Last year in review

September 2004

Mount Vernon shuttle bus plagued by fire, accidents

A Mount Vernon shuttle suffered a severe fire and another overran a barrier within a week of each other in September 2004. A third bus was evacuated due to smoke in April 2005.

Following a first evacuation due to a strange noise on Sept. 3, a driver saw smoke while driving a 3-month-old bus and cleared out the vehicle. Students reported that the bus burst into flames about 10 minutes after another evacuation. No one was injured in the blaze.

Less than a week later on Sept. 9, a shuttle bus rolled down a hill and overran a ledge near the Acheson Science Building on the Mount Vernon Campus. Once again, there were no injuries, and the incident was blamed on the driver’s failure to set the brake properly.

On April 14, 2005 an electrical malfunction resulted in smoke at the front of a shuttle while it was traveling on the Whitehurst Freeway. Twenty passengers were evacuated, and no one was injured.

Student falls to her death

Sophomore Susan Shin died after jumping from the eighth floor of the off-campus Elise Apartment building on 825 New Hampshire Ave.

Shin, 19, of Ashland, Ohio, was a computer science major and an

active member of the Engineers’ Council and the Association for Computer Machinery. Officials at the D.C. Office of the Medical Examiner ruled Shin’s death – the sixth of a GW student since December 2003 – a suicide.

Following three apparent suicides the previous year, GW launched an investigation of the University’s response to student death. The review, which took place over the summer and was made public by The Hatchet on Sept. 23, said the University Counseling Center did not have enough resources to adequately address students’ mental health concerns.

October 2004

Bedewi fraud

Former GW professor Nabih Bedewi was arrested and charged with embezzling at least $600,000 in federal funds from the University. He pleaded guilty to the charges in April and will be sentenced this summer.

An engineering professor at GW since 1990, Bedewi once headed the National Crash Analysis Center, a research institute at GW’s Virginia Campus.

Financial records from Bedewi’s private company, International Transportation Safety Corporation, indicated Bedewi used federal money – originally awarded to GW to fund crash research – to purchase Washington Redskins football tickets and make payments on his family’s credit cards and car leases.

Sequoia sensation

Student Association President Omar Woodard faced harsh criticism after it was learned that he spent $414 of SA funds on an August dinner at Sequoia, an upscale Georgetown restaurant.

After reviewing SA financial records in October, a Hatchet investigation revealed that SA members had spent more than $7,000 on private food parties over the previous year.

The Sequoia hubbub was the first sign of a rocky relationship between the SA executive and Senate branches. Woodard eventually had the funds from his dinner given back to the SA

Red Sox fans rally in Kogan Plaza

After their team defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in the fall classic, winning the World Series for the first time in 86 years, Red Sox fans celebrated the rare success in Kogan Plaza. Members of the large group eventually became unruly, and D.C. Metropolitan Police were called in to control the crowd.

When the Red Sox beat the archrival New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series a week earlier, a similar crowd occupied the area near H Street. After the Red Sox won the World Series, 1,000 students stormed the center of campus, knocking over newspaper stands, lighting objects on fire and attempting to roll a car over. At least one student was arrested.

November 2004

GW parties on election night

The 2004 presidential election between incumbent President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) met with late-night partying on campus. The Marvin Center was transformed into a giant election gala, with Democratic, Republican and independent rooms.

Students waited watchfully into the night as results favored Bush, but eventually left when no official decision had been made. The following morning, Republican students celebrated a second GOP term in the White House.

Kappa kickball controversy

Two fraternities that are unrecognized by the University protested their expulsion from a sorority-sponsored charity kickball tournament.

Members of Sigma Alpha Mu and Sigma Alpha Epsilon said they should have been allowed to participate in the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority’s event as friends of students in the sorority. Instead, the groups were considered to be participating in a University event as part of an unrecognized group, a violation of GW policy.

January 2005

Freshman abducted near campus

A freshman was allegedly forced into a car on campus at gunpoint by a male driver. The student was returning to his residence hall at 2 a.m. from The Exchange, a popular bar near campus.

After a 20-minute car ride, the abductor allegedly let the student out near Thurston, saying, “You’re pretty cool, man. I thought you were a stuck-up prick. I was planning on killing you.”

February 2005

University bans smoking in dorms

University officials announced that smoking will be banned in residential halls starting fall 2005.

Accidental fires, health concerns and maintenance issues were cited as reasons for the ban. Students were previously allowed to choose to smoke in their rooms.

Music professor commits suicide

Professor Pam Bricker committed suicide in February, marking the second suicide by a member of the GW community in the 2004-2005 school year.

Bricker was part of the University’s jazz department for five years, and was featured on the soundtrack to the popular film “Garden State.”

March 2005

SA election: never-ending

The 2005 Student Association presidential election seemed like it would never end at some points.

A field of nine candidates was narrowed down to a run-off between a GW politician, junior Ben Traverse, and SA outsider Audai Shakour.

Plagued by more violations of the election charter than anyone in GW election history, both candidates were within one violation of being disqualified from the election. Finally, nearly three weeks after a winner was supposed to be announced, the Joint Elections Committee, which oversaw the election, concluded that Shakour beat Traverse by 31 votes and would be the next president of the SA.

Student injured in Thurston fire

Freshman Kevin McLaughlin was left severely burned after a fire erupted on the ninth floor of Thurston Hall in late March. University offici als said the fire started when McLaughlin’s sheets were set aflame from contact with an electric grill, an item banned in residence halls.

The fire was contained to McLaughlin’s room, and all other residents were evacuated without injuries.

Men’s basketball qualifies for NCAA tournament

Even though the GW basketball team lost in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament, the group still had an outstanding season.

GW won the Atlantic 10 tournament for the first time in its history. Ranked 12th in its NCAA tournament bracket, GW lost in the first round to the Georgia Tech Yellow jackets, 80-68.

April 2005

Hippo hype

In late April, The Hatchet investigated the quasi-secret society the Order of the Hippo for potential hazing and underage drinking at its induction ceremony.

In May, Student Judicial Services charged 12 students with Order of the Hippo-related hazing violations and violations of the Student Code of Conduct after suspected members were seen in University Yard with blindfolds on their heads and mud on their faces. Other suspected members were seen giving speeches to the hippopotamus statue on 21 and H streets.

The group, which is supported by the University, failed to register an event at which alcohol was served with the Center for Alcohol and Drug Education. All such events with underage attendees must be registered with the group.

-Jenette Axelrod and Jessica Calefati compiled this review with assistance from Brandon Butler and Gabriel Okolski.

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