Letters to the Editor

Time to clear the smoky air

If GW police will now respond to complaints of drinking and other inappropriate behavior far from the campus, and violators will face University disciplinary action (“Admins address local noise,” Sept. 25, p. 1), why is it GW still refuses to seriously consider a petition from hundreds of students requesting that it post signs asking people not to smoke within 50 feet of entrances to GW buildings?

The University continues to claim that it cannot regulate student behavior on public streets.

If it can sanction student behavior blocks, if not miles, from campus in private buildings, its argument about the lack of authority over students smoking on sidewalks next to GW doorways is nonsensical. Since the University Police Department frequently stops people walking down public sidewalks or even driving on public streets – they try to do it to me regularly – their argument makes no sense.

Even more nonsensical is the fact that students weary – and wary for their health – of walking through a gauntlet of smoke to enter or exit University buildings are only seeking signs asking (not ordering or commanding) people not to smoke with 50 feet of the door. These are identical to such signs already posted on buildings at the Law School and Medical School, demonstrating that such signs are both feasible and effective.

New studies show that exposure to drifting tobacco smoke can trigger heart attacks – not to mention asthmatic and other allergic attacks – and that smoking outside University of Maryland buildings made the air “unhealthy” by federal standards. Secondhand smoke can cause acute symptoms as well as contribute to chronic diseases.

Perhaps it’s time to finally take this simple step.

John Banzhaf, GW Law professor

GW veteran aid falls short

I just recently read the article “Back from war, a new fight” (Sept. 29, p. 1) and am appalled at the University’s efforts to help veterans. I am a veteran attending this school as well and have faced many difficulties getting the help and support I need. After reading the article, it was nice to know I’m not alone, but it is ridiculous that our school does not provide the help our veterans need. There needs to be change at this school to help our transitioning veterans.

Andreae Pohlman, Sophomore

Former officer: UPD should be armed

As a former UPD officer, I fully support the department’s decision to research whether or not to become an armed department and I am very resentful of the comments made by Mr. Asher Corson calling the members of my former department the “most unprofessional people at the University” (“Locals weigh in on arming UPD,” Oct. 2, p. 1).

By and large, the officers employed by UPD work eight – and sometimes 16 – hours a day for low pay, compared with other departments in the D.C. area. They are consummate professionals that are dedicated to one thing: doing whatever they can to keep the members of the GW community safe, including Mr. Corson.

In light of the Supreme Court lifting the D.C. handgun ban and attempted congressional legislation regarding gun laws in the District of Columbia, I absolutely hope that UPD becomes armed.

I also think that GW’s close proximity to the White House has given Mr. Corson has a false sense of security. While the campus is generally secure, there have been previous incidents where people have fired guns directly at the White House and then attempted to leave the area. The most notable of these was during the Clinton administration, when an individual fired a fully automatic AK-47 at the White House. What would have happened if this individual left the area and walked right through campus? What if the next Virginia Tech shooting happens on the GW campus? God forbid, but if it did, I bet Mr. Corson would be the first person in line to call for the arming of UPD.

As Capt. Michael Glaubach at UPD has always said, “It is better to have it and not need it than to need it than not have it.” If UPD does decide to go armed, I will happily do whatever I can as an alumnus and former officer to make it happen.

Justin Bevers, Alumnus

Service learning adds educational depth

As students of Professor Perillan’s Spanish 3 and 4 classes, we were given the opportunity to learn Spanish through the Service-Learning initiative. This program encouraged us to participate in community service and then share our experiences from service in the classroom through conversation and writing.

It is impossible to stress the immense effect Service-Learning had in the wider context of learning Spanish.

We wanted to share our experiences from D.C. Reads and Jumpstart with our classmates and our professor, and we were excited that in these projects we were able to use our Spanish language skills. In Service-Learning, what you say and what you write is so much more powerful than memorizing verb charts and studying online tutorials. Service-Learning allowed us to communicate what was weighing on our hearts and minds, gave us the opportunity to share “nuestras experiencias” in the community in a different language and actually made us want to learn.

We only hope that all students are privileged enough to have the opportunity to invest some portion of their education in service learning.

Ashley Wells and Darnell Cadette, Juniors

UPD staff editorial naive

The recent editorial “Off-campus parties: UPD not invited” (Oct. 2, p. 4) was rife with “shoulds” and a great deal of naivete.

It stated that “If students want to party for four years they should stay on campus.” They don’t.

It stated that if students “live in off-campus housing . (they) should accept the responsibilities that come with the privileges.” Many do, but it’s murder if they don’t.

“Students are signing leases as adults and need to act as such, which involves policing themselves,” it stated How we residents wish it were so.

It also stated, “Neighborhood . residents should be treating students like any other residents and keeping UPD out of the picture.” We try, but sometimes it doesn’t work.

So let’s be practical. If it’s 3 a.m. on Friday morning and you have to get up in the morning, you do not have a lot of choice. Because GW parents have filed a lawsuit, the Metropolitan Police Department is precluded from taking action on noise, so what can you do?

You can call UPD and perhaps get some relief. Then maybe over the weekend you can have a quiet discussion to come to a better understanding of everyone’s responsibility as neighbors.

Ellie Becker, Foggy Bottom resident

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