Letters to the Editor

New foods

Each week, GW Dining Services brings us another installment of its “Visiting Chef” series. Much to my surprise, last week’s “guest” was Executive Chef Penny Phoon’s venerable Malaysia Kopitiam – which operates another venue at J Street all week long.

My personal definition of a “visiting chef” would not include any of the venues that currently operate on campus. While Malaysia Kopitiam serves up great food in one location, I see no reason for it to expand beyond its present borders at this time.

Malaysia is an interesting nation, a sun-kissed archipelago in the South China Sea. Home to slightly more than 23 million people, the nation was founded in 1957 from the union of Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak. Its cuisine is delightful, with hints of Chinese, Thai and Indian elements. However, no aggressively offered sample of bourbon chicken is good enough to use up two spaces at J Street.

Right now, about 80 percent of the world’s peoples have no culinary representation in the Marvin Center. Whole swaths of Europe are relegated to small tubs of dressing at the salad counter (French, Italian, Russian). China and India are nowhere to be found, and Africa is out of the mix as well. There are no falafels, no kielbasas and no tapas. How does Malaysia get off running two booths at once?

Obviously, the foreign policy team over at Aramark has overlooked four whole continents in selecting our menus, to the express benefit of the Pacific Rim. Further, we as a university community need to reevaluate our definition of the term “visiting” and ensure that our weekly guests are truly new to campus rather than the same venues that serve us every day. Could our next “visiting chef” be Taco Bell?

-Matt Baer, junior

Little tact

It is with concerted nausea that I move to break taboo and call into serious question the modicum of tact that University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg failed to uphold during an address given at the memorial service for sophomore Jennifer Dierdorff on Feb. 12. Perhaps it runs the line of impropriety to critique such a statement under such circumstances. However, for those in attendance, it was clear that the level to which this speech was botched, fumbled or simply lost in a haze of pretentiousness was an embarrassment to both the University community and the memory of one of its students.

In the solemn nature of such an occasion, the support of the University’s most recognizable personality clearly had the potential to be a therapeutic force to a grieving community. However, Trachtenberg did not hesitate to bring disorder to a potentially kind-hearted gesture on the University’s behalf. He imparted few words of wisdom in his 10 minutes of rambling. He spoke stoically, in unwavering monotone, relating his experiences with death during college to that of an acquaintance – a friend’s girlfriend whose face, lamentably, he could no longer remember.

I watched the faces of students – many of whom were visibly enamored by his presence – who hoped in earnest that Trachtenberg would say something that would help forge a stronger feeling of community from this episode. However, it was unclear to most whether he had chosen to speak off-the-cuff entirely or not, as his eyes remained transfixed on the top of the speaker’s podium as he leaned downward upon it, hands in pockets, while addressing the approximately 500 students in attendance. Likewise, Trachtenberg did little to reinforce the impact of the loss of a single student. He stated that it was the third death of the school year while listing the other two deaths on his fingers from behind the podium. He then referred to the other two students respectively as one who was “murdered,” which was not even accurate, and the other one ‘”in the Potomac.” In relating other tragedies to this one, the president made no attempt to broach the mood with sensitivity, instead recalling how troubling it was to be awoken on his day to sleep in to learn that Dierdorff, in fact, ‘”was dead.”

For those in grief, Trachtenberg’s speech did accomplish one positive thing: it gave a brief respite to the heartbroken people, who were temporarily distracted by the incomprehensible nature of the speech they had to endure.

-Adam Chandler, senior

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