Irene Ly: This week’s best and worst

Irene Ly, a junior majoring in psychology, is The Hatchet’s contributing opinions editor.

In case you missed it, here’s the best and worst news from around campus and the District this week.

Thumbs up:

GW’s history department made several changes to the major’s requirements last month in an effort to attract more students. The most significant change is that history majors are no longer required to take foreign language classes or classes on European, North American and U.S. history if they choose not to.

The decision to lift the U.S. history requirement has been met with mixed reactions, with some media outlets criticizing it and commenting on the irony of a university named after the nation’s first president eliminating the need to learn U.S. history.

It’s not a revolutionary move though: According to a report recently published by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, less than one third of nation’s leading universities require history majors to take a course about U.S. history.

Although history majors at GW no longer have to take U.S. history, the change is not as extreme as some people may think. Majors must still take a general introductory history course and an introductory seminar.

With these changes though, majors have much more flexibility to specialize in a specific topic or region that they are interested in. You can still take U.S. history courses if you choose to, but if that’s not your area of interest, you no longer have to take them in the same capacity as classes in other areas of history.

The department’s changes are a positive move that should be effective in attracting more history majors, keeping current majors happy and preventing current majors from switching to related majors, like political science or international affairs.

Thumbs down:

Police misconduct accusations cost cities all over the U.S. millions of dollars, and the District is no exception. Complaints regarding police misconduct have costed D.C. at least $31 million in court judgments or settlements since 2005, according to data obtained from the Washington attorney general’s office. There have been 173 cases alleging police misconduct.

About 95 percent of the money distributed from those lawsuits involved false arrest allegations. Other cases related to excessive use of force and civil rights violations. These lawsuits have cost city taxpayers at least $3.8 million in the first nine months 0f 2016.

And more than two-thirds of the complaints in the last two fiscal years have been filed by African Americans, despite a majority black police department and robust civilian oversight office.

Nearly half of all complaints from last year cited police harassment, which includes wrongful stops or searches, threats and property damage and has resulted in residents’ loss of trust in D.C. officers.

The seemingly endless number of complaints of police misconduct has not only costed its own taxpayers a large sum of money, but strongly shows the poor and tumultuous relationship between police and the community that must be improved.

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