Tom Braslavsky: A year in reflection

With my first year of college coming to a close, I took some time to sit and reflect upon what made being at GW this year one of my fondest memories.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I first found out I would be living in a five-person room at our famous Thurston Hall. Well, actually, I kind of did, from that notorious Washington Post article published a couple years back about GW’s “Freshman Zoo.” With 1,200 freshmen living in one place, it was bound to be crazy. After a year living in this cage, I must say it has been quite a memorable experience. The rumors of hallways covered in debris from constant parties are only partly true (much obviously depends on day of the week and floor number). In reality, Thurston is what you make of it. It can be a “zoo” – loud, packed and often cramped, and sometimes an incubator of diseases like swine flu. But with proper hygiene and common sense, it’s possible to regulate the craziness to just your level.

My freshman year has consisted of countless examples of quite prototypical, faux-intellectual college dorm discussions. At GW, it’s like the classic idea of college kids debating late into the night – but on steroids. When bystanders say that GW students can be obsessed with politics and international affairs, they aren’t kidding. In the wider population, it’s rare that you meet people who can name every member of Congress, quote Supreme Court rulings or spout statistics on immigration. At GW, it’s closer to the norm.

If I’ve learned one thing about our University’s location, it’s that if you don’t do anything else, utilize your proximity to the National Mall. The various monuments and memorials are symbols of our country that really, I’m unashamed to say, make me proud to be an American. With the Mall just steps from campus, I have found it exhilarating to go jogging around on a nice day or walk over one night with friends and pay the Mall a visit. On quiet nights, the steps of the Lincoln make a nice romantic or pensive spot, with a great view of the reflecting pool and incredible, lit-up monuments. On a clear night, the shining stars really set a peaceful mood.

Students at no other institution can say that their campus was cordoned off as hundreds of thousands of people made their way towards one of the most historic ceremonies in our nation’s history. From the free Martin Luther King Jr. Day concert at the Lincoln Memorial, to the swearing-in ceremony itself, to the ridiculous GW parade float and the excessive GW inaugural ball, it was undoubtedly a truly once in a lifetime experience.

I’m convinced that all of this year’s so-called Student Association “scandals” were fabricated to increase interest in the organization. Truth is, most students care less about SA drama than the latest video being shown by the GW Anime Society. The SA seems to be a few GW students’ attempt at emulating real politics, corruption and all. I guess it’s great practice for our nation’s future leaders.

But in all seriousness, the SA does have power over how our money is spent. As a freshman, all the bureaucracy was a big turn-off, but one thing I believe is that if more people showed interest and expressed their views – and if more SA members considered themselves to be representatives of the students, rather than power-hungry pseudo-politicians – maybe some more good could come out of our student government.

Freshman year has provided numerous memories and lessons about the quirks of GW and its students, as well as many experiences around D.C. But instead of fixating only on the past, it is important to move towards the future. I’m sure those who are graduating will fondly remember the memories they have made here and those of us not graduating will continue making great memories at GW.

The writer, a freshman majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.

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