Column: Hopeful thoughts for 2004-2005

Thousands of stories – spread across nearly 60 issues – comprise a yearly volume of The Hatchet. It is almost surprising to peruse the archive of bound editions in the Hatchet townhouse and observe how, as the years pass, certain issues persist. Although students should prepare for the usual smattering of scandals and town-gown strain, to start off the year my first column will highlight the events I would like to see reported this year.

Following a scandal-free year, turnout doubles in Student Association elections. Over the course of every year it seems one SA official or another is implicated or substantially accused of misconduct. With one notable exception, which I have already addressed repeatedly in this column, last year’s SA elections were positive and uplifting. The campaign understandably produced expectations that the SA would be in for a good year. The student body threw out most of the SA establishment and elected a president simultaneously capable of relating to students and being a strong advocate in Rice Hall. Despite my well-documented harsh words for the incoming executive vice president, her Senate experience and strong ideas should improve the function of the Senate as well. If things work out even half as well as I expect, this year’s SA will be substantially better than those of the past two years.

GW administration and Foggy Bottom Association make peace, build community garden on old hospital site. GW and its neighbors are seemingly locked in perpetual conflict, which has resulted in a mutually inoperable situation for both groups. GW should have the ability to continue its expansion to meet a rising demand in student applications and interest. Foggy Bottom residents also should rightly be able to assume that future University expansion does not unnecessarily erode their quality of life. In the current arrangement, certain Foggy Bottom residents make outrageous demands that would negatively affect student life. These individuals give the University an excuse to ignore or marginalize legitimate resident concerns. This year, both sides should try to come to a mutual understanding. The University should outline a clearer endgame strategy for University expansion, allowing the residents to voice legitimate concerns and come to a consensus that will help alleviate the tension and conflict.

New J Street improvements generate record Aramark profits; company announces benefit improvements for its employees. Near the end of last year, several GW students were arrested for protesting the conditions to which J Street workers were subjected. Due to the immense popularity of Colonial Cash, students opted to dine in higher quality establishments in the community rather than patronize J Street. The result was disastrously lower revenue for Aramark, leading to layoffs and reduced hours. Since then, Aramark renegotiated its contract with the University and funded the construction of a newly configured J Street. These new venues hopefully will enable Aramark to compete with outside establishments and provide a better work environment for its employees, in addition to providing better services and products to their consumers.

President Trachtenberg limits size of future incoming freshman classes to 2,500; announces plan to provide adequate class offerings and other services. This year’s freshman class is one of the largest in GW history. With so many new freshmen on campus, already strained University services will become even more saturated. Students will encounter larger lines at J Street and will find it increasingly difficult to register for classes in popular majors like international affairs and political science. Limiting class size and having a plan to address these issues will help improve a student’s GW experience.

With so many interesting subplots lingering from last year – and the no doubt countless that will be added as this year progresses – it seems GW students are in for another interesting year in Washington, D.C. With any luck our university will continue moving in the right direction – addressing festering issues, while also proactively addressing new ones before they arise.

-The writer, a junior majoring in international affairs, is Hatchet opinions editor.

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