Letters to the Editor

Time out for GW sports? Keep the clock running

In referring to “a recent string of athletic embarrassments,” the author of “Time out for GW sports and dorms,” (Feb. 9, p. 4) ignores the success of the sports program as a whole. The men’s crew team took 20th at nationals last year, the women’s basketball team has had two consecutive Sweet 16 appearances, volleyball had a 19-11 season, men’s tennis was 9-2 in the Atlantic 10 last year and women’s squash is currently ranked 16th in the nation, to name a few. This is hardly an embarrassment.

That said, it doesn’t take “double over-time against Duke” to garner school pride. It is easily found among those cheering these successes while lounging on The Vern watching soccer or among tourists at the waterfront for the crew team regatta.

Furthermore, large shares of athletic budgets are funded by GW teams autonomously from the University. Athletes put in as much as 50 hours of work to support travel, equipment and uniform expenses. The column also neglects revenue in forms of admissions enrollment and alumni contributions as well.

Athletes come from across the world to GW, adding to our diverse student population. Athletics mobilize people toward causes such as the Basketball Food Drive and Pink Games/Meets for breast cancer. GW athletes are uniquely positioned to inspire youth in the community and do so through the Big Brothers/Sisters program, coaching or by simply signing autographs for an ecstatic team of young girls after a meet. Athletes are ambassadors of the university, and GW’s fan base is much broader than the author would have you believe.
Keith Moody and Collin Stevenson, president and vice president, Student Athlete Advisory Council

Help keep study abroad academics up to par

In his column “Toughen up on study abroad academics,” (Dec. 4, p. 4), GW senior Frank Broomell voices his disappointment with the lack of academic rigor in his study abroad program in Italy.

While spending little time or effort on academic tasks can be as much a student’s own choice as a program’s lack of rigor, Mr. Broomell’s complaints about his particular program must be taken seriously. As the Study Abroad Academic Advisory Council (SAAAC), we are charged to be the watchdogs of GW’s list of approved study abroad programs.

Thus we found Mr. Broomell’s complaints, as well as his generalization that “many study abroad programs are a joke academically” quite disturbing. SAAAC members strongly agree that the academic rigor of GW’s approved study abroad programs must be held to the same standard that we expect of our own programs. Each year we add and remove programs from the list based on faculty and student input and our own investigation.

Our decision-making process relies on feedback gathered from the Study Abroad Office, such as their returning student surveys. Students who have studied abroad and have not provided feedback on their program are encouraged to do so via the survey on the study abroad Web site (follow the link for “After You Return” to take the survey). We openly invite Mr. Broomell and other study abroad returnees to meet with us and discuss concerns about their particular program – we can be reached at 202-994-1649. We value all input that will lead to strengthening future GW students’ study abroad experience and may help, in Mr. Broomell’s words, “avoid academic culture shock.”
Study Abroad Academic Advisory Council

Getting the facts straight

Your recent article about me (“Professor scrutinized for alleged conflict of interest,” Dec. 4) is misleading in several important respects. A key issue was whether Bill Lichtenstein, the producer of “The Infinite Mind” radio program that I hosted until 2005, was aware of my work for pharmaceutical companies. The reporter quoted his denial along with my assertion that he was aware but failed to report the easily verifiable facts that prove that Mr. Lichtenstein was aware: he recruited another host in 2005 specifically because he had no ties to pharmaceutical companies. At that point my role changed to that of a guest host and only for shows that did not deal with treatment of psychiatric disorders. Your story also failed to note that other people associated with the show (including the new host, and a former associate producer) have both come forward to assert that Mr. Lichtenstein certainly did know of my pharmaceutical activities.

Another point: Sen. Grassley’s staff did not seem to be aware that conflict of interest rules apply only to federal grants involving research, not radio programs (the senator had justified his “investigation” of me by citing federal grants to the program).

I am proud of the speaking that I did with support from a drug company because it enabled me to educate thousands of psychiatrists around the country about bipolar disorder and about all of the treatment options available, including especially lithium which had been neglected in the face of heavy promotion of new patent-protected (i.e. higher-earning) alternatives. I have never given a talk promoting one drug over other options. My reputation in this regard speaks for itself.

Finally, space does not allow me to detail all the ways in which the original New York Times article (that stimulated the Hatchet article) was, at best, profoundly misleading and, at worst, deliberately dishonest. It’s no surprise that the New York Times reporter had previously been admonished by the Columbia School of Journalism Review (“A Medical Story Gone Awry,” July 20, 2005).
Frederick Goodwin

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