Letters to the Editor

ANC angst

I object to the Aug. 27 article on GW students and ANC 2A (“A Running Start”). The article completely ignores the fact that many residents are GW graduates, continue to audit courses and support students.

The article cheers the fact that its author’s favored candidates are pro-GW and anti-residents. The GW Hatchet’s own editorial in that same issue (“Students on the ANC”) contradicts this, stating ANC candidates “must represent all the residents, not just student constituents … and if others … are left out in the cold, the price is too high.”

The article fails to highlight the fact that Richard Sheehey (a GW graduate) registered to vote in the 2A01 district only one month prior to the deadline for candidates, just to get the vote.

I also am a candidate for the ANC 2A01. I have been a student. I moved into this neighborhood as a GW student and have lived here for 20 years, during which time I have been a full-time student with a part-time job and a part-time student with a full-time job.

As a student who became a long-term resident, I understand the feeling of being excluded from the community and the longing to be included.

-Susana Baranano

candidate, ANC 2A01

Drinking misperceptions

During the past few weeks, alcohol use at GW has been a major focus. Considering substance abuse is a significant cultural issue college campuses are forced to deal with, it is only appropriate that the matter is thoroughly discussed.

Many people come to GW with a preconceived notion of the “college experience.” This understanding, as potentially influenced by such films as Animal House and PCU or by the shared stories of friends and relatives, often involves the use of alcohol. It is important to distinguish misperceptions from the actual reality of our environment at GW.

In order to explore this concept to the fullest extent, we must view GW as a singular entity distinguished from other institutions and the stereotypical ideas of colleges and universities. Not to say that no one on this campus drinks or binges (defined as five or more drinks in one sitting for men and four or more drinks in one sitting for women, once or more in a two-week period by a Harvard University study).

Certainly, no matter where you go, you will encounter people who engage in such behavior. However, the number of people who do choose to binge drink, or to even drink at all, is not nearly as high as is commonly assumed.

In an extensive campus survey conducted in 1997, GW students suggested they felt close to 50 percent of their peers engaged in binge drinking. However, in that same survey, only 14 percent of GW undergraduates indicated they fit the description of a binge drinker.

In fact, 36 percent of GW students said they did not drink at all.

The study’s data, as with any survey-based research, was analyzed with the consideration that people sometimes lie or give inaccurate personal information.

The results of the study show students believe significantly more drinking takes place on campus than actually does.

So, what does this mean? People do drink on campus, and GW is not immune to any of the problems that arise in connection with substance use. The University does enforce its zero-tolerance policy on binge drinking, but the truth about alcohol on the GW campus is that it is not as frequently consumed as many people believe.

Regardless of the misconceptions generated by stereotypes and social labels, most GW students occupy their time with activities other than drinking. The “majority” of our peers who supposedly drink regularly are imaginary.

-Jeff Marootian

1998 Colonial Cabinet member

Alcohol’s dangers

As the Aug. 31 Hatchet editorial “GW and alcohol” underscores, we at GW need to get “serious about changing students’ attitudes toward reckless drinking.”

In the past two weeks, five GW freshmen have been hospitalized for alcohol poisoning. We are concerned that unless students take better care of themselves and make better decisions, we could be mourning the loss of one of our own. Binge drinking, the over-consumption of alcohol, can be fatal.

Here at GW, we do not condone or tolerate underaged students drinking, but we accept the fact that a number of first-year students will experiment with all their new-found freedoms – from the joy of no curfew to illegally buying and using alcohol.

I implore you – do not put your health and your future at risk!

Likewise, if you are with someone who has been drinking and is incoherent or has passed out, summon medical assistance right away. It was chilling for me to hear that students walked by unconscious students last week without another thought. Prompt medical intervention can mean the difference between life and death.

This semester, we will intensify our efforts to educate students, especially freshmen, through the work of the Substance Abuse Prevention Center and Community Living and Learning Center initiatives.

While the fact is most students do not drink and won’t get drunk, I urge you to be less tolerant of students who do drink excessively and negatively impact our campus community. We hope students will join us in our educational initiatives and in insisting that “reckless drinking” not be a part of the landscape of GW.

-Linda Donnels

associate vice president and dean of students

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.