SJT chit chats with freshmen

Freshmen quizzed University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Tuesday night during a “fireside” chat in the Hippodrome for the annual Late Night with the President.

The event was held specifically for freshmen, who submitted questions for Trachtenberg to their Community Facilitators prior to the event. Questions ranged from University policies to Trachtenberg’s thoughts on the 2004 presidential race to his choice of underwear – which he said is briefs.

The purpose of the question and answer session is to listen and respond to students’ concerns, Trachtenberg said.

“We want to make sure we’re doing the job for you we said we were going to do when you all were high school seniors,” Trachtenberg told the audience of about 300 students.

Standing on a stage in front of a fake fireplace and rocking chair, Trachtenberg discussed the likelihood of an increase in tuition, which he said he hoped would be raised as “modestly as possible.”

Students responded to the possibility of higher tuition bills with “SJT!” chants and waved “SJT Rocks My GWorld!” signs. The residence hall that showed the most spirit won a reception with Trachtenberg, so freshmen cheered at every chance they got, even after unpopular policies were discussed. The Mount Vernon Campus won the contest.

Trachtenberg also responded to questions dealing with the upcoming presidential race, telling the audience he endorses Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.).

“Joe Lieberman is a friend of mine … It’s very hard when a friend of yours is running,” said Trachtenberg over a roomful of “awws” from students

Students also asked Trachtenberg about using random numbers in place of Social Security Numbers for identification, caps on enrollment, his salary, why the workers in J Street always look unhappy and why letters on Lafayette Hall were falling down.

Students who attended the event carried signs and wore homemade T-shirts in an effort to be the “most spirited” residence hall. A panel of four judges, including men’s basketball coach Karl Hobbs and Student Association President Kris Hart, voted the entire Mount Vernon Campus the winner based on attendance and spirit.

In previous years, Trachtenberg slept over in the winning dormitory, but the practice was discontinued in 2000 and changed to just a “Late Night.”

Trachtenberg told The Hatchet that he didn’t see a purpose in spending the night sleeping in one of the dormitories because he is unable to interact with students while he is sleeping.

The Community Living and Learning Center and Student Activities Center co-sponsored the event.

Students living at Mount Vernon rallied support for the event by sending e-mails, posting flyers and going door to door.

-Mosheh Oinounou contributed to this report.

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