Biggest stories in 2021 – GW Hatchet

2021 was a year of transitions, with national headlines and university tensions coming to the top from start to finish.

The year began with the National Guard’s occupation of campus following the January 6 uprising and continued with a reopening that resumed personal learning in the fall before a record-breaking resurgence of COVID-19 cases spurred by the Omicron variant ended the year with a return to online operations. Administrative upheavals and worries about facilities led to GW’s biggest stories this year, with the headline of university president Thomas LeBlanc’s resignation and the news that Mark Wrighton is set to take over as interim president in early 2022.

Take a look back at some of the biggest stories at GW this year:

GW completes reopening during COVID-19 pandemic

Nadia Primer | Photographer

The university welcomed students back to campus following the reopening of the COVID-19 pandemic in late August. For some students, the semester provided the first chance to set foot on campus after 17 months of closures.

After nine months of pandemic-related shutdowns, the 2021 GW community offered a new opportunity to begin a gradual reopening.

About 1,500 students, about 15 percent of the undergraduate population, returned to campus to get housing in the spring of early 2021 under strict guidelines such as weekly COVID-19 testing and a no-visit policy that lasted until May. Officials announced plans for a gradual summer reopening in March, where some summer courses requiring a personal component would be held on campus for the first time since the eruption began.

All of the students returned to campus for the fall semester for the first time since March 2020, after officials approached a new public health protocol to limit the spread of the virus, including vaccine requirements and deadlines every two weeks.

The classes in 2020 and 2021 returned to the National Mall in October to gather for GW’s first personal initiation ceremony since 2019. Late. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Delivered the keynote address, and University President Thomas LeBlanc awarded the President’s Medal – the highest honor that the President of the GW can bestow – to Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The semester progressed with minimal coronavirus-related disruption until the spread of the Omicron variant reached DC in December. After officials registered the variant among GW community members, COVID-19 cases increased on campus, prompting officials to cancel personal exams and events for the remainder of the fall semester.

Transition to new management

Hatchet File Photo

University President LeBlanc faced increasing demands for his resignation before deciding to resign in May. Mark Wrighton replaces LeBlanc at the start of the new year with a temporary term of up to 18 months.

The GW community enters 2022 with another university president and provost from the top leaders in early 2021.

Officials announced in May that LeBlanc would resign at the end of the academic year, which came after widespread setbacks against his leadership in the months ahead. Former Provost Brian Blake, who previously worked with LeBlanc at the University of Miami, left GW in June to become president of Georgia State University.

LeBlanc faced several calls for him to resign from the members of the GW community until the end of 2020, but tthe board largely maintained its support for the president through his tenure until his announcement of retirement, and praises his efforts to lead the university through the pandemic.

Speights announced at a meeting of the faculty senate in October that Mark Wrighton, the former chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis, would take over as interim president in early 2022 and hold the job for up to 18 months.

The uprising raises concerns about national security

Zach Brien | Staff photographer

A person drips milk into the troublemaker’s eyes to alleviate the pain of pepper spray during the uprising in the US Capitol Building on 6 January.

A violent crowd of supporters of former President Donald Trump stunned the country on January 6 as it stormed the US Capitol building in an attempt to disrupt congressional certification of then-newly elected President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory, leading to five deaths. people. The uprising forced GW officials to close Foggy Bottom campus from visitors and an increased security presence on campus.

Thousands of National Guard troops were stationed in DC during the build-up to President Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, and Foggy Bottom was under the Secret Service’s security zone set up after the uprising. Armed officers and National Guard vehicles were stationed outside the Science and Engineering and Function halls, and campus residents received special GWorld cards confirming their identity and DC residency.

Students condemn anti-Semitism

Skylar Epstein | Staff photographer

About 400 students went through campus in early November, after news spread about the desecration of a Torah scroll at Tau Kappa Epsilon’s house on campus during a burglary.

Controversy arose after the Halloween weekend when members of the Tau Kappa Epsilon reported that a Torah was vandalized with detergent in the department’s townhouse on campus. The incident attracted national attention, and University President Thomas LeBlanc issued a statement condemning anti-Semitism.

Hundreds of students, led by members of the TKE, protested against anti-Semitism during a march to Kogan Plaza, where the group read from the Torah and listened to speeches condemning the acts of hatred. Students expressed hope that despite the desecration, the protest would prove that Foggy Bottom is a safe place for Jewish students.

Facility issues across campus

Danielle Towers | Assistant photo editor

Residents on Townhouse Row were instructed to evacuate their buildings in September after residents in two units reported “environmental concerns” to officials earlier in the week.

Nearly 200 residents, all members of Greek life wards, evacuated Townhouse Row in September after officials discovered water leaks that created conditions “conducive to biological growth” and mold. Several residents of Townhouse Row also visited hospitals for flu-like symptoms such as mild cough, runny nose and coughing up blood.

After the evacuation, more than 75 students and faculties across campus said they identified what appeared to be mold in dormitories and academic buildings. They said the apparent mold provided room for illness, relocation and an overflow of FixIt tickets for facility staff – many of whom were laid off in the autumn of 2020.

Students struggle with GW’s handling of Section IX cases

Grace Hromin | Senior photo editor

About 75 students marched past the starting point at the National Mall in October to protest GW’s handling of sexual assault cases.

The former president of the Student Union, Howard Brookins, resigned in January after allegations of sexual abuse triggered calls for his resignation from more than 50 current and former student leaders. In a letter, Brookins said he resigned because of his “health and so many other reasons,” but denied allegations of sexual misconduct.

A group of about 75 students protested the university’s handling of sexual assault cases in early October, urging officials to exclude alleged assailants from campus and to implement a more transparent Title IX process.

Officials announced in November that they would add new staff positions to the Title IX Office and Office of Advocacy and Support and expand training measures for the GW community in response to student concerns. Students held another demonstration on campus later this month in Kogan Plaza, where they hung t-shirts with stories of survivors of sexual assault to raise awareness and pressure officials to fulfill their planned reforms.

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