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GWU Campus News

Importance
1
Mental Health Services offers special hours for post-election stress
by The GW Hatchet
Dec 05, 2016
“Media Credit: Max Wang | Hatchet Photographer
Mental Health Services added walk-in hours specifically for post-election stress and anxiety.
More than a week after the U.S. presidential election, Mental Health Services leaders created daily walk-in hours for students to discuss election-related reactions and concerns.
MHS released a statement on Nov. 18 that eight counselors in the center would be available at specific times Mondays through Fridays for walk-in hours for students who were interested in discussing the election's results. Students across campus have expressed anxiety over the election's results, and experts say the special services could keep students from being permanently stressed.
Students on campus held several events in the days after the election, including a walk-out with more than 400 participants. Students, many of whom were members of marginalized or minority communities, said President-elect Donald Trump’s unexpected win left them concerned about their futures.
Gillian Berry, the interim director of MHS, said in an email that the center is committed to the “academic, personal, cultural and collective experiences of students” and has offered a variety of resources for previous world and domestic events that affected the community. Berry said MHS provides walk-in hours to students on a regular basis. MHS offers daily walk-in hours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to the center's website, and those hours differ from the election walk-in hours.
“We are aware of the varying reactions students may have in response to the recent presidential election and have developed daily walk-in hours for students who would specifically like to discuss election related concerns,” Berry said.
On Nov. 9, University spokeswoman Kurie Fitzgerald said in an email that MHS was not offering anything in addition to their normal services. MHS released the statement about the newly developed office hours more than a week later.
Berry declined to comment on when MHS decided to start offering the services, how this specific counseling is being funded or supported, how counselors balance their regular duties with the additional walk-in hours, how long they will continue to offer these services and what other events they will offer specialized counselors for in the future.
Some of the clinicians who are helping with election counseling include some of the 10 new staff members that were hired since this past spring, including clinicians who specialize in working with minority and veteran students. These hires came after turnover at the highest level in MHS, when Silvio Weisner, the former director of MHS, stepped down suddenly last September after officials found he was not licensed to practice psychology in D.C. More than a year later, the position still has not been filled.
Steven Sherry, a lecturer in the department of social work at California State University, Northridge, said universities should offer specific counselors and services to help students and faculty members process their emotions after a specific event.
“The faster people are able to come together and process, the better the chances of decreasing symptoms of a traumatic event,” Sherry said.
This presidential election was more traumatizing than previous races have been, and the divisive nature of this election has increased awareness of hate toward minority groups and discrimination, Sherry said.
“Students and faculty have reported that the country is moving in a bad direction and again fears of mass deportation are present,” Sherry said. “We have many undocumented students who are living in fear about being deported and not being able to complete their education.”
GW does not track the number of undocumented students who attend the University but offers resources to those students when applying for financial aid.
Sherry said he believes there has been an increase in the number of students seeking services at counseling centers. Sherry said in difficult times, communities can come together, organize and empower all generations to become more involved and seek help when needed.
“This is not just due to the current political climate and election results, but due to faculty educating students about the service available to them, and encouraging students to seek support if they are struggling with the results of the election,” Sherry said.
Darcy Gruttadaro, the director of the National Alliance of Mental Illness' Child and Adolescent Center, said advertising to discuss specific high stress topics can help to break the stigma of coming to use the services.
Gruttadaro said using social media outlets, putting information on university websites and asking professors to spread the word helps the message reach more students.
MHS did not advertise for the special office hours on social media and only released the statement on their website.
One in five students experience a mental health condition, and stress can make it worse and work as a contributing factor for people developing a condition, Gruttadaro said. She said that for some, this election has induced more stress than usual.
“The more we can make it visible and help students understand how to access care, I think the more likely students will be to seek care,” Gruttadaro said. “Some of us develop mental health conditions that really need help, and so making information about services accessible is really helpful.””

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Importance
1
Fundraising campaign nears final goal with 90 percent raised
by The GW Hatchet
Dec 05, 2016
“Media Credit: Yonah Bromberg-Gaber | Graphics Editor
The University’s capital fundraising campaign has passed 90 percent of its goal, reaching $903 million.
With only eight months left until the campaign’s deadline, officials said they are pleased with its momentum and are “ramping up” fundraising efforts to attract donors until the end of 2016. Experts said to cross the final threshold, leaders need to have clear fundraising goals and appropriate volunteer and staff support to reach out to alumni and others who are most likely to give.
More than 61,000 donors have contributed to the campaign, including 38,935 alumni, according to the campaign’s website.
Aristide Collins, the vice president for development and alumni relations, said in an email that fundraising officials are “working hard” to achieve the $1 billion goal. He declined to say if his office is on track to reach the goal by June 2017. The campaign was originally scheduled to end in June 2018, but officials pushed up the date in hopes of reaching $1 billion before University President Steven Knapp steps down after this academic year.
Collins said fundraising efforts will ramp up for the rest of the calendar year, as “the giving season” begins, when many people are motivated to make donations and take advantage of the chance to get charitable deductions on their income taxes before the close of the calendar year.
As part of that buildup, GW participated in Giving Tuesday, an international day of philanthropy after Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, for the fourth year in a row. Collins declined to say how much money the University raised on Giving Tuesday this year or in the past.
“Our successful fundraising results were consistent with previous years,” Collins said. “We are grateful for the hundreds of donors who supported GW on that day.”
This day of giving also kicked off a month-long fundraising effort called “Give the Gift of Education,” he said.
“We will continue to reach out to alumni, parents and friends throughout the month of December via face-to-face conversations, direct mail, email, phone and social media to share the powerful impact that philanthropy has on GW students, faculty and programs,” Collins said.
Officials said earlier this year that the final months of the campaign would be focused on raising money to support financial aid and the University’s internship grant fund, and approximately 16 percent of donations given during the course of the campaign are earmarked for those resources.
Notable gifts from this academic year include a pledged $3.2 million gift to the School of Media and Public Affairs in October to fund an endowed chair, from Char Beales, a 1973 alumna and chair of the school’s advisory council and her husband Howard Beales, a professor of strategic management and public policy.
And in November, an anonymous donor gave a $4.8 million gift to the business school to fund a professorship.
Between August and November, the campaign was raising an average of about $6.5 million per month. This is consistent with giving rates over the past year, although the giving rate was much higher during the campaign’s first public year.
The total amount raised in the campaign grew by about 3 percent over the past four months, slightly more than it grew in the same period of time last year. Comparatively, the growth rate between August and October 2014 was about 14 percent.
Collins declined to say what his goals are for giving rates from now until the end of the campaign.
Experts in higher education fundraising said as the University enters the last phase of its campaign, officials should be contacting alumni for gifts and providing clear information about the fundraiser’s goals to ensure that they meet the $1 billion mark.
Chris Ponce, the associate vice president for development at Whitman College, said that while compelling goals, adequate staffing and passionate volunteer leadership are always important, they are especially crucial to maintain while reaching the final goal. The University’s development offices hired more staffers this semester, which experts said was a strategic move for long-term fundraising beyond the campaign.
Ponce said as GW approaches the deadline, gifts and donors the University is close to collecting are important, especially as Knapp prepares to leave his role. Knapp has been an effective fundraiser throughout his tenure.
“It's the gifts and potential donors that are in GW's pipeline that matters,” Ponce said. “And I imagine many people are working very hard to meet the goal.”
Colin Riley, the executive director of media relations at Boston University, emphasized the importance of maintaining positive connections with alumni as a way to achieve fundraising goals. Boston University passed the $1 billion mark for its fundraising campaign in April 2016, a year ahead of schedule, and is now striving to raise an additional $500 million by 2019.
GW’s Alumni Weekend in October focused on strengthening alumni connections in addition to collecting donations.
“It’s important to have strong connections with your alumni, donors and most recent alumni as well as long term alumni,” Riley said. “You’re looking at the people’s ability to give the most substantial gifts.””

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Importance
1
SA leaders plan affordability survey to identify hidden costs
by The GW Hatchet
Dec 05, 2016
“Media Credit: Lisa Blitstein | Hatchet Photographer
The Student Association is conducting a survey to help identify hidden costs for students. The SA Senate passed an affordability resolution earlier this semester and has been working on making the student experience more affordable.
The Student Association will be sending out an affordability survey on Dec. 7 to determine students’ top financial concerns.
The survey will be distributed and collected over winter break from undergraduate and graduate students through the SA’s email Listserv and social media accounts. SA leaders said the survey results will help the group better understand which issues should be their top priorities when passing bills to help make campus life more affordable.
SA Executive Vice President Thomas Falcigno said the survey will include questions about smaller, daily costs, rather than asking student about big costs, like housing or tuition.
“We really hope to be able pinpoint costs we can focus on reducing while working with administrators,” Falcigno said.
The survey will focus on questions about which academic costs are the biggest burdens, like course fees and textbooks, and student life fees, like health center costs and fitness passes at the Lerner Health and Wellness Center, Falcigno said.
Students will provide background information, like gender, ethnicity, year and school so the SA can understand which groups of students struggle the most to pay extra costs, he said.
“We are going to get a better idea of what types of groups are spending more money, and which groups really need help," Falcigno said. "But also, we are trying to figure out where student money is being spent that is otherwise not provided by the University.”
Falcigno added that the SA may extend the survey until after winter break, depending on the number of responses received. If the surveys are completed and analyzed over winter break, the results could be included into the affordability reports created by SA committees.
Those reports will explain student costs in areas like academics and student organizations and recommend solutions for reducing the costs. SA leaders will present the reports to administrators in January and February.
Sen. Logan Malik, U-at-large, said at an SA Senate meeting on Nov. 21 that students at GW often face higher costs than students at peer universities because they must pay for extraneous costs other universities include in tuition or housing charges.
“We pay more in areas including key replacement, printing and laundry,” Malik said.
For example, a color copy at GW costs $0.85 while the same copy costs $0.50 for each page at University of Maryland, according to UMD's printing website . These costs add up, especially for students who receive financial aid, Malik said.
Malik added that GW's meal plans lack variety and the University does not offer partnerships with local transportation agencies to reduce students' fare.
American University is currently piloting an unlimited bus and rail University pass with the Metro, where students can ride the metrorail and Metrobus for reduced rates – a program GW officials rejected earlier this year.
Financial aid experts said that, with the right questions, a student survey would be an effective way of gauging students' financial burdens.
Jamey Rorison, a senior research analyst at the the Institute of Higher Education Policy, said incoming students, especially those from low-income families, often do not consider costs beyond tuition, room and board.
“Few people think about all other associated costs related to transportation and the other living expenses,” Rorison said. “For students who rely on every penny of financial aid funding they receive to pay college costs, the idea of an expensive Metro ride or load of laundry or meal could be prohibitive.”
In 2015, the SA pledged to focus on advocating for reductions in the cost of these additional fees, like finding cheaper textbook options.
Rorison added that while a student survey could be an effective way of getting feedback, the SA should make sure they ask respectful questions to reduce response bias and answer the survey questions falsely because they think the honest answer is not socially acceptable.
“I also would encourage them to ask questions about the respondents that will help better understand how perspectives on the issues differ,” Rorison said. “Students who already have the resources to pay these extra costs not perceiving them to be burdensome is very different from students with more financial obstacles feeling the same way.””

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Importance
1
Crime log
by The GW Hatchet
Dec 05, 2016
“Fraud
Off Campus
11/17/2016 - Unknown time
Case closed
A student reported to the University Police Department that he was coerced into depositing fraudulent checks into his bank account. The student notified the Metropolitan Police Department, and a report was made.
- Referred to MPD.
Simple Assault (Domestic Violence)
Madison Hall
11/17/2016 - Various times
Case closed
A student reported to UPD that he was assaulted multiple times by his roommate over a period of several weeks.
- Referred to the Division of Student Affairs.
False Fire Alarm
District House
11/18/2016 - 9:35 to 10 p.m.
Case closed
UPD responded to a fire alarm that was falsely activated by an unknown person.
- No identifiable subject.
Possession of Drugs
Dakota Apartments
11/19/2016 - 11:41 p.m to 12:59 a.m.
Case closed
While responding to a fire alarm, UPD smelled burning marijuana. The area coordinator conducted an administrative search. The evidence was collected at the scene and turned over to UPD. It was processed and transported to the MPD Second District Station. One person unaffiliated with the University was barred.
- Referred to DSA.
Liquor Law Violation
Mount Vernon Campus
11/20/2016 - 2:38 to 2:50 a.m.
Case closed
UPD responded to the Mount Vernon shuttle bus stop in response to an intoxicated student. EMeRG responded on scene and transported the student to GW Hospital.
- Referred to DSA.
Harassment: Email and electronic media
Religion Department
11/20/2016 - Multiple times
Case open
A faculty member reported to UPD that a former student of his sent him several harassing emails.
- Open case.
Destroying/Defacing Structures
Amsterdam Hall
11/20/2016 - Unknown time
Case closed
A student reported to UPD that he saw a hole in the drywall of his suite.
- No suspects or witnesses.
Simple Assault/Harassment/Barred from GW Property
Ross Hall
11/22/2016 - 11 a.m.
Case closed
UPD responded to the scene of a simple assault involving two GW contractors. Upon arrival, UPD learned that one contractor had scratched a second contractor. Both individuals were barred from campus, and EMeRG transported one of the contractors to GW Hospital.
- Subject barred.
- Compiled by James Levinson.”

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Importance
1
Gifts for your engineering school friend gift guide
by The GW Hatchet
Dec 05, 2016
“Media Credit: Brooke Migdon | Hatchet Photogrpaher
The Evernote Notebook by Moleskine creates digitized versions of handwritten notes and complex diagrams.
If you’re wondering what to get that friend in the School of Engineering and Applied Science always gushing about machinery or updating you on the latest scientific discoveries, we have you covered. From digital notebooks to funky décor, these gifts are sure to bring out the science geek in anyone.
Evernote notebooks – ranging from $11.95 to $37.50
The Evernote Notebook by Moleskine will save your favorite SEAS student from constantly hauling huge binders full of notes, diagrams and graphs all over campus. A great resource for for students who like to work on their laptops and smartphones, the notebooks make it easier to create a digitized version of handwritten notes and complex diagrams. Unlike regular notebooks, the Evernote notebook comes with either ruled and graph pages that are designed specifically for Evernote’s Page Camera feature. The feature, which is available for iOS and Android devices, allows you to use smartphones and tablets to digitally capture what's written on the notebook's pages. Once captured, these images are uploaded to an Evernote account that users can access on their computers at any time.
Available at: Moleskine, 3209 M St. NW
Plasma Balls – ranging from $18 to $25
If you step into your friend’s residence hall room and notice it’s a little too dim to light up the periodic element table poster on a wall, then a plasma ball may be just what your friend needs to complete the space. Beautiful and fun, plasma balls were all the rage in the 1980s. They may look like simple glass globes but when plugged into an electric socket, they light up with colorful bolts of lightning. The Plasma Ball isn’t just a pretty source of light: Placing objects with conductive properties – including your fingers – on its glass surface makes the ball light up.
Available at: National Air and Space Museum, 600 Independence Ave. SW
Brain Dust by Moon Juice – $20 - $65
If your friend is agonizing over a physics final or is pulling all-nighters to finish a big hydraulics project, they likely need some help managing the stress and exhaustion. Moon Juice’s Brain Dust supplement makes even the hardest homework a bit more manageable by helping ease stress and boost concentration. Brain Dust is an edible powdered formula made with organic and natural ingredients. It helps enhance concentration and manage stress by providing nourishment to neurotransmitters in brain tissue. We can’t confirm that Brain Dust actually makes you focus, but it is a fun gift that will be a hit at late-night study sessions.
Available at: Urban Outfitters, 3111 M St. NW
gift guide”

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Importance
1
Staff Editorial: Students can make campus 'liberal bubble' less restrictive
by The GW Hatchet
Dec 05, 2016
“We’ve all probably heard of the "Foggy Bottom bubble ." We’re told to explore other areas of D.C. during our time at GW and not to get too comfortable just living in the space between Pennsylvania and Virginia avenues. But there’s another bubble GW students live in – the liberal bubble.
Since the results of the U.S. presidential election, students, professors, the media and others have tried to explain why many of us were surprised by the election’s results. While some blame the echo chamber of ideas many people of live in, especially on the internet, students and academics can also blame the liberal bubble around GW and other university campuses, for the fact that so many young people were blindsided by the results.
The liberal bubble is a group of progressive or liberal-minded people who don’t know or hear the opinions of those who disagree with their political viewpoints. In 2016, this bubble separated students on campus from the electorate that voted for Donald Trump. Students need to recognize that we live in an echo chamber, and while many of our liberal or progressive views might create this bubble, it’s not our opinions that are an issue – it’s the restrictiveness of the bubble.
Media Credit: Cartoon by Annan Chen
In an ideal higher education environment, there would be a free flow of ideas and a collection of both conservative and liberal ideologies. But in reality, campuses are usually hotbeds for liberal thought. Liberal bubbles often encapsulate university campuses based on the progressive bend of college students and professors. And most cities tend to be more liberal than other parts of the U.S. It’s no wonder, then, at a school like GW that’s located in D.C., that most students, staff and faculty share left-leaning opinions.
We can’t completely pop the liberal bubble because we are a population of students that leans left, and we will probably always be that kind of student body. But there are things we can and should do to make the bubble less restrictive, so that we become a more educated student body and so that we aren't so shocked when politics don’t go our way.
It’s easy for students to speak up when they know they are part of the majority. A student at GW with liberal views probably feels little to no judgment for arguing the legitimacy of their viewpoints, and so most of us hear that side of any political argument frequently and loudly. But if we really want to learn about other types of people with different views, it’s up to those who are part of the majority to listen to those with more conservative ideas. Vilifying and marginalizing ideas that go against the grain of the rest of the student population will only put us at a disadvantage when we go out into the real world and our opinions are tested. The University must be a sounding board for more than one kind of political speech.
Of course, it isn’t likely that liberal students are going to want to give up their megaphone to hear conservative opinions. And that’s OK – it can be daunting to engage in debate with someone who may have different morals and reasoning. But if students in the majority aren’t willing to listen to and respect opposing viewpoints, GW’s campus will continue to restrict substantive political debate.
University officials have their own work to do to make campus as bipartisan and welcoming to all viewpoints as possible. Most studies show that people who pursue careers in academia tend to be liberal. And although students can and should expect their professors to be more progressive, it’s not for a university to take a political stance that hinders conversation. After the student walk-out after the election, the University posted a picture to its social media accounts with the caption, “No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here.” On the outset, the caption seems harmless, but that phrase was used as a chant at the politically charged protest in Kogan Plaza. By repeating the remark, the University took a side in an argument that may have stopped conservative voices from being heard.
Professors also have the responsibility to make classrooms open for constructive conversations. Sometimes, professors make their political positions pretty obvious. While professors shouldn’t be afraid to speak up in class and exercise their academic freedom, their comments shouldn’t intimidate students who disagree with them.
Professors should be able to foster conversations while providing their own expert moderation and commentaries. They shouldn’t be telling students that their opinions are wrong or unimportant, or preach their own opinions so heavily that it makes students with different opinions uncomfortable. Professors can run the risk of silencing students, instead of encouraging them to take part in discussions. And with people holding minority opinions unwilling to take part in class conversations, students will never be able to try to understand both sides of an issue.
GW will likely always have a liberal-leaning student population, and conservative students who come here should be prepared to feel push back on campus. However, it’s on professors, administrators and those in the conservative minority and liberal majority to work together to challenge each others’ thoughts and work toward popping that liberal bubble.
The editorial board is composed of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s piece was written by opinions editor Melissa Holzberg and contributing opinions editor Irene Ly, based on discussions with managing director Eva Palmer, homepage editor Tyler Loveless, contributing sports editor Matt Cullen and copy editor Melissa Schapiro.”

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Importance
1
Officials uphold promised pay changes after labor law injunction
by The GW Hatchet
Dec 03, 2016
“Media Credit: Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor
George Younes, the president of the GW Postdoc Association and a postdoctoral fellow, said he wasn't surprised officials kept the promise to raise 55 postdoctoral fellows' salaries, even fter a federal judge temporarily blocked the regulation that required the University to raise their pay.
Officials confirmed last week that they will go ahead with plans to raise 55 postdoctoral fellows’ salaries after a federal judge temporarily blocked the regulation that required the University to raise their pay.
A Texas judge filed a preliminary injunction Nov. 22 against the U.S. Department of Labor’s new mandated overtime pay rules, which would compel employers to pay staffers overtime if their salaries do not exceed $23,660 per year. Affected GW employees had already been informed of their new salaries, which officials said they would uphold.
The federal judge issued a temporary injunction against the regulation, which was estimated to affect four million workers. The new rules increased the overtime pay threshold to $47,476, which was originally scheduled to take effect on Dec. 1.
University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said in an email that GW has already implemented and communicated the pay changes to affected employees.
Media Credit: Yonah Bromberg-Gaber | Graphics Editor
“Our plan is to honor these commitments,” Csellar said.
Csellar declined to say how many employees or what departments are affected by the changes.
Fifty-five postdoctoral fellows at GW fell within that overtime pay threshold and received a letter from the University stating that their pay would be raised above the new maximum threshold for required overtime pay. The letter was sent out before the injunction, according to a faculty member who declined to provide a copy of the letter because the information contained is “between employer and employee.”
On Dec. 2, the University’s human resources department sent an email to faculty who supervise employees, including postdoctoral researchers, whose salaries are affected by the new standards.
The email confirmed that the University will honor the salary increases for employees whose pay was changed to exceed the overtime threshold and that any positions that were converted to hourly status will remain at that status.
“This means employees whose status converted to nonexempt are eligible for overtime pay and should continue to record the time worked by clocking in and clocking out,” according to the email.
Harald Griesshammer, an associate professor of physics and a member of the Faculty Senate, said postdoctoral researchers, who are highly skilled and often have Ph.D.s, should be paid a living wage.
“This is a question of human decency that people with that kind of training and that kind of experience have to make an adequate living in the city,” Griesshammer said.
Griesshammer said University leaders made a moral commitment to raise the postdoctoral fellows’ wages, and that it was important for them to keep that commitment. He said if leaders had decided to go back on that promise, it would have had “devastating” effects on postdoctoral fellows’ morale.
George Younes, the president of the GW Postdoc Association and a postdoctoral fellow, said he finds it hard to imagine that officials would have sent another letter revoking the previous promise of a pay increase.
But that national increase remains vulnerable: Younes said he is concerned U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s administration will change the standards back to the old rules, even if a judge upholds the regulation. He said he hopes by the time the new administration could overturn the regulation, universities will see that the new rules are beneficial to postdoctoral fellows and professors and therefore worth keeping in place.
“The publication record is increasing for the University and the research is becoming more productive,” Younes said. “Hopefully they can keep it even if the new administration strikes it down.”
Younes said his salary won’t increase, but that many of his colleagues in the postdoctoral society will use the extra income to help dilute the costs of living in an expensive city like D.C.
“I cannot imagine how it is on postdoctoral fellows with kids, for instance,” Younes said in an email.
Geoffrey Rojas, the president of the Postdoctoral Association at the University of Minnesota, said his institution had decided, similarly to GW, to not go back on their promise to raise salaries for postdoctoral fellows. Rojas said reversing course would come across as insincere because the university had already released a statement saying the increased salary was out of respect to postdoctoral fellows' work.
“They would have to come up with a justification that contradicted the previous justification they made,” Rojas said. “They’ve already tried to rationalize this as a voluntary decision as opposed to a federal obligation.”
Rojas said the move to keep the higher salaries was an attempt at “good internal PR.”
Anke Schennink, the president of the University of California, Davis' postdoctoral union UAW Local 5810, said the injunction was a “great disappointment” but that it won’t impact the university's postdoctoral fellows because the union negotiated a contract with the university before the injunction was filed.
Schennink said the union would have had less negotiating power with the university if they had negotiated after the injunction had been filed because their demands would have had less political support.
“It is always a mix of the power that you have from postdoctoral fellows, politicians, media, external factors, it’s all combined,” Schennink said. “Of course, this injunction is a great disappointment and probably would have affected how several people would have thought about it, absolutely.””

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Importance
1
Professor earns $3.2 million to study environmental impact on child health
by The GW Hatchet
Dec 01, 2016
“A psychology professor is studying adopted children to better understand how children's environments can impact their health.
Jody Ganiban, a professor of clinical and developmental psychology, along with two faculty members at other institutions, received a $3.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct research on the genetic and environmental factors on childhood development.
Leslie Leve, a professor of counseling psychology and human services at the University of Oregon and Jenae Neiderhiser, a professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University, are also working on the project.
This research is part of a project called the Early Growth and Development Study, which focuses on a group of 561 children who were adopted by nonbiological parents during the first few days of their lives. The study, which has been going on for several years, follows how genetic and environmental factors influence emotional development as well as prenatal factors, like prenatal drug use, influence emotional development.
This research will follow this same sample of children, whose ages range from seven to 13 years old, through their adolescent years, studying their height and weight as well the children’s exposure to pollution and environmental toxins. The grant will also include the study of the adopted children's siblings, whether they are also adopted or are biological.
Ganiban said collecting data on siblings is an important part of the new study and may provide more information about the influence of genes and the environment.
“The important part of this design is then we’ll be able to look at whether or not weight is something that’s determined by the children’s postnatal environment, by their adoptive parents and practice of their adoptive parents, if the adoptees are more similar to their adoptive parents, versus factors that are more genetically or prenatally influenced,” Ganiban said.
As a part of the new grant, Ganiban’s cohort of 561 children will be studied alongside 34 other NIH cohorts of children, creating a group of about 50,000 children. This larger group is the NIH’s Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes initiative – a seven-year project aimed at advancing knowledge about how children's environments affect their health.
This new research will also include in-home assessments, which will be led by the NIH with Ganiban and the other investigators’ input.
Ganiban said these studies are significant because they have a great potential impact on understanding children’s health and how influential a child's environment is.
“[NIH] is hoping with the power of 50,000 participants we will get a better handle not only on the development of childhood obesity, but the overall project will be looking at environment on genetic contributions to asthma, as well as the newer developmental outcomes of mental health,” Ganiban said.
Ganiban’s previous studies looked for patterns in psychiatric in children, which could lead to the identification of critical periods in a child’s life when professional intervention may be necessary.
“It’s all about identifying when children need help the most, when children become most vulnerable and perhaps would benefit from intervention the most,” she said.
In addition to her work with EGAD, Ganiban also works the Boston University Twin Project, another NIH-funded research project, which focuses on the development of children's personalities during the preschool years from an environmental and a genetic perspective.
Ganiban said her research has an impact in her developmental psychology and development of psychopathology classes, and her students also have an impact on her research, whether as undergraduate researchers or through the questions they ask in class.
“I can draw upon the research concepts and findings that I have in my own work and apply it to the classroom,” Ganiban said. “Some of the questions that the students ask, the holes that they find or they just tell me, ‘That just doesn’t make sense,’ I can also apply that to my research. My students keep on my toes.””

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Importance
1
Campus buildings found to not have lead
by The GW Hatchet
Dec 01, 2016
“University officials found pipes in campus buildings have not been affected by lead, contradicting records from D.C. Water.
The D.C. Water map, released in June, shows 17 buildings owned by GW or used by students that have pipes that may be affected by lead. University spokesman Brett Zongker said the University surveyed and physically inspected the buildings owned by GW shown on the map and determined that they did not have lead.
“The physical inspection did not find any lead piping on campus,” Zongker said.
The University also tested the water from certain buildings and found “no traceable levels of lead.”
The D.C. Water tool compiles available data about buildings in the District and labels them on a map based on how likely they are to use lead pipes. Some buildings D.C. Water found that could have been affected included Bell Hall, the NROTC building on F Street, the GW Deli, Building JJ and the Kappa Alpha Order townhouse on 22nd Street.
D.C. Water uses the most up-to-date information the agency has to fill in the map. If residents see incorrect information on the map they are encouraged to contact D.C. Water so staff members can update the map.
Zongker said the University has informed D.C. Water of the inconsistencies, and GW is collaborating with the agency to change the map.
Melanie Mason, the water coordinator for D.C. Water, spoke at an Advisory Neighborhood Commission Meeting for Foggy Bottom and the West End two weeks ago, teaching residents how to sign up for the city test their water.
Mason said the city cannot test pipes on private properties, but the agency encourages residents to check their own water for lead. Residents can request a bottle from D.C. Water on the agency’s website to fill with their tap water and ask the city to test for lead for free, she said.
Water pipes that were installed before 1950 in D.C. contain lead, which can can contaminate water, Mason said. She said the city added chloramine instead of chlorine to the water flowing through the pipes in 2000, which exposed the lead in older pipes and may have contaminated the water flowing through the pipes.
She said the city then started adding orthophosphate to the water to prevent further corrosion of the lead pipes.
“At the time, it wasn’t known that switching from chlorine to chloramine could disrupt the lead coating on pipes,” Mason said. “We had to change the way that we were adding chemicals to the water.”
Marisa Sinatra contributed reporting.”

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Importance
1
DeVos nomination breeds uncertainty in higher education
by The GW Hatchet
Dec 01, 2016
“Media Credit: Photo used under the Creative Commons license
Faculty and experts said they are uncertain how Betsy Devos, the nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education, will affect higher education policies.
Faculty and experts say that uncertainty about the new Secretary of Education’s effects on higher education could result in speculation of policies that may never happen.
After U.S. President-elect Donald Trump nominated Betsy DeVos to the nation’s highest education position last week, universities' leaders found themselves on the cusp of a potential sharp turn away from President Barack Obama’s higher education initiatives, like student loan repayment and tuition-free college. Because little is known about DeVos’ higher education views, educators and policymakers may find themselves questioning what the next administration will bring.
DeVos has most recently served as the chairwoman of the American Federation for Children and as a trustee of the American Enterprise Institute but has made few public statements about her positions on higher education. DeVos is the former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party and has been called a “principled conservative” by Frederick M. Hess of AEI.
GW faculty and experts say that DeVos’ lack of transparency on potential education policies means that reforms could be slowed down because having a pre-set agenda can make policies change faster.
Michael Feuer, the dean of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, said he is unsure what policies DeVos will enact but is concerned that Trump's “fundamentally bigoted” rhetoric will be evident in education policies.
“As an institution dedicated to academic freedom and to the ideal of inclusivity in education, we need to be committed to our vision and our mission,” Feuer said.
Feuer said he is particularly concerned about DeVos’ support of charter schools and voucher programs, which he said could affect the types of students from across the U.S. that GW could admit. DeVos worked to prevent more regulation of charter schools in Michigan.
Charter schools are intended as alternatives to poorly performing public schools in areas where mostly low-income families live. Voucher programs work with these charter schools by using the amount of money that would have been spent on a student at a public school for the student's charter school tuition. DeVos has been a vocal supporter of both, which Feuer said could be problematic for education policy because they have proven ineffective.
“The kinds of privatization solutions that she has favored up until now have ultimately proven to be unsuccessful and in some cases have caused considerably more harm than good,” Feuer said.
Charter schools have been criticized for having limited oversight from the government and taking away money from public schools in low-income communities of color. With GW’s interest in increasing the diversity of their applicant pool, these communities may have more students who struggle to gain admittance or be adequately prepared for coursework.
But Feuer said that the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 2015 shifted more power to states and districts by allowing states to expand quality standards for their schools and create teacher evaluations.
Feuer said he expects the Trump administration, including DeVos, to be less involved in federal civil rights compliance. For GW and other universities, that could mean less of an emphasis on Title IX compliance and the way sexual assault is handled. GW has committed to policies like required education on sexual assault and victim confidentiality that may not be priorities for DeVos.
Daniel Klasik, an assistant professor of higher education administration, said GSEHD researchers are especially interested in Trump's and DeVos' impact on education research money.
“Many faculty members in GSEHD receive research funding,” Klasik said. “A reduction in funding available could be a big blow to the work we do.”
Klasik said he was not very worried about higher education affordability because Pell Grants, direct aid from the federal government to colleges that cover tuition costs for low-income students, are popular and bipartisan. About 15 percent of this year's freshman class received Pell funding.
Klasik said even though Trump has not been supportive of free college – a concept trumpeted by former candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Hillary Clinton – GW could make itself more affordable.
“It does not mean that colleges like GW cannot pursue policies that reduce the cost of college for their students on their own,” Klasik said. “It just means that the federal government won’t be leading the way.”
John Banzhaf, a public interest law professor, said Title IX-associated cases, specifically lack of due process in rape cases, was of particular concern to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which DeVos has donated to. He said the Republican party in general has been dissatisfied with the treatment of sexual assault cases.
“You can’t focus simply on Betsy DeVos,” Banzhaf said. “You also have to look at some of the other players.”
Banzhaf added that because Trump doesn't believe in climate change, GW could receive less government funding for sustainability research.
Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, said Obama’s agenda for higher education, like providing free community college and changing student loan repayment, will likely be disregarded by the next administration. But Trump is not a typical conservative and may surprise higher education leaders with policies on affordability, Kelchen said.
Kelchen said Trump’s pick for under secretary of education could be as important as his choice of DeVos, as the person who fills that position often handles higher education policies.
Current Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell held administrative positions at the University of California at Los Angeles and Occidental College, while former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan had limited knowledge of higher education and leaned on suggestions from his under secretary.
“We don’t know how much Trump is willing to be involved in education,” Kelchen said.”

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