarious ears of elephants.”

“I would never f*** with one though,” he added. Since then, the elephant in the room helped us win The Great War and land a man on the moon.

Naysayers call them distractions, but so what? They use their giant trunks to hold our Starbucks, they use their giant tusks to tickle our bellies, and they use their giant brains to plot revenge on naysayers. They demand our attention by building massive piles of felled trees or by spitting 100 ounces of salivary bliss onto our chests. It is the professor’s duty to grab our attention. Instead, they silence our friends, almost like they’re just asking for it man…

It’s not my fault if facts aren’t interesting. PowerPoints just don’t cut it in today’s world, and the fact that professors have chosen to accept minimal salaries to share a lifetime of wisdom with us isn’t enough. They need to incorporate Megan Fox into lessons about supply-side economics, and they need to show movies and Youtube clips. I have a whole playlist devoted to elephants making the rest of the food chain their slaves, but professors are stuck in their ways like old dogs. They may succeed in taking the elephant out of the classroom, but they can’t take the classroom out of the elephant—once it chooses to devour it as an example to the rest.

Also, Michelle Rhee supports elephants.


Now look yourself in the mirror and say you aren’t convinced, not even in the slightest. That’s what a liar looks like my friend…you’re staring at the freckles of deceit. Don’t be ashamed though, we’re trained to trust the editorial format even when it doesn’t match reality. As for the laptop: anyone who has ever sat in the back of a classroom can probably tell you what all of their classmates did over the weekend, and if they have any respect—or even empathy—for the teacher, they can’t help but feel a little bummed out by this. I mean, it’s not like we take our laptops to the mall or the movies…

Oh wait, I watch a movie every week for my Philosophy of Film course, and that’s exactly what everyone does.

Yeah…

I think our only hope now is for Hannibal’s army of elephant justice to somehow conquer our minds. [By the way, googling Hannibal AND elephant justice is always acceptable, especially if you’re in class]

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Board of Trustees Get it Right With Tuition Increase

Unlike my last post which was critical of University policy, I am going to give credit where credit is due. The Hatchet reported that the Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition by 3% on Friday. While just about everyone complains about the enormous price tag to attend this University, it's important to know that University officials are taking steps to address these concerns. According to the Hatchet article, the increase was significantly below the national average (4.3%) for private institutions for the second year in a row. Kudos to President Knapp for delivering on what he promised to make one of his top issues.

We are however continuously branded wit the title of "one of the most expensive schools in the country." We did drop to third most expensive last year, but what most people don't know it that there are nearly 60 schools that also have a price tag of $50,000 or more. In other words, as we continue to raise tuition at a rate much lower than the national average, we could plummet down that dreaded list. On the flip side, and often an ignored point in the price tag argument, is that the University continues to be at the top of list in regards to financial aid. Nearly two is three students at GW receive some form of financial aid.

The thing that most people here don't know is what drives the price of the University up. If you ask anyone why they chose GW, one of the top answers will probably be the location. Well, that location comes with a price. Real estate in Foggy Bottom is some of the most expensive in the country. GW's price tag would be considerably lower if we were in the middle of say...Idaho. But then again, I suspect enrollment numbers might be a lot lower... With all that though, I think it's great that GW is taking progressive measures to address the affordability issue.

Texts From Last Night (GW Style)

If you're a college student with a pulse and at least some sense of humor, chances are you've heard of the irreverent, hilarious, and often awkward blog Texts From Last Night. The site is a collection of the best, worst, funniest, and most sexual submissions of alleged texts people have sent or received, with a focus on inappropriate and revealing messages "from last night". The appeal of the website is 1) We all like to hear hilarious stories about other people, and 2) We wish our lives were this exciting every night.

In December, a GWU student started the Facebook group Texts From Last Night-GWU Edition. The GWU was recently replaced with Foggy Bottom after the GW Hatchet ran a few stories about the site. Since then, the group has attracted over 2,500 members and more than 400 posts. Many of the submissions are "so GW", including one of my favorites:"(817) I'm getting hangover cures from the Huffington Post. I am SUCH a poli sci major." I myself have posted some text conversations with my friends I thought I other people would find funny, including this one:
Some are concerned that the group gives the impression that the University is filled with alcoholic, drug abusing, sex-addicted hooligans. Whether that's true or not, take a look at some of the most recent postings to the group's wall and it might seem that way. GWU's new and improved public relations arm has apparently been monitoring the site and any attention it has gotten, hence the change of the group's name.

The Financial Impact of the Historic Snowfall

I was not really aware of it but apparently the District was hit with a lot of snow recently, and although the storm is over, George Washington University is still feeling the effects. According to the GW Hatchet, the University could very well spend "into [the] six-figure range" attempting to clean up after the historic snowfall. As the GW Hatchet reports:
each storm costs between $50,000 and $100,000 to clean up due to overtime labor costs for facilities crew members and the use of necessary equipment and supplies to clear sidewalks and pathways.
DC, which only receives on average about 17 inches of snow a year, was generally unprepared for the upwards of 50 inches of snow and, for the most part, completely shutdown. The massive snow has also forced the University to "divert funds from other areas" to pay for the arduous task of removing the snow. Executive Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz stated that the money will most likely come from a source such as one that is used "to replace sidewalks" and make other minor infrastructure changes, and, on a whole, will not be noticed by the student body.

Valentines Day... Spreading the Commercial Love


That time of year has come round again, Valentines Day!!

Every year I find it extremely amusing how much effort is put into such a made up holiday. Basically it's a holiday where we should take the time to show our love for our better half. And of course there is nothing wrong with that but I hope that people in relationships don't wait for one day a year to show their love. Shouldn't that just be a continuous process?

The sad thing is, even though most people realize that this so called 'holiday' is a bit ridiculous they still perpetuate it. Every business tries to take advantage of it, most people will be talking about it and lots of papers and blogs will be writing on it. Our very own Hatchet had a specific section dedicated to Valentines Day. I feel all this attention on one day makes people feel as though they have to be loving. For me, being pressured into being loving seems to be everything this fake holiday stands for!

So those of you in relationships I hope you have a great day making your partner happy but remember don't just do it because society says you have to, do it because you want to.

Snowpocalypse 2010: The pictures










If you want to see more, go on Photobucket. I hope you liked them!

An Evening with Rupert Murdoch: Posponed

I had previously wrote about Rupert Murdoch's appearance on the new installment of the Kalb Report. Due to the recent snow, however, the event, originally scheduled on Feb. 9, was postponed. The Hatchet wrote that "the even has been rescheduled for Tuesday, April 6," according to the Director of the Global Media Institute Michael Freedman.

The Hatchet also wrote:
Students with ticket reservations for Feb. 9 will have the first opportunity to get tickets for the rescheduled date, Freedman said. After those students have the chance, others will be able to reserve any remaining tickets.
It will definitely be an interesting talk for those who are curious to hear about the media mogul's take on the internet and the future of the media. So make sure to get the tickets!

A President Who Will Fight


Finally we have a president who will fight for us. One who will stare down the enemy. One who will never accept defeat. No, I'm not talking about Barack Obama. I'm talking about GW President Steve Knapp. With four days without classes, and plenty of snow, it was only natural that dozens, if not hundreds, of snowball fights occurred. On Wednesday, GW battled Georgetown in one of the bigger fights during Snowpocalypse. It was over before it started.

With over 200 Colonials showing up, the approximately 75 Georgetown students never stood a chance. As President Knapp was surely one of the few administrators left on campus, it was good to see him trek to the snowball fight and join the students in victory.

Knapp has tried to become a more visible presence on campus this year, helping students during the fall move-in and joining in on the official days of service that have occurred during the year. My message to President Knapp is simple: Keep It Up.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Back to Business


Now that the snow is behind us, and in most cases still underfoot, DC and GW can finally get back to normal. Although we are expecting more snow on President’s Day Monday, it is already a University Holiday and there will be no more days off for snow, at least this week.




The makeup schedule (below) is announced and will probably cause at least a little bit controversy as it takes away reading days and moves classes from Thursday, February 11 to Saturday May 1. But this is what is expected, there is nowhere else to makeup the classes, and what each individual professor does with his or her classes is the decision of each professor.

Monday, Feb. 8, canceled classes to be held on Tuesday, April 27 (Regular Makeup Day);
Tuesday, Feb. 9, canceled classes to be held on Thursday, April 29 (Reading Day 1);
Wednesday, Feb. 10, canceled classes to be held on Friday, April 30 (Reading Day 2);
Thursday, Feb. 11, canceled classes to be held on Saturday, May 1.

Snowmageddon is over, Snowmageddon II is past, it is now time for the city and the university to get back to normal before graduation is moved.


Photo Credit 1

Forget Valentine's Day!


For all of you suffering from cabin fever, I may have a solution to some of your problems: Mardi Gras! Do not let the snow hold you back. Coming from the second largest celebration area in the U.S., St. Louis, and having family in New Orleans, it's hard not to appreciate this "holiday." Mardi Gras, also known as Carnival, refers to "Fat Tuesday," the last night of eating "fattier," more delicious foods before Lent. While D.C. may not have the parades, beads or overall craziness like New Orleans, there are still a few ways to have fun here.

For those underage, look up a recipe for king cake...don't forget the plastic baby and have a Mardi Gras dinner. Try some dishes like gumbo, jambalaya or shrimp creole. Another popular dish is beignets, but if that seems too tough, stick to pancakes (you can even use frozen ones). Make everyone dress in purple, green and yellow, and throw yourself a party.

For those ready to celebrate, Mardi Gras Madness begins at 8 PM tonight in Falls Church. Clarendon will have a local parade on the actual Fat Tuesday, February 16 at 8 PM. Rumors (19th & M) will hold it's Annual Bourbon Street Bash beginning at 4 PM on the 16th. Or try out Lulu's Club Mardi Gras (1217 22nd St.) for Cajun food and I'm pretty sure a celebration for the next week. So, grab some masks and beads, and have some more fun this 11-day weekend!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Boycott GW's Lousy Make-Up Schedule?

MadTwomey already wrote a great post about GW's lame make-up schedule (shout-out, by the way, to a fellow Connnecticuter who has never seen snow so poorly handled), but I felt the need to chime in as well because this is really bothering me.

This new schedule completely eliminates our reading days - not only that, but it also goes so far as to steal one of our weekend days, the Saturday before exams start.  The GW administration might think all we do on the weekends is drink, but the weekend before finals, most of us actually study for our exams.  Forcing us to go to class right up until two days before exams start is going to severely affect our performance on said exams.

There's already a Facebook group condemning the decision:
GWU made an executive decision to cancel classes due to the record snowfall. They have a responsibility to their student-customers to rearrange the semester schedule responsibly. Elongate the semester, change the final exam schedule or format - but don't punish your students by taking away their study days or weekends, harming their academic performance. A make-up day is a fine time to hold missed classes, but don't take away our reading days. In protest of this senseless new policy, the members of this group will protest by boycott, and refuse to attend class on reading days or a Saturday. More study days and better final exam grades are worth more than a few missed classes on designated reading days stolen from the student body by a university which refuses to lose a small fraction of their exorbitant profits by adding a few days to the semester.
Facebook groups are an easy way to show disgust with a stupid policy, and boycotts may be fun (especially when they involve not going to class), but will either of these tactics really result in a change to the make-up schedule?

The Mystery of GW Mail

Of course, the big news this week was GW shutting down due to the second (or third if you count December’s) snowpocalypse—classes cancelled, academic buildings shut down, Gelman operating on partial hours. Some buildings did remain open though, hot spots like Hell Well and the Fishbowl.

Among the closed sectors of the university was GW’s Package Services, the central portal where all GW students living on campus have packages shipped. After the first storm, I ordered snow boots, and they were scheduled to arrive this past Wednesday, when we got our second dose of snow. I figured their arrival would be delayed. How could anyone sign for them at Package Services if it was closed?

Surprisingly, after following my boots’ UPS tracking number, it said the boots were successfully delivered and signed for on Thursday; yet upon calling the university’s concierge service, they informed me that Package Services was indeed closed. So did packages still get successful delivered , but students fail to receive delivery notification?

And what about all of the other mail? I haven’t received mail in my dorm since last Thursday, while friends living off-campus have received mail. Why isn’t GW’s mail system as effective?

Did you experience any headaches not receiving mail/packages this past week?

The Problem with the Make-up Snow-edule... Er... Schedule



We all knew what was to come this past Monday when Friday’s snowstorm still looked fresh, plows had given up, and classes were canceled. (To be clear, I think GW did a fantastic job ensuring its students were safe, warm and busy this week, with its maintenance staff working around the clock, as the Hatchet so kindly pointed out. But I’m from Connecticut. If Manhattan had gotten 26" overnight, no trace of it would be seen by the next morning.)

Despite the fun of having four snow days in a row (and totaling, for those who have no Friday classes, to be an eleven-day weekend), academics were certainly impacted. I spent every day in the library trying to stay on top of my work and preparing for the papers and projects I could only assume would be on schedule for next week. By Monday night’s announcement to cancel Tuesday’s classes, I was anxious to receive emails from my professors outlining what readings and homework we were expected to have completed.

Finally, the University announced the following end-of-year schedule in an email at 8:35 p.m. last night:

Monday, Feb. 8, canceled classes to be held on Tuesday, April 27 (Regular Makeup Day); 


Tuesday, Feb. 9, canceled classes to be held on Thursday, April 29 (Reading Day 1); 


Wednesday, Feb. 10, canceled classes to be held on Friday, April 30 (Reading Day 2); 


Thursday, Feb. 11, canceled classes to be held on Saturday, May 1.

The original schedule was as follows:

Make-up Classes (T) April 27

Designated Monday/Last Day of Spring semester classes (W) April 28

Reading Days (R-F) April 29-30

FINAL EXAMINATIONS (M-T) May 3-11

As a junior at GW, I’ve come to appreciate our "reading days." Some schools only have one. Some schools don’t have any. Some schools, like University of North Carolina at Asheville, became outraged when theirs were being taken away (see their Facebook group's picture above). With the old schedule, we had four days to prepare for finals. Four days to, yes, let loose, relax and see friends, but mostly, study hard in Gelman. It’s a necessary vacation.

With the new schedule, we lose those reading days we've come to love. We’ll be in class on Saturday, and have only Sunday free before finals begin on Monday.

I understand Snowmageddon had to be responded to, and I understand that because this amount of snow is not ordinary, GW didn’t have a policy in place to deal with it. But I don’t think making up every single day was necessary. Because we missed Monday—Thursday and most classes are on a M-W(-F) or T-R schedule, we should only have to make up one Monday and one Tuesday. Monday could have been made-up on the originial makeup day, Tuesday, and Tuesday could have been made-up on Thursday, Reading Day 1, keeping in place Wednesday’s designated Monday schedule. I’m sure both students and professors could have adapted to missing a day or two of class, nixing just one assignment and one assigned reading.

But even with the schedule I proposed, there will be issues. Are professors going to be teaching new material in the two (T-R) or four (M-W) classes we have in the last week—only a few days before the final exam?

This schedule is just going to end up stressing us all out, even more, during finals week.