Leaders of the GW community tried to put freshmen more at ease at the University’s George Washington’s Welcome Sunday, a part of Welcome Week festivities.
Mandatory for all freshmen, students reported to the ground floors of their respective residence halls and walked to a packed Lisner Auditorium.
Student Association President Phil Meisner introduced GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg as “the spiritual descendent of George Washington.”
“I want to prepare you for your next four years,” Trachtenberg said.
He described the biography of George Washington that was sent to freshmen during the summer as one of the best four books ever written about George Washington. Trachtenberg said he sympathized with the sense of anxiety that accompanies one’s departure from home.
“(We will) reconcile the community we left with the community we join,” Trachtenberg said.
In the end, Trachtenberg offered one piece of advice to the freshman class: “Don’t forget to call home at least once a week,” he said.
Professor Dorn McGrath, chair of the geography department, said the GW experience is “the best and worst of everything you can imagine.” He described the experience GW students have living in D.C as unique. He said some of the many attractions outside of campus include the Capitol, where “it’s all uphill, and we are all looking down,” and the Washington Monument, which at its present state of scaffolding is “a rare moment in history.”
He cited the flower gardens on Virginia Avenue, and the Anacostia River. The Kennedy Center is “more than a parking place,” McGrath said.
The George Washington mascot, George, advised freshmen, saying “Whatever others have done, the early worm may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese, meaning others get credit, but you get the cheese.”
Peter Hill, history professor and University historian, described the platform on which GW was founded. He said GW was founded as a nondenominational educational institution open to all and close enough to the federal government to observe national works and provide a leadership platform.
“Just as (President Ronald) Reagan was treated at GW Hospital, a GW physician tended Abraham Lincoln when he was shot,” Hill said. “If the world’s a stage, then all who’ve graduated GW had front row seats.”