Year in Review: 2006 – 2007

October

Foley Page scandal comes to GW campus

When former Member of Congress Mark Foley was charged with having an inappropriate relationship with House pages, former pages at GW flocked to the media to express their support for the program. GW has a high population of former pages, and students were featured in national media reports by CNN, NPR and Court TV.

While many former pages chose to not speak with the media, those students who did said Foley’s actions do not warrant dissolving a beneficial program. One student interviewed by The Hatchet was working in Foley’s office when news broke about his sexual chats. “By Friday, I was scared to go into work,” said Sarah Kurusz, a junior, last fall. “On Friday, when anyone called, I wasn’t allowed to speak about anything.”

Abortion Debate Erupts on Campus

Hundreds of GW students participated in a heated abortion debate on H Street when pro-life activists came to campus and displayed graphic images of aborted fetuses. The stop in Foggy Bottom was part of a nationwide pro-life tour called “Face the Truth.” Life and Liberty Ministries organized the protest, and several protesters brought their children. Hours after the pro-life group set up, hundreds of GW students counter-protested with megaphones and homemade signs.

Nearly all students engaged in the argument were pro-choice, and several student organizations, such as Voices for Choices and the Feminine Majority Leadership Association, voiced their support as well.

December

University Revokes Professor’s Tenure

For the first time in GW’s history, the University revoked a professor’s tenure. In December, engineering professor Debrabata Saha lost his appeal to the Dispute Resolutions Committee over cancellation of his tenure. Lawyers for the University said the decision was the result of Saha’s “persistent neglect of professional responsibilities.”

Saha is suing the University, Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Dean Timothy Tong for having University Police Department officers escort him from a class he was teaching in Sept. 2005. He claims the action was embarrassing and unnecessary.

Knapp named new University President

In early December, the Board of Trustees elected Steven Knapp, a senior administrator at Johns Hopkins University, as the 16th president of GW. The decision was the result of a six-month long selection process which began in the spring of 2006 after University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg announced his plans to retire.

Knapp, who is the provost and senior vice president at Johns Hopkins, lives in Maryland on a farm. He will assume office in Aug. 2007.

January

Freshman Ships Marijuana through GW Package Services

Freshman Sririam Prakash was arrested in late January after signing for a package at GW Package Services that contained four bags of marijuana, according to a Metropolitan Police Department report. MPD was alerted to the contents of the package when a canine officer in a Rockville, Md., shipping facility detected the drugs.

Prakash initially said he was unaware of the drugs, but later pleaded guilty in D.C. court. A subsequent search of Prakash’s personal property returned a digital pocket scale, a box of small Ziploc bags, a foil container and $400 cash, according to police reports.

February

Alito judges moot court competition

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito presided over the Law School’s annual Van Vleck Moot Court Competition in February. More than 1,200 students gathered at Lisner Auditorium to hear two teams argue before a three-judge panel.

The case being argued was written by law students, and dealt with the application of Fourth Amendment rights to privacy in cyberspace.

In 2005, Chief Justice John Roberts judged the same competition.

March

Student Association Elections

Sophomore Nicole Capp was elected the next president of the Student Association, with Junior Brand Kroeger – a campaign opponent – as her executive vice president. Unlike many past presidents, Capp is both female and will be a junior.

During the election, Capp ran on a multi-faceted campaign that included plans to expand the number of venues that take GWorld, integrate more students with the actions and decisions of the SA and secure a grocery store as a GWorld partner.

Basketball teams go to NCAA tournament

Though women’s basketball games were not highly attended throughout the winter season, the team advanced to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 round in Dallas. Among the season’s most notable victories was the womens team’s win over Georgia in December.

The men’s basketball team won the Atlantic 10 tournament and completed the regular season with an 11-5 record. During the first round of the NCAA tournament, the men lost to Vanderbilt 77-44 in Sacramento.

Jimmy Carter speaks at Lisner

In early-March, former president Jimmy Carter spoke to a standing room only audience in Lisner Auditorium about his latest book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.” The book created controversy across the country because of the comparisons it draws between Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and apartheid in Africa. Outside of the auditorium, proctors argued in support and against Carter’s book.

During his speech, the former president called for renewed peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis, as well as concessions from what he described as an oppressive state.

Carter came to campus as part of the Middle East Policy Forum, a series of talks organized by Elliott School professor and former Ambassador Edward “Skip” Gnehm.

April

Keynote Speech Controversy

In early-April, The Hatchet reported the University selected Trachtenberg as the keynote speaker for the 2007 Commencement. According to an internal memo leaked to The Hatchet, administrators wanted to wait to release the news because of concern over student backlash.

Many students said they objected to having their graduation turned into what some called a “retirement party” for Trachtenberg.

In April, Trachtenberg stepped down as speaker, citing that his keynote speech would be inappropriate in the light of the Virginia Tech shootings. Instead of a keynote speaker, the five honorary degree recipients spoke for several minutes. Trachtenberg delivered the charge to the graduates.

New iHousing Room Selection draws mixed reactions

GW Housing Programs used the iHousing program for the first time this spring. iHousing is an online system that creates residence hall and roomate assignments based on preferences listed by each student, rather than the traditional lottery system which was largely random.

The waiting list for room choices was smaller this year with the new system compared to previous years, though a few students complained they did not get their preferred housing choice.

Four-by-Four Plan decision postponed by faculty

The vote on whether to accept the administration’s proposal that GW switch from a schedule of five three-credit classes to four four-credit classes was postponed indefinitely by the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and the Elliott School of International Affairs in April. Administrators in both schools said they wanted to wait until Knapp takes office in August to make a decision.

This postponement came after a long struggle by Vice President of Academic Affairs Donald Lehman to see the four-by-four plan passed. Professors and a great many students saw the proposal as an attempt to cut costs by decreasing the number of courses, while some administrators called it a way to improve GW’s overall academic rigor with greater depth in each class.

May

Colonial Invasion, GW Reads Reinstated

Colonial Invasion, a pre-season basketball pep rally and GW Reads, a program that provided free newspapers in student dorms, were reinstated following student protest and much advocacy from the Student Association.

The two programs were cut from last year’s budget as part of a $900,000 reduction in funding for Student and Academic Support Services.

Reinstating both programs became an issue in the Student Association elections, and was central to the campaign of vice-president-elect Brand Kroeger. Kroeger said the program’s return “will put a renewed faith in the SA.”

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