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Jewish students entangled in rabbis' yearslong battle
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 17, 2016
“Media Credit: Dan Rich | Photo Editor
Senior Jamie Weiss, sophomore Carly Meisel and sophomore Sydney Sussman prepare food for a Shabbat dinner. Dan Rich | Photo Editor
For years, students have found themselves embroiled in a battle between the rabbi who had previously led a campus group and the most politically influential rabbi in the region.
A long legal battle that has Rabbi Yehuda “Yudi” Steiner and his wife Rivky Steiner banned from running events on campus has lingered since October 2014. Students in Chabad Colonials said the legal aspect of the conflict is no longer a major problem, but they claim that they have become the target of Rabbi Levi Shemtov, D.C.’s top Chabad leader.
Those students said Shemtov has sent people to observe the group’s events, has held events identical to theirs and has tried to convince members to leave the group in favor of his own.
The issue first began as a legal battle between Shemtov and the student group’s original leader, Steiner. Shemtov fired Yudi and Rivky Steiner from their positions in 2014, but the couple quickly protested the firing. Last year, a judge placed a permanent injunction on the Steiners to ban them from running any events within a mile of campus.
But that legal battle has morphed into a power struggle for the group: Student leaders formed their own organization unaffiliated with either rabbi and say that while the Steiners still attend their events – as they’re permitted under the terms of the injunction – the couple does not have a leadership role.
Yudi Steiner declined to comment for this story.
The student group is currently registered with the University as L’Chaim Jewish Student Group, but they have operated under the name Chabad GW or Jewish Colonials Chabad in the past. They now colloquially go by Chabad Colonials, which is the name listed on the group's official Facebook page.
Media Credit: Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor
Tables are set in Meisel's apartment to celebrate the Shabbat holiday.
Students leaders say Shemtov has continued to intervene, instead of allowing them to operate independently.
Eytan Abergel, vice president of Chabad Colonials, said the strain between two rabbis has become a struggle between a student group and a rabbi. Shemtov has appeared on campus and harassed students in public locations like Kogan Plaza, he said.
“We are operating more successfully than we ever have been. We have more people at events. We're sustainable. It's amazing,” Abergel said. “But it just happens to be that someone is still antagonizing us.”
Abergel said Shemtov had the group’s Facebook page – which served as the main form of communication between members – removed, telling Facebook that it was in violation of copyright laws. Shemtov’s attempt to copyright “Chabad GW” was denied by the federal copyright office, and Facebook reinstated the page.
“More than it bothers us, it really does a disservice to the community that is GW because there are a hundred kids who are relying on us to have Shabbat, which is a really big thing in Judaism,” Abergel said. “They want to have a chance to meet Jewish people. And our method of communicating, the mouthpiece for that essential thing, was cut off by someone for no reason.”
Sophia Brener, president of Chabad Colonials, said Shemtov has condemned students’ loyalty to her group, saying God would judge them.
Both Brener and Abergel said Shemtov has been hosting events parallel to theirs under the name Chabad GW. The student group held their annual freshmen cruise Sept. 7, and Shemtov organized an event with the same title Sept. 21.
Shemtov also sent a then-law student and an alumna to at least two of the group’s events: Brener said one person attended a challah bake the organization hosted last semester and another stood outside her apartment when she hosted a Passover Seder. The Hatchet confirmed these actions through court documents that included affidavits that both individuals signed and submitted to the D.C. Superior Court.
“I think it's pathetic,” Brener said. “I think that he has better things to do with his time. There's nothing in it for him here. We don't have money. We don't have power. What does he want from us?”
The D.C. Superior Court held a status hearing last Friday. The rabbis and their lawyers met in the courthouse to schedule a hearing. Dana Foster, the Steiners’ lawyer, said the judge did not make any decisions or findings related to whether Steiner violated the court injunction banning him from leading Chabad events.
Foster said Steiner and the lawyers are still appealing the Steiners' injunction itself.
“Rabbi Steiner is complying with the preliminary injunction that still holds,” Foster said. “Whatever he does inside the boundaries is allowed.”
Shemtov said he has overseen Chabad GW since the early 1990s and objects to the new organization using the name Chabad, because they are not involved with his organization. His organization, the American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad), would like to engage with other Jewish organizations, which has been impossible at GW, he said.
He said he wishes students could “hear the whole story, instead of making judgments after hearing only part of the relevant information.”
“We would even be willing to help them if they wish, since they say they have no rabbi operating at present,” Shemtov said.
He added that he sent people to public Chabad Colonials events, and only to observe whether or not the Steiners were violating the injunction.
“The students need to conduct their activities under a name which doesn't imply that they represent Chabad – Lubavitch in any way,” Shemtov said. “Given our long and accepted history of the usage of the name at GW, people have come to expect that activities of Chabad on the GW campus are under our auspices, and we are responsible for them.”
Alexander Rogosa, a law student, submitted a testimony to the court in July after he observed a Chabad Colonial event that spring that the Steiners attended along with GW students.
He wrote in his testimony that Yudi Steiner brought a shopping cart filled with supplies like food, plates and prayer books to the event at a student’s apartment.
“While they were waiting, I heard them discuss whether they brought everything needed for the Seder,” Ragosa wrote in the document.
Taylor Sears, who states she is an alumna in court documents, attended a challah bake with Chabad Colonials on Jan. 27, about a week after the preliminary injunction. She wrote in her testimony that she received a confirmation email from “” when she registered for the event online.
That email is listed as contact information for Yudi Steiner on a website for Jewish Colonials, which Brener said the Steiners use to organize off-campus events. The “Contact Us” page listed Yudi and Rivky Steiner as the Jewish Colonials’ director and program director, respectively.
Sears included in the testimony that the Steiners advertised for the challah on social media leading up to the event. On Jan. 17, two days before the injunction was in effect, Yudi Steiner posted a photo of 450 pounds of flour used for the bake in a trunk of the vehicle.
“At the event, it was clear that Yehuda Steiner was not a mere participant,” according to the document. “He did not simply stand around a table and make challah, as most of the participants did.”
Brener denied that the Steiners ran the event and said they were there as participants.
Earlier this month, the student group hosted a Shabbat dinner with about 50 students and members of the Chabad community in one of the student leaders’ apartments. Yudi and Rivky Steiner, along with their five children, participated in the Shabbat service and dinner.
Jamie Weiss, a senior who has been involved with Chabad Colonials since her freshman year, said Chabad is not the same now that Steiner is not allowed to lead events. She said it's difficult to hold events without a rabbi to give spiritual guidance.
Weiss said she respects Shemtov as a rabbi, but she said that it’s “creepy” that he comes to Hillel and Chabad events at GW to recruit students. Shemtov accused her group of stealing the name “Chabad GW” from him, and he told her “God does not forgive people who steal," she said.
“He doesn’t make it about Judaism anymore,” she said. “He makes it about himself.”
Carly Meisel, a sophomore who is on the executive board of the student organization, said the group members starting calling the organization Chabad Colonials “to avoid unnecessary conflict” with Shemtov, not because they thought they weren’t allowed to use the name.
Shemtov's behavior does not reflect Judaism's ideals, Meisel said.
“The concept of loving your fellow Jew is so important in Judaism,” she said. “I am hoping he realizes this and that his action damages fellow Jews and that he’ll decide to remove himself from the situation.””

Snapshot - Food Truck Festival
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 17, 2016
“Media Credit: Bridie O'Connell | Hatchet Photographer
Guests line up for drinks at the Bayou Daq Shack during the final Truckeroo food truck festival of the season at the D.C. fairgrounds.”

Law school to hire diversity, wellness leader
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 17, 2016
“Updated: Oct. 17, 2016 at 10:30 a.m.
The GW Law School will add a member to the school’s staff who will focus on students’ wellness and inclusion.
The new position – called the law school program administrator for wellness, diversity and inclusion – will be responsible for creating, developing and implementing programs to create diversity and well-being programs, according to the University’s job posting. The new staff member will create a more supportive environment for students who face daily stress from schoolwork and the competitive law school atmosphere, an official in the school said.
Elizabeth Ewert, associate dean of students in the law school, said in an email the new position focuses on student outreach, wellness and diversity programming and individual student advising. Other staff currently work in these areas, but the position will centralize the school's efforts, she said.
“There is growing research on the idea that self management, stress management, mindfulness and empathy are not only ‘happiness’ skills but also necessary professional competencies,” Ewert said. “Combined with the recommendation of last year's Wellness Committee and the arrival of a new dean of students, this seemed like an optimal time to focus on this important topic.”
Ewert added the law school already has programs in place to support students, like drop-in hours with a Mental Health Services clinician and an orientation program “on maintaining life balance, stress management and time management.”
Mental Health Services added a clinician dedicated to law school students last year months after two students in the school died, one by suicide.
At designated times throughout the year, like during the health and wellness weeks that the law school hosts in the spring and fall, students have opportunities to focus on wellness, Ewert said.
“We offer a full complement of activities,” she said. “This includes topical speakers, healthy food, yoga classes, mindfulness exercises, group runs and flu shots.”
She added that relaxing activities, like a gaming truck and places to do crafts or hobbies, are also available.
Sonia Suter, a law professor, said wellness and stress management are prominent issues within law schools because they are high-pressure environments for students. Faculty and administrators in the school continue to develop mechanisms and programs to help students deal with stress, she said.
“I think our faculty as a whole is committed to the wellness of the students,” Suter said. “Many of the faculty offer unsolicited advice to students about balance in their lives. Engaging with my students on a level beyond the classroom is something that is very important to me.”
This is not the first the law school has added programming to help create a friendlier environment for students: In 2012, the school created the Inns of Court program to provide career and wellness resources for students. Through the program, each incoming class is divided into five cohorts, called “Inns,” that are each named after a former U.S. Supreme Court justice.
Suter, who is the lead adviser of the Jackson Inn, said the Inns of Court program has brought in speakers to present to the students about dealing with stress and remaining focused, even in law school's competitive environment.
“We had a former attorney come speak to the students about ways to develop focus, become more centered and keep their minds from spinning in a million different directions,” Suter said. “She gave them some really concrete strategies that people who practice mindfulness and meditation techniques offer.”
One expert said wellness has not always been at the top of most law schools' administrators across the country, and many law programs have not added positions or resources to help students with stress management and overall wellness.
Andrew Benjamin, a professor at the University of Washington School of Law, has been involved in law school wellness for more than 30 years. As a clinical psychologist, he treated and assessed one-eighth of the University of Washington’s law students each year and founded a peer support program. In the program, trained law students advise their peers who may struggle with grief, depression or substance abuse.
He said that there has been little progress with law schools across the country implementing wellness programs.
“I would like to say that there is a sea of change, but there isn't,” Benjamin said. “Law schools, especially traditional law schools, have changed their direction very, very slowly. There has been some effort to develop more clinical programming for our law students in traditional law schools, but that’s it.”
This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly called the Jackson Inn the Jackman Inn. We regret this error.”

Crime log
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 17, 2016
Gelman Library
10/04/2016 - 9 p.m. - 12 a.m.
Case closed
A male student reported to the University Police Department that he left his GWorld card, room key and flash drive unattended inside a study room. When he returned, the items were missing.
- No suspects or witnesses.
Liquor Law Violation
Public Property on Campus (20th and F streets)
10/07/2016 - 1:30 a.m.
Case closed
UPD responded to a call for an intoxicated male student. EMeRG transported the male student to GW Hospital.
- Referred to DSA.
Marvin Center
10/07/2016 - 2:30 p.m.
Open case
A female student reported to UPD that her book bag was stolen from the Marvin Center. Police are currently looking at video to determine a suspect.
- Open case.
Liquor Law Violation
Alumni House
10/08/2016 - 2:20 a.m.
Case closed
UPD observed an intoxicated student sitting on the back door of Alumni House. The student was transported to GW Hospital by EMeRG.
- Referred to DSA.
Misdemeanor Sexual Abuse
Off Campus (23rd Street and Washington Circle NW)
10/08/2016 - 12:07 p.m.
Case closed
A female student reported to UPD that she was sexually assaulted by a man while she was walking through Washington Circle Park. UPD officers located the male suspect and U.S. Park Police arrested the subject.
- By arrest.
Public Drunkenness
Public Property on Campus (22nd and I streets NW)
10/09/2016 - 1:50 a.m.
Case closed
UPD officers saw an intoxicated individual who was found to be unaffiliated with the University. EMeRG transported the individual to GW Hospital.
- No further action.
Disorderly Conduct/Liquor Law Violation
District House
10/09/2016 - 12:40 a.m.
Case closed
UPD officers responded to a report of loud noise and a suspicious odor. Upon arrival, officers encountered two female students that were intoxicated. Both students were uncooperative and argumentative with the officers on scene. EMeRG transported one female student to GW Hospital.
- Referred to DSA.
- Compiled by James Levinson.”

Survivor to share sexual assault experience in play on campus
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 17, 2016
“Media Credit: Julia Abriola | Hatchet Photographer
Zannah Herridge-Meyer, the co-president of the Public Health Student Association, worked to bring a sexual assault survivor to campus to perform her one-woman show about her experience.
The Public Health Student Association will bring a play to campus this week to raise awareness about sexual assault.
“The Haze,” a solo theater performance about a sexual assault survivor exposing thousands of untested rape kits at the San Francisco Police Department, will come to the Marvin Center this Thursday. Zannah Herridge-Meyer, the co-president of the Public Health Student Association, said the organization hopes the play will tackle campus issues, like sexual assault and mental health, in new ways.
“The Haze” is a one-woman play written and performed by Heather Marlowe that tells the story of Marlowe’s rape in San Francisco, including how her rape kit was not processed by police because they believed it did not merit a full investigation.
Herridge-Meyer said she pitched the idea to bring the play to GW to the PHSA this fall because she knows Marlowe personally and had heard how powerful the play was on other campuses. She said Marlowe was a friend of her sister’s growing up, and she knew her at the time when she was sexually assaulted.
“I watched the whole process of this terrible thing that happened to her, but she created such a positive force for it,” Herridge-Meyer said. “When I became a student here and got involved, I knew it was a priority to bring this event to campus.”
The organization regularly brings speakers and films to campus but has not tackled the issue of sexual assault awareness and proper care for rape kits this year, Herridge-Meyer said. She said she had noticed other events covering the topic of sexual assault seem to be more geared toward undergraduate students, but she hopes the play will educate graduate students.
“We really think intentionally that we are bringing events to campus that are important and timely,” Herridge-Meyer said. “We are bringing this conversation to campus in a new way.”
The Public Health Student Association hosted a screening of a documentary last year about campus sexual assault.
Herridge-Meyer said the play can start conversations about sexual assault, and audiences can experience the situation as Marlowe acts it out. After the play ends, the group will run a “talk back” session.
Beginning this year, the Public Health Student Association has hosted open town-hall meetings to hear students’ input and opinions, Herridge-Meyer said. The group has hosted themed meetings to address relevant campus issues, and last month’s topic was mental health.
“If we are supposed to be the voice of students then we need to hear what students concerns are and not assume that small amount of people involved in the leadership can speak for students,” Herridge-Meyer said. “We can empower students to identify and properly intervene when students show signs of struggling.”
Marlowe, the creator and performer of “The Haze,” said that when she was sexually assaulted she could not remember her experience because she was drugged, and the case became more unclear when her rape kit was ignored by police. Marlowe was already involved in theater and decided to turn her experience into a play to share her story, she said.
Marlowe said she has performed at more than a dozen campuses, and the play includes educational elements.
“This happened to me, and I have been able to articulate it in a way that is more direct through the theatrical experience,” Marlowe said. “People who attend can glean more from that then perhaps they would from a lecture. There is a lot more personal narrative and personal experience that makes it worth attending.”
Kalpana Vissa, the co-president of Students Against Sexual Assault, said the organization is co-sponsoring the event, which means they will advertise for the event and members will attend.
She said having survivors come to campus and speak about their experiences is very powerful because it can support survivors at GW.
“It is always good to have people outside of GW and inside of GW provide us with any insight,” Vissa said. “So bringing that and bringing light and awareness to the fact that this is an issue that is happening to people all over the nation. This isn’t just happening at GW. It is happening at a lot of different places.”
Rory Muhammad, the Title IX coordinator, said the Title IX office is not cosponsoring the play, but he is pleased to see student groups take the initiative to sponsor programs that bring awareness to sexual assault and educate the community.
“Programming like this helps to address issues that hopefully will make our community safer,” Muhammad said.”

Multicultural Greek Council adds four chapters this year
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 17, 2016
“Media Credit: Dan Rich | Photo Editor
Eugene Lee, Elena Hoffman, Jamila Vizcaino, Elmer Rajah, Clare Lewis and Tiffany Chai, all members of the Multicultural Greek Council's executive board, stand in their office in the Marvin Center. The Multicultural Greek Council added four chapters this year.
Updated: Oct. 17, 2016 at 2:26 p.m.
The Multicultural Greek Council has added four chapters in the past calendar year.
The four chapters – three returning and one new – are a leap in the number of multicultural Greek organizations, which now total 15 chapters on campus. Multicultural and Greek student leaders said the chapters are designed to focus on cultures and areas that were not fully represented at GW and that the new groups will promote a more inclusive campus.
Sigma Sigma Rho joined campus for the first time, while Sigma Lambda Upsilon, Phi Beta Sigma and Alpha Phi Alpha all rechartered this year – meaning they had been active on campus at some point in the past four years before losing members and going dormant.
Sigma Lambda Upsilon is a Latina-based sorority, and Phi Beta Sigma and Alpha Phi Alpha are historically black fraternities.
Sigma Sigma Rho is a South Asian sorority, and the chapter's addition fulfills the council’s promise to add a group representing South Asian students.
Christina Witkowicki, the director of student involvement and Greek life, said Sigma Sigma Rho is educating its first member class this semester. She added that the Multicultural Greek Council plans to continue to expand after this year.
“We have a few other organizations who have reached out that they are interested in joining our multicultural Greek community,” Witkowicki said.
The Multicultural Greek Council first reviews organizations that are interested in opening at GW and then invites them to campus to present on how they would fit in with the existing chapters, Witkowicki said.
Elena Hoffman, the expansion chair for the Multicultural Greek Council, said this year’s additions will represent diverse backgrounds and identities within the student body.
Forty-four percent of students come from minority backgrounds, according to GW’s institutional research office.
Sigma Lambda Upsilon was the first among of the new chapters to be approved by the University last fall. The remaining three chapters were under consideration in the spring, Hoffman said.
“GW needs MGC orgs because they offer a community for students within the wider GW community,” Hoffman said. “What is different and special about MGC, in my opinion, is that it opens up the eyes of students to different cultures and experiences they may have never been exposed to before.”
Hoffman declined to comment on the details of the recruitment and pledge process for Sigma Sigma Rho, saying that information is unavailable until a public ceremony to officially open the chapter later this semester.
The approval process begins when outside chapters identify interested students at GW and send the Multicultural Greek Council an expansion packet to explain items like their goals and national headquarter policies, Hoffman said. Alumni of multicultural Greek chapters who live in the area often approach the council about adding their chapters, she added.
Hoffman said the council plans to add more chapters in the coming years, considering the increased interest over the past year alone. The Multicultural Greek community is crucial because it makes multicultural students on campus more visible, Hoffman added.
“GW is a pretty ‘white’ school, so I believe it is important for people to see the rich culture that the student body actually has, sometimes overshadowed by Panhel and IFC organizations,” she said.
Multicultural Greek President Clare Lewis did not return requests for comment.
Hamisha Patel, the national president of Sigma Sigma Rho, said GW was the first and only university the national council contacted when they wanted to open a chapter at a D.C. university.
“We liked the MGC at GW and how it was structured and really close-knit,” Patel said. “So far all the people we have interacted with have been very welcoming.”
Interest in establishing a chapter in the D.C. area grew as more of the group’s alumni began attending GW for graduate school or moved to the area to work, Patel said. Patel and other alumni started recruiting members for the new chapter over the summer.
Jamila Vizcaino, the chapter president of Sigma Lambda Upsilon, said the sorority helps members connect with a diverse alumni network – connections that can help students land jobs.
“Our chapter founders worked to find a sisterhood that really aligned with the diversity of identities they embodied, the diversity of thought, perspective and experience that exists across the Latina diaspora,” Vizcaino said.
Vizcaino added that the chapter has already hosted some events on campus, like a national campaign – called RAICES – this year themed around increasing political literacy. The group organized a voter registration event and a debate watch party this semester.
Vizcaino said Multicultural Greek organizations give students who are interested in Greek life and come from diverse cultures the chance to combine their interests with their heritage.
“For a really long time MGC has not had a strong presence, and I believe it was mainly the lack of knowledge about what MGC is about,” Vizcaino said. “We definitely hope to see more and more young women of all backgrounds, and even though we are Latina-based, we are not Latina exclusive.”
The national headquarters for Sigma Lambda Upsilon, Alpha Phi Alpha and Phi Beta Sigma did not return a request for comment.
Brandon Capece, the president of the Interfraternity Council, said the Multicultural Greek Council’s growth is a positive for Greek life on campus overall.
“The diversity of opportunity really allows individuals to make the most out of their undergraduate experience and grow as people,” Capece said. “Whether an individual joins a Panhellenic chapter, an Interfraternity chapter or a Multicultural Greek chapter, they are welcomed into an ever-expanding network of Greek individuals on campus.”
The IFC has standing partnerships with the Multicultural Greek Council through events like Greek Week, Grand Chapter and Greek Day of Service, Capece said. He added that IFC chapter members will make sure new Multicultural Greek Council members feel included on campus.
“Expansion really is the future of the GW Greek community,” Capece said. “It is through our institutions that we create opportunities for personal growth through living a values based life, and the addition of new chapters allows us to more fully realize our commitment to that goal.””

FoBoGro space trades sandwiches for sushi
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 17, 2016
“Media Credit: Rhea Bhatnagar | Hatchet Photographer
An employee at Rolls By U assembles a sushi roll. The sushi restaurant opened in place of FoBoGro's sandwich shop.
Your go-to lunch spot in the basement of FoBoGro is serving up sandwiches no longer. In its place is Rolls By U, a sushi burrito shop similar to D.C. favorite Buredo .
Rolls By U, which opened for business Oct. 3 and already had a location in Arlington, Va., serves create-your-own sushi burritos, bowls and rolls. Although students cannot use their GWorld cards to pay just yet, employee Omar Castillo said they should be able to use them within a week.
Castillo said he thinks customers will enjoy Rolls By U’s points system, in which customers who enter their phone numbers can earn points from purchases toward free food and drinks. A “rito” will earn members 150 points that can be used to earn free items, such as the 60-point brownie, 50-point drink or 30-point chips.
The taste varies wildly among the sushi options, so be careful when you order. The Blueprint rito ($10) is filled with grilled tofu, kale, lettuce, cherry tomato, avocado, shallot and green sauce and tastes dull with little to liven up the relatively bland tofu. By contrast, the ByU Crunch rito ($11), filled with shrimp tempura, crabstick salad, cucumber, avocado, crunch, spicy mayo and lettuce, had a much zestier flavor. The portions are filling, like a Chipotle burrito, and they are sliced in half so you can see the colorful ingredients inside.
Future plans for the spot include adding outdoor seating and sushi sandwiches to the menu, Castillo said.
Rolls By U is owned by the same restaurant group that runs the Georgetown sushi restaurant Maté and the Andean restaurants Chi-Cha Lounge and Guarapo, the Washington City Paper reported .
FoBoGro’s former owner and alumnus Kris Hart said in September he was ready to move on from the issues that come with running a convenience store: cash flow problems, technical issues, covering shifts for employees who couldn’t come and 11 break-ins during the first part of this calendar year alone.
Despite the occasional hardships, Hart said running the 70-year-old business, which he renamed as FoBoGro from Foggy Bottom Grocery, kept him connected to his years as a student.
Hart said he frequented the store for ramen noodles and cheap beer as an undergraduate student before becoming the owner in 2009, at age 25.
“I was honored to be a small business owner on a campus I love,” he said. “It was my baby. I loved it to death.”
Hart said he wishes Rolls By U the best and he hopes that “the people around here get a taking to sushi.””

Faculty doubtful over some presidential profile goals
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 17, 2016
“Media Credit: Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor
Harald Griesshammer, an associate professor of physics and a member of the Faculty Senate, said he wished the profile for the presidential search would have placed a greater emphasis on collaboration between the Board of Trustees, faculty and administrators. The profile was released last week.
Some faculty say the profile for the next president is not completely in line with their goals for the position.
The profile, which was released last week, outlines what the presidential search committee is looking for in the University's next leader and overall goals for GW. Faculty members largely said that although the profile covered a lot of ground, it missed some key issues important to them.
The presidential profile, crafted by the presidential search committee and executive search firm Isaacson, Miller, is essentially a detailed job description: It outlines the committee’s desired qualifications for candidates for the next University president, overall upcoming goals, the University's mission and the challenges for candidates, should they become president.
Provost Forrest Maltzman said the profile accurately articulates both the opportunities and challenges for whoever fills the position.
“I would think that somebody would look at that description and think that this is a great opportunity,” Maltzman said. “They are getting to lead an incredible institution.”
But some faculty members said they do not believe the presidential profile reflects an ideal candidate or represents GW's goals well.
Tyler Anbinder, a history professor and a member of the Faculty Association, said the profile’s emphasis on research funding for science and engineering fields could downplay other departments’ roles in the search and in the University's long-term goals.
“Science and engineering students are a tiny fraction of the University’s student population,” Anbinder said. “I wish the University would embrace its strength in the humanities and social sciences rather than grasp at becoming GW Tech – which I don’t think there’s really any possibility of that happening.”
The School of Engineering and Applied Science houses about 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students out of the University's roughly 26,000 students, according to GW’s institutional research office.
Anbinder said the profile is transparent with the University's challenges by emphasizing those areas to potential applicants – like student satisfaction. The profile calls for the next president to make sure every student, “regardless of their national origin, socio-economic background, gender or race,” is comfortable and successful.
“The applicants understand that when it says we need to bring in even more research dollars, that means that the trustees aren’t happy with the number of research dollars that are being brought in right now,” Anbinder said. “When it says that alumni have to be more engaged, they understand that means that right now alumni are not perceived as being as engaged as alumni from other universities.”
Anbinder added that the profile highlights ways GW has grown and improved over the past 25 years, which will help recruit applicants and motivate them to continue that growth.
“This is a great job if you want to be a university president,” he said. “There aren’t too many university presidentships better than this one. So I think we’re going to get a lot of really good applicants, and it’ll just be a question of finding the right fit.”
Anthony Yezer, an economics professor, said in an email the presidential profile should focus less on the University's strategic plan because he believes the plan is about what officials wish were true at GW, rather than what is actually true.
The strategic plan, a document that outlines the University’s goals, like increased globalization and interdisciplinary work, was created in 2012 by then-Provost Steven Lerman. When Lerman announced that he would be stepping down from his role last year, experts questioned the future of the plan without one of its chief architects. The University’s top leaders, however, have kept the plan in focus since then.
The profile outlines the strategic plan as it currently exists with goals that have been met and goals that have yet to be met. It says the new University president will have the opportunity to review the plan.
“What I can convey is that the general faculty opinion is that the strategic plan is dead, and that is generally regarded as a good thing,” Yezer said. “If we are recruiting a president who must believe in the strategic plan then we are recruiting a president who will arrive on campus with a view of the University that has little support among the faculty.”
The profile focuses on several goals that the search committee hopes to reach in the future under the leadership of a new president, like enhancing the academic distinction of the University, broadening diversity efforts and maintaining a growing reputation for research.
“I think the faculty believes that GW is trying to do too many things, and by cutting back proportionally we just weaken everything, ” Yezer said. “We need to identify things that we do not do well and in which we have a comparative disadvantage relative to universities not located on valuable land in the capital of the USA and stop doing those things.”
But faculty members said it’s important to remember, as mentioned in the profile, that no one person could accomplish every goal in the document.
Harald Griesshammer, an associate professor of physics and a member of the Faculty Senate, said in an email that he wished the profile would have placed a greater emphasis on collaboration between the Board of Trustees, faculty and administrators. He said he hopes the next president will engage faculty in all aspects of University decision-making.
He added that the next president should take advantage of faculty members' passion and engagement in making decisions, especially when making unpopular choices.
“Students, staff and faculty care for GW,” Griesshammer said. “The next University president has the opportunity to channel this passion to help advance all aspects of GW, not just the flashy bits which are good for headlines. Sustainable growth comes in small steps, not in leaps.”
While the profile mainly discusses GW’s past achievements and future goals, Dina Khoury, a professor of history and international affairs and a member of the Faculty Consultative Committee – which is involved in the presidential search – said in an email that the profile lacked a portrayal of what GW is like today for both domestic and international students.
“The job of the incoming president is to help define a vision for the University in a climate that increasingly devalues the humanities and the social sciences that are critical for students who will be informed citizens,” Khoury said. “There is nothing in the profile that highlights the importance of addressing this issue.”
But Kim Roddis, an engineering professor and a member of the Faculty Senate, said she felt like the presidential search committee had done their job creating the profile well overall.
She said she took the listed qualifications and sent them out to her professional networks in hopes of reaching out to as many people as possible to increase the size and depth of the pool of candidates.
“Seventeen pages seems like a lot, but they’re covering a lot of stuff in there, and I was surprised at how well I felt they got both the challenges and the opportunities at GW,” Roddis said. “And that’s really important to attract the right person.”
Sera Royal, Rachel Ventresca and Avery Anapol contributed reporting.”

Alumni Weekend focuses on connections, not cash
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 17, 2016
“Media Credit: Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor
Jeremy Gosbee, the president of the alumni association, said Alumni Weekend is more for making connections than getting donations.
Alumni celebrating their one, five and 10-year reunions this month are receiving an extra boost to their gifts from an anonymous donor, who has pledged to match donations up to $10,000.
Although the donation challenge is centered around the upcoming Alumni Weekend celebrations, the weekend's organizers say the event should be used to strengthen bonds among alumni, not to raise money for the University.
Aristide Collins, the vice president of development and alumni relations, said in an email that officials expect about 2,000 graduates to attend the event at the end of the month. Collins said gifts, like the anonymous donor’s, should encourage alumni to donate beyond their weekend on campus.
“By leveraging an anonymous reunion donor's gift, we are able to boost participation among young alumni and inspire other alumni to make philanthropic commitments to their alma mater,” Collins said. “Overall, GW's reunion efforts have increased attendance and giving among celebrating classes.”
Some of the new programs this year, like 3-D printing demonstrations, make-your-own-textile workshops, George’s Amazing Race and lessons with athletic coaches, are meant to engage all ages of alumni, Collins said.
He said the weekend will also be a time for alumni to learn about the $1 billion campaign through collateral, videos and messaging. The campaign is set to wrap up in June 2018 and has raised more than $890 million so far, according to the campaign's website.
Lauren Walinsky Savoy, the communications director in the office of development and alumni relations, said classes celebrating a special reunion are encouraged to donate during Alumni Weekend in honor of the reunion.
“Many of our most engaged alumni are also donors, and we recognize them during Alumni Weekend with a brunch on Saturday morning and a donor lounge throughout the day Saturday,” Savoy said.
The University has struggled with a relatively low alumni giving rate of about 10 percent for years, but officials say the reunion weekend is not the time to increase that rate.
Jeremy Gosbee, the president of the alumni association, said that although the University's giving rate is low, he does not think of Alumni Weekend as a top fundraising opportunity. It's more important to focus on strengthening connections with alumni so they feel compelled to give in the future, he said.
“The whole idea is to get the focus back on campus and connecting people to each other and seeing what’s happening here at GW, and then when down the road they are asked, we hope they will be more inclined to participate,” Gosbee said.
Signature events throughout the weekend, like tours of former residence halls and new buildings, show alumni how the University has grown with the help from their donations, Gosbee said.
Other fundraising events that go on throughout the year, like Flag Day in the spring and Giving Tuesday during the holiday season, are better opportunities to fundraise because they are completely focused on donations, Gosbee said.
Experts agree that focusing too much on fundraising during an alumni weekend could be a deterrent to attendees who want to enjoy the weekend without being pumped for cash.
Mark Dollhopf, the former alumni association executive director at Yale University, said the point of alumni weekends is to strengthen the social network between alumni, not to garner donations.
“If alumni knew that you were getting them together solely for the purpose of trying to get them to give money, I think a lot of them would be resentful,” Dollhopf said.
Dollhopf said that if development staff are too direct in trying to solicit donations, it can lead to cynicism among alumni who believe that the University is only interested in their money.
Andrew Shaindlin, a former associate vice president for alumni relations and annual giving at Carnegie Mellon University, said alumni weekends help communities bond, which is important for laying the groundwork for future donations.
“This makes people feel more connected to their alma mater, which is a requirement if you’re going to ask people for financial support,” Shaindlin said in an email. “While one weekend event, by itself, doesn’t lead directly to a ‘big donation,’ it contributes to the cumulative, longer term effect of engaging the alumni. Over time, that leads to a greater probability of alumni support.””

Staff editorial: Humanities courses add value to our educations
by The GW Hatchet
Oct 17, 2016
“Updated: Oct. 17, 2016 at 10:31 a.m.
Studying the liberal arts, especially humanities, is an often-questioned path to take during college. Students in these majors might be questioned on how they’ll find jobs, make money or learn key skills. But these courses add value to education, and officials should continue to encourage students to enroll in humanities courses.
Some undergraduate students already knew what fields they wanted to pursue when they came to GW. Others came here undecided and took various G-PAC courses to figure it out. Regardless of which path they are on, taking humanities courses expands students' perspectives.
Getting an education is different than getting a degree. Degree programs give students the skills to succeed in particular careers or subject areas, but educations give students new perspectives and experiences. It makes sense that some students are averse to taking courses outside the subjects in which they are pursuing degrees, since they’re likely weaker or less interested in those areas. But the writing and critical thinking skills taught in humanities classes are valuable no matter what field students pursue.
There’s a stigma that studying the humanities doesn’t lead to a lucrative career. We go to an expensive university, and it’s easy to question what our investment is worth if students can’t graduate with a well-paying job lined up. If that is the question that officials want us to easily be able to answer, then it might make sense for the University to continue driving an internship and career-based marketing narrative. But for most of us, these four years will be the only time when our main focus is learning about the world and when we have the time to try new things.
Humanities courses encourage students to think differently and ponder real-world questions, and that's just as valuable as gaining skills for employment. Sometimes, a well-rounded education means needing to feel a little uncomfortable. If we never get out of our comfort zones and expose ourselves to new ideas, we won’t grow as students and individuals.
The English department recently created a new minor for business school students. It’s an innovative venture to give students in a technical degree program a way to learn how to communicate, write and think creatively. Other departments at GW should take notice of the English department and the business school’s joint project, and students should seize opportunities to take classes outside of their comfort zones – especially in the humanities.
The English department has also increased outreach to attract students to their classes. Humanities programs tend to be smaller, and amid budget cuts, it seems these programs and departments are some of the first to lose faculty and resources. The English department’s step is proactive, and it’s exciting to see that other schools, like the business school, are helping emphasize the importance of humanities.
Any and every department, especially small departments, should find ways to market their courses. Many departments offer upper level courses in niche topics that could attract various students, but these need to be better promoted as students tend to gravitate towards the more recognizable introductory courses. Departments could also offer their own career fairs to show what students can do with those sorts of degrees.
Luckily, officials already recognize the importance of humanities. After all, every Columbian College of Arts and Sciences major has to take two humanities classes. And the School of Engineering and Applied Science students take two humanities courses, as well. But students have room for fall-through courses and can try to spend even more time in these sorts of classes.
Unfortunately, it seems that officials’ focus on humanities ends at the classroom door: Faculty members have criticized the presidential search committee for not having any humanities-centric representation. GW shouldn’t preach the importance of a humanities-based education at a liberal arts university if they don't emphasize the importance to applicants for the University’s highest position. They have the opportunity to prove to presidential candidates that undergraduate students don't just get degrees – they get educations.
We understand that the University can’t force students to take more humanities classes. It’s unreasonable to assume students in science programs want to spend a huge amount of time in an English class, or that English students want to take yet another math class. But other humanities departments should follow the English department and market themselves to different sorts of students. These departments might be surprised by how many of us added a major or minor because a humanities course forced us to change how we defined our educations.
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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