With almost 200 years of history, there’s plenty to learn about GW. But sometimes it’s tough to tell if a piece of GW lore is true or false. To help sort out which bits of information to ditch and which to share, here’s a guide of GW fact or fiction.
"Playboy named Thurston Hall the second-most sexually active dorm in the country."
Sure, Thurston likely sees a lot of hookups. The vending machine that sells condoms sells out fast. Roommate squabbling could centers on a “sexiling” plan gone awry. But despite the rumors, Playboy Magazine did not name GW’s largest freshman residence hall the second-most sexually active dorm in the country. The magazine has never even published that kind of list. A lot could go on somewhere that houses more than 1,000 college kids, but Thurston has not earned an official title declaring its sexual supremacy.
"Alec Baldwin transferred from GW after he lost an SA election."
Alec Baldwin has won two Emmy Awards for his role on the NBC show “30 Rock,” but the actor has seen some defeats too. One that forever ties him to GW history was his 1979 loss in the race for Student Association president. Baldwin, who then went by Alex and was known for running up Program Board budgets, finished the election in third place and transferred to New York University the following year.
"GW is the most expensive university in the country."
The University’s name was dragged across headlines five years ago for topping several “most expensive university” lists, including ones by Forbes and the Chronicle of Higher Education, but that is no longer the case. Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, N.Y. ended GW’s dubious ranking in 2008, the year the Board of Trustees approved measures to lower tuition costs. The sticker price of a GW education, which includes tuition and fees without counting potential scholarships or financial aid, is $45,780 for incoming freshmen and transfer students. That’s a 3.7 percent increase from last year, but GW is not at the very top of the list for most expensive universities.
"The Vern used to be a women’s college."
Today, the Vern Express shuttles students going to class or heading to brunch on the Mount Vernon Campus. But the University’s satellite campus used to be Mount Vernon College, a separate school that has roots going back to the Civil War. Mount Vernon College, a school only for women, merged with GW in 1998. Most of the buildings that now dot the campus were named for the school’s early leaders, like Elizabeth Somers, showing traces of the campus’s long history.
"Lisner Auditorium was the center of a civil rights battle."
Big-name political speakers and performers who stop at Lisner Auditorium often bring a buzz to campus. But things were not always so friendly at the on-campus auditorium. Protests and citywide debate surrounded the 69-year-old building in 1946 when it refused entry to a group of African Americans. But after activists picketed and called on GW’s Board of Trustees to take action, Lisner Auditorium became one of D.C.'s first racially integrated venues in 1947 – an important achievement in the city’s long history of civil rights battles.
"Students rub the hippo’s nose before exams."
Campus tour guides like to spread the word about this supposed GW tradition. Yes, it sounds quaint and quirky for GW students to rub the nose of the bronze hippo statue on the corner of 21st and H streets for good luck. But it never happens. The hippo has indeed been GW’s unofficial mascot since former University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg donated the statue to the Class of 2000 in 1996. The campus bookstore sells hippo T-shirts and stuffed animals, but students’ affinity for the hippo ends there.