Looking for GW’s past

I do not agree with some of the comments made by GW alumnus Brendan O’Malley in his Nov. 12 letter to the editor (“Not gonna happen,” p. 4). GW was not “mainly a commuter school up until 15 years ago.”

The residence hall system has grown substantially on campus over the past four decades. There has been University-supplied housing for students in Foggy Bottom from the time of the construction of Strong Hall in the 1920s and expanding rapidly after World War II.

Going back in history, there were dormitory facilities on College Hill, the original campus of Columbian College near present-day Meridian Hill Park. When the University was located downtown in the financial district (15th and H streets) in the late 19th century, students did have to find housing off-campus in fraternity houses and apartments, but since GW’s relocation to Foggy Bottom in 1912, the resident population has grown.

Additionally, many of the “commuter” students over the years have lived in non-University buildings right in Foggy Bottom or just a few blocks from campus.

Similar comments have been put forth by others recently, highlighting a critical problem – the history of The George Washington University is not well known or appreciated. It is interesting to note that in the past, particularly from the 1920s to the 1950s, GW had impressive school spirit. The sports programs, such as football and basketball, were supported enthusiastically. GW should recapture its traditions and customs.

For example, the University should use the traditional school colors of BUFF and blue instead of gold and blue for GW uniforms and other official items. We should refer to the main open space on campus by its true historic name, the University YARD, not “the Quad.”

We all need to learn more about this wonderful university. If we do, pride and support for GW will grow. And by the way, things change – George Washington is becoming THE university in Washington, D.C. In my book, it always has been and always will be.

-The writer is a GW alumnus.

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