There is seldom a quiet moment at GW, a school that prides itself on the phrase “Something happens here.” These “somethings,” as current students can attest to and incoming freshman will soon realize, range in nature from the absurd to the extraordinary to the tragic.
This past academic year was a harrowing one in which five students died. But it will also be remembered for a flurry of pre-election political activity that coincided with the campus visits of dozens of politicians and celebrities.
While new students shape their own time at GW, they are impacted, knowingly or unknowingly, by the events that preceded their arrival in Foggy Bottom.
With this in mind, The Hatchet has reviewed its coverage of the last academic year and compiled a review of the events that, for better or worse, have shaped students’ experiences here and will be remembered for years to come.
Powell returns to campus
U.S. Secretary of State and GW alumnus Colin Powell symbolically opened the Elliott School of International Affairs building and talked about the Bush administration’s policies in Iraq and Afghanistan at Lisner Auditorium Sept. 5.
Powell took time to reminisce about his experiences at GW during his foreign policy address. Powell, who received a master’s degree in business administration from GW in 1971, expressed gratitude for the opportunities the University afforded him.
“This University opened up a world for me, a new world,” Powell said. “And I came to GW and found my horizon widened, my mind opened.”
Hurricane forces GW to cancel two days of classes
The University canceled classes Sept. 18 and 19 in anticipation of Hurricane Isabel, which knocked over hundreds of trees and forced city officials to stop Metro service for several days.
The storm also left the Mount Vernon Campus without power for three days, forcing University officials to temporarily house the campus’ 400 residents in area hotels. The Foggy Bottom campus did not experience any outages during the hurricane.
Gas leak sparks 23rd Street fire
A fire triggered by a gas line rupture on 23rd Street forced the evacuation of the GW Hospital and three University residence halls Oct. 7, bringing Foggy Bottom to a temporary standstill. No serious injuries were reported.
The leak led Metropolitan Police and the D.C. Fire Department to cordon off all thoroughfares leading into Washington Circle and evacuate GW Hospital for two hours.
Law professors sue Pentagon
GW Law School professors voted Oct. 24 to join a group of law schools suing the U.S. Defense Department for allegedly discriminating against gays.
With the vote, the school became a member of a coalition of law schools that claims the Solomon Amendment, which withholds federal funding from universities that do not allow the military to recruit on campus, is unconstitutional.
The underlying reason for the lawsuit is the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which stipulates that gay members of the military are subject to dismissal if they make their sexual orientation known.
Ambassador questions war
Former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson criticized President Bush for allegedly manipulating intelligence about Iraq’s nuclear weapons program to justify the U.S. invasion in a speech at GW Nov. 3.
Wilson was caught in a frenzy of controversy that began last summer when he contradicted Bush’s claims that Iraq tried to purchase weapons-grade uranium – a key ingredient in nuclear weapons – from Niger.
Based on his own trip to Niger in February 2002 as a CIA representative, Wilson said he found no such transaction could have taken place between Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and the African country.
Officials drop mandatory summer plans
University administrators backed away from efforts to implement a mandatory summer session following staunch opposition from faculty and students.
GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg proposed the mandatory summer session in November 2002, saying it would increase revenue and allow the University to be more “efficient” by utilizing residence halls and academic facilities year-round.
Law student found dead
The lifeless body of GW Law School student Chris Bartok was found in the Potomac River Dec. 19.
A woman jogging across the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge the morning of Dec. 19 spotted Bartok’s body lying face down in the river. Bartok, 26, from Morro Bay, Calif., finished his first semester at the Law School last month. He graduated from the California Institute of Technology in 2002.
After a two month-long investigation, Metropolitan Police detectives concluded that Bartok drowned following his accidental fall into the river.
Freshman dies in crash
A GW freshman perished in a car accident in Panama Dec. 24 when a vehicle he was driving plowed into a truck.
Daniel M?ndez, along with two of his friends, died in the early hours of Dec. 24, when his Honda CRV hit a large truck from behind on a road several miles outside Panama City.
Students sue D.C.
Several D.C. college students filed a class-action lawsuit against the city, claiming that Metropolitan Police unlawfully arrested them for underage drinking.
In May, a District judge ordered a temporary halt to MPD’s practice of arresting underage drinkers until she decides the case later this year.
Sophomore found dead in Va.
A sophomore was found dead in an Arlington, Va., Motel room Feb. 6 in a suicide.
Dierdorff, a member of the Alpha Phi sorority and The Hatchet’s production manager, was discovered unconscious by housekeeping employees of the Americana Motel the afternoon of Feb. 6.
Delta Tau Delta closes chapter
The Delta Tau Delta fraternity closed its GW chapter Feb. 11 after finding that its members hazed their pledges. The fraternity cannot return to campus until fall 2007.
“The chapter violated the policies of the fraternity,” said James Russell, executive vice president of Delta Tau Delta national. “Our desire (is) to return to GW with a chapter that aligns with the values of the University and Delta Tau Delta.”
Woodard wins SA presidency
In a landslide victory, junior Omar Woodard won the Student Association presidency March 5, garnering more than two-thirds of the votes cast in a win over junior Lee Roupas.
Supporters mobbed Woodard after it was announced that he had won almost 68 percent of the vote. Woodard attributed his lopsided win in the run-off to a grass-roots campaign that sought to reach out to “apathetic” students who have been alienated by the SA.
Woodard began his one-year term in May.
Dean endorses Kerry at Kogan Plaza rally
Howard Dean officially endorsed presumed Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry in a Kogan Plaza rally March 25.
Dean’s endorsement on the warm spring day was followed by a speech from the Massachusetts senator, who said he would reduce college tuition costs, create more jobs and push for universal health care if he defeats President Bush in the November election.
Sophomore drowns in Tidal Basin
Sophomore Phil Augustin drowned in the Tidal Basin March 27 in a death Metropolitan Police officials later determined was accidental.
Friends remembered Philip Augustin, 20, a Crawford Hall resident, as a talented free-style rapper who always had a smile on his face.
On the night of March 27, Augustin was walking near the Tidal Basin with two friends when he jumped into the water, said Sgt. Joe Gentile, a Metropolitan Police spokesman.
Recording industry sues students
Lawyers representing the recording industry named three GW students in a lawsuit for distributing music on file-sharing networks.
The Recording Industry Association of America sued the students by looking at their computers’ Internet Protocol addresses, which can be used to identify a computer and its owner.
Freshman dies in fall
A GW student was found dead April 18 after falling from a Hall on Virginia Avenue balcony.
Metropolitan Police determined that freshman Hasan Hussain intentionally jumped 80 feet from the balcony of his fourth floor HOVA room.
Hussain, 19, of Jacksonville, Fla., was pronounced dead immediately after MPD and University Police officers found his body lying on the Virginia Avenue sidewalk across the street from the Watergate.
Hussain was the fifth student to die since December.
Softball coach resigns following abuse charges
Head softball coach Shaunte’ Fremin resigned April 19 amid allegations that she was abusive to players and violated NCAA rules.
Players told The Hatchet in March that Fremin, a first-year coach, often coerced them into playing with serious injuries, deceiving trainers and doctors, and practicing over the NCAA’s weekly limits. As a result of their injuries, the University suspended the softball season in early March and canceled it March 22.
-Compiled by Michael Barnett from Hatchet staff reports.