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George Washington University

GWU Campus News

Importance
1
Crime log: Spouse of staff member carjacked by male suspect
by The GW Hatchet
Jan 01, 2022
“Theft II/From Building
Mitchell Hall (7-Eleven)
9/20/2021 – 7:44 p.m.
Open Case
GW Police Department officers responded to a report of theft. Upon arrival, officers made contact with a female employee who said a male subject stole orange juice from the store.
– Case open.
Theft II/From Building
Duquès Hall
9/16/2021 – 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Open Case
Two male staff members reported basic tools, like wrenches and screwdrivers, stolen from their lockers.
– Case open.
Theft II/From Building
University Student Center
9/21/2021 – 2:25 p.m.
Open Case
A staff member reported her purse stolen after leaving it in the University Student Center restroom. The purse contained basic items like an ID, wallet and credit cards.
– Case open.
Theft II/From Building, Unlawful Entry
Mitchell Hall (7-Eleven)
9/21/2021 – 6:19 p.m.
Open Case
GWPD officers responded to a report of theft. Upon arrival, officers made contact with the complainant, who stated that a male subject who had previously been barred from campus had stolen multiple cell phone chargers.
– Case open.
Unlawful Entry
Mitchell Hall (7-Eleven)
9/21/2021 – 9:04 p.m.
Closed Case
GWPD officers responded to a report of a previously barred male subject entering the store after stealing cell phone chargers. Upon the officers’ arrival, the subject fled the scene and officers later apprehended and arrested him. EMeRG responded and transported the subject to the GW Hospital emergency room.
– Subject barred.
Theft II/From Motor Vehicle
2028 G Street/LLC (Garage)
9/22/2021 – 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Open Case
A staff member reported money stolen from his vehicle.
– Case open.
Armed Carjacking
Off Campus
9/22/2021 – 9:43 p.m.
Closed Case
An armed male subject carjacked the spouse of a staff member. Shortly thereafter, Metropolitan Police Department officers recovered the vehicle in Northeast.
– Referred to MPD.
Unlawful Entry
Science and Engineering Hall (Garage)
9/22/2021 – 11:48 p.m.
Closed Case
GWPD officers responded to a report of a female subject asleep in the garage. Upon arrival, they discovered that the subject had been previously barred from campus property. The subject was issued an updated bar notice and escorted off GW property.
– Subject barred.
– Compiled by Carly Neilson.”

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Importance
1
GW Law launches strategic planning process with Deloitte
by The GW Hatchet
Jan 01, 2022
“GW Law officials have begun developing the school’s next strategic plan to assess the future of the law school and prioritize faculty guidance in academic and administrative affairs.
The law school launched its strategic planning process earlier this month at its first faculty meeting of the fall semester and has selected Deloitte, a professional consulting firm, to help administrators gauge faculty and other stakeholders’ perspectives to craft recommendations to implement. Law school Dean Dayna Bowen Matthew said officials are devising the new strategic plan to help the school make the best use of its resources and move forward more “confidently,” prioritizing its top goals and strengthening its programs.
“The strategic planning process will present an opportunity for the law school to decide what to prioritize, based on an assessment of the extent to which different programs can help students by taking advantage of existing strengths of the law school and our location in Washington, D.C.,” Matthew said in an email.
Matthew stepped into the role as dean of the law school in July 2020, becoming the first woman in the school’s history to hold the position. Matthew has  prioritized building connections with students and faculty amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic while supporting diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at the school, like classroom inclusion training, to increase representation among faculty and students.
Matthew said in a tweet that the school would also seek guidance and input for its strategic planning process from three former law school deans – Jack Friedenthal, Fred Lawrence and Mike Young.
“The goal of this process is to harness the ideas and energy of different groups in our community to help chart a path forward,” she said.
Before Matthew began her term as dean, law school professors passed a resolution in June 2020 promising to implement anti-racism initiatives among faculty, like bias training and discrimination reports. As part of new policies outlined in the resolution, officials put forward plans to increase the number of faculty and staff of color, and faculty proposed new courses and conducted classroom conversations with a greater focus on race in the United States.
The law school’s last strategic planning process,  assembled during the 2013-14 academic year, targeted innovation to improve facilities, academic programs and career development.
Roger Trangsrud, a professor of complex litigation and civil procedure, said he views Deloitte as “professional” and “organized” in its involvement with the current strategic plan. Trangsrud, who led the previous strategic planning process, said the last strategic plan was more internal and involved a large committee of faculty and staff instead of an outside firm, and he expects the current plan to extend beyond this academic year.
Trangsrud said the strategic planning process can help administrators identify and address opportunities and challenges at the law school like the future of online learning and recruiting starting faculty to replace recent retirements. He said new deans, especially from outside the institution, commonly have a strategic planning process early in their deanship.
“It makes perfect sense in that setting for a new dean to have a strategic planning committee and a process so that the new dean can learn about the law school and about challenges and various options for dealing with the challenges,” he said.
Michael Abramowicz, the senior associate dean for academic affairs at the law school and a professor of law, said the school’s decision to enlist Deloitte will help officials assess the school’s future. He said administrators will consider the input they receive from faculty interviews to craft a final plan of recommendations.
“The dean was aware of processes at other schools that used consultants that had produced very good results for those schools, and we chose to go that route,” he said. “Increasingly, universities are looking to consulting firms to help them in a variety of decision-making tasks.”
Abramowicz said Deloitte will collaborate with administrators to develop its strategic plan for areas like academic programs and faculty governance instead of solely being responsible for the planning process.
“We hope that the strategic plan will allow us to focus our efforts on making the law school experience for our students as strong as possible and putting us in a financial and academic position to continue to succeed,” he said.
Joan Meier, a professor of clinical law, said she believes administrators, with the help of Deloitte, are consciously thinking about the future of the school and faculty through this planning process.
She said she is optimistic Deloitte staff will listen to her concerns because of the effort to involve faculty in the process. She said the planning process is allowing her to become more involved within the school and more excited to share her input on various issues.
“I have not felt this much input in past years as I have since this team has arrived,” Meier said.”

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Importance
1
SA textbook exchange program to alleviate costs: students
by The GW Hatchet
Jan 01, 2022
“Students said a centralized location for used and online textbooks could alleviate yearly expenses as the Student Association prepares to kickstart its online textbook exchange program.
The SA Senate voted last week to establish a textbook exchange program for students to buy or trade through Google Sheets, where users can view textbooks available for rent or purchase from other students. More than 10 students said the initiative could help them locate less expensive alternatives to textbooks instead of spending hundreds of dollars on new class materials each semester.
SA Sen. Gabriel Young, CCAS-U,  who sponsored the Hippo Community Library resolution  said the textbook exchange portal would help students connect with each other and either lend or sell their books after struggling to pay expensive textbook prices from markets like the GW Campus Store or Amazon. He said he hopes the Hippo Library could be available for students to use by the upcoming spring semester.
“There are some people who do not even have a job, or they’re using their work-study funds to just pay off for school,” Young said. “This will allow students to save money and put money back into students’ pockets.”
Young said members of the SA’s undergraduate education policy committee will post a Google Form link next month to the SA’s social media for students to submit their textbooks, post their selling points and share their contact information. SA members will then transfer the form’s data to a Google spreadsheet that all students can view and use to contact the person selling the book they hope to buy, he said.
Young said he drafted the resolution to address a few complaints he heard about textbook affordability in conversations with students during his office hours since last year. He said the financial aid office’s  website states that students – especially those in STEM programs like biology or neuroscience – may spend upwards of $1,400 per semester on textbooks and school supplies, which may not be affordable for the average student.
He said each box in the spreadsheet will state the associated class for each textbook, links to online PDFs and contact information for students willing to give away these textbooks. He said centralizing textbook resources will help students save time typically spent on finding required reading for class.
“I want this to be a resource that is continually updated so that students in the future will be able to use it, and it will be a good system for future academic people to use as well,” he said.
More than 10 students said the spreadsheet’s features, like information about used textbooks and free PDFs, could help them avoid costly textbook prices as they work to seek out more affordable ways to obtain class materials.
Sophomore Natalia Perez, an international affairs major, said she has searched through Reddit for free textbook links and asked her friends to borrow materials to avoid paying for costly textbook prices. She said even with financial assistance from her parents, paying high prices for textbooks that she’ll only use for six months is hard to justify.
She said the SA’s online community library will ease the process of finding free online textbook alternatives and pinpointing affordable options.
“Sometimes it’s hard to get them or it takes so much time to ship or they’re too expensive,” Perez said. “So trying to find cheaper alternatives is hard.”
Sophomore Sara Ragsdale, a philosophy major, said paying for textbooks forces her to make “difficult” budgeting decisions, like whether she can buy groceries. She said in addition to the community library, professors could assign more affordable materials and fewer textbooks to alleviate some of the costs, citing classes that require students to purchase almost 10 books in total.
‘“A lot of it is sort of the professors – I have two classes that require nine textbooks apiece, and that is absurd,” Ragsdale said.
Freshman Keely Busby, who is majoring in American studies, said they spent nearly $200 on textbooks for a single class this semester. They said they would like to see professors make required textbooks, specifically workbooks, more readily available online, through systems like the Hippo Community Library.
“If there’s a workbook, they can make that available to us through the campus website or University Student Center or the library,” Busby said.
Senior Lauren Lafond, a political science major, said she struggled to buy textbooks in the past because professors prefer newer editions, which are often more expensive than previous versions. She said purchasing used textbooks, which are often cheaper than new ones, can sometimes be a challenge if a professor requires an edition released more recently.
She said officials offering more textbooks for rent through Gelman Library would make them more accessible for students. She said the Hippo Community Library will not impact her much since she is a senior and it won’t go into effect until the spring, but it’s a great idea to alleviate textbook costs among students.
“It’s just something that you have to plan ahead of, and it’s challenging when professors don’t post syllabuses or things like that until right before school starts,” Lafond said. “So it’s definitely harder to get textbooks in advance and put aside money for them.””

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Importance
1
GW should have been prepared for the surge in COVID tests
by The GW Hatchet
Jan 01, 2022
“Earlier this month the University announced that community members will need to get tested for the coronavirus every 15 days instead of once per month. Students who do not get tests in time will have their access restricted to some buildings and facilities – but a shortage of testing appointments left students waiting days to schedule an appointment or get results back. The University finally added testing appointments at the Foggy Bottom Campus – a change that was absolutely necessary – but the University should have been prepared to conduct more tests before announcing the new twice-monthly testing policy.
Frustration with testing delays was widespread , with students finding themselves unable to book an appointment for a week even when faced with serious situations like roommates showing severe COVID-19 symptoms. Some students with symptoms bought their own take-home tests at CVS Pharmacy, which can cost up to $125, because no tests were available. That is an absolutely unreasonable amount of money for students to have to spend because the University could not do its job. Some who did not decide to buy their own test had to wait five to six days to be able to find an available slot at the Foggy Bottom testing center.
Now, after a week of chaos, the University is expanding the number of asymptomatic testing appointments to 2,600 per day. With this new expansion in capacity, the facility can accommodate 75 people every 15 minutes. Officials are also adding a standby line for asymptomatic tests, where students can walk in and get tested on a first-come, first-served basis. The University is also accepting external PCR coronavirus tests, as long as they’re legitimate , and planning on increasing the availability of symptomatic tests at the Colonial Health Center, possibly expanding to operate on the weekends.
But the burden of managing these expanded asymptomatic tests is mainly on one testing center, the medical trailer in Lot 3. The University offers four testing centers but because 75 percent of undergraduate students live on campus, the medical trailer in Lot 3 and the Colonial Health Center are the main accessible testing centers for students and faculty members. Even so, the CHC only offers tests to symptomatic students and faculty, leaving the medical trailer to be the only available testing center for students without symptoms on Foggy Bottom.
The University should consider options like expanding testing centers to local medical centers in addition to accepting external PCR tests. Administrators should also explore ways of reimbursing those students who had to pay for their own coronavirus tests, because having to foot the bill for a test that costs up to $125 because of poor logistical planning by GW is unacceptable. Officials should cooperate with local hospitals to distribute a reasonable number of appointments at each testing center so students can not only can get tested, but also receive results back on time. The University should also consider granting conditional late exemptions for students whose appointment schedule collides with class time.
Students should also do their part and not ditch their appointments. No-shows are reported to be more than 100 per day – those are spaces that could have been filled by someone who needs a test. Students can cooperate with the University and medical staff by minimizing no-shows and following coronavirus safety protocols. With the expected increase in appointment availability in the CHC, symptomatic students must immediately get tested by booking with the students with coronavirus symptoms option.
The University is not experiencing a coronavirus crisis, but it does have a fair few cases – which is somewhat concerning. Although the cases have been decreasing since their peak on Sept. 8, with 45 positive cases on one day, cases have generally been ticking up since August. The University should have foreseen a need for more testing and built up the testing capacity accordingly before sending students scrambling. Now that the University has belatedly expanded testing, it needs to consider further steps like affiliating with non-GW testing centers or granting conditional exceptions. The last thing we want is another lockdown and return to virtual classes – and an outbreak that would send us back to that status could be exacerbated by students not being able to get tested if they have been exposed to the coronavirus. The University made a mistake and has taken the first steps to fix it. To prevent outbreaks on campus and a return to virtual instruction, it’s imperative that officials take every measure possible to ensure community members have adequate testing.
Yeji Chung, a Junior, majoring in political science, is an opinions writer.”

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Importance
1
Student Court sets hearing for first-year senator case
by The GW Hatchet
Jan 01, 2022
“Updated: Sept. 28, 2021 at 10:26 a.m.
The Student Court will hear a challenge next month to Student Association Senate legislation establishing a fall referendum that could reinstate first-year senate seats, the court ordered Sunday.
The order schedules a hearing on Oct. 10 as part of proceedings for the SA Office of Legislator General’s lawsuit against SA Vice President Kate Carpenter, Sen. Cordelia Scales, SEAS-U and senate chairperson pro tempore, and Sen. Chris Pino, CCAS-U and the legislation’s sponsor. Justices unanimously denied two motions from Pino to dismiss the complaint and to seal part of his accompanying argument, saying Pino’s motion to dismiss indicated a misunderstanding of the SA’s governing documents and citing a need to maintain transparency with the student body in opposing his motion to seal.
“We find the Defendants’ arguments to be unavailing because they misunderstand the language of our governing documents and case law or otherwise highlight the nature of the issues precisely requiring review and adjudication by this Court,” the order reads.
The legislator general’s office  filed a complaint earlier this month seeking to prevent a referendum in which students would vote on whether the SA should bring first-year seats back to the senate after the positions were scrapped in a court ruling last November.
Pino, who motioned to dismiss the case last week, argued in his motion that the court lacks jurisdiction over the case because the student body has not yet voted to adopt any referenda as constitutional amendments. He argued that the court only has jurisdiction over “actions successfully taken” to amend the constitution, not those that may be taken in the future.
The court rejected this argument, stating that justices can rule on legislative action the senate has taken, including the special resolution to set a fall referendum.
“Defendants’ allusion to the need for acts to fall within some novel specialized action-dependent category of ‘constitutional actions’ for this Court to have jurisdiction have no textual, historical, legal or any other practical basis, and we therefore reject these arguments in their entirety,” the order states.
Pino contended that the legislator general office’s representation of the SA’s executive branch against its legislative branch breaks from the SA’s constitution, which he said mandates representation of the SA as a whole. Justices also rejected this argument, calling it a “live constitutional dispute” that the court should hear.
Justices also dismissed Pino’s motion to seal a portion of his motion for dismissal because students should not be “deprived” of information from the student government. Pino wrote in his motion that his reason for keeping that portion redacted was to protect the “identities and records” of the involved parties given his arguments’ “sensitive nature.”
The order states that sealing documents must be done “sparingly and judiciously” when considering the likelihood of harm to the parties involved and the circumstances of each case.
“To permit sealing otherwise would hamper students in making informed judgments regarding the competence and diligence of their student government – including this very Student Court – as it theoretically goes about faithfully representing their interests to the University administration and wider community,” the order reads.
The court  released the un-redacted version of Pino’s argument, which states that the legislator general’s office’s complaint attempts to advance a “frivolous” personal and political agenda at the request of SA President Brandon Hill. Pino alleges in the unsealed motion that Hill instructed the legislator general’s office to file a complaint against the referendum to block the senate’s push to implement first-year senate elections.
Pino said in the unsealed motion that Hill is using the judicial system to advance his policy agenda while “hiding” behind the legislator general’s office. He said Hill repeatedly argued against and threatened to veto first-year senator legislation in public and private meetings.
“This Complaint is step one of a bad-faith plan that seeks to autocratically undermine elections, the bedrock of democratic representation and aggrandize Executive power,” Pino said in the motion.
Hill originally said at the senate meeting earlier this month that he opposed holding the referendum and was prepared to seek the court’s opinion.
Hill did not return a request for comment.
Pino said in a statement that he agrees with the court’s decision to dismiss his motion to keep part of his argument sealed, and students have a right to access documents related to this case. He said he is “pleased” the court will determine the legality of Hill’s and the legislator general’s involvement in the complaint, and he hopes the court’s decision will allow for the return of first-year senators.
“I look forward to further court proceedings, where I will advance and substantiate the case for first-year representation as envisioned in the First-Year Senators Amendment Act,” Pino said.
The order states that the plaintiffs and defendants must submit briefs to the court by Sunday at 5 p.m., answering questions about the constitutionality of elections for first-year senators and the legislator general’s representation of the SA. “Any individual or organization” can also submit briefs to Chief Justice Yun-Da Tsai by Wednesday, Oct. 6 at 5 p.m. to participate in the oral argument, according to the order.
Assistant Legislator General Andrew Harding said members of the office “welcome” the court’s decision to reject Pino’s motions to dismiss the complaint and seal parts of his argument.
“We appreciate the court sharing our strongly held belief that students deserve a transparent government, while unanimously denouncing the defendants’ attempts to conceal arguments from the public,” Harding said in a statement.
Carpenter, the SA’s vice president, said she will not take an official stance on either side of the case, and she hopes the SA can still advocate for the student body despite the ongoing debate. She said the SA and student body must maintain transparency through the court case and outside of the judicial proceedings.
“It is our obligation to maintain an approachable governing body,” Carpenter said in a statement. “Therefore, we must inform all of the decisions we make.”
Scales, the senate chairperson pro tempore, did not return a request for comment.
The court also extended its injunction blocking the SA’s special elections committee from scheduling any fall referenda until the reading of the court’s final judgment. The court will live-stream arguments from the hearing on social media, according to the order.
This post has been updated to clarify the following:
This post has been updated to clarify that Pino supports the court’s decision to dismiss his motion to redact part of his argument.”

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Importance
1
Communication needed to convey FAFSA changes: experts
by The GW Hatchet
Jan 01, 2022
“After Congress expanded eligibility for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid last June, higher education experts said officials should launch an informational outreach campaign to prevent confusion over the changes.
Federal officials and higher education institutions will no longer consider questions on the FAFSA asking whether applicants have registered with the Selective Service – a federal database of those eligible to be drafted into military service – or if they have been convicted on drug-related charges. Half a dozen experts in higher education policy said the updates to FAFSA will increase access to higher education but may lead to more confusion for new students registering for aid since the required eligibility questions will still appear on the form.
The 2021 FAFSA Simplification Act – signed into law by then-President Donald Trump in December 2020 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 – mandated that the U.S. Department of Education decrease the number of questions on the FAFSA from 108 to 36 and expanded student eligibility for federal Pell Grants.
“Twenty million students and their families are in the middle of what is likely the strangest first semester of college in a century,” then-Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a sponsor of the legislation, said in a statement last September. “Almost everything has changed for students, except for one thing – students still have to answer 108 questions on the dreaded FAFSA form.”
The form, which will open Friday, will still include the two eligibility questions because the legislation came “too late” for the FAFSA to be changed, according to an ED release . ED officials issued a letter to higher education leaders in June advising student aid offices to disregard applicants’ answers about drug-related convictions and Selective Service registration while the questions remain on the form.
University spokesperson Crystal Nosal did not return a request for a comment on the changes to the form this year.
Jackie Dioses, a sophomore majoring in political science, said she wishes GW communicated the FAFSA changes to the student body so she could better prepare to complete the form. She said she has to gather a lot of family financial information to complete the form, making accurately completing it particularly “confusing.”
“This is probably something that should be made a little more clear,” Dioses said. “They should just send a quick email to keep us informed.”
She said the University should offer more advising and logistical assistance to students filling out financial documents like the FAFSA given the complexity of the questions and the amount of personal financial information students need to provide.
The Office of Student Financial Assistance’s website posts GW’s financial aid policies , a glossary of financial terminology and a guide to financial literacy . But the office’s Financial Education Resource List, which outlines resources for students to gather and submit financial information, was not functional and displayed an internal error message as of Sunday.
“We should definitely have some financial counseling, at least for those who don’t know the most or need extra help,” Dioses said.
Annabelle Manzo, a sophomore majoring in women’s, gender and sexuality studies, said filling out the FAFSA is a “stressful experience” because officials do not offer enough support and financial literacy resources for students to complete the form.
“I am a first-generation college student, so that comes with a lot of anxiety around these sorts of things,” Manzo said. “There’s this fear of doing it wrong and then not being able to get aid, which is very important because we don’t have the finances for me to go to college without it.”
Experts in higher education said the changes made to the FAFSA helped separate a family’s financial and academic status from their student aid packages. But they said federal and university financial aid offices need to clarify, through announcements and individual communication, that students not registered with the Selective Service or who have had past drug-related convictions are still eligible for financial aid.
ED officials and experts said students with drug-related convictions and those not registered with the Selective Service may have been ineligible for financial aid in previous years.
Jill Desjean, a policy analyst at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said even though the questions shouldn’t affect application status, officials will still “flag” FAFSA applicants and flash an error message on their portal, stating they may be ineligible for aid with a drug conviction or without Selective Service registration.
“It’s reasonable to expect that some students could be confused,” Desjean said. “When they’re told one thing in one place and another thing in the other place, it’s hard to know which source of information you can trust.”
She said ED officials are planning an outreach program to email students who receive error messages regarding either of the two questions and requesting that students contact their financial aid office for guidance on the changes and how to move forward. Desjean said University officials should also individually reach out to students to clarify the process.
“They should be targeting the students whose student aid reports come with these flags on them,” she said. “They’re probably also including some kind of message that says, ‘You might have seen on your student aid report that you didn’t appear to be eligible. We’re happy to let you know that you are, in fact, eligible.’”
Tisa Silver Canady – the founder and president of the Maryland Center for Collegiate Wellness, a student financial aid professional and advocacy group – said eliminating questions from the FAFSA that are “not relevant” to a student’s financial position will help send more students to college with financial aid.
Canady said the FAFSA will likely have a greater effect on students who are applying for federal aid for the first time than students who are currently receiving federal financial aid – like Pell grants or Stafford loans – because those students have already demonstrated their eligibility.
“For students who are in the pipeline or thinking about going to school, this is something that could make things easier for them and also expand access to those who might have had that drug conviction,” Canady said.”

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Importance
1
SA finance committee should be more transparent
by The GW Hatchet
Jan 01, 2022
“Each year, the Student Association’s finance committee allocates about $1.6 million of SA fees to various student organizations. Without them, many student organizations and campus events – from the fall comedy show hosted by the Program Board to EMeRG, which provides free emergency medical services to GW students – could not operate. Unfortunately, the committee works largely under a veil of obscurity. In violation of the SA’s  bylaws requiring that “minutes, agendas, committee documents, and other materials” be made public and the repeated promises of SA leaders to increase transparency, students will search in vain for any documents that shed light on the decisions of the finance committee – or any committee for that matter. As a result, students have practically no insight into how and why their money is spent.
This is tragic in two senses. Not only does it deny students the transparency that they deserve, it also denies the SA the opportunity to showcase the efforts of its most impactful committee. With students back on campus and student organization activity warming back up, there is no better time for the SA, and specifically, the finance committee, to make good on its pledges of transparency and release the documents, like committee minutes, necessary for compliance with its bylaws.
The SA has reaffirmed its commitment to transparency for more than a decade , and for good reason. Transparency and responsibility are crucial traits in any government, student or otherwise. Particularly when dealing with the allocation of such a large amount of student money. But despite all these promises, the SA rarely, if ever, makes concrete steps to improve transparency, which is why you still can’t find publicly available committee documents.
The shift toward greater transparency should start with the finance committee. It is both the most important committee in terms of the everyday impact it has on the lives of students, and the committee with the most resources to create publicly readable and available committee minutes.
It is a shame it hasn’t happened yet because students deserve to know the process that granted $137,590 to the Student Bar Association in 2020 fiscal year, and another $101,535 to the Medical Center Student Council. These amounts dwarf nearly every other allocation. There are good procedural reasons for these allocations. They are two of six organizations that represent entire graduate schools, and the finance committee is obligated to give them 100 percent of the student association fees from the students of these schools. But I only know that because I was present when this was discussed. On its own, one may think it odd or even suspicious that .05 percent of the orgs are receiving 20 percent of the general allocations budget, and even on its own, this policy is not above criticism.
Technically, most of the committees are open to the public. But this alone is woefully insufficient to meet the burden of transparency. First, the finance committee meetings sometimes last more than four hours and can continue past midnight. Accordingly, most people can’t find the time to attend the finance committee meetings live, and require a readable account of the meeting. Second, the Zoom meeting links for the finance committee are not made publicly available, but rather, one must first email the chair of the committee to get a link. This wrongly places the burden of transparency on students and is more broadly indicative of a lack of effort and care in providing a sufficient level of transparency.
The reason why committee minutes, finance or otherwise, haven’t been released to the public likely doesn’t have anything to do with maleficent senators gleefully misappropriating 1.6 million dollars in student funds. Rather, it’s more out of embarrassment for how bad the committee minutes have been in prior years.
I joined the finance committee my freshman year because I thought I could help make the committee more transparent. But, committee aides lacked guidance, access to feedback, and sufficient manpower. Above all, we lacked a coherent procedure. Results were predictable. The minutes could hardly be deciphered by those who had not attended the meetings in person. These problems plagued virtually all other committees and had persisted for years, which is why you don’t see meeting minutes from any other committee either.
But by the second semester, we had learned enough to realize and fix these problems. We brought on another two aides, started recording the meetings, and developed an effective procedure. Within a relatively short period of time, we had thorough, readable and accessible committee minutes that could be released to the public. Then the pandemic hit and dashed those immediate aspirations, but there’s no reason this kind of effort can’t happen again, and there’s never been a better time.
We wanted to make these minutes public because although the meetings are frequently chaotic due to a generally loose enforcement of rules of order during discussion and voting, the committee itself asks questions, deliberates and makes decisions in a manner fitting for a committee with such an important responsibility.
But just because this was true when I was a finance committee aide doesn’t mean it will always be true. Students have a right to see the decision-making process of the finance committee and determine if they have stopped making good decisions. Perhaps of most concern to the SA itself, denying students transparency will only continue to eat away at student’s trust in the SA. We saw some of the results of this lack of trust when Justin Diamond ran in 2019 on the platform of abolishing the SA entirely and gained a full third of the student vote. The current trajectory of the SA will not dissuade more students from voting for someone like Diamond in the future.
I am asking the SA to stop breaking the existing transparency clauses within its bylaws. Specifically, bylaw 501 section 2, requiring SA minutes to be released to the public. That’s a necessary but insufficient step to rebuilding student trust. The road to transparency and student trust is long, and won’t be finished by the SA merely fulfilling its written obligations. But it’s a relatively easy first step. The SA has reason to be proud of the finance committee. It does good work. Let students in on that secret as well.
Sam Swinson, a junior majoring in political science, is an opinions writer.”

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Importance
1
SafeRide expansion exemplifies effective collaboration between SA and officials
by The GW Hatchet
Jan 01, 2022
“SafeRide is coming to the West End, DuPont Circle and the Lincoln Memorial. After advocacy from the Student Association, the program that offers rides for students to get across campus if they feel unsafe or unable to get home is expanding to three off-campus locations. The SA has been working with administrators for months on this expansion, and their efforts now mean that more students will have the option to call a ride if they find themselves feeling unsafe as they travel home. The policy exemplifies how the SA and administrators can collaborate on issues that impact students despite tensions between students and officials.
Students complained that SafeRide, previously known as 4-RIDE, had several issues that had little to do with the distance the service covered. Some had complained of unwelcoming drivers and long wait times, and one student had even reported unwanted romantic advances from a driver. In the reincarnation of 4-RIDE as SafeRide in 2019, the University updated the GW Rider app so that students could track each SafeRide vehicle. Previously, the app only showed the schedules of the Vern Express and Virginia Science and Technology Campus shuttles.
The new policy is a heartening step in the right direction. With the expansion of SafeRide into off-campus neighborhoods, students can feel safe knowing they have a reliable resource to get out of unsafe situations. Between social events, late-night Gelman Library study sessions or fitting errands into a busy college schedule, there are plenty of reasons why someone could find themself needing to get home late but feeling unsafe. If any of these everyday activities involves walking in dimly lit areas or being followed, then students who live both near and far from campus should have the option of a SafeRide.
GW’s campus and Foggy Bottom tend to be fairly safe places, but in the year 2019 there were still more than 1,000 crimes reported to GW Police Department, with nearly 50 of those reports being for stalking or sexual assault. Even still, the number of crimes does not account for people, especially women, feeling unsafe or threatened. This could be an even bigger consideration for people who live further from campus, including in the many apartment buildings in the West End or DuPont Circle. The long walk back home means more time in a less controlled and less familiar environment. Even if the overall risk of someone’s safety being violated is relatively low, it is still not zero, and people do not deserve to have to feel threatened making their way to or from campus.
But people will only use SafeRide if they know about it, and if its use is normalized as a legitimate and common option for staying safe. This is especially important given the tepid attitudes that students seem to have had about SafeRide and its predecessor 4-RIDE program. The University and the SA should widely publicize this change and highlight its benefits to ensure students know to take advantage of its benefits.
But students also have a responsibility to only use the service when necessary. Not wanting to walk home alone, feeling unsafe or being too intoxicated to make it home safely are examples of reasons to take SafeRide. But people should not be hailing a SafeRide car just because they don’t feel like walking halfway across campus for no other reason. If people frivolously use the expanded SafeRide for convenience rather than out of necessity, it will cause people who are hailing one of the cars for a legitimate safety reason to wait longer to get picked up, almost defeating the purpose of SafeRide. Officials have noted that SafeRide is currently understaffed due to a national driver shortage – GW should consider what options they have to bring on more drivers to ensure the service works in a timely way, so the onus is not just on students to keep wait times down.
The SA and administrators have been collaborating on the SafeRide expansion since the summer. Both the SA and the GW officials they worked with deserve credit – in a productive, non-antagonistic fashion, they worked together to deliver for the student body. SA Vice President Kate Carpenter deserves special praise here – she spearheaded the effort, and in helping to make this happen, is fulfilling a campaign pledge of hers to actualize small changes that make a substantial difference.
The relationship between the student body and administrators is generally a frosty, standoffish one. Most of the antipathy students hold toward officials broadly is well-founded, with many members of the community feeling like the issues they care about have not been addressed. Being able to make constructive criticism of the University, like the SA often does, while simultaneously working closely with individual administrators on specific issues seems like an incredibly productive and responsible approach to student advocacy that the SA is uniquely suited to undertake.
When endorsing SA candidates, including Carpenter, the Editorial Board noted the importance of delivering on campaign promises and working meaningfully with the University. In this case, Carpenter and the SA have done great work in that area. As a result of their constructive engagement with administrators, more students will have a way to get back to their residence halls or apartments safely if they are ever in a situation where they feel unsafe or in need of assistance. Not only is this a positive outcome for students, but it shows how the SA can and should continue to deliver for the GW community through productive dialogue with officials.
The editorial board consists of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s staff editorial was written by opinions editor Andrew Sugrue and contributing opinions editor Shreeya Aranake, based on discussions with culture editor Anna Boone, contributing sports editor Nuria Diaz, design editor Grace Miller, copy editor Jaden DiMauro and assistant copy editor Karina Ochoa Berkley.”

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Importance
1
Panelists talk teaching racial justice in public administration
by The GW Hatchet
Jan 01, 2022
“The Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration hosted an online webinar about teaching and discussing racial justice in public administration Thursday.
Professors from the University of Cincinnati and Hunter College said public administration officials could find inclusive ways to research and instruct on equity when addressing racial justice through more comprehensive teaching curriculum and reform to research standards. Andrea Headley, an assistant professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, and James Wright II, an assistant professor at the Askew School of Public Administration at Florida State University, moderated the event .
Tia Gaynor, an associate professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati, said professors should incorporate racial equity and justice in all conversations because of their impacts on the lives and jobs of scholars in fields like public administration. She said Ohio’s state legislature is currently drafting a bill to prevent the teaching of “divisive concepts” like critical race theory, racism and slavery – legislation that would jeopardize her job as a social justice educator and “gut” liberal arts education in Ohio, if passed.
“It’s critically important not only to explore these conversations but also situate racial justice and racial equity in all conversations,” she said.
Gaynor said faculty can teach about racial justice in the classroom through courses that allow students to dig deeper into issues of inequity while inspecting a diverse selection of materials and resources focused on of racial equity. She said incorporating conversations of racial equity into curriculum allows students to develop a better understanding of historical context and current events and how diverse spaces can broaden collective knowledge.
“We have a responsibility to help our students make the connections between what we’re teaching, what we want them to learn and what we’re seeing happening today in society,” Gaynor said.
Brandi Blessett, an associate professor of public administration at the University of Cincinnati, said exposing students to issues involving race and equity is essential because K-12 education has whitewashed the understanding of the history and the trajectory of the United States. She said teaching different ideas from multiple perspectives enables students to look at information differently.
“There are so many other people in so many other communities that have contributed to our society, to the makeup of our institutions and how we understand where we are today,” she said.
Blessett said because government bureaucracies are hierarchical, researchers need to start listening to community members whom they research from the bottom up instead of the top down in society. She said the people most directly tied to the issues would be best equipped to create strategies of success while working with individuals directly to understand daily challenges and build personal relationships.
“I think that it becomes really important for us to be mindful about how we, as researchers, arrive in these spaces claiming to do racial justice work or racial equity work,” she said.
Karina Moreno, a professor of urban policy and planning at Hunter College, said she observed how people struggled to respond as neutral to racial justice and equity issues when she worked with minority populations during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. She said public administration is not an objective environment because communicating directly and intentionally with an individual does not allow for a neutral position.
“We live in an insidious world where we talk about race without ever saying race,” she said. “It’s like a code, and so I think there’s something very important about being deliberate and being purposeful.””

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