As the class of 2022 prepares to bid farewell to campus for the final time, reminisce on some of the #OnlyAtGW moments from their time in Foggy Bottom.
The past four years at GW have been anything but ordinary, with a pandemic, celebrity appearances, residence hall evacuations and Justin Diamond punctuating students’ academic careers. Take a stroll down memory lane and relive some of the most bizarre events that have taken place at GW since August 2018.
March 2019 – Justin Diamond’s write-in campaign
The 2019 Student Association election was shaping up to be relatively standard between three presidential candidates on the ballot. But nearly 24 hours until the election was set to take place, freshman Justin Diamond announced his write-in candidacy for SA president on GW’s Facebook meme page called “GW Memes for join without video teens.”
“I know the election is about 24 hours away, but I know the majority of students at GW are sick and tired of SA for its political antics,” his announcement states. “The time to act is now. Write me in on Wednesday, and I will see to it that the SA is abolished. GW will save time, money and dignity.”
Diamond, who ran on platform to abolish the SA, immediately received endorsements from the moderators of the meme page which has more than 15,000 members and was soon renamed “GW memes for pro-Justin Diamond teens.” Diamond’s unconventional campaign, which featured “fireside” chats from the Madison Hall basement and accordion performances, spread like wildfire across social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, gaining him key endorsements like the student workers at the H Street Starbucks.
Ultimately, Diamond’s campaign forced a runoff against then-junior and RHA President SJ Matthews after all candidates received less than 40 percent of the vote. Diamond received 27 percent and Matthews received 25 percent. Matthews clinched the SA presidency in the runoff with about 67 percent of the vote
Despite the loss, Diamond’s 2019 run was a lasting memory for all who witnessed it, because how often does a candidate run on a platform of abolishing the organization they want to be a part of?
October 2019 – Kanye’s surprise visit
Campus was sent into a frenzy when Kanye West arrived for an unexpected show to promote his then-upcoming album “Jesus is King” in Lisner Auditorium.
At the performance, West spoke about his newfound devotion to God and showed off samples of songs like “On God” and “Water,” which both ended up on “Jesus is King.” While GW is no stranger to celebrity sightings, Kanye’s surprise appearance will not be forgotten for students who were lucky enough to get a glimpse of Yeezus.
November 2019 – Thurston Hall fire
Thurston Hall, which is set to reopen in fall 2022 after roughly two years of renovations, has been known for water leaks, mold growth and the “Thurston plague” for decades, but a fire upped the ante for freshman year residence hall horrors in November 2019.
When a minor fire started in a third floor room, students evacuated from the 55 year old building because of the sprinkler system triggered in response, which showered the residence hall in water. Luckily, the fire caused minimal damage, the majority of which was due to the sprinklers. Students evacuated to the University Student Center but moved to nearby residence halls and hotels for several days while staff worked to repair the damage in their rooms.
March 2020 – COVID-19 pandemic
A few months later, students were met with by far the biggest moment of their academic careers. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced students out of their residence halls and into their homes as classes moved online and the world adjusted to a new normal.
Despite memes and levity on social media that joked about the severity and length of the pandemic, the pandemic ended up extensively defining students’ lives with online classes that lasted for more than a year. After 500 students were allowed back in the fall of 2020, that number grew to 1,500 in the spring while iconic events like Commencement and New Student Orientation remained online through the summer.
Despite the challenges the pandemic presented, students were resilient and made the most of their Zoom semesters in a variety of ways. From embarking on road trips to reminiscing about embarrassing mishaps that could only have happened online, students stayed resilient and made the most of their Zoom semesters.
17 months after classes first moved online, the University welcomed the GW community back to in-person classes as it completed its full campus reopening in late August as much of the student body stepped foot on campus for the first time.
September 2021 – Townhouse Row mold outbreak
But as campus life surged, so did mold growth.
Students evacuated from Townhouse Row after officials received reports of “environmental concerns” from separate townhouses leading up to Labor Day weekend, as students across campus began reporting their own mold findings to social media. Residents of Townhouse Row boarded shuttles and moved their belongings to the River Inn and Yours Truly hotel Sunday night during the evacuations, not returning for nearly a month.
Seventy-five GW community members said apparent mold growth and water leaks in their campus buildings have given way to illness, relocation and an overflow of FixIt tickets in the first half of September. Students reported cold-like symptoms, itchy eyes, coughs, congestion, allergic reactions and infections along with their mold findings.
It was an unforgettable time on campus filled with students re-packing up their belongings and heading off campus, as both students and professors rushed to investigate their own rooms for mold.