Staff Editorial: Knapp on the front lines

On Wednesday, through the cold and bitter winds of a dark February night, students marched into battle, flags, shields and all, against a long-time foe. At the frontlines of the epic snowball fight was University President Steven Knapp, leading GW through the assault.

It was a watershed moment in the tenure of President Knapp. In the past, this page has been critical of Knapp’s lackluster connection with students. Those criticisms could not have been answered more powerfully than they were Wednesday. In a single night Knapp did more to strengthen the bond with students than could have ever been expected.

There are a number of elements that made this such a positive event for President Knapp. First, it demonstrated an impressive awareness of an unofficial event, which many students were not even aware of. The snowball fight was coordinated largely through Twitter and Facebook, without the formalized structure that would normally be needed for a University official to attend. Next, the appearance seemed completely impromptu. Knapp ditched any assistants, forgot any talking points and simply enjoyed the evening. Finally, that Knapp was an active participant in the battle was impressive. It has been, and will always be, a point of pride among students that GW’s honor was defended by the president himself.

We hope this is a turning point for the administration. Although we don’t expect 3 feet of snow to be a common occurrence, students want these types of appearances to become more frequent. On Wednesday, Knapp proved himself to be genuine, relatable and, dare we say, fun. His actions allayed the fears of those who thought he might not be capable of such a connection.

This winter has held a number of surprises for GW. We have seen record-breaking snowfall, four days of cancelled classes and, although we may not be able to compete with Georgetown on the basketball court, we’d put our money on the Colonials in a snowball fight any day. To have President Knapp leading the charge was perhaps the most surprising and welcome aspect of all.

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