Best and worst from this week’s headlines

There’s only one more week of winter break, and that means it’s time to get back to reality and prepare for the semester ahead.

But the transition back to campus might be a little easier this semester. Starting this week, students can return to campus and spend their dining dollars on cinnamon raisin bagels and broccoli cheddar bread bowls at the new Panera Bread. Yet, with recent events, students should turn their focus to the current campus emergency communications instead of the new restaurant.

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

Thumbs up:

It’s finally here. Panera Bread, conveniently located in the Marvin Center, officially opened up for business Wednesday to the delight of both students and staff.

The University announced in May that Panera Bread would be the newest addition to the growing list of restaurants on the Foggy Bottom campus. The bakery-cafe chain was scheduled, after many delays, for its opening day in March. But fortunately, the construction and development finished just before the start of the spring semester. The opening of the restaurant creates more healthy dining opportunities for students and staff, especially in comparison to the popular Chick-fil-A location.

Juniors and seniors, who have been at GW since their freshman year, can recall that before Panera Bread, there was J Street – a cafeteria-style dining center that was once a regular spot for students to grab a quick bite, even though opinions varied on the quality of the food. But with the end of GW’s partnership with Sodexo, their last dining partner, came the end of J Street in May 2016.

But now, change is coming again as Restaurant Associates, which was announced as GW’s new dining partner in 2016, announced in early December that they would be terminating their contract with the University at the end of this academic year. Restaurant Associates has only worked with GW for a little more than a year.

Even in a short period, Restaurant Associates hasn’t left the best impression with students. The University’s dining partner serves as the main caterer for events at GW. Especially considering that events held in the Marvin Center must be catered by Restaurant Associates. But many students argued that the company couldn’t prepare cultural dishes for student organizations like the Pakistani Student Association, the Japanese American Student Alliance and the Muslim Students’ Association. And students have reported continued struggles to make it to the end of the semester with enough money to purchase food on campus.

While the University searches for a new dining partner, students can only hope the lines at Panera won’t be too long.

Thumbs down:

A GW Alert was sent out across the globe through text and email after a shooting was reported near GW Hospital around 8 p.m. Tuesday night.

The alert advised students and staff in the area to avoid the hospital as the police investigated the incident. The Metropolitan Police Department investigated at the hospital, after a brief lockdown, because the victim was shot near the front of the building’s lobby.

But students and staff never received a follow-up alert or update about the situation on campus. And what is most concerning is that this isn’t the first time this has happened.

In early October 2016, GW sent out an alert to students and staff that a possible shooter was on the corner of 20th and F streets and that the area should be avoided. But after the incident passed, a second GW Alert was not sent until much later.

Although that specific situation turned out to be a false alarm, students and staff deserve to be properly informed by GW Alerts during emergency situations. Even though the incident at the hospital turned out to be isolated event, with one person shot, it is still important to inform the community when they are no longer in immediate danger.

Every alert may not have to do with an emergency like a possible shooter, but it is vital that people on campus have a sense of what is going on, especially if they are being asked to remain indoors. GW Alerts should continuously send updates during emergency situations and should become more active with their Twitter account so that students and staff can make sure that they receive the alerts in a timely manner.

The University should prioritize having an effective and informative emergency communications system, especially with the openness of our city campus. It’s more important to be safe than sorry.

Renee Pineda, a junior majoring in political science, is The Hatchet’s contributing opinions editor.

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