Bombarded with questions ranging from his preferred baseball team to the cost of food, University President Steven Joel Trachtenberg addressed the Class of 2008 Tuesday night the Hippodrome.
The annual event Late Night with the President gives freshmen the opportunity to meet the president, show residence hall pride and win a post-Late Night dinner party hosted by Trachtenberg. An unprecedented 750 freshmen attended this year’s late night, sporting hall colors and spirited banners in an attempt to win the free Chinese food dinner. The event typically attracts 300 to 400 new students.
Trachtenberg answered both poignant and humorous questions, the most serious of which concerned the cost of food, lack of cafeterias on campus and why GW uses Social Security numbers at a time of increasing identification theft.
One of the timeliest inquiries dealt with the upcoming presidential election. When asked if he was a Democrat or Republican, Trachtenberg answered cryptically, “Yes, yes I am.” Trachtenberg, a Democrat, donated thousands of dollars to Sen. Joe Lieberman’s failed presidential campaign last year.
Trachtenberg responded to students’ concerns over the use of Social Security numbers by saying it would cost millions of dollars to switch to a different system of identification.
“Every case is about consequences – we can spend it here or on other things students want us to spend it on,” he said. “But we’re not ignoring the issue.”
Before Trachtenberg arrived, the event more closely resembled a pep rally than an intimate meeting, with each residence hall sporting its own banners and chants.
“Seeing all the dorms come out is amazing,” said Danny November, the freshman president of the Hall on Virginia Avenue. “At first I thought there wasn’t a big sense of community, but this shows everyone has so much pride for where they live and that they love GW.”
After his introduction and incessant chanting, Trachtenberg said, “I was reading in The Hatchet that there’s no school spirit at GW – it’s nice to be here at Ohio State.”
Each of the residence hall communities on hand showed intense pride throughout the night. Lafayette Hall, home of the freshman Honors Program, chanted “GPA not STD,” a chant “conceived at Thurston in response to the cleanliness of Lafayette versus Thurston,” freshman Dan Treul said.
HOVA and Thurston Hall, the two largest freshman residence halls, exchanged chants such as HOVA’s “pool on the roof” and “Thurston is red hot.” Ultimately, Mitchell Hall was voted as the most spirited by a panel of judges, and the winner of the dinner party with Trachtenberg. Mitchell residents played bongo drums, guitars and also painted their faces in buff and blue and wore black and red, their hall colors.
For the second year in a row, Trachtenberg was asked about his preference in underwear style. It turns out GW’s president is not a flip-flopper: just like last year, he answered, “briefs.”