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Band director remembered for sense of humor, positive personality
by The GW Hatchet
Feb 08, 2016
“Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo
Benno Fritz, the creator and director of the University’s band program and an assistant professor of music, died last week at the age of 54.
Updated: Feb. 8, 2016 at 10:40 p.m.
Benno Fritz was a unwavering source of positivity and humor for those around him, students and faculty said.
Fritz, the creator and director of the University’s band program and an associate professor of music, died on Friday in Daytona Beach, Fla. at age 54, according to a University release . He is survived by his wife, Alice Mikolajewski, who is a former GW music faculty member, and his son, Harrison.
Fritz directed the symphonic band, orchestra, wind ensemble and Colonial Brass, which plays at GW basketball games. Faculty said he worked closely with the athletics department and Division of Student Affairs to coordinate music for GW events.
During Fritz's 25-year career at GW, the band grew from a small organization to include more than 100 members, according to the release.
He came to GW as an associate professor of music in 1990 after teaching high school music in Michigan, California and Virginia. Fritz also served as a faculty guide and had an office in Thurston Hall, planning events and serving as a mentor for residents.
Robert Baker, an assistant professor of music, said Fritz would be one of the first to arrive on the National Mall early in the morning on the day of Commencement to prepare for the ceremony and to direct students through the performance.
“He did it professionally. He did it with joy. And every year it was a pleasure to show up and know that Ben would make it great,” Baker said.
Baker said Fritz was “always positive,” and the loss of that energy would be difficult to replace in the music department.
“There are good musicians and there are good teachers, but Ben’s positive force about students, music and about the University is unmatched,” Baker said.
Baker added that Fritz and his wife first met while working together in the department, and that he traveled back and forth from D.C. and Florida to be with her once she took a job in Daytona Beach.
"I think they were very discreet but they started their relationship and had a long-distance relationship," he said. "That is a tragedy for them, that Ben has passed away and they did not have the future they deserved."
Baker added that the Colonial Brass will have a moment of silence Wednesday night for Fritz and other memorials will be planned in the coming days. A service is planned in Florida for Monday morning.
A crowdfunding campaign has been started to support GW's music department and the Basilica of St. Paul in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Gisele Becker, an adjunct music faculty member and the director of the choral music program, called Fritz the “perfect colleague.”
“Always willing to help, whether it be providing an understanding and sympathetic ear, flashing his ever-present, yet genuine smile or sharing his ability to seem absolutely unflappable,” Becker said in an email. “Appreciate all he did for me and will carry that memory always.”
Fritz earned his bachelor's degree in music from Michigan State University, and also pursued master's and doctoral degrees in education at George Mason University, according to his faculty page . He was also the state chair for the National Band Association and a member of groups like the Conductor's Guild and the World Association of Symphonic Bands.
Pri Koti, a sophomore and a member of the symphonic band and wind ensemble that Fritz directed, said band members cherished his initiation for them to the band when he would take “newbies” to the Kennedy Center and out for cookies at Captain Cookie. She said he was "unlike any director I’ve ever known."
“You could tell he cared about the music and what it sounded like, but he also really cared about the students themselves,” Koti said.
She added that Fritz started every rehearsal with a funny story, and she cannot remember a rehearsal when band members did not “laugh out loud physically.”
This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Benno Fritz was an assistant professor of music. He was an associate professor of music. We regret this error.”

At the Armory, track runs into history
by The GW Hatchet
Feb 07, 2016
“Media Credit: Josh Soloman | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Junior Jordan Pantalone races in the 1000-meter dash at the Armory Track Invitational in New York City over the weekend.
Imagine going to New York City for the first time.
Imagine staying in Times Square for the first time.
Maybe you’ve done it before.
Maybe it doesn’t mean much to you. Even if you don’t think too highly of Times Square, you’d have to acknowledge that your first time there was a spectacle.
The buildings are taller than what you’ve seen before. The lights are brighter than what you’ve seen before. The people (not the tourists) walk faster than what you’ve seen before.
D.C. is no small town either – but Gallery Place is no Times Square.
D.C. streets don’t seem so big when you go to New York, though. It takes a trip to New York to see that, of course.
When GW went to New York this weekend, they went to New York for the first time.
They came for a big meet. The Armory Track Invitational is New York-big. The second-ever sub-four-minute indoor mile by a high schooler was ran there this weekend. Loudoun Valley, Va.'s Drew Hunter broke the record with a 3:58.25 mile. The New York Times was there to cover the event, as was Sports Illustrated and Runner’s World.
The Armory Track Invitational has a record of being big-time: In its 16th year, it has seen American Olympians like Bernard Lagat run a 3:49 mile in 2005, Shalane Flanagan run an 8:33 3,000-meter in 2007 and Galen Rupp run a 13:01 5,000-meter in 2014.
The meet also hosted schools like the Southeastern Conference’s South Carolina and Mississippi State, the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Duke and the Big Ten’s Wisconsin to run at the nation’s top track – the venue of the National Track and Field Hall of Fame.
Walking through the Armory, consumed by its history and its sheer size – high-arching ceiling, event seating and a Jumbotron worthy of the Verizon Center or Madison Square Garden – junior Seamus Roddy, a Pittsburgh native, put it plainly: “I’ve never seen a place like this before.”
A couple weeks away from the team’s second-ever Atlantic 10 Indoor Track and Field Championship, the Colonials are breaking records almost every time they compete.
Three new school bests were set this weekend in Manhattan: freshman Taryn Milbourne broke her own school record in the 200-meter dash with a time of 27.34 seconds (good for 66th place out of 70); junior Carter Day broke his own record in the 1000-meter despite a subpar tactical race leaving him boxed for most of the homestretch, with 2:29.73 minutes (placing 11th out of 22) and senior Ryan Tucker broke his own record in the 3000-meter with 8:24.75 (third out of 21).
Roddy ran the 1000-meter. He was the first competitor to go for GW this weekend. In the second event of the day, as the crowd was still filing into the Armory, Roddy won his heat, with a time of 8:44.45. Running the race from behind, Roddy jockeyed with the lead group until 600 meters to go. He then made a decisive kick to the front and sped away from the competition, for good, leading him to the finish line more than a second ahead of the rest.
“A guy from Mississippi State was there. You see that and go, ‘Alright, obviously this means something to those guys if they’re flying halfway across the country to come race here,'” Roddy said. “Any time you beat any of those guys, it’s a good feeling.”
GW then competed in the 60-meter dash, resulting in the No. 67 (Milbourne with an 8.46) and No. 70 (freshman Kennedy Whittington-Cooper with an 8.66) finishes out of 71 competitors. Neither sprinter got a great jump from the block. It’s been difficult for GW to properly train because of Winter Storm Jonas, which canceled competitions and altered practices.
“There’s only a certain level of expectation you can have, especially with track being brand new,” assistant coach Chelsea France said. “Most of these kids have never been to New York before, or the Armory, period.”
“It’s a new experience, especially going on the Subway today. We’re trying to take baby steps. We’re going to stay positive and just focus on the things ahead. I’m really excited for this team going into A-10s. This is just a benchmark with some adjustments that we need to make.”
When GW competes, it sets records. At the A-10 championship at Rhode Island from Feb. 20 to Feb. 21, the Colonials will likely set records there, too. That doesn’t mean they will place well, though. The Colonials did not field a relay team at the meet this weekend, nor any field event athletes.
But as France said, it was the team’s first time up against this kind of competition. The goal was to compete. It’s not so much about times, but just running against those with fast times, as a means of growing the program.
“It’s something we always wanted to do – get a group of people and get them going up here,” head coach Terry Weir said. “Last year being our first year, it wasn’t the right time.”
But this year it was, after a fairly successful cross country season that saw the team place higher in the conference championship than in recent years. A major portion of the team did not make the trip up to New York, but those who were able to have had a chance to compete against competition they never would have seen at more local races in D.C.
The Armory can intimidate, with placards full of records and various paraphernalia, the stuff of track-lore, lining the walls.
“It’s nice to get into the competitive sphere like this. Just to see those high-level athletes and just get on the track with high-level athletes,” Day said. “It takes a meet like this to really get to that level.”
After running the 1000-meter, Day, Chris Shaffer (2:33.42, 16th overall and second in his heat) and Jordan Pantalone (2:36.42, 18th out of 22 overall), hung around in the warm-up pit, still taking in the Armory.
“For me personally, it’s about soaking up the experience racing against all of these big schools, from when we started running in middle school and high school, just to be here is pretty cool in and of itself,” Pantalone said.
And for Shaffer, it was his first time on the track, and first time ever running the 1000-meter.
“I’m from Florida so all throughout high school, I didn’t have too much experience with indoor tracks,” Shaffer said. “I’ve watched hundreds of races on this track. There’s so much history here. It’s really awesome to race here and be a part of it.”
And by the way, the talk about first time in New York and Times Square – that was the case for some of the athletes. Staying in a hotel in Times Square, going out at night for a team dinner and a team photo, the trip acted as more than the usual road trip competition and more like a big team trip abroad or across the country.
Adding in running against some of the best competition they’ve competed against, it makes it tough to judge the team on its times and placing at this stage. Last year, the runners were mavericks practicing on the Georgetown community track. This year, they’re still doing that, but slowly adding on to a program in its infancy.
“For a lot of them it’s the first time being in New York City, being around Times Square, just having them look around with their jaws wide open. I think so far it’s been a fun trip,” Weir said. “It’s always fun when you’re running well.””

How to celebrate Valentine's Day if you want to have fun with friends
by The GW Hatchet
Feb 07, 2016
“Media Credit: Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Co Co. Sala, the District’s very own chocolate boutique, is hosting a five-course “50 Shades of Chocolate” dinner on Valentine's Day.
Valentine's Day may typically be for romance, but don't worry if you'd rather hang out with your friends. There are plenty of ways to hit the town without being bombarded by Cupid.
Cupid’s Undie Run
Feb. 13, 1716 I St.
Singles are encouraged to participate in the one-mile, fun-in-only-underwear run to raise money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. Advertised as a party from the beginning to the end, the booze starts flowing around noon at the Asia D.C. and Eden nightclubs, and ends around 4 p.m. Although alcohol is allowed on the track, no drinks are sold during the run.
Run for charity (and also because sharing your Victoria's Secret is fun), and help beat the $500,000 goal. Last year, the undie run raised more than $3.2 million nationwide to combat the genetic disorder neurofibromatosis, and this year the campaign hopes more people will drop their pants to save lives.
Rock climbing
$30 to $50
Take your friends on an adventure for Valentine's Day. Try bonding at Sport Rock, a rock climbing center in Alexandria for $30 a pop. They cater to both the experienced and to the amateur, and indoor and outdoor rock climbing enthusiasts alike.
Sport Rock also offers beginning and advanced classes for basic rock climbing and bouldering – rock climbing without a harness – although newbies are encouraged to climb with a harness first.
Chocolate tastings
Feb. 10 and 14, Various
$32 to $90
What’s love without chocolates?
If your sweet tooth is aching, Trummer’s on Main is hosting a special pop-up dessert shop on Feb. 10 to celebrate Valentine’s Day a little early.
Acclaimed pastry chef Douglas Hernandez will craft a gourmet three-course menu dedicated to desserts, with exotic dishes like hazelnut-filled profiterole, milk jam with candied doc nibs, basil lime consommé and roasted fruit garnished with hazelnut cake for just $32 per person. If you want paired drinks with your meal, it will be an extra $22.
Co Co. Sala, the District’s very own chocolate boutique, is hosting a five course “50 Shades of Chocolate” dinner, complete with a free glass of bubbly. Every single one of the dishes, both savory and sweet, include an element of chocolate intertwined in increasingly unique combinations.
Take the Mahi Mahi, for example. The fish is laced with a fennel pollen and milk chocolate infusion, while the Strawberry & Basil Teaser adds white chocolate to its basil leaves. Not so sweet is its $90 per person price tag – gourmet chocolate isn’t cheap.”

Staff Editorial: Adding a J-term would give students more opportunities
by The GW Hatchet
Feb 07, 2016
“Media Credit: Illustration by Lauren Roll
Imagine if last week had been the first week of classes after winter break. Right now, students and professors alike would just be settling back into campus after a two-month-long break – and that paper or group project wouldn’t be due for another couple weeks.
For as far-fetched as this might seem, it isn’t completely out of reach. Plenty of schools, including three of GW’s peers, have a January Term, or a J-term – a winter break that extends through the end of January. Not only does a J-term give students a little bit of extra time to relax, it also gives them more time to be productive. GW should seriously consider adding one to its future academic schedules.
After lobbying from the Student Association, GW announced last semester that it will add a fall break in 2016. That shows the University’s willingness to adjust its schedule if students push for the change.
"Currently we are not exploring options for an extended winter break," University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said in an email. But the University is always open to recommendations and feedback about the academic year, she said.
Changing the academic schedule to add a J-term makes a lot of logistical sense. The dates of students’ December finals determine when their winter break begins, meaning some start up to a week earlier than others. Adding extra time to the break would give those students with late finals more time at home. It would also help to ease the pain of travel expenses: Spending two months at home, instead of as few as three weeks, would likely make students feel better about spending the money to get there.
The biggest benefit of a J-term, though, is the time it gives students. While there’s a chance some students may waste those two months, most of them would have the opportunity to be productive . Two months is a lot of time to waste.
Students could get ahead on course requirements over a J-term, too. Since many students have plans to graduate early or spend an entire semester abroad, taking courses during a J-term could be a cure-all. If GW were to offer accelerated in-person courses in January, students could opt to return to campus and get ahead on their credits – or catch up.
Southern Methodist University, a peer school, has a J-term and a May term to give students extra time for accelerated courses. These “mini-terms” let students complete three credit hours in eight days. And students there took advantage of the chance to get ahead: This past January, more than 500 students were enrolled in 39 courses, according to SMU’s website .
Having a break in January means more opportunities for study abroad and community service. Some Alternative Breaks, for example, could be extended, or the program could add more options later in January. At New York University, a peer school, students can enroll in a short-term study abroad program in January, which means they can travel to places like Shanghai and Abu Dhabi over break. While GW does offer short-term abroad programs over winter break, students would have more time to explore if they could spend an entire J-term in another country.
Perhaps most appealing to students would be the ability to pick up an internship during a J-term. For the second year in a row, GW was ranked as the best college in the nation for internships – and giving students the chance to intern during January would give the University even more bragging rights. GW would be the only private institution in D.C. to have a J-term, giving students a competitive edge to landing short-term internships in D.C. during this time period. Students would likely jump at the opportunity to add yet another line to their resumes, and maybe even pick up a couple new references.
And for those students who have part-time jobs, especially back home, a J-term is a great opportunity to earn a little extra money. It’s unlikely anyone would hire students just for winter break, but if they were home for two months, it's certainly a possibility. There are also some seasonal positions out there, and even just a few extra weeks of babysitting could bring in a lot of cash.
There are also mental health benefits to giving students time off in January. There’s no relief until spring break, usually scheduled for mid-March. Almost two full months of school can be overwhelming, and exams and papers start very quickly once students get back to campus. When the SA pushed for a fall break, it cited mental health as a reason why some students would benefit from the time off – having a J-term would be just as effective.
A J-term isn’t just helpful for students either. Departments at GW receive grants and can receive government subsidies when their professors do research. If faculty had extra time in January to do research – and maybe even hire students to help them – they could spend more time focused on students and themselves during the semester.
Of course, there are drawbacks. Extra time off could shift Commencement further into May, and midterms might fall into place later, even after spring break. But those small changes would be worth it if students used their J-terms well.
Having January off doesn’t mean students would spend two or three weeks watching Netflix. At a school like GW, when everyone feels constant pressure to improve and do more, a J-term would be a welcome opportunity.
The editorial board is composed of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s piece was written by opinions editor Sarah Blugis and contributing opinions editor Melissa Holzberg, based on discussions design editor Samantha LaFrance, copy editor Brandon Lee, assistant sports editor Mark Eisenhauer and managing director Eva Palmer.
Want to respond to this piece? Submit a letter to the editor.”

Mismanaged body donor program left family members 'speechless'
by The GW Hatchet
Feb 07, 2016
“Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo
GW shut down its body donor program, run through the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, after staff could not properly identify remains and return them to families.
Updated: Feb. 7, 2016 at 10:30 p.m.
Eileen Kostaris, a Maryland resident, was shocked Thursday morning when she received a call from a faculty member at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences telling her she may not receive her grandmother’s remains.
Her grandmother, who died last spring, is one of 50 people who donated their bodies to research at GW and remain unidentified. The school’s dean announced last week, following repeated requests from The Hatchet, that the body donor program was shut down after remains were misidentified and may not be returned to families.
“I was speechless,” Kostaris said. “I can’t be angry about it because it is done. There is nothing I can do to change it.”
Similar incidents have not been publicly revealed at other medical schools in recent years, and staff involved in similar programs said they have safeguards in place to protect against a similar situation.
The program – one of 130 in the country – was housed in the department of anatomy and regenerative biology in SMHS. The program accepted cadavers of individuals who wished to donate their bodies to train medical students. In the program, like at those across the country, the remains of body donors are cremated after their use and families that request remains are sent ashes.
Donations to the program increased by 80 percent between 2012 and 2014. In 2014, officials said the total number of donors on their list topped about 1,800, after an increase of 800 new donors in two years. Generally, less than 1 percent of the population donates their bodies to science.
SMHS Dean Jeffrey Akman said in a statement Friday that medical school officials learned last fall the management of the program was not fulfilling the standards that “donors and their families deserve and expect, nor what I would expect as dean.” He said officials then stopped accepting donations and began an internal review of the program.
“It is with deep regret that I report that, despite exhaustive efforts, we have been unable to make a positive identification of certain donor bodies,” Akman said in a statement.
The individual responsible for managing the program is no longer employed by the University, he said. Akman did not name the individual.
Notifying donor families
Akman said that the families of the donors have remained the priority, and officials are working with the families who “may be affected by the program irregularities.” He said in an email the school has been working to reconcile the records and privately answer questions from family members.
Akman said the medical school has contracted an outside laboratory to use advanced technology to match the DNA of donated bodies with DNA of family members, if those family members choose to provide samples.
Kostaris, who received the call about her grandmother last week, said she planned to hold a memorial service once she received her grandmother’s remains, but is now unsure if her grandmother’s ashes will ever be returned.
“They said that if I still wanted the remains back, there would be a company that would do DNA testing and they would try to match it up, but that was not guaranteed,” Kostaris said.
Kostaris said that donating was important to her grandmother because her grandfather had also donated his body to GW’s program years ago, and Kostaris had already received his remains. She added that her grandparents were “lifetime Washingtonians” and had lived in Foggy Bottom in their later years.
While the program was in place, GW medical students and faculty took part in an annual ceremony to honor the donors. Family members released butterflies to honor the lives of donors at the ceremony, according to a University release.
The future of the program
Akman said the school’s anatomy students will continue their studies using bodies the program has already received. He added that the number of bodies the University takes in varies each year, but typically students use 30 to 40 bodies a year, and bodies remain in the program for up to five years.
Akman said in an email that individuals who have signed up to donate their bodies in the future are in the process of being notified of the program’s closure.
Multiple professors in the GW anatomy department declined to comment.
SMHS spokeswoman Anne Banner said that Akman met with the anatomy department and students prior to releasing his statement to SMHS students, faculty and staff.
Banner said there are processes in place at GW’s body program to track the bodies, but declined to provide details.
The GW body donation website recently posted that interested donors can consider other local anatomical donation programs like Howard University, Georgetown University and Donate Life Maryland.
Hans Thewissen, a professor of anatomy and neurobiology at the Northeast Ohio Medical University Body Donation Program, said in the absence of cadavers, students can be trained through alternative methods.
Still, he said, alternatives that involve 3D glasses and computer programs do not give students the same hands-on experience.
Thewissen said he wants students to think of the cadavers as “their first patient.” He said that working with the cadavers allows medical students to understand that the work they do affects people they don’t know, like the families of their patients.
“The person on this table deserves respect and has a whole family behind them,” Thewissen said. “The family is worried about what happens with their loved one and expects some closure that they might not have had.”
How body donation programs keep track of donors
Professors who work with body donation programs at other schools said their staff safeguards against mistakenly identifying bodies or being unable to identify bodies by keeping all identification information with the body at all times.
Thewissen said staff label body bags, identify bodies with a number in their system and follow strict procedures like sending only a few bodies at a time to the crematoriums.
“Those bodies don’t move. They stay at their table,” Thewissen said. “There are practices that are used by crematoriums to make sure that no one switches this body with that body.”
Mark Zavoyna, the operations manager at the Anatomical Donor Program at Georgetown University, said there is a “multi-level identification process” when bodies come in and that staff there have never had an issue with identification.
“It is a heavy metal tag so that we can identify that the person assigned that number when they arrived at our front door is the same person whose cremated remains we are handing back to the family,” Zavoyna said. “It is truly fail-safe.”
Gina Burg, the director of the body donation program at University of Cincinnati, said the program has a system with four checkpoints to ensure that an identification number follows the cadaver from the beginning to the end of the process.
She said the program had about 480 bodies last year.
“We have a good system,” Burg said. “There really should never be a reason to have an issue or an error with any numbers or record keeping at all.””

GW hires specialist to boost graduation rate
by The GW Hatchet
Feb 04, 2016
“Media Credit: Madeleine Cook | Hatchet Photographer
The University recently hired an enrollment specialist who will help officials understand how to ensure that the students who come to GW will also graduate from GW.
GW's admissions office has hired a specialist to help look at why students stay at the University.
Officials recently expanded the responsibilities of the admissions office to not just track why students enroll at GW but why they might leave. Experts said the University’s ever-sharpening focus on retention is on par with other institutions and that even as GW undergoes budget cuts across most departments, investing in a specialist and analyzing long-term data is a smart way to boost its four-year graduation rate.
GW’s enrollment management division will now be called the Division of Enrollment Management and Retention, a name that nods to one of University President Steven Knapp’s top priorities this year. Knapp said in August the number of students who start college but do not graduate are the “grimmest part of the current higher education picture.”
Laurie Koehler, the senior associate vice provost for enrollment management, said the office would connect faculty, staff and administrators "to ensure that those who matriculate, succeed." She said one way to measure that is through four-year and six-year graduation rates.
Koehler said the office recently hired an enrollment retention specialist, and over the next year, the office will develop a plan and "reallocate additional existing divisional resources to ensure that we have the attention designated to focus on this goal."
"The role of the Enrollment Management and Retention office is not to replicate the excellent work already being performed by others. Essentially, everyone at the University shares the responsibility for retaining and graduating students," Koehler said in an email.
Koehler declined to say which administrators, faculty and staff the division would work with, or what policies they plan to implement. She also did not provide any additional details about the specialist.
Koehler said the retention side of office will serve as an extension of the enrollment efforts, and staff there will collect and analyze data to develop a plan “to assess institutional progress.”
Officials brought Koehler to campus in 2013 in part to use data to figure out why students may choose other institutions over GW. Since then, the admissions office has begun to use high-tech software to record every email, phone and in-person interaction staff have with prospective students.
Over the last eight years, about one-fifth of each freshman class transferred or dropped out after four years, according to GW’s Office of Institutional Research and Planning. Overall retention at GW has stayed at 89 percent or higher over the past decade.
About three-quarters of each freshman class graduate in four years, according to the institutional data. Most of GW’s peer schools have higher four-year graduation rates and GW’s relatively low completion rate added to its drop in national rankings last year.
Dean of Admissions Karen Stroud Felton announced last week she will step down in May, after about five years at GW. Felton is the fifth of six high-level administrators to leave GW this year.
Experts said closely examining the factors that can drive students away from an institution before they complete their degrees can help schools financially: When students drop out or transfer, universities lose dollars they’ve already invested in those students, and can miss out on future alumni donations.
Knapp announced at the end of last semester that all central administrative offices will make 3 to 5 percent budget cuts each year for the next five years. Last fall, officials made 5 percent cuts across all administrative divisions after fewer students enrolled in graduate and professional programs than officials projected.
Neal Hutchens, an associate professor of higher education at Pennsylvania State University, said the benefit of collecting years of data about students who enroll and graduate could outweigh the cost of any extra spending ‒ like the hiring of an enrollment specialist.
“Academic programs haven’t fared well in recent years and faculty in higher education, we’re always nervous when we see expansion of administrative offices. But for what the office is going to do looking forward, an individual like this could be of value,” he said.
He said technology like the software in GW’s admissions office allows administrators to examine which students are most likely to leave, and to examine variables that may not have been considered before, like the gender or socioeconomic status of students.
Leticia Oseguera, a higher education research associate and assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University, said institutions nationwide have begun to centralize resources to use data to track factors like four-year graduation rates more effectively.
She said because so many institutions rely on alumni donations, retention can also benefit their future fundraising efforts because students likely won’t donate somewhere if they leave before graduating.
About 10 percent of alumni donate to the University annually. Officials have vowed to focus on alumni giving as part of GW’s $1 billion campaign.
“If you think of the long-term costs, if a student leaves, they lose that source of alumni donations. They paid an instructor to teach that student, but now that particular major might be under-enrolled and they might have to teach another round of introductory courses,” she said.”

Staff Editorial: What students should know about this year's SA elections
by The GW Hatchet
Feb 01, 2016
“Media Credit: Cartoon by Juliana Kogan
The date is set for this year’s Student Association election, and while the second week of March may feel like a long way off, the campaign season will soon kick into high gear. Over the next few weeks, students will begin announcing their candidacies for president and executive vice president, and campus will be buzzing with preparation for the election.
Around this time of year, it’s important for students to remember that they hold all of the power in the SA election. While theoretically the student body has an opportunity to shift the SA’s legislative agenda through their votes, the election usually ends up feeling like a popularity contest based on flashy proposals, pretty posters and well-designed web sites.
But this year, students should look past the surface and take a hard look at the candidates’ stances on the issues. Based on past campaign platforms along with the news from this academic year, we’ve narrowed down what we think are the biggest topics the candidates will be discussing this spring, and how students can navigate them.
The University’s budget problems
Over the past year, GW’s sweeping budget cuts have been some of the biggest news on campus. And with University President Steven Knapp’s announcement of yet another round of cuts in December, GW’s financial situation is likely to come up on a few SA candidates’ platforms.
This, of course, is an easy issue for candidates to bring up. Reminding students that they’re angry about cuts to certain departments is a great way to garner some attention. But any candidate’s promise to fix the budget shouldn’t be taken seriously.
When evaluating candidates, students need to keep in mind that while the SA’s leaders can relay students’ concerns to University officials, they have virtually no control over the budget and not much say in what gets cut.
And students should look out for platform pieces that will cost a lot of money, too – like construction proposals or spending on student space. Three years ago, SA President Julia Susuni vowed to move the counseling center from K Street to campus. She succeeded with that ambitious goal, but next year’s SA president will be constrained by GW’s financial limits, and lavish spending simply isn’t a realistic goal.
Affordability on a smaller scale
When former SA Executive Vice President Casey Syron resigned earlier this month, he left behind an unfinished goal: to make costs on campus lower for students. Since Syron made this one of his priorities, we can expect SA candidates to try picking up where he left off.
This year’s campaign platforms will probably include small-scale affordability measures – easy and tangible goals that will get students excited. Smaller affordability initiatives like free printing, low-cost laundry or cheaper food options would undoubtedly make a huge difference in students’ lives, which is why candidates will likely propose them. Students only need to look back to last year’s election, when SA presidential candidate Ben Pryde proposed converting J Street to a swipe system to make meals more affordable.
But students should be careful not to base their votes on something like the promise of cheaper dining or free printing. Of course, candidates who have been involved in the SA might have the institutional knowledge to try pushing these ideas through. But GW’s budget cuts could hamper any affordability initiatives.
An opportunity for safety and security
University Police Department Chief RaShall Brackney has said that one of her main goals is to improve the department’s relationship with students. Her willingness to engage with the student body – even setting up times for UPD officers to chat with students over coffee – presents an opportunity for SA candidates to propose new safety and security measures that may actually see some success.
Every year, we see the same bullet points on candidates’ platforms: improvements to 4-RIDE and more blue lights. During her campaign last year, for example, SA President Andie Dowd made increasing 4-RIDE's efficiency a big piece of her platform. But this year, students should consider what actually makes them feel safer on campus, rather than settle for the same old proposals.
There are some relatively high-crime areas surrounding campus, and we know from last year’s campus climate survey that about one in five freshman women felt unsafe on campus at night. Students should look for the candidates who are directly addressing those fears – and for the candidates who are taking advantage of Brackney’s openness to propose different and interesting security measures.
The student voice on social issues
This academic year, we’ve witnessed a national conversation about social issues on college campuses – particularly when it comes to race and political correctness. And given the attention to these issues on our own campus, it’s very possible we’ll see buzzwords like “microaggressions” and “ trigger warnings ” brought up in at least a few platforms.
The SA president and executive vice president act as the student body’s voice – the ones who tell officials how we feel about social issues on our own campus. This past semester, we’ve seen the SA do just that by commenting on issues like Bill Cosby’s honorary degree.
Over the next academic year, we’re bound to see more social issues popping up on our radar at GW. That makes candidates’ meetings with student organizations particularly important, since there are many groups on campus that prioritize certain social issues. Students should do their best to choose candidates who line up with their own stances on social issues so that they feel like they’re well-represented by the SA leadership when it comes time for the SA president to act as the student voice.
A window for improving mental health
It’s no secret that the University has prioritized improvements to mental health resources over the past few years through initiatives like moving Mental Health Services into the Marvin Center, adding counseling to the Mount Vernon Campus and hiring more counselors. But that doesn’t mean our campus is through talking about the issue.
Right now, there’s an opportunity for SA candidates. Last semester, we learned that former MHS Director Silvio Weisner was not licensed to practice as a psychologist in D.C. Now, one freshman’s family is suing GW after he died by suicide in 2014. The next SA president will have significant political capital over the administration, and may be able to push through even more campus mental health reform.
But before casting your vote for anyone who proposes to completely overhaul MHS, remember how many sweeping changes we’ve already seen over the past few years. Smaller ideas, like adding students to an advisory board to help choose the next director of MHS, are a lot more realistic.
Making progress on sexual assault resources
The results of the University’s first sexual assault climate survey were released about this time last year. And since GW conducted another survey this past fall, hopefully we’ll get those results this semester. If they’re released before the election, it’s important for candidates and students to read and remember the numbers.
While we can hope that the numbers will be better than last year’s, GW needs to continue the fight against sexual assault no matter how much, or how little, things have changed. Candidates will likely ground their prevention policies in details from the survey, and students should come into the election knowing what their priorities are, too.
There have already been big pushes for sexual assault prevention, like bystander intervention and in-person prevention trainings , but GW is slowly shifting its attention toward resources for survivors. Rather than looking for a candidate with bold new ideas, students should look for those SA candidates who can get behind and build on the ideas the University already agrees with – like improving Haven, a sexual assault resource website – so that that things get better quickly.
The editorial board is composed of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s piece was written by opinions editor Sarah Blugis and contributing opinions editor Melissa Holzberg, based on discussions with sports editor Nora Princiotti, design editor Samantha LaFrance, copy editor Brandon Lee, assistant sports editor Mark Eisenhauer and managing director Eva Palmer.
Want to respond to this piece? Submit a letter to the editor.”

Staff Editorial: Right now, affordability isn't a reasonable goal for GW
by The GW Hatchet
Jan 25, 2016
““Affordability” is a buzzword in higher education. Over the past few years, schools across the country have pledged to make their degrees more affordable. Presidential candidates have promised to make public universities less expensive. Students talk about affordability on social media, and compare the debt they expect to incur after graduation.
Of course, GW hasn’t been left out of the conversation. Two years ago this month, University President Steven Knapp tasked a group of staff and administrators with making GW more accessible for low-income students. The task force met for about a year, interim Provost Forrest Maltzman said in an email.
During that time, the task force encouraged the University to adopt a test-optional admission policy, announced a program that will give full-tuition scholarships to 10 low-income students and created a grant scholarship for D.C. students. Officials also recently “expanded” a division of the admissions office to focus on ensuring that students who come to GW succeed here, Maltzman said.
But unfortunately, GW is no more affordable than it was two years ago, and the task force hasn’t done much to change that. The financial aid pool has continued to grow, but GW is still an expensive option for most students who go here and families who consider it. That may be because at the moment, there isn’t much the University can do to make itself more affordable – and it shouldn’t even try.
Analyzing the work of the affordability task force, and GW’s overall affordability efforts, seems especially important considering GW’s most recent surprise announcement: Dean of Admissions Karen Stroud Felton will resign at the end of the semester. Felton was a member of a group of officials focused on making GW more accessible, and has been one of the administrators setting GW’s admissions-related policies for the last five years.
As students, we understand that it’s frustrating and disheartening to attend such an expensive school in an expensive area. While some University officials earn high salaries and continue to raise tuition, it feels like we’re being ignored – like the debt many students are in now and will be in in the future are unimportant. That frustration leads to angry Facebook statuses and tweets about how much we’re paying and what appears to be the University’s unwillingness to make GW more affordable.
But it isn’t necessarily the case that GW is simply unwilling to lower tuition: In fact, the University cannot lower tuition right now, and negative financial consequences would unfold if it did. GW relies on tuition to make up 75 percent of its revenue. That means lowering the amount students pay is impossible because GW needs that money to even exist. Rather, tuition increases are probably more likely, especially since tuition has increased for incoming students by about 3 percent every year for the last eight years.
We’ve seen the impact of lower-than-projected revenues play out already: After an enrollment decline in graduate and professional programs meant officials missed their budget projections last fiscal year, GW cut 5 percent from administrative divisions last year and accepted 45 percent of this fall’s freshman class to help increase revenue.
Right now, affordability is out of GW’s hands. Knapp announced yet another round of budget cuts in December that will require all divisions within the central administration – that includes admissions, fundraising and Title IX – to trim 3 to 5 percent from their budgets each year for the next five fiscal years.
Even though Knapp said these new cuts will only affect administrative units, it doesn’t mean that academic programs and departments are safe from harm: We’ve already seen cutbacks in some of those areas. The only way for GW to avoid cutting departments and programs students care about – like the music department and women’s studies and creative writing programs – is to dig itself out of its tuition-reliant hole.
As students, we need to accept this. It’s pointless to call on GW to do the impossible, or to complain that we’re paying too much without understanding the problem. Of course students have the right to be frustrated that meals are expensive, programs that are important to them are being trimmed down, or that it will take a long time to pay off their student loans. But right now, we have to let officials do what they need to in order to save the University in the future, and accept that making GW more affordable might not be on that agenda.
We, unfortunately, need to reconcile the fact that there isn’t one person we can blame for this. Back in the 1980s, tuition skyrocketed because GW grew – grew in campus size, student body, faculty – and perhaps too fast. Between 1988 and 2007, tuition nearly tripled, beginning at $14,000 and increasing to $39,000 according to Washington Monthly.
But we aren’t the only university dealing with these problems, which Knapp acknowledged when he announced the budget cuts in December. GW’s tuition – which crossed $50,000 last year – is already high, and family incomes are not growing at a fast enough rate. That means that even though officials want to see GW grow, they have to be cognizant of not maxing out their customers. This is a systemic national problem, not just a GW problem.
Unfortunately, sacrificing affordability likely also means sacrificing some socioeconomic and racial diversity at GW. We understand that diversity is a cornerstone of a well-rounded education and an essential part of student life. And of course it’s promising that GW would assemble a task force to make itself more affordable for lower-income and minority students. But keeping tuition revenue steady should be the University's top priority – at least for right now.
Easing tuition costs or granting students more money won’t fix the University’s budget crisis. In fact, it will worsen it. So in the meantime, we just need to ride out the storm, rather than demanding affordability that may never come.
The editorial board is composed of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s piece was written by opinions editor Sarah Blugis and contributing opinions editor Melissa Holzberg, based on discussions with sports editor Nora Princiotti, design editor Samantha LaFrance, copy editor Brandon Lee, assistant sports editor Mark Eisenhauer and managing director Eva Palmer.
Want to respond to this piece? Submit a letter to the editor.”

High-pace Chase: How Lauren Chase defines women's basketball's speed
by The GW Hatchet
Jan 21, 2016
“Media Credit: Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Graduate student Lauren Chase dribbles the ball in GW's game against UMass. Chase has been in the starting lineup for every game this season.
Updated: Jan. 21, 2016 at 12:29 a.m.
In the Colonials’ past four games, they have not stopped running. GW has controlled the pace and led in fast break points by a combined margin of 52–22. At the forefront of nearly all of their offensive attacks is graduate student point guard Lauren Chase.
Chase is the leader of the team and the heartbeat for the Colonials on both sides of the court. She may not have the statistics to be an All-American or get drafted into the WNBA, but her impact could be the deciding factor in how far the Colonials can go in her final season.
Chase’s high-energy play make GW’s fast-break points and high number of possessions possible. Fourth in the Atlantic 10 conference in assists, many of which come in transition leaving a teammate wide open, Chase is always pushing the ball up the court and forcing defenses to make decisions faster than they are comfortable with.
“[Chase] is able to push the ball up the floor with a dribble so fast and she puts so much pressure on the defense,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “We want that pace. We are best at that pace and she understands that if it’s not working, she can get us into the next sequence of offense.”
Chase plays the same high-effort and high-activity style on defense. She usually matches up against the opposing team’s better guard and does not allow her any space with the ball.
Her tenacity on defense tends to spread to the rest of her teammates when she is on the court. Against Iowa, Chase fouled out near the end of the game after playing 33 minutes of hard-nosed basketball. Once she was no longer on the floor, the intensity and confidence on the Colonials side of the floor was noticeably weaker.
“Her pace is equally as important on the defensive end,” Tsipis said. “She loves the challenge of guarding really good perimeter players. Against Duquesne, she was on April Robinson who is an outstanding offensive player, second in the nation in assists. We even moved her for a couple possessions to guard [Duquesne leading scorer] DevaNyar Workman.”
This consistency on both sides of the floor is a big factor in why Chase is almost always on the floor. She plays for a team-high 31.4 minutes per game and has been in every single staring lineup.
The only other player on the Colonials who boasts similar numbers is senior forward Jonquel Jones. Chase and Jones are the leaders of the team, but their connection goes deeper. Before they transferred into GW from separate colleges, Jones from Clemson and Chase from UMBC, they played basketball together at Riverdale Baptist High School (MD) under current Colonials assistant coach Diane Richardson.
In games, they each complement the other’s style.
“JJ and I are really clicking and I attribute that to our relationship off the court. Everyone knows we are close off the court, but also on the court I can read what she is about to do and she knows what I’m about to do so we can feed off each other,” Chase said.
In big games this season, Chase has stepped up and fueled the Colonials on their way to a win. In back-to-back matchups against Villanova and Iona, the games were coming down to the wire. Chase was able to combine for 11‒13 from the line allowing the Colonials ‒ who have struggled from the line this season (66 percent) ‒ to hold on for the victory.
Most recently, Chase scored 8 points and added nine assists in GW's 67-50 win over UMass on Wednesday. That came one game after she tallied 10 points and six assists against No. 25 Duquesne on Sunday with a team-high 55 percent from the field to give the Colonials another marquee win against the then-top ranked A-10 team.
Chase has also been a top-of-the-line example for freshman point guard Mei-Lyn Bautista to play against every practice. As the season has progressed, it is clear that Bautista has become more comfortable handling the ball and has incorporated parts of Chase’s game into her own including pace of play and aggressiveness offensively.
“I just want to influence Mei the best that I can, especially about being a point guard out there. It’s been fun because she is very receptive to everything,” Chase said.
As a graduate student, Chase has been given one last shot. She is still eligible in her fifth year of college due to an elbow to the head in the spring of 2013 that caused a concussion, her third, bad enough for her to miss her entire junior season. Chase has bounced back from the devastating injury and become one of the best point guards in the A-10.
“There is an unbelievable appreciation that Lauren has to get the extra year,” Tsipis said. “There was frustration that happened when she couldn’t play because of her concussion, but she is just such a positive kid and I think that part of every practice, every shoot around, every game shows there is a great appreciation of having that opportunity.””

Free throw shooting proving crucial for Colonials
by The GW Hatchet
Jan 18, 2016
“Media Credit: File Photo by Ashley Le | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Senior forward Kevin Larsen takes a foul shot against Fordham on Jan. 3. He and redshirt junior forward Tyler Cavanaugh have combined for more than 40 percent of GW's 323 made free throws this season.
Despite a couple of bad losses, men’s basketball has racked up 14 solid wins by mid-January, and barring a late-season meltdown, looks poised for a second-consecutive postseason appearance.
While the team’s success is the product of a number of factors, one statistic in particular has quietly influenced almost every GW decision this season: free throw shooting.
The 77–70 loss at Dayton Friday, for example, showed just how critical foul shots can be. GW outshot the Flyers by wide margins from both the field and three-point range, but went just 5‒15 from the line while Dayton hit a crucial 16 of 17.
“Mental mistakes. Free throws, missed assignments on defense ‒ those were two key things that we lacked in the last five minutes and I was a big part of that. We've just got to focus a little bit more and we'll be fine,” senior forward Kevin Larsen, who was 1‒4 at the line, said Friday.
Head coach Mike Lonergan consistently emphasizes how important getting to and converting at the line is for his squad. Making more free throws than their opponents attempt has been a goal for the Colonials all year.
“We like that stat, I think we’ve made more free throws than our opponents have attempted, that old Duke stat,” Lonergan said after Tuesday’s win at Massachusetts. “I think that’s a sign of a really winning program, so we’ve got to keep that going.”
And so far, GW (14‒4, 3‒2 A-10) has done so. On 430 attempts, the Colonials have made 323 total foul shots this season, the 26th-most in the country. Meanwhile, their opponents have combined for only 304 attempts at the line and converted on 217.
In some of the Colonials’ biggest wins, free throw shooting played a pivotal role. In the upset over then-No. 6 Virginia, GW made 23 while the Cavaliers attempted just 16, and during a win over Seton Hall, the Colonials hit 17 while the Pirates attempted only 10. They sank a season-high 29 against Massachusetts and Lafayette, and held Gardner-Webb to a season-low seven free throw attempts.
The team has also seen substantial improvement in this area compared to last season. At 75.2 percent, GW’s clip from the charity stripe is 20th-best in the nation and second-best to only Saint Bonaventure in the A-10. Last year, the Colonials shot a 68.1 free throw percentage, eighth-best in the A-10.
The spike in trips and shots made at the line seems puzzling for a team which lacks drivers, but just as it leads in offensive production from the field, GW’s frontcourt has led the charge.
Among NCAA Division I players who play in at least 75 percent of their team’s games, redshirt junior forward Tyler Cavanaugh boasts the 51st-highest free throw percentage at 85.4, while he and Larsen have combined for more than 40 percent of all free throws attempted and made by GW this season.
Lonergan applauded this effort after the 11-point win over the Minutemen on the road, a place GW has gone 3‒3 this season.
“Sometimes we forget, we've got to go in [inside to Tyler and Kevin] there. It’s harder for Alex because he’s small and sometimes Kevin’s like, 'I need the ball,' but he can’t really see over those guys. But when we go inside, good things happen. That’s something that’s been one of the positives for our team,” Lonergan said Tuesday. “I don’t know if we’re still in the top 10. We were ninth a week ago in free throws, but to go 29-for-34 on the road and 12-for-12 in the first half really kept that game close when we were not playing great.”
Aside from Cavanaugh, the program also added two skilled shooters this offseason in guards Alex Mitola and Matt Hart who have been money from the line. Mitola has gone 27‒30 on the year, while Hart is a perfect 17‒17.
But when GW misses free throws, or gives its opposition more chances, it has the potential to cost them the game. Like in the five-point loss to Cincinnati in which GW went only 3‒4 from the line, or dropping a three-point decision at Saint Louis where the Colonials missed almost half of their 22 free throw attempts, or in a seven-point nail-biter against the Flyers.
“Five-for-15 from the line, you don’t deserve to win shooting like that, so the mental toughness has to increase,” Lonergan said Friday. “And Dayton’s 15-for-16 in the second half and 16-for-17 in the game, so that’s a big discrepancy there. That’s something that we can control and we didn’t do a good job at the free throw line.”
It may not seem like a statistic that can make or break a game, but for GW, drawing fouls and turning them into valuable points has been and will continue to be a major key to getting wins.”

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