My memories of Colonial Inauguration are as potent as the marijuana smoke that greeted me when I opened the door to my orientation room assignment. I had just parted ways with my mother in the Thurston lobby, already wary of spending two and a half days trying to get a handle on this school. Being welcomed by a small Phish concert in a dorm room a mere 10 minutes after I got on to campus only compounded my uncertainty about GW.
Was this what GW was going to be like?
As a senior, I know the answer to that question. But I didn’t then, and CI wasn’t much help. I do think that the University, specifically the Colonial Cabinet and Student and Academic Support Services, do a wonderful job getting freshmen excited about spending the next four years of their lives in Washington. But they cannot be expected to give students a taste of what it’s really like to be at GW, because it’s the summer and Foggy Bottom is only a shell of its vibrant academic-year self.
So I’m going to attempt – in about 500 words, mind you – to give you an idea of what it’s really like at GW. Just one catch: just like John Edwards said there were two Americas, there’s actually two GWs – unlike the two Americas, though, neither GW is for poor people.
What GW will be like for you depends on whether you like CI. It’s like one of those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books we read as children: you can take a path to either GW.
If you like CI …
Just like CI, GW during the academic year is one big social scene where you constantly make new friends and experience new things. Even the library is a great place to meet people.
Do you like the friends you’ve met at CI? They can be your roommates; you can eat dinner with them every night, pledge the same Greek-letter group and spend the next four years of your life at their side.
Do you want to emulate the spirit displayed by the CI Cabinet? There are plenty of opportunities to show off your school pride. The men’s and women’s basketball teams, both nationally acclaimed groups, enjoy great support, especially from the Colonial Army, a student-fan group with more than 700 members. You can even follow the teams on the road, taking GW-sponsored bus trips to big games.
This is all great, you say, but isn’t there a lot of school work that will hamper my social life? Don’t worry. At GW, you can make your course load as easy as you want and party every night (unless you are one of those unfortunate souls in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences). You can fulfill most general requirements with easy classes and pick an easy major. To top it all off, most grades are inflated, and doing minimal work will still allow you to walk away with a B-minus.
If you don’t like CI …
You’re sitting at a dinner table in the heavily air conditioned Smith Center looking at hundreds of eager freshmen in pastel-colored polo shirts with popped collars. And you’re thinking, get me out of here. Don’t worry. During the year, you’ll never have to see any of these people again.
Nearly 500 people – one-fifth of the freshman class – attend CI. Multiply that number by five to get the total number of freshmen. Multiply that number by four to get the total number of undergraduate students. Add to that number the approximately 9,000 students who take graduate classes. Add that number to the thousands of professors and staff who work at GW. Add that number … OK, you get the idea. There are a lot of people here, which means you have the chance to meet someone new every hour.
You may be skeptical about whether there are other people who share your interests, but believe me, there are a lot of freaks at GW. Political junkies, skateboarders, wine enthusiasts, Nintendo marathoners, break-dancers, obnoxious journalists, deep thinkers, group sex participants, never-stop studiers, mountain climbers, actors – we’re all here. You just have to look hard, past the 10 people sitting at your CI table, who all happen to be from two towns on Long Island (it’s OK, I’m from one of those two towns).
So there you have it. If you like CI, there’s a good chance you’ll like GW. And if you don’t like CI, there’s a good chance you’ll like GW. Whatever your preference, don’t use your fake ID at Riverside Liquors on 22nd and E streets – unless you’ll like spending a night in jail.
-The writer, a senior majoring in international affairs, is Hatchet editor in chief. He wishes he were still living in Thurston