Packed house celebrates new year

GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman and Student Association President Carrie Potter spoke to a crowd that nearly filled Lisner Auditorium at Tuesday’s Opening Convocation.

Last year, Convocation was nearly canceled because of low attendance and sagging interest in the event. Several students who attended this year’s ceremony, which was run by the University’s Office of Special Events, said increased publicity was one reason for the increase in the number of students who attended.

“This is the first time I’ve been (to Convocation),” junior Linda Kim said. “I really didn’t know about it in the past.”

SA Vice President for Academic Affairs Lonnie Giamela said this Convocation was the first one to be a major campus event.

“It’s nice to see the University start the year with a big ceremony rather than something small on the Quad,” Giamela said.

Sophomore Jennifer Swen said the University’s decision not to advertise the event probably led to the low attendance at previous Convocations.

“This is my second year here, and I didn’t even know they had it last year,” Swen said. “But I’m glad I went. The speeches were really good. They were motivational, and I also liked the T-shirts and ice cream.”

Other students said the giveaways following the ceremony were one reason they attended.

“I studied during the ceremony and got food afterwards,” graduate student Marc Shaller said.

“My teachers told me Trachtenberg was going to speak, and I also came for the shirt,” said Juana Castineda, a graduate student from Columbia. She said the canceled classes probably had an effect on attendance.

“I went to see the (department) chairmen, the president and finally, because of the ice cream,” graduate student Julio Traslosheros said.

Several students, such as freshman Layla El-Wafi, said they were interested in the tradition of the ceremony.

“I decided to come to participate in the spirit, see the banner for the class of 2002, and hear the president speak,” El-Wafi said. “I liked the ceremony, and I’ll definitely go again.”

Sophomore Heather McKee Hurwitz also cited tradition as her reason for attending Convocation.

“I’m a student, and this is an academic institution,” Hurwitz said. “I wanted to recognize it as such.”

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