Frosh attend convocation

University officials encouraged GW freshmen to explore the city and their interests at the annual freshman convocation Tuesday.

The convocation formally inducted members of the class of 2008 into GW with speeches from administrators and guest speakers in the Smith Center. The freshman class of nearly 2,600 is the largest in University history.

President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg spoke about the ups and downs for the class of 2008, touching first on the uniqueness of Convocation

“It is a rare occasion that I can get an entire class together,” Trachtenberg said. “There is this and graduation. I hope you will come to see your class of ’08 as a community.”

In light of five student deaths last academic year, Trachtenberg stressed the need for students to be careful.

“You all know that the world can be a hard and dangerous place. I want you to remember that life is fragile,” Trachtenberg said. “You are human. Bad things happen less often when you look after one another.”

Vice President of Academic Affairs Donald Lehman also addressed the freshman class, stressing the value of education.

“This is a new start,” Lehman said. “You have already proven yourself. Explore this city in ways that enrich. Go out there and get it.”

Additional speakers at the Convocation included University Marshal Jill Kasle, GW alumnus and WTOP radio personality Mark Plotkin and judge Richard Jamborksi.

Plotkin, who flew in from the Republican Convention in New York to speak to students, encouraged freshmen to push for political equality in D.C. District residents have no voting representation in Congress.

“Right now, you have a president of the United States who wants democracy in Iraq, but won’t give democracy to the District of Columbia,” Plotkin said. “Yes, we have three electoral votes. We are treated like a state, but that is it. We have no congressional representation. Anything we vote on can be vetoed by Congress.”

Plotkin encouraged students to stop any senator or congressman they saw in the city.

“If you see someone from Congress, don’t let them be safe at Safeway,” Plotkin said. “Ask them why D.C. has no representation.”

In the course of speaking about the merits of the freshman class, Trachtenberg joked that the class of 2008 was the best looking group of freshmen the University had ever seen.

“GW doesn’t take bad students,” Trachtenberg added. “In fact, your class is the best we have ever taken. We are taking a chance on you just as you are taking a chance on GW. Being a freshman, you have a lot of fresh opportunity to do well.”

“President Trachtenberg was funny,” freshman Oscar Nunez said. “He had a lot of important things to say, though. There were life messages buried in his speech.”

Others said the event “ran a little long.”

Freshman Danielle Duchaine said, “Everything could have been done in a little less time, and a lot of the speakers got off on odd topics like the Olympics.”

Jamborksi, who got his bachelor’s degree in 1958, closed Convocation by reminding students about how fast graduation would come.

“In 50 months, you will be a GW graduate,” he said. “You will join the more than 200,000 graduates across this world. Your life journey may not always be easy, but let’s mutually promise each other that we will carry on together.”

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