We in the Gelman Library appreciate the support and attention the editors and staff of The Hatchet give us, but the editorial published April 19 (“Spend wisely,” p. 4) about plans to install a Starbucks caf? in Gelman Library contained some inaccurate assumptions and facts that led to a few negative conclusions. Let me set the record straight.
No funds from the library budget will be expended on the caf?. Starbucks also, not just the University and the library donor, will pay part of the cost of the project. The library donor was only interested in applying the gift to the library’s share of the cost of this project, nothing else. The University and the library expect to receive income totaling several hundred thousands of dollars over the period of the contract with Starbucks. The library’s share of the revenue will be spent solely on library equipment, services and collections that will directly benefit students. The University’s share will offset its share of the costs. Numerous current and past students have patiently, but eagerly, awaited the installation of a caf? in Gelman; the GW Class of 2003 enthusiastically supported the caf?, even to the point that they raised money for it and will have a memorial table honoring the class in the caf?. There will be no net loss of seating in Gelman after the caf? and adjacent area is installed. Depending on demand, the library will very likely open another floor to 24-hour studying, along with what is already available on the lower level and the fourth and fifth floors. The editorial incorrectly placed GW library’s rankings in the 90s when in fact the latest, correct ranking is 84th out of 113, a significant improvement over what it was just a few years ago.
The bottom line is that, at no cost to the library’s budget, students and faculty will have a caf? that not only will pay for itself, but will also provide an enhanced amenity for which students have waited a long time. It will produce additional revenue that will be applied to the kinds of library improvements The Hatchet and students have told us they wish to see. This is clearly a win-win situation for GW students and faculty.
-Jack Siggins, University Librarian
On behalf of the South Asian Society of the George Washington University, we humbly express our sincerest apologies to all those in attendance at Bhangra Blowout, held on April 10, for the offensive skit was presented regarding the Sikh faith.
Although the incident was a technical mistake that was realized quickly by our board and acknowledged by an immediate apology on stage during the show, we understand that the offense caused by the thoughtless skit is far too severe for just an apology to appease. We have therefore initiated a dialogue between the dominant Sikh advocacy groups called SMART and Sikh Coalition to further correct our mistakes. From discussions with these groups, we seek to detail a plan to use the Bhangra Blowout brand to reach a mass audience in an effort to educate and promote awareness of the Sikh faith. In addition to correcting the misinformation given during our skit, we will provide further resources for all those who seek accurate and complete information about the religion, especially the origins and significance of the true five Ks of Sikhism.
Again, on behalf of the entire SAS board, we would like to reiterate that by no means was this skit a premeditated attack upon the faithful of the Sikh religion. We strongly urge all to accept that no actual malice was intended toward the Sikh audience members; in no way did we consciously set out to isolate the Sikh religion from other religions of South Asia, nor do we endorse any anti-Sikh movement. It was never our goal to present a distorted view of Sikhism; rather, it was a mistake that we deeply regret.
To bring any religion into the context of Bhangra Blowout is inappropriate and will never be allowed again in future years. We hope Bhangra Blowout will continue to provide thousands of young South Asians with a central arena to embrace and explore the Punjabi culture, as it has for the past decade. We know that religion shall have no place on our stage in the coming years.
We truly thank all those who attended our show and all those who realize the sincerity of our deepest apologies.
-The GW South Asian Society, Executive Board