For Freshmen: What’s the deal with…

“What’s the deal with … ” is a regular feature in the Life section that answers those random questions that arise at GW that you can never seem to find the answer to. Whether you are wondering why there is a Nintendo game console you can play while waiting for your food at Pita Pit or why some empty study rooms in Gelman are locked, these articles attempt to bring reason to GW’s rhyme. Here are some excerpts of a few of the more informative “What’s the deal with …” articles published in the past few years.

What’s the deal with… the rowers in front of Funger?

In a town like D.C., there are lots of places for tourists to stop, stare and photograph – including in front of and atop Funger Hall on G Street.

Because of the intensity of their practices, the overbearing heat in the Lerner Health and Wellness Center and the proximity of Funger, (now former) crew team coach Greg Myhr said that holding practice in front of Funger is their best alternative.

“It’s close to where we store the rowing gear and it’s the closest leveled service that’s nearby,” Myhr said. “For the most part I think we’re out of everybody’s way, which is rare in this city.”

“When we’re in the gym it’s incredibly hot,” said Curtis Batts, a senior on the rowing team. “When there’s like 20 or 30 guys working out to their maximum velocity in one room it heats up real quick. So it’s nice to be outside.”

The team rows for about an average of six minutes when they compete, Batts said, but during practice, they typically row for an hour. During crew season, the team can practice as many as six times a week and sometimes twice a day.

What’s the deal with …The methadone clinic next to The Dakota?

Residents of The Dakota are often bewildered to step outside their residence hall in the morning and into a crowd of former heroin addicts.

The group on the corner of 21st and F streets mainly includes clients of Partners in Drug Abuse Rehabilitation and Counseling, a methadone clinic located next to The Dakota in the building at 2112 F St.

It is an odd sight in a residential neighborhood populated mostly by college students, and some neighbors question the clinic’s placement – though it has existed there for almost 20 years.

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s fact sheet, methadone is a medication that curbs withdrawal and dependence symptoms by blocking receptors in the brain accustomed to an opioid, usually heroin.

For students, the clinic is an opportunity for some interesting eavesdropping as the patients wait for rides on the corner.

“They have all these crazy conversations,” said junior Luke McQueen. “I think someone once used code to tell someone else he was going to use drugs out back.”

Michael Akin, GW’s director of community relations, said the University is not overly concerned about the clinic.

“A few years ago a couple of people in the neighborhood asked if we could weigh in either for or against the clinic,” Akin said. “We asked the question among students, and no one could really point to any problems that stemmed from it.”

The clinic’s lease does not expire until 2011, so it will not likely be moving in the near future, said Pete Hill-Byrne, the property’s director of commercial leasing.

GW alumnus Kris Hart – who owns Relaxed Tanning, the day spa and tanning salon located directly across from the clinic – confessed that he was concerned about the clinic when he bought the space for his business, but he has not encountered any problems with it.

“They don’t crap in their own backyard,” Hart said of the patients. “They come, they get on a bus, they leave.”

What’s the deal with… the Gelman memorabilia museum?

Tons of students rush in and out of Gelman Library’s doors each day but most fail to notice the little room stashed off by the left-hand side of the foyer.

The small, inconspicuous place, called the David S. Brown Memorabilia Room, is filled with artifacts from authentic documents to photographs to significant objects, quietly chronicling GW’s history.

Glass cases hold GW memorabilia, the more interesting being photos and portraits of famous alumni, including Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, important documents, such as old GW Hatchets and yearbooks, as well as athletic equipment and memorabilia, dating back to 1821. University librarian Jack A. Siggins said he is very fond of this space.

“It was created in 1998,” he said. “The idea for it came from (former) President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg. He told me he had this idea for creating a facility that would focus on the historical culture of the University. How about using that space in the entrance?”

Siggins said GW needs a place where its history can be recorded, despite a sometimes lackluster enthusiasm for the University’s timeline from those on campus.

“The room was created to show what a long history GW has had. It was founded in the 1830s, which makes it one of the oldest schools in the country, but people don’t know enough about it,” he said.

He said artifacts get chosen for the room by University archivists, who go through a plethora of items and only choose a select few to make it into the small space besides the library. What about the items not chosen? They still get some play, according to Siggins.

“A lot of it is scattered around campus, like all the photos on the tables in the Marvin Center come from the University archives,” he said.

What’s the deal with … the Nintendo at Pita Pit?

How can you save yourself from waiting-line boredom and Princess Peach at the same time? Order something at Pita Pit.

The Ivory Tower eatery keeps a Nintendo and monitor on its counter for customers to play the original “Super Mario Bros.” while they wait for their order. But it’s not all for the customers.

“Over the summer, it’s extremely slow and we were bored,” said Casey Hristakos, Pita Pit director of operations. In the summer, Pita Pit does about 20 percent of the business each week that it does during the school year, he said.

Hristakos, a 29-year-old University of Maryland graduate, said the original idea was to play DVDs on the television, which the employees took from one of the owners.

Judging from customer comments, Mario and Luigi seem to have made good additions to the Pita Pit lineup.

“Someone says something about it everyday. Like, ‘you are the coolest’ and ‘this is awesome,'” Hristakos said, adding that some people walk up to the counter to play Nintendo without ordering anything.

If you are a seasoned player though, you might want to order. If you can beat the entire game before your sandwich is ready, the employees will give you your sandwich for free. Sound impossible?

“I can get you to the final level in five minutes,” Hristakos said.

What’s the deal … with the locked individual study rooms in Gelman?

Any GW student who has ever wandered around Gelman Library’s upper floors looking for quiet study space has most likely come upon the small offices lining the fourth and fifth floors. The rooms, which seem to always be unoccupied and always locked, are tempting to many students because of the peace and privacy they offer.

Most undergrads are seemingly unaware of the uses of the individual offices and due to the rooms’ dark lights and closed doors the areas often look abandoned. In reality though, they are in high demand. The rooms are officially called Closed Study Carrels and are available only to GW doctoral candidates either writing their dissertations or preparing for their exams.

Because each eligible student is allowed between one to two years of personal use of the rooms, there is a slow circulation and therefore, an extensive waiting list for the use of each carrel.

To apply for a Study Carrel, each student must fill out an application and be prepared to pay the 25 dollar, per-semester fee. But the library is very strict about who can use them and undergraduates are not eligible.

Caitlin Carroll, Miranda Green, Hillary Walke, Nour Hammour, and Alex Schneider contributed to this report.

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