While the GW community eyes the future of a storied residence hall with new glamor, darker headlines in D.C. overshadow the anticipation of students’ return to the nation’s capital.
One week before Thurston Hall reopens for the first time in more than two years, promising photos of the facility indicate a long construction process is set to pay off for 800 new residents. On the citywide level, Mayor Muriel Bowser secured funding to combat the effects of climate change, like power outages caused by severe storms.
But another pair of headlines in the city underlined systemic issues facing D.C. and the entire country. Bowser’s inability to deploy the National Guard left local migrants without emergency support and a hateful attack against a couple stemmed from homophobia and misinformation about the monkeypox epidemic.
To catch you up, here are the best and worst of this week’s headlines:
Thurston Hall’s renovation appears to be near completion for GW’s move-in weekend just around the corner. Several stories of floor-to-ceiling windows overlook an open outdoor space. Sixteen lounges will provide students with ample area for their study time. A rooftop overlooks the D.C. skyline, shaped by the Washington Monument, National Cathedral and Eisenhower Executive Office Building. In a tweet posted Monday, Peter Sacco, the executive director of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission, shared images that should excite incoming freshmen who can breathe a big sigh of relief at the nearly finished product of their residence hall. Campus housing at GW has not always been safe or up to the standards that students deserve. Let’s hope this version of Thurston Hall is much different than the one that became notorious for its black mold.
Bowser announced Wednesday that she secured $20 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help reverse the effects of climate change in D.C. As the District continues to experience power outages due to thunderstorms that cause floods and fallen trees, funding more resilient infrastructure is imperative. Bowser has stressed that rainfall, natural hazards and frequent storms are all increasing, and this funding can help protect the people of D.C. who lack safe homes. D.C. has outlined the spending of this money, which will help restore tidal wetlands in Watts Branch and retrofit homes for possible flood damage in the future. This concrete outline promises a better chance of progress. Climate change cannot be taken lightly.
The governors of Texas and Arizona started transporting hundreds of migrants to D.C. four months ago as a form of criticism of President Joe Biden and his immigration policy. The influx of migrants seeking asylum is overwhelming the District, but the Department of Defense denied Bowser’s request for National Guard support last week. If approved, the National Guard would process, feed and sanitize local migrants while managing the armory that would connect them to a permanent housing destination. Bowser cannot deploy the National Guard herself as a city mayor without statehood in D.C., an emblem of the painful lack of power in the city. Meanwhile, the migrants are left to sleep homeless outdoors, mostly around Union Station, with little to no food, water, clothes or shelter.
Metropolitan Police Department officers are investigating a suspected hate crime against two men who were physically assaulted and verbally harassed with homophobic slurs with reference to monkeypox last weekend. The District has the highest number of monkeypox cases per capita in the United States as of July 25, according to D.C. Health. Since gay men make up most of the people who contract monkeypox in the United States, they are facing violence from people who blame them for the virus. GW officials sent an email to students about the transmissibility and treatment of monkeypox, but it failed to mention the social impacts. As students come back to campus in the near future, they need to know about preventive methods like limiting sexual partners. Queer students need better guidance for this virus as they face increased risk and encounter acts of hatred.
Riley Goodfellow, a rising sophomore majoring in political science, is the contributing opinions editor.
This article appeared in the August 12, 2022 issue of the Hatchet.