Hello 2017: GW stories to watch for in the new year

Updated: Jan. 3, 2017 at 3:42 p.m.

2016 seemed to be a year when just about anything could happen, but 2017 is poised to be a particularly important year on GW’s campus. With a new neighbor moving into the White House and the anticipated arrival of a new University president, almost anything could happen on campus over the next 12 months.

Here are some of the top stories to keep an eye out for in 2017.

A new president

Trustees Nelson Carbonell and Madeline Jacobs field questions at a presidential search town hall for faculty. The two are helping to lead the search for the next president. Hatchet file photo by Madeline Cook | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Trustees Nelson Carbonell and Madeline Jacobs field questions at a presidential search town hall for faculty. The two are helping to lead the search for the next president. Hatchet file photo by Madeline Cook | Hatchet Staff Photographer

University President Steven Knapp is slated to leave the University at the end of July, ending his decade-long tenure as GW’s top official. To replace him, a 19-member search committee has met throughout the past semester and received more than 100 nominations. The committee is expected to recommend its top candidates to the Board of Trustees early this year. The Board will then make a final decision, with input from faculty.

The new president will lead a University that is increasingly diverse, focused on research and dealing with cuts to the central administration. The Board of Trustees named a commitment to diversity and inclusion and experience in raising money among the top qualities they were looking for in GW’s 17th president.

Trump takes over

Nearly 400 members of The George Washington University community descended into Kogan Plaza last semester in protest of President-elect Donald Trump's proposed policies. Hatchet file photo by Alyssa Bogosian | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Nearly 400 members of The George Washington University community descended into Kogan Plaza last semester in protest of President-elect Donald Trump’s proposed policies. Hatchet file photo by Alyssa Bogosian | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Donald Trump will move in just blocks away from the Foggy Bottom Campus during the first couple of weeks of 2017. After his election in November, progressive student groups led a walk out and demanded University officials protect students who could potentially be harmed by the incoming president’s proposed policies.

In response, officials remained largely nonpartisan, but Knapp signed letters supporting an Obama administration program shielding young undocumented students from deportation and urging the new administration and Congress to act on climate change. Trump’s policies could also impact GW’s effort to expand its international student population, adding even more weight to how . How GW officials and students respond to their new neighbor will be a major issue to watch in the coming year.

Looming battle over unionization

Resident advisers will find out early in 2017 whether the National Labour Relations Board will allow them to form a union. The board heard from both University officials and the petitioning RAs at a hearing last month. If the student employees are allowed to unionize, it would be the first such union at a private university.

The NLRB’s decision could set up a showdown between RAs and GW administrators, as the University has come out in opposition to unionization.

A student trustee?

Student Association President Erika Feinman has been pushing to add a student to the Board of Trustees. Hatchet file photo by Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor.
Student Association President Erika Feinman has been pushing to add a student to the Board of Trustees. Hatchet file photo by Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor.

A Board of Trustees task force has been meeting throughout the semester to examine how and whether to incorporate a GW student on the board, a major campaign goal for SA President Erika Feinman.

The conclusions of that task force will be vital in the coming months as student leaders look to achieve what previous student governments could not, student representation on the Board.

When will they open?

It's unclear when the four remaining vendors in District House will open. Hatchet file photo by Olivia Anderson | Contributing Photo Editor
It’s unclear when the four remaining vendors in District House will open. Hatchet file photo by Olivia Anderson | Contributing Photo Editor

Officials planned on the opening of several vendors in District House last semester, but after a series of delays, only two – Wiseguys Pizza and Beef ‘n’ Bread – have opened so far.

The delays have left students with fewer on-campus food choices than expected after J Street closed and officials instituted a new open dining plan, which allows students to spend their dining dollars at certain vendors near or on campus.

A second year of cuts

2017 will mark the second year of planned cuts to the central administration. Each central administration unit is expected to slash its budget by 3 to 5 percent each fiscal year until 2021.

The first round of cuts, announced last summer, saw around 40 positions cut affecting GW libraries, technology, student affairs, safety and security and treasurer’s offices. The cuts also forced the dissolution of the Office of Parent Services and have tasked some offices to get creative in how they spend money.

This post has been updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Wiseguys Pizza was the only vendor open in District House. Beef ‘n’ Bread has also opened in the building. We regret this error.

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