“Yep, that will probably need some stitches,” the medic said, “unless you want to have a scar.”
I had taken an elbow in the eye during a late-night pick-up basketball game at the Smith Center and was sitting in the GW hospital wondering what the chances were that the coughing child in the adjacent chair had SARS.
The visit to the emergency room gave me some time to collect my thoughts for this column and what we are leaving behind as graduation approaches.
We have lived through some interesting and exciting times in the past four years for the world and the nation, the city, our school and ourselves. It has been busy.
We have seen a change in the nation’s political orientation with President Bush, Fox News and a conservative revolution. We have felt the shock of September 11 and the anxiety of the National Terror Alert level and the bad economy. There have been two wars in the past two years that have consumed the attention of our country with an almost sickening fascination.
In Washington, we have seen the capital through all of these developments – the chaos of the election and the inauguration, the confusion of the anthrax and Pentagon attacks and the chaos of a blizzard. Demonstrators have marched in the streets against globalization and war. We have seen the shock of the Pentagon and the Beltway sniper and the thrill of Michael Jordan’s return to basketball. We have seen our classmates sent to war, forced to take Cipro and killed in senseless crimes.
As I sat in the emergency room, I realized that four years ago the building would not have existed and the old hospital would probably have been unprepared to handle victims of a terrorist or anthrax attack or know how to treat a SARS patient.
The hospital is just one of the numerous campus buildings that have sprung up since I lived in Thurston Hall. Our class has seen a building bonanza in Foggy Bottom with the addition of the School of Media and Public Affairs building, the Hall on Virginia Avenue, The Gallery and the golden column. We have seen these acquisitions and watched the community fight the University’s expansion every step of the way.
Our campus expansion has also bettered our technology. We have seen a daily cable show move from an annual event in Lisner Hall to a daily broadcast from campus. E-mail and cell phones are indispensable items and we have trouble imagining how life once continued without them. Class selection and housing is now done online, along with research for papers. Where would we be without the power of the Google search?.
As I sat in the waiting room, filling in the small stack of paperwork necessary for the hospital staff to treat my injury, a student walked in with a bleeding head wound. The student, supported by his two friends, was dressed for the clubs and reeking of something stronger than mouthwash. He said he was a freshman at GW – age 18.
We lead lives, as students, that are in many ways removed from that of normal society. We sleep abnormal hours, if at all. Students work hard, hoping to land a good internship that will lead to a job or hunting for one on the Internet. We take digital pictures and watch reality television. We drink to excess, smoke cigarettes when we know it will kill us and do not believe that buying drugs funds terrorism.
We quote Austin Powers, sing along with Eminem and remember when New Hall was new. Students head to clubs to “hook up” and watch their weight while trying to look phat. We are busy surfing the television channels and the World Wide Web.
In the employer box of the medical form, I wrote in the information for The Hatchet. It had been the focus of my campus life for most of my time at GW. As a reporter, I remembered covering anti-globalization demonstrations and interviewing the likes of Jesse Jackson, D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey and various politicians and speakers who had made their way to GW.
Covering news for The Hatchet is an exhilarating exercise. The Hatchet, because of its location, is able to access events and people that college journalists in other parts of the country simply cannot – a unique experience. The city of Washington makes national events seem local, and GW makes the city part of the campus. The connection the student body feels to the country, therefore, is a visceral one that extends beyond the internships in Congress or the football games at the Lincoln Memorial. The connection that Hatchet writers feel with the school shares this immediacy. Working for The Hatchet has been a challenge and an energizing experience that has taught me much about life in the past four years and the challenges of writing it down.
As I lay in the emergency room having Dr. Kathy stitch my eye, the drunken freshman was placed in the neighboring bed. The doctor had seen many like him in the emergency room. She said students are usually more in control of college life when they get older.
Dr. Kathy was also graduating, though our ceremonies are at different times. She promised that my eye would heal before graduation. After being a seamstress, construction worker and mother of four, medical school did not seem like a challenge. After all the school, she said, she feels like she is ready to graduate. I had to agree.
The past four years have been interesting and exciting times. We have changed as a country and as a class and are facing a much different world from what we were expecting when we began our university careers, but after all the training and a few scars, we are ready.
-Alex Kingsbury has been a Hatchet editor since fall 2002.