Starting off in college is comparable to having a hangover: it’s a little rough at first, but you hope it was all worth it. However, to make sure you are ready to handle it, I have compiled a few key terms and issues to make sure you’re up to speed from day one.
First, there is your GWorld card. Once you receive this shiny orange piece of plastic you should know two things: One, they cost $25 to replace if lost, and two, you can’t do anything without them. Make sure to have your parents put the max amount of cash on it for your first two semesters. No, not because I want you to gain the “freshman 15,” but because eating costs here are comparable to the small fortune of a third-world country. Without a kitchen freshman year, you will be spending a lot of money just trying to feed yourself beyond the Wendy’s dollar menu. Last year, GW announced that any leftover GWorld funds at the end of May can roll over into the next school year, so you don’t have to worry about any surplus funds becoming an involuntary donation to the University.
Next, there is the GW e-mail account. While staying away from address names such as “Playerforlife@gwu.edu” is probably a good idea when you want to communicate with professors and professionals, the more important 411 is about some the types of messages you’ll receive. First, the mass invitations to clubs and drink specials do actually happen and certain people go to them, but no, you are not a VIP just because you get e-mails about it. Secondly, you will occasionally receive GW administrative e-mails. These rarely tell you anything useful, or are too long to really digest, so you might as well just wait for a story in The Hatchet to come out if it’s really important.
In gaining access to a GW e-mail account, you will now be eligible to participate in the college stalking network, a.k.a. thefacebook.com. In the first couple months, you will probably receive a lot of “friend requests” as you meet new people. However, beware: friend requests from random people are acceptable, but if you don’t know them personally, please avoid talking to them on AIM or through Facebook messaging. Two reasons for this: One, it is generally considered odd to hit on someone via an online directory, and two, if you’re not careful you might be getting sent more than just a friendly hello – such as uninvited revealing pictures or invitations to hang out with a mutant cat. Yes. Strange people do exist. Also, in creating a Facebook profile, freshmen should be warned about the University personnel who search for illegalities on the site, whether it’s an affiliation with an off-campus fraternity or underage drinking. So, the pictures of you doing a keg stand in your room are probably not a good idea.
Thinking in the long term, the University is deciding what to do with Square 54, the vacant lot on I Street between 22nd and 23rd streets where the old hospital used to be. Right now, land use experts suggest that GW develop a variety of retail, residential and office facilities – instead of dorm space or classrooms. However, the need to make Square 54 relevant to student life became painfully obvious when University officials announced this spring their intention to build a new residence hall on the Mount Vernon Campus to provide beds for the rising student population. Inevitably, no matter how many students love the Vern, it is not the reason most decided to come to GW; and this choice will end up forcing a lot more students to live there who might rather live in Foggy Bottom. I give accolades to the University for improving the shuttle system over the past few years and offering better food venues, but the distance is still an issue for students who want to stay physically connected to the main campus. While the class of 2009 will have 200 fewer incoming students than last year’s class, an extension of classroom and housing facilities here at Foggy Bottom should be a priority for the students; and with their input, Square 54 can be used for student needs. So far, very little student input has been considered in this issue, and I would suggest that incoming freshmen follow this topic, since it will be our tuition money paying for any building development.
A final issue to rest on the shoulders of the class of 2009 is getting the University to allow medical amnesty to students getting alcohol violations. In order to encourage over-intoxicated students to call for help from EMeRG, several students in the Student Association are trying to gain this as a privilege for students who would otherwise be too scared of judicial consequences to report a friend who has been poisoned by alcohol.
So there you have, in brief, a “State of GW Address.” Obviously, there are a lot more issues that could have been mentioned, but I hope this will allow you to be aware of a few things that will affect the next four years of your life.
-The writer, a junior majoring in journalism, is a Hatchet columnist.
This article appeared in the June 15, 2005 issue of the Hatchet.