Letters to the Editor

Focus on GW

Stephen Joel Trachtenberg: Looks like you have a few questions to answer. I’m not all that interested in whether or not Riggs allowed some international fascists to launder money. What I’d like to know is why you feel the need to serve on that board of directors in the first place.

The November 13, 2003 issue of The Hatchet reported the President’s 2002 salary to be $571,764. Not exactly chump change, especially when considering that the University allows him to live rent-free in an Embassy Row mansion. I can’t imagine that Trachtenberg is in any kind of financial need.

Yet he’s on the board of a major bank. It seems that, for the compensation we pay him, he owes it to us to focus on being president of GW and let others worry about Riggs.

Maybe I’m being unfair here. After all, we live in a free-market economy and all that other good stuff. Besides, the University is taking care of itself, right? The president doesn’t need to be thinking of the school during every waking minute.

Well, I can think of a few issues that need to be addressed:

Qualified professors are leaving the school. Last autumn, I had the honor of taking English 11 with Dr. Judith Harris. A noted poet, Dr. Harris was an asset to the English department. Unfortunately, that was Dr. Harris’s last semester at GW. She cited disagreements with the school’s administration as the reason for her departure.

I’ve noted a persistent problem with professors being barely functional in spoken English. I don’t mean to offend any of these noted academics from abroad, but for the overwhelming majority of students at this school, English is our native tongue. The more precise our professors are in lecture, the better we learn.

My Intro to Comparative Politics course has roughly 330 people in it. When I selected GW, I was attracted by the relatively low staff-to-student ratio. If I were attracted to large classes, I could have attended a public university for virtually nothing. Where is our money going?

These issues affect the entire GW community, and we need a dedicated president who will address them in a timely and effective manner. Unfortunately, it seems that our president has allowed himself to be distracted by other interests, and now those interests face federal scrutiny, Which is more important … education or money? I hope that Trachtenberg values knowledge over the dollar, or else I fear it will be a long time before GW receives the attention it deserves.

-Jolian Kangas, sophomore

Hot air

When dealing with the most difficult tragedies, Hatchet Opinions Editor Will Dempster asserts in “9/11: Three years later” (Sept. 9, p. 4) that President Bush has blundered numerous opportunities created by 9/11 to better the world. Rather than providing real ideas or solutions, he offers up misplaced blame and empty rhetoric.

The Hatchet editor contends that President Bush “could have used this profound tragedy to unite the world around the central purpose of providing opportunities for the poor and eradicating both the ideology of terrorism and its physical manifestations; but he didn’t.” The accusations that Bush didn’t “use” 9/11 to end world poverty and make our cars run on water are quite correct, but the editorial gives one the impression that Bush has no plan to combat terrorism other than “driving a wedge between America and the world.”

You see, the President has a plan. It isn’t to “use” 9/11 to open up job training centers in Mecca or giving money to appease terrorists who use radical Islamic ideology to fly planes into civilian buildings, cut off the heads of American contractors, and mow down schoolgirls with machine guns. Maybe you don’t agree with his plan, but it goes something like this: liquidate the Islamic fascists who execute homosexuals and rape victims and wish not for a brokered peace, but for the complete and utter destruction of Western civilization. Secondly, gain the support of the people by giving them the hope of democratic freedom. Assuredly, this plan is neither perfect nor pleasant, but what real alternative is there?

How should President Bush have waged the war on terrorism? How would John Kerry better act to prevent the next 9/11? What does a “sensitive” war look like? For its part, Dempster’s column gives us much hot air but no real ideas other than tired appeasement.

-John McCormack, sophomore

Honest evaluation

It saddens me to read that yet another GW student has committed suicide. It also angers me how some people have are so very dishonest about the school and its environment.

Just three years ago, the Princeton Review ranked GW one of the “least happy” schools. We have since mysteriously disappeared from that list. This year, GW is now a school where “everyone is one big happy family,” according to the Princeton Review.

Three definite suicides since December, and everyone at GW is “one big happy family.” For some reason, I find that hard to believe. Just go on www.studentsreview.com and read all the negative things people have to say about this “big happy family.” Read the despair of some students and the pain they are in, and then tell me that it is wrong to say that many, many people at GW are desperately unhappy.

Do I think that everyone at GW is miserable? Of course not. But, as the alarmingly high number of suicides has shown, there certainly is a number of people who are miserable, and if those voices aren’t heard, there will be more miserable people to come.

A person I knew at GW once told my roommate that she was “weak” for leaving the University, that she would “never be happy” no matter where she moved. Judging from what has happened at GW since she left, I think we can safely say that it is not so “weak” to leave a seriously unhappy environment after all.

Some would argue that such an environment is typical at every school. I can tell you that it isn’t. I grew up in a college town, and the University was filled with people who were happy and people who were sad, but there were few who were as utterly unhappy as the people I met during my time at GW. At the law school I now attend, people are genuinely (not fake “I’m so well-adjusted”) happy. At my roommate’s new school, people actually do share a sense of school spirit and community. Yet, none of these schools claim to be as happy as GW claims to be in the Princeton Review guidebook and god knows what other publications.

I don’t blame the administration for any of this. The administrators were as helpful and caring while I was at GW as they would be at any school. The students, I think, are the problem. Their denial, their attempt to cover their unhappiness by making everyone else feel as poorly as they do, and their treatment towards those who leave or consider leaving the university – that is the problem. Deep down, I suspect that they want others to be as miserable as they are – after all, misery loves company.

Those responsible for such propaganda have the right to voice their opinions, but people also have the right to the truth. For that reason, I encourage those of you do not think that GW is “one big happy family” to speak out this time around.

-Laura Leyko, alumnus

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