Best and worst from this week’s headlines

It’s the start of a new year, and with that comes celebration for what is to come as well as reflection of what happened in the previous year.

This week, there is local news that allows us to do both. D.C. is experiencing the continuation of a positive trend with its decrease in homicide rates. But unfortunately, one alumna and her family were involved in a tragedy just before 2017 ended.

Here’s the best and worst news from around campus and the District this week.

Thumbs up:

The District might be a little safer in 2017 than it was in 2016, continuing a positive trend of decreasing homicides in D.C.

In 2017, the total number of homicides in the District fell for the second year in a row. There were 259 murders in the D.C. region – which includes parts of suburban Virginia and Maryland – this past year, which has dropped considerably from 300 in 2016.

Although it’s always disheartening to read news of homicide at all, these declines are encouraging, especially after homicides hit a high of 305 in 2015. This was a nearly 47 percent increase from 2014.

Out of the 259 homicides this past year, 116 of them occurred in the District itself. The majority occurred in Southeast and none took place in Foggy Bottom.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser noted the impact of programs that intervene in disputes and shortly after shootings to prevent retaliation, as well as the involvement of other government agencies, besides the police that work to help reduce violence in the area.

But like Bowser said at a press conference last week, “we aren’t satisfied with any level of violence in our neighborhoods.” Bowser, her administration and D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham must continue to work on programs that will further mitigate violence in the District this year. This decrease should only be the start of more drops in violence.

But unfortunately, not all of the news is positive. While 2017 recorded a lower number of homicides than last year, it was also plagued by an unusually high number of murder victims who were less than 20 years old. There were 44 victims under 20, which is up from 38 in both 2015 and 2016.

Hopefully in 2018 and the years to come, not only will homicide rates continue to consistently go down, but so will homicide rates of people in every age group.

Thumbs down:

What should have been a day of celebration before ringing in the new year unfortunately ended in tragedy for the passengers of a small charter plane.

An alumna was one of 12 people killed in a tragic plane crash over Costa Rica Sunday.

Alumna Irene Ginsberg Steinberg, 51, grew up in Potomac, Md. and graduated from the University in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree from the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. She, along with her husband and three children, had chartered a small plane to go on a vacation to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. But the plane crashed in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, leaving no survivors. A Floridian family and two Costa Rican crew members also died in the crash.

After graduating from GW, Steinberg attended New York University to study social work, and later taught classes there. She and her husband Bruce lived in Scarsdale, N.Y., where they had three children. Their youngest son, Matthew, was only in eighth grade, while their two older sons, William and Zachary, were both in college.

It is heartbreaking to know that while most people are coming up with New Year’s resolutions and trying to start off 2018 strong, an alumna and her family had their lives cut short.

The cause of the plane crash is unfortunately still currently unknown. Hopefully, more details will soon be discovered to prevent another similar tragedy that takes away the lives of an entire family. As the crash is investigated, the GW community should mourn the deaths of Steinberg and her family and think about how lucky they are to be able to live and see what 2018 has in store.

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

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