AWOL Issue 32: Spring 2023

Page 14





AWOL Magazine aims to continue pushing both ourselves and American University to be more critical of issues that deserve to be understood with nuance; to work subversively when dismantling barriers that suppress certain voices; and to love irrepressibly when it comes to serving our community. We ignite campus discussions on social, cultural and political issues. We want to make our campus more inquiring, egalitarian and socially engaged.

Our stories have an angle, which is different from having an agenda. Our reporting is impartial and fair, but our analysis is critical and argumentative.

We were independently founded by American University students in 2008. AWOL Magazine is a member of the Associated Collegiate Press and Generation Progress Voices Network. This publication has won awards at the National College Media Convention, and its writers have won awards from the Society for Professional Journalists and the College Media Association.










Bonnibelle Bishop

Grace Hagerman

Casey Bacot

Jessica Bates

Zoe Kallenekos

Kevin Becker

Leehy Gertner

Alexia Partouche, Kathryn

Gilroy and Neal Franklin

COPY EDITOR Emily Roberts



Maegan Seaman, Jack Ford and Benjamin Austin

Bailey Bish, Ela Hernandez, Elizabeth Scott, Vanessa

Levins, Emma Pierce, Grace Higgins and Caleb Ogilvie

Dear Reader,

Thank you for picking up a copy of our latest edition. This is our 32nd issue of the magazine. AWOL is proudly in its 15th year of production.

The theme of this edition is the uncertainty of the future. It’s about accepting what we may not know while still fighting to uncover the truth.

Despite not knowing what comes next, our stories reflect investigations that reveal what has been right in front of us. The cover story by Grace Higgins and Vanessa Levins focuses on the new and unfamiliar presence of Artificial Intelligence in an academic setting. We close out our magazine with details on our upcoming multimedia projects. Our podcast episode from The Hum interviews students on how they envision their lives five years from now. The latest multimedia mini-documentary focuses on the unknowns of AU’s mascot, Clawed Z. Eagle and how students feel about school spirit on campus.

Though this edition is about the future, I can’t help but reflect on the success during the past year at AWOL. At the beginning of the Fall 2022 semester, AWOL had eight members. Now, as we end the Spring 2023 semester, we have nearly 60 members with unlimited potential. I witnessed several writers become incredible journalists this year, and I look forward to reading AWOL’s future work as an alum. The success of AWOL is certain.

You may be reading this in 2023, and maybe you’ll come across this edition again in 10 years when you’re shuffling through the contents of an old college bin. Whenever you stumble across this magazine, I hope you read it and see that we write all of our stories with the intention of being critical, subversive and irrepressible.

I want to thank AWOL’s E-board for their devotion to this organization and determination to perfect this magazine. Serving as Editor-in-Chief this year has been an honor. I am incredibly grateful for the people I have met and my overall experience in this organization.

To you, the reader, I want to express my appreciation for your time. Thank you for choosing to read this edition and acknowledging our hard work in this magazine. Until we meet again.

All the best,


SPRING 2023 | ISSUE 32

DC’s work to improve traffic safety, and how advocates are pushing for change



The impact of DC’s new tipped service law




AU community discusses the impact of artificial intelligence in education

Written by Grace Higgins and Vanessa Levins


Students and staff work to create community in Black Affinity Housing

Written by Ela Hernandez


Students at AU advocate for Indigenous spaces and expanded curricula

by Neal Franklin

Teachers who assign their own textbooks could be impacting student learning







Immunocompromised students say the COVID-19 pandemic is still a concern

Written by Alexia Partouche



AU transitions services as more students are struggling with mental health

Written by Grace Hagerman


by Caleb

Imagining the future Clawing for school spirit 36 37




DC’s work to improve traffic safety, and how advocates are pushing for change

Washington, D.C., residents will receive more traffic safety protections in the coming year as the District moves to further the Vision Zero initiative; however, traffic crashes are still occurring.

The Vision Zero Initiative, which was implemented in 2015, aims to decrease traffic deaths to zero by 2024, according to the initiative’s website. The Metropolitan Police Department, MPD, said the District recorded over 30 traffic fatalities each year over the past three years.

In 2022, the District experienced 35 traffic-related fatalities and over 5,000 injuries from traffic crashes, according to MPD data. A majority of these crashes took place in Wards 7 and 8. About 54% of the victims were pedestrians, according to the Vision Zero website. The initiative’s website said four of the city’s traffic fatalities occurred in Ward 3, with an additional 228 injuries.

DDOT on their Vision Zero goals in March.

The ODCA recommended increasing traffic safety, including improving the current Traffic Safety Investigation request system, increasing transparency regarding the initiative projects and further incorporating equity commitments.

“While District leaders made a public commitment to Vision Zero, implementation was delayed by failure to establish the bureaucratic infrastructure within DDOT and failure to fully fund the Vision Zero Omnibus Amendment Act,” according to the report. “DDOT used resources to conduct proactive studies but did not systematically track these recommendations and incorporate them into a robust data framework.”

The DDOT received around $192 million in the 2023 budget, according to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in the October 2022 Vision Zero update that funds have been allocated for safety improvements at 15 of

Dooling said he ran on a platform of safe streets. According to Dooling’s website, he has continued to push for more safety measures throughout his previous role on Washington’s Multimodal Accessibility Advisory Committee.

“They have a volunteer organization to continue to advise the government and meet with the Department of Transportation, and get the disabled communities’ feedback and things like that,” Dooling said. “Like, for example, the bus lane. How can that be more accessible? How can it be easier for wheelchair users?”

The DC-FFSS website said the organization advocates for traffic legislation and better implementation of the city’s Vision Zero initiative. In February, three DC-FFSS members testified at the DDOT Performance Oversight hearing, according to the website.

“We seek to transform our grief by telling our personal stories of loss to affect change. We know, and have proof that peo-

A Vision Zero Division within the District Department of Transportation, DDOT, was first created in 2019. It was not funded until September 2020 when the City Council passed the Vision Zero Omnibus Bill that proposed stricter traffic laws and modified road infrastructure, according to the recent audit of the program. The Office of the District of Columbia Auditor, ODCA, released a report on the progress made by

the most dangerous intersections. Mayor Bowser also said there are scheduled improvements for the school crossing guard program.

Members of the Washington community are working toward greater traffic safety by advocating for better legislation, such as ANC Commissioner Robb Dooling, who uses he/they pronouns, and DC Families for Safe Streets, or DC-FFSS.

ple who walk, roll, bike and drive can safely co-exist on our streets,” according to the DC-FFSS website.

One of the DC-FFSS members who testified at the DDOT hearing was Jessica Hart, whose 5-year-old daughter was killed while biking across a crosswalk in 2021.

“We have shared our heart wrenching stories,” Hart said in her testimony. “We’ve learned traffic engineering on the fly.

“We have shared our heart wrenching stories,” Hart said in her testimony. “We’ve learned traffic engineering on the fly. We’ve attended ANC and Council meetings. It’s not enough.”

We’ve attended ANC and Council meetings. It’s not enough. My testimony today highlights the burden we put on residents to identify the changes needed, and shows how DDOT prioritizes moving cars over human safety.”

The data-driven Vision Zero program analyzes the most dangerous intersections and publishes data on a new initiative website showing where safety improvements have been made, according to the DDOT website. These improvements include crosswalk visibility enhancements, leftturn traffic calming initiatives involving traffic pylons on crosswalks and a 20-mileper-hour default speed limit on local streets, according to the initiative website.

MPD data shows that in the eight years since the Vision Zero goal was implemented, traffic fatalities have increased. There were 40 traffic fatalities in 2021–the most since 2007.

Dooling said that the Vision Zero idea first started in Europe with the goal of achieving zero traffic deaths. He said the city government did not make a big push for the idea.

“How do we measure success?” Dooling said. “How many people died in traffic, car accidents, kids who died while walking to school?”

In October 2021, a father and his two daughters suffered significant injuries after being hit by a car on National Walk to School Day, according to the Washington Post, which reported on the incident at the time.

“The number of deaths in D.C. is go-

ing up,” Dooling said. “But the good news, in 2022 it went down a little bit, but most of the years since 2014, it’s gone up. So we have succeeded a teeny tiny bit but it hasn’t gone down that much.”

Mayor Bowser said that she admits the goal of zero traffic deaths is ambitious, and she is implementing changes, according to her 2022 Vision Zero update.

In November 2022, the City Council passed the Safe Streets Amendment Act and the Safe Streets for Students Amendment Act. According to the legislation,

indicators to walk but also sounds alerting pedestrians that the walk sign is on,” Lewman said. “One negative thing: I’ve seen cars actually hit, at a slow speed, pedestrians walking across the street because they get the green arrow to turn at the same time that pedestrians get the white walk signal to walk.”

School of International Service Professor Jesse Ribot said he rides his bike to campus most days. He said he has concerns about a specific part of his commute.

“The most dangerous place near American University is descending down Massachusetts Avenue from the circle,” Ribot said. “I go down that avenue and I turn left onto Macomb Street. That left turn is totally horribly dangerous. There is not a left turn lane.”

Ribot said there is nowhere to pull over to the right, which could create a dangerous situation during his commute.

“There’s no ramp wide enough to go up onto the sidewalk in a safe way,” Ribot said. “There needs to be some kind of infrastructure put in at that corner to make it safe for bikes because, at the moment, every time I stop there, I feel like I’m gonna get run over.”

Junior Lauren Giddings, who uses she/ they pronouns, said Tenleytown is much safer in terms of traffic and pedestrian safety than the rest of the city. However, they said the two traffic circles in Tenleytown are dangerous.

these laws will prohibit drivers from turning right at red lights by 2025 and increase the size of school zones.

The laws also establish an Office of Safe Passage overseen by the mayor’s office to help protect students and make raised crosswalks the standard for any new road construction.

Senior Kiernan Lewman said she knows traffic safety policies have been implemented, but is still concerned.

“Compared to other U.S. cities, D.C. has crosswalks with not just red and white

“No one really knows how Ward Circle functions unless they’re previously familiar with it, which most drivers aren’t,” Giddings said. “It creates an unsafe environment for both drivers operating cars in the circle and the high amount of pedestrians in the area commuting to campus.”

While the streets around AU are safer than many other areas of Washington, according to the city-run Crash Dashboard, first-year student Abigail Ogden said that students can still help to increase traffic safety.

“How do we measure success?” Dooling said.
“How many people died in traffic, car accidents, kids who died while walking to school?”

“Jaywalking is such a common practice in D.C. especially with college students, but this is really compounded by the fact that cars in D.C. really don’t have any concern for pedestrians,” Ogden said.

She said she saw a car hit someone jaywalking near campus.

“Obviously there’s an issue when pedestrians are crossing when they shouldn’t but there should really be a crackdown on speeding and running lights because it simply isn’t safe with so many pedestrians in a

brand for the university and has worked to make this mode of transportation as safe as possible.

“We’ve worked with both Spin and the other area scooter companies to geofence the campus, creating slow zones and marked corrals for scooter parking with safety being at the forefront of these efforts,” Deal said.

AU and Spin have worked together to ensure compliance with the university’s Good Neighbor Guidelines.

motorcycles riding in bike lanes also create problems.

“Frankly, it should be for people on human-powered bikes, and if they’re on motor bikes, they should go slower, only because they pass and surprise people way too close, way too quickly,” Ribot said.

One way that the AU community can improve its attitude toward traffic safety is by using proper terminology, according to DC-FFSS. For example, the organization asks people to pledge to use the word

city,” Ogden said.

Assistant Vice President for Community and Internal Communication at AU Elizabeth Deal said that the university has taken steps to increase traffic safety in the area.

“The goal of AU’s Transportation Demand Management program is to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles traveling to campus,” Deal said.

Deal said the university works toward this goal by collaborating with neighbors, the District and campus partners to offer different sustainable transportation alternatives.

Deal said AU partnered with Spin, an electric bicycle-sharing and electric scooter-sharing company, as the official scooter

“Part of this scooter partnership stipulates that AU be made aware of any accidents or safety incidents on or around campus and/or involving AU community members,” Deal said.

However, Ribot said that increasing the number of electric bikes and scooters might be unsafe.

“I think the scooters are super dangerous,” Ribot said. “Anyone who rides one is stupid if they’re not using a helmet, I would say the same for bike riders.”

Ribot said that people riding scooters are often unaware of the dangers.

“They act like they own the road,” Ribot said.“They don’t. They act like they’re invincible. They’re not.”

Ribot said that motorized bikes and

“crash” rather than “accident” because traffic crashes are problems that can be fixed by changing street designs and driving practices, according to the DC-FFSS website.

As the City Council and Mayor Bowser continue to push for their Vision Zero goal, Dooling said there are other steps that individuals can take to get involved in their communities.

“Attend your ANC meetings,” Dooling said. “One more person to push for walking-friendly streets, I think that will make a difference.”

Elizabeth Scott is senior studying international relations.
“One negative thing: I’ve seen cars actually hit, at a slow speed, pedestrians walking across the street because they get the green arrow to turn at the same time that pedestrians get the white walk signal to walk,” Lewman said.

The impact of DC’s new tipped service law

On Nov. 8, 2022, Raif Ahmed was sitting on his friend’s couch and decided to glance at a New York Times poll for the results of a new ballot initiative that would change how tipped workers are compensated in Washington, D.C.

Ahmed said he had spent the weeks before the vote going door-to-door in Southeast D.C., talking to residents about their experiences and opinions on tipped worker compensation in the District. On Nov. 8, he stared at his phone, where the New York Times reported that Ward 8 voted to pass the initiative 74% to 26%.

“I really do take a lot of pride from that door knock,” Ahmed said. “It wasn’t my first time door knocking, but it was probably my favorite.”

Ahmed said he was one of many D.C. residents who celebrated the passing of Initiative 82 on Nov. 8, 2022, which would slowly eliminate the tip credit system for tipped workers in the District.

The tip credit system is commonly used in the service industry and allows employers to pay their workers below the standard minimum wage as long as their tips make up the difference, according to D.C. law. With Initiative 82, tipped workers in the District will gradually start to see

an increase in the current standard of $5.35 an hour, according to the law. By 2027, the minimum wage of tipped service workers will match the standard minimum wage of non-tipped workers, which is set to be raised to $17 an hour in July 2023, according to a public notice from the Department of Employment Services Office of Wage and Hour.

For Ryan O’Leary, an AU alumnus who proposed Initiative 82 and managed its campaign, bringing Initiative 82 to the forefront of D.C. politics was about fighting for better working conditions for tipped workers. O’Leary, who has previously worked as a tipped worker, said that Initiative 82 helps create more financial stability for tipped workers.

O’Leary said that income for many tipped workers is calculated over a twoweek basis rather than shift-by-shift, which may lead to instances where workers make sub-minimum wages throughout the week.

“You never know what you’re making week to week, or even year to year,” O’Leary said. “So even though restaurant workers oftentimes do make a lot of money by the end of the year, you’re kind of stuck in this paycheck-to-paycheck way of living.”

O’Leary said that while Initiative 82 is a step in the right direction, there is still more to be done in the coming years to improve the working conditions of tipped workers. O’Leary said it is important to establish a public pension for tipped workers and unionize tipped workers in D.C. O’Leary also said it is essential to support organizations like Justice and Restaurant Opportunity Center who investigate tipped wage reports. Despite the difficulties around organizing a workforce like tipped workers, O’Leary said organizers and activists believe there is a possibility for future progress.

“It’s been done before at the turn of the century,” O’Leary said. “It can be done again.” While supporters of Initiative 82 said the bill is set to change the lives of many tipped workers in the District, local business owners

like Geoff Tracy, owner of Chef Geoff’s, said the initiative will change the business model of local restaurants throughout the District.

Initiative 82 will require local D.C. restaurants to create a new business model under increasing labor costs. The law is set to bring new challenges to local D.C. restaurants and a new business model under increasing labor costs. Tracy said the initiative will change an already complex compensation system for tipped workers. Tracy said the system works slightly differently for every restaurant.

“The server collects their tip and they may have to tip out a busser or a bartender or a food runner,” Tracy said. “There’s some sort of system involved. We’re trying to figure out how to create, essentially, the status quo in terms of overall compensation.”

Tracy said that the change in compensation will amount to large increases in expenses throughout the next few years that will need to be passed through the consumer. While his business is working out the details of adding an automatic service charge, Tracy said this might not be the case for every local business.

“Each restaurant is going to have to come up with a unique way to offset those increased costs,” Tracy said.

Tracy said he hopes the District will pursue an education program in the upcoming years to explain to all types of consumers the change in the minimum wage in D.C., as well as support local businesses through these changes.

“I have a theory called infinite adaptability,” Tracy said. “You can plan for anything, and things are going to be different. It’s never going to be exactly the way you planned.”

For Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington – a trade association focused on representing and advocating restaurants and the food service industry –the main focus in the aftermath of Initiative 82 is supporting local businesses through these changes.

“This is a seismic shift for a restaurant, for the essential way they do business,” said Che Ruddell-Tabisola, director of government affairs and member advoca-


cy for Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, or RAMW. “The number one job is keeping restaurants open and people working.”

This shift in the restaurant model has been a concern for RAMW since 2018, when D.C. voters passed Initiative 77, an early proposal to end tip credit nearly identical to Initiative 82, according to a May 2018 blog post on RAMW’s website. The

long-term policies supporting a post-Initiative 82 industry, Ruddell-Tabisola said. One of those long-term solutions is reforming the District’s liquor liability laws and insurance costs.

In D.C., businesses that serve alcohol can be held liable for the actions of a drunken person under certain circumstances, such as serving someone underage or intoxicated, according to Title 25 of the D.C.

increased wages, and the personal impact of Initiative 82.

“You talk to enough people who have tangible issues in their life, specifically ones that hit their pocketbook or their wallet, and you connect it to people in their lives that they care about, you’re way more likely to get them involved in making change,” Ahmed said.

D.C. Council voted to repeal Initiative 77 in Oct. 2018, though they did not provide an official reason in the bill. Initiative 82 was retained by the council on Nov. 30, 2022 after the public vote, according to the D.C. Council website.

RAMW did not support Initiative 77 when it was on the ballot, according to the blog post. Initiative 77 would move restaurants to a service charge, eliminate tips, reduce staff size and end overtime, according to the blog post. Now, four years later, RAMW is focused on guiding local businesses through the changes brought on by Initiative 82, Ruddell-Tabisola said.

Ruddell-Tabisola said that for many local restaurant owners, Initiative 82 is a source of fear and uncertainty in an industry still recovering from the effects of COVID-19. To help mitigate these fears, RAMW is looking to provide resources and advocate on behalf of restaurant owners throughout the District, Ruddell-Tabisola said.

One of the main resources RAMW has provided for restaurants in the immediate aftermath of Initiative 82 is wage modeling webinars. Ruddell-Tabisola said during these webinars, local businesses learn from bookkeepers, employment lawyers and representatives from a payroll company about the projected cost impact of Initiative 82 and the different models restaurants can use to adjust to these changes.

RAMW is also focused on finding

code. The District has some of the most extensive and restrictive liquor liability laws in the area, causing D.C businesses’ liquor liability insurance to be considerably more expensive when compared to neighboring states Virginia and Maryland, Ruddell-Tabisola said.

In the coming years, RAMW hopes to advocate against the current restrictions imposed on restaurants in the District due to strict liquor liability laws, seeking to bring down insurance costs for local businesses, Ruddell-Tabisola said..

“That’s something we could advocate for and hopefully partner with policymakers on,” Ruddell-Tabisola said. “That would save folks some money in their pocket every month when they’re trying to figure out where this increased labor cost comes from.”

As the immediate impacts of Initiative 82 are set to be seen in the coming months, business owners and tipped workers alike are trying to find ways to keep money in everyone’s pockets, Ruddell-Tabisola said.

“One of the strengths of the industry is its diversity,” Ruddell-Tabisola said. “It’s an industry in a constant state of innovation.”

As for Ahmed, he said the core of Initiative 82 lies in showing support for tipped workers. Ahmed said that while door-knocking, he connected with residents from Southeast D.C. who spoke about financial hardships, their support for

Bailey Bish is a freshman studying CLEG.
“You never know what you’re making week to week, or even year to year,” O’Leary said. “So even though restaurant workers oftentimes do make a lot of money by the end of the year, you’re kind of stuck in this paycheck-to-paycheck way of living.”


A photo essay by Maegan Seaman

In late 2021, American University announced an approved campus plan that included the construction of an upcoming athletics complex. The project, titled the Meltzer Center and Sports Center Annex, is slated to be built starting at an unknown date after the 2022-2023 school year. This establishment will cause the displacement of AU’s Community Garden.

The Community Garden works to enhance well-being and sustainability on campus through communal cultivation, according to their website. The group learns and works as a collective, offering a sense of community to members and non-members alike. While the group hopes to relocate to the plot of land behind the Katzen Arts Center, the original location has seen years of labor and love within their community.

This photo essay aims to encapsulate the garden as it stands today.







AU community discusses the impact of artificial intelligence in education

American University educators grapple with how to address plagiarism after the release of ChatGPT, an Artificial Intelligence chatbot, on Nov. 22.

OpenAI’s release of Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer, or ChatGPT, a chatbot that can produce writing from a prompt, has made educators like Nathalie Japkowicz, chair of the Computer Science Department at AU, worried about how AI could affect what people write.

“I’m afraid of opening my newspaper on CNN and not knowing what I can trust, what’s reality, what’s not,” Japkowicz said. “That’s the biggest fear.”

OpenAI’s product description page says GPT models can analyze human language to complete tasks such as text generation, summarization and translation. The new program can converse with users in various ways.

“The dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer follow-up questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises and reject inappropriate requests,” according to the model’s website.

AI software development dates back to 1956 when a program specializing in mathematical proofs called Logic Theorist was released, according to a November 2022 article from History Computer, a site focused on technology and innovation. The program sparked a new wave of technological research as interest in AI and

machine learning algorithms increased. Since then, AI has expanded to the public. A Pew Research survey completed in December 2022 found that 27% of Americans say they interact with AI on a daily basis.

According to the MIT Technology Review, before OpenAI released ChatGPT, they had previous large language models, GPT-3 and GPT-2, according to a paper written by staff involved in the project. OpenAI´s website stated that the company released its newest model, GPT-4, on Mar. 14.

According to Japkowicz, a large language model is trained on large amounts of data to create associations between words and phrases, allowing it to generate text.

Japkowicz said the technology behind ChatGPT is revolutionary for her because she used to create large language models manually.

“It’s amazing, because when I got started, I was doing this kind of thing by hand, like many other people,” Japkowicz said. “So it’s like a miracle.”

ChatGPT has gained widespread attention across college campuses since its release, according to a BestColleges Survey conducted in March of 2023. Over 40% of college students report having used ChatGPT or similar AI-generated programs.

Academic professionals see ChatGPT as a possible threat to education because of its ability to produce human-like writing. Japkowicz said she’s worried that ChatGPT’s abilities and accessibility increase the potential for students to cheat on class assignments.

“I am very concerned because I know that if I give my students some code to write, they could have it generated automatically,” Japkowicz said. “[ChatGPT] doesn’t always make errors, or maybe it makes errors that I may not detect. I’m very afraid of that.”

However, Alex Schuessler, a first-year pursuing a minor in computer science, said

ChatGPT assisted coding projects he has completed in his courses by helping him correct mistakes or explain unfamiliar code. He said the program’s coding ability cannot stand alone and requires human thinking to finish the work.

“You definitely need to have some combination of a human mind mixed in,” Schuessler said. “It can help you with errors, and it can fill in gaps, but it can’t make the whole picture.”

First-year Finnley Collins said he sees ChatGPT as a useful tool in non-academic work, such as personal or professional pursuits. Recently, he used ChatGPT to help him write an email.

“I was trying to write an email to interview someone, and I didn’t know how to address them; I didn’t know how casual or how formal,” Collins said. “So I told ChatGPT to act like it was a student trying to reach out for an interview. And I critiqued what ChatGPT wrote, and melded it into my own.”

Educators at AU now have to find a way to account for ChatGPT’s capabilities, as students could use the technology to complete assignments. The university responded to concerns about the program’s educational implications by offering more support to professors, said Professor Alison Thomas, the academic integrity code administrator for the College of Arts and Sciences.

“I think the first most major thing that we started doing is talking about ChatGPT as something related to good teaching,” Thomas said. “We have a Center for Teaching Excellence that is providing guidance, care and support


for faculty members who are wondering how to change the way they assess student abilities, the way they design their course materials, things like that.”

AU is also looking to rewrite the current Academic Integrity Code based on technological developments, Thomas said. She said the code was implemented in 2007 – before the widespread use of handheld devices and changes to the AU curriculum. The university last updated the code in 2020.

“The ideas that we’ll be pursuing are focused on what a new academic integrity system at AU would look like, what it should look like, given the commitments we’ve made to the educational models, like Habits of Mind that you see in AU Core,” Thomas said.

Provost and Chief Academic Officer Peter Starr said AU wants the new code to be a collaborative effort between students, faculty and administration.

“It would be hard to underestimate the extent to which we want the ultimate code to be the product of a university-wide dialogue because students, faculty and administrators all have a vested interest in a code that is as clear as can possibly be,” Starr said.

As the administration works to create a code that considers new developments in technology, AU faculty members like Naomi Baron, professor emerita of world languages and cultures, are evaluating ChatGPT’s abilities. Baron said ChatGPT

Robert Corrizo, a computer sci ence professor who researches machine-generated text, said that ChatGPT differs from its AI pre decessors.

“ChatGPT’s conversation al capabilities are unparalleled with prior attempts,” Corrizo said. “That’s why it’s so con vincing. And it’s gaining so much traction since their re sponses are really articulate, realistic and useful.”

Although it has more advanced conversational skills, Corrizo said there are linguistic indicators that make machine-generated text easy to identify.

“ChatGPT-generated text seems very realistic and good at first sight,” Corrizo said. “Then when you check all these indicators that define the richness of the language – the repeti tiveness, the emotional semantics the punc tuation marks – it’s evident the human lan guage is much richer. So you can tell apart machine-generated from human-generated quite easily.”

Mark Nelson, a computer science professor with a research focus on artificial intelligence, said the technology combines language and artificial neuron signals that quickly gather large amounts of information from the internet to predict the most appropriate and effective words on a topic.

Nelson said. He said ChatGPT has an “almost bureaucratic style” in which it lectures users if they want it to output something it considers controversial.

“If you ask things like, ‘who is the most overrated philosopher?’ it will say something like ‘Well, I don’t have opinions on this, but also, you can’t really say that someone’s overrated or not because people have different strengths,’” Nelson said.

Nelson also said he explored how the program would respond to academic questions requiring more critical thinking. He input several questions from a recent exam his students took, looking to see if ChatGPT would answer accurately. The results were unimpressive, Nelson said.

“It produced a paragraph of text that was sort of incompetent,” Nelson said. “It tends to ramble. The questions that it tends to do well at are ones that are fairly vague and just require sort of an approximate answer.”

produces responses that lack errors, differentiating it from human language and making it more detectable as a chatbot.

“You’ll never get a spelling error,” Baron said. “You don’t see a grammatical error. You don’t see a punctuation error. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

Baron said that ChatGPT can form perfect sentences, but it doesn’t deliver perfect writing because the program lacks creativity.

“It is explicitly engineered to be safe and boring so it is not harmful,” Baron said.

OpenAI’s description of the model claims the company has accounted for potential misuse and has “made efforts to make the model refuse inappropriate requests.” However, the developers said they are still improving the program’s response to “harmful instructions” that may encourage discriminatory behavior. Moderation API, a tool that prevents the program from outputting unsafe content, has allowed OpenAI to better regulate the program’s replies to users.

ChatGPT also cannot offer opinions,

Because ChatGPT is a new program, professors still have unanswered questions. Nelson said he is unsure whether it will influence how students learn since they can find the information needed to “take shortcuts” on assignments on Google and other software. Nelson said it remains unclear whether or not the program will even prove useful for students.

But Japkowicz said she believes ChatGPT has very dangerous implications that expand beyond education.

Some AI software, like The Next Rembrandt, can create art by analyzing previous paintings. Japkowicz said she worries about

“It can help you with errors and it can fill in gaps, but it can’t make the whole picture,” Schuessler said.

losing the human component of creativity if artistry, like Motzart’s songwriting, for example, were traded for AI programs.

“I’m listening to a human being who poured his heart into what he wrote,” Japkowicz said. “And then, well, here I have very pretty music, but it doesn’t mean anything.”

Baron said she’s more worried about the reaction of educational systems to the technology than ChatGPT itself.

“My biggest concern is that we’re pan-

als should acknowledge the program’s benefits for students, especially for encouraging creativity.

“A lot of people have writer’s block,” Baron said. “So to get started, there’s nothing wrong with [using ChatGPT]. It’s a problem of whether you let the tool do all the writing as opposed to just getting some ideas.”

Baron said she has heard her colleagues consider whether they could use the program within writing courses as a

you don’t have excellent English articulation skills, it can really help to rephrase,” Corrizo said. “The initial content is yours, but ChatGPT is just helping you rephrase it, putting it in a way that makes sense from an English perspective. And so that is an excellent and legitimate use.”

Baron said ChatGPT requires more observation before educators can draw conclusions about its place in academia.

“I mean, it’s going to take months to figure out what are the things that might

icking, and we’re panicking about plagiarism,” Baron said. “Plagiarism is not new. Cheating is not new. This is just another way. So what educators need to do is slow down.”

As professors figure out how ChatGPT will affect students in the classroom, Baron said they have discussed how to adapt to the program. She said professors have explored ideas to shift toward group-oriented work, multimedia projects or assignments that prompt students to answer questions that require critical thinking.

Baron also said academic profession-

method of having students recognize the difference between good and poor writing.

“A lot of people have talked about getting ChatGPT to write an essay and then have students critique it, talk it through together to say, what’s good, what’s bad,” Baron said. “And you start thinking about style, you start thinking about grammar, you start thinking about what would be a more interesting word here.”

Corrizo said he sees another value in ChatGPT for students who speak English as a second language.

“If you’re asked to write an essay, and

actually be useful,” Baron said. “And I’m sure we’ll find some things. But right now we’re grasping at straws.”

Grace Higgins is a freshman studying political science.

Vanessa Levins is a freshman studying journalism.

“My biggest concern is that we’re panicking, and we’re panicking about plagiarism,” Baron said. “Plagiarism is not new. Cheating is not new. This is just another way. So what educators need to do is slow down.”
Members of AWOL’s staff asked ChatGPT Mark Nelson’s suggested question. This is what it produced.

Students and staff work to create community in Black Affinity Housing

Students within American University Black Affinity Housing said that the program is essential for fostering community among Black students, but there is room for improvement.

Junior Michael Brown lived in Black Affinity Housing during the 2021-2022 school year. He said it provides a space for students to feel comfortable and safe in college.

“As a Black person myself, the fear, I think, for any person who’s not white themselves, coming to a predominant white institution is definitely a little scary, especially just going to college in general,” Brown said. “So having these spaces like Black community housing exist, and being open to Black students, I think is incredibly helpful.”

Black Affinity Housing started in the Fall of 2021, according to the Housing & Residence Life website. As the program, located in Roper Hall, is finishing its second year, students in the program say they recognize what is essential to the program, how issues like accessibility and facilities could be improved on and how the program could be expanded.

Director for the Center for Diversity and Inclusion Robin Adams said Black Affinity Housing aims to focus on students’ voices and what they wished for the housing community.

“Affinity housing was identified as an initiative by students. So it was very student driven, it’s been student centered,” Adams said. “And it has been a labor of love for our student committee members of our student communities who are now alumni.”

According to a 2020 AWOL article, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at AU helped create Black Affinity Housing. Adams said their goal was to create an environment where Black students could find other students with similar experiences.

“We are looking for meaningful relationships and a way to connect with fellow community members,” Adams said. “And really, that affinity housing would be a

space for students to connect across identity and community and the things that were important to them.”

Dialogue and Diversity Programs Community Director Kendall Tate said Black Affinity Housing holds cultural events for the approximately 50 students who live in Roper Hall. The events are used to promote care and embrace your true self, Tate said.

Tate said some of the events that are held for students at Roper Hall include those that target stress and are strategically held during midterm season.

“We partnered with the Center for Wellbeing and Psychological Services to offer a Black self care workshop last semester,” Tate said. “We also do things with some intention as our students go through midterms, such as opening a tab at The Bridge for them to be able to get a free item of their choice during midterms to better support them.”

Associate Director for Student Equity, Access and Retention with CDI Quintenilla Merriweather said that one of the important factors within Black Affinity Housing is the ability to be your authentic self in a world where that is not common for Black people.

“Within the fabric of our BIPOC culture, this idea of code switching comes up

where you have to switch up how you act in certain spaces,” Merriweather said. “The ability to have a home that you cultivate in which you don’t have to constantly think how am I going to show up in this space, in which you can be authentic.”

Both Brown and Junior Gifty Boanoh said Black Affinity Housing has allowed black students to feel comfortable. However, Boanoh said factors still need to be addressed to better support the community.

“The oven was just fixed, it was broken since last year,” said Boanoh, current Black Affinity Housing resident and former resident assistant. “With the resources AU has, it seems almost not understandable as to why something as simple as the oven door can’t be fixed, especially in a space where there is only one facility in the entire building.”

Brown said accessibility for residents in Roper Hall is very limited since there are no elevators in the two-story hall. Boanoh said that it was difficult to get down to the first floor when she lived on the second floor with a leg injury.

“There was a time where there was a fire drill,” Boanoh said. “You always take the fire alarm seriously, so I was literally sitting down and rolling down the steps. And then as soon as I got down it was done.”


Accessibility has been a point taken into consideration in Roper Hall, Tate said. There are accommodations made to those who may need it before moving in, and also within the facility itself, Tate said.

“Roper Hall does have ADA accessible interior and exterior entry doors, as well as ADA restrooms to make it fully more accessible,” Tate said.

However, for those who live on the second floor and happen to get injured, there are no accommodations, especially related to the use of bathrooms. Boanoh said the only support is through friends.

“My foot was stuck in between the stalls,” Boanoh said. “I had to grab onto

Adams said that the university has objectives to improve Black Affinity Housing.

“Some of the things that we have talked about was a stronger advisory group, as a whole, for affinity initiatives,” Adams said. “Looking at ways by which we can also engage affinity housing and community. And then we also have talked about as affinity housing continues to grow, where it should be located.”

Adams said that AU aims to create similar spaces for other minorities, given the success of Black Affinity Housing.

“Within the broad vision, it was for us to have more and is for us to have more affinity housing,” Adams said. “However,

versy about Black Affinity spaces, such as at California State Los Angeles, where some criticized Black Affinity Housing, calling it “segregated housing.”

“Those who have issues with specific spaces being made for Black people, people of color, nothing has been taken away from you,” Brown said. “But we’re now offering this thing to Black students who have never gotten the same opportunity, where more often than not those who are complaining about it, they’ve always had some spaces for themselves. Especially when it’s one of the smallest dorms on campus.”

Boanoh said that because society states white as the norm, Black people must reevaluate how they behave and how the majority might perceive it.

“A lot of Black students have to be hypervigilant, how they walk, how they maneuver in white spaces,” Boanoh said. “Because it can be misconstrued. And so, Black people don’t have the privilege to not think about these things. If someone’s response is that [Black Affinity Housing] is controversial, they should be told that they are controversial. Because if you don’t make a choice to help people who need help, then truthfully, how woke are you?”

something because my leg wouldn’t bend because of the cast.”

Boanoh said that a possible solution could be renovating certain parts of Roper Hall, as the university is renovating other dorms.

“Considering the fact that [the university] is renovating Leonard Hall, given the repairs needed, I don’t think it would take as much resources to renovate Roper Hall,” Boanoh said.

ensuring the well being of the first affinity house as well as our student community across the board.”

Brown said the creation of Black Affinity Housing is a great step toward creating diverse environments for other groups.

“If there are other diverse groups, we definitely need that type of community,” Brown said. “I think it’s 100% necessary. And if it starts with us, I’m happy about it.”

There has been some national contro-

Ela Hernandez is a sophomore studying international studies.
“Those who have issues with specific spaces being made for Black people, people of color, nothing has been taken away from you,” Brown said.


Students at AU advocate for Indigenous spaces and expanded curricula

When Sheridan Johnson was choosing a college, she said her parents assured her there would be a place for her to find community.

Johnson has Navajo, Cherokee and Lumbee heritage and grew up in North Carolina, where she said many community members live. However, at American University, she said she discovered that finding a community was more difficult than her parents made it sound.

“It’s like AU didn’t expect to have Native students,” Johnson said. “So they were like, ‘Why do we need to have a Native space, if we don’t have any?’”

The Indigenous population at the university was under 1% in 2020, according to Data USA, which tracks college statistics. American Indians and Alaska Natives, as they are listed in the census, make up 1.3% of the U.S. population, according to 2020 U.S. Census Bureau data.

AU students worked to create more Indigenous spaces on campus this year by hosting events and engaging with the university about Indigenous inclusion in class curricula, recruitment and land acknowledgment statements.

The land AU currently owns used to be inhabited by Indigenous people. AU and most of Washington are located on Nacotchtank (Anacostan) and Piscataway land, according to a map created by Native Land Digital, a Canadian-based nonprofit focused on Indigenous ways of knowing. This has led Indigenous students to seek more affinity spaces on campus.

Johnson is the director of the Indigenous Initiative on campus, which serves as a programming hub for Indigenous clubs and activities, and founded the Native American/Indigenous Student Association, or NAISA, an affinity group that started in the Spring 2023 semester.

“I’m hoping for at least my affinity group to just provide a space for people

Johnson also said that some efforts to include Indigenous topics in first-year courses like AU Experience, or AUx, have been effective but said there are still opportunities to learn about indigeneity in majors like American Studies. As director of the Indigenous Initiative, Johnson is involved in coordinating events focused on Indigenous topics.

The Indigenous Initiative is part of the School of International Service’s Undergraduate Council. Olivia Olson, who uses she/they pronouns, founded the initiative after seeing a campus-wide gap in programming centered around Indigenous students. Olson then said they learned from other initiatives, like Students for Change, to create and operate the initiative.

professors, an awareness of how traumatizing some of these teachings can be for Indigenous students specifically,” Olson said.

Students pursuing other degrees also felt that indigeneity was undermined in the classroom. Bruce Leal, the president of the Native American Law Students Association at the Washington College of Law, is Native Hawaiian and originally from Guam. In 2020, U.S. Census Bureau data counted more than half of Guam’s population as part of its “Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander” category. That includes a group of more than 50,000 indigenous persons known as Chamorro.

Leal said his law courses tend to ignore subjects like tribal law to focus on state and federal law.

Johnson is the current director of the initiative and Olson was the director for the Fall 2022 semester.

The Indigenous Initiative hosted events during the Fall 2022 semester, including the unveiling of the “I Am On Native Land” mural at The Bridge cafe, an on-campus coffee shop. The initiative also hosted a Settler-Colonial Healing Circle to discuss frustrations members have about living under settler-colonial regimes, according to the organization’s Instagram.

Olson said that some majors, like political science, can be white-dominated and should do more to include other scholars who use a decolonial lens. Olson’s major is within the School of International Service

“Specifically with international service, I feel like it’s important to recognize

“It’s entirely incorrect and inappropriate to prioritize Indigenous indigeneity while completely dismissing Indigenous sovereignty,” Leal said.

Law professor Ezra Rosser has taught Federal Indian Law at AU Washington College of Law, WCL, and joined the department in 2006. Rosser said he has seen several students become inspired by Federal Indian Law and incorporate it into their careers.

“The law doesn’t apply in the same way as it does in other areas of law,” Rosser said. “Understanding that there is a third sovereign, I think makes it a valuable class for students.”

Rosser said that other schools closer to places with large Indigenous populations are likely to attract Native American stu-

“It’s entirely incorrect and inappropriate to prioritize Indigenous indigeneity while completely dismissing Indigenous sovereignty,” Leal said.

school, other WCL students are still interested in Indigenous law topics.

“I do think that a school like American, in order to attract Native students, has to not be a passive, but has to be an active admissions office,” Rosser said. “And I know we are, admissions officers go to locations that are serving underrepresented groups already. And trying to reach those groups is a challenge.”

Amanda Taylor, the assistant vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at AU, said that recruitment has been a topic she has discussed with others within the university.

“When I think about recruitment I think about students, faculty and staff actually as all sorts of key contributors to our community,” Taylor said. “So that’s essential, we have certainly been in conversations with our admissions, our undergrad admissions team around that.”

On Nov. 14, 2022, AU hosted the Summit on Fostering Indigenous Spaces, which aimed to address issues related to curriculum development, campus culture and land acknowledgment statements.

Taylor said she attended the event and that the summit was meant to gather broader opinions on topics like land acknowledgment. She also used the summit to clarify some of the university’s questions.

“We also talked about if we were to do a land acknowledgment, what are you actually acknowledging, right?” Taylor said. “Is it the land? Is it the people? Is it the treaties that have governed the land?”

After the summit, Taylor said people had differing opinions and that part of her plans for the Spring 2023 semester involve reaching back out to the faculty, staff and students who participated in the summit to try and act on the issues discussed.

In an April 7 email, Taylor said the group planned to meet again the week of April 10 to discuss takeaways from the summit.

Emily Bass said she helped to organize the summit when she was president of Student Advocates for Native Communities, an organization that is no longer active. She said that the previous efforts of the university were also a topic of discussion.

Bass said that AU has previously had programs that supported Indigenous stu

internships and learning opportunities for Indigenous people but closed due to funding issues in late 2016, according to the program’s archived website.

“In the past, we’ve had stuff like WINS, and AU used to hold an annual powwow that brought tribes from all around the region and when WINS went away, that went away,” Bass said. “So AU definitely has the capacity for it. I think it’s just funding now.”

Bass said she has pushed AU to participate more actively in Indigenous issues. She also participated in the Sovereignty and Stewardship Alternative Break program, which wrote an open letter published in The Eagle in March 2022. Bass said the letter partially inspired the summit.

The letter asked for a land acknowledgment from the university and for them to pay the Piscataway Conoy tribe for their land use.

“The reason we included it is because it was one of the only asks that the Piscataway Conoy tribe, and specifically the Cedarville band, has as a constant ask from settlers,” Bass said.

While the university does not have a land acknowledgment statement, the School of Education published a statement in the Summer of 2020 that said the school is on the traditional territory of Nacotchtank, Anacostan and Piscataway land.

Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, the dean of the School of Education, said in an interview that she worked to develop the statement after attending a conference with a

part of our history and a commitment to decolonize our thoughts and decolonize our curriculum,” Holcomb-McCoy said.

Holcomb-McCoy also said it is important to be anti-racist and inclusive through the school’s actions to avoid being performative.

“That’s why we need to be intentional about our admissions of students from diverse groups, particularly Indigenous people, that we acknowledge the history in our classes and our curriculum,” Holcomb-McCoy said. “It should come up. It should be taught.”

Johnson said she plans to advocate for making AU a more friendly place for Native students, whether through NAISA, the Indigenous Initiative or communication with administrators.

“That’s what I’m trying to bring and I hope it comes to at least half of what I expect,” Johnson said. “Because I just want for the future to be, like AU to be, an inclusive space for Natives who want to come here.”

Neal Franklin is a sophomore studying foreign language and communications.

Teachers who assign their own textbooks could be impacting student learning

Amid rising textbook prices, students have ethical concerns about professors requiring their own textbooks for classes.

Lane Thimmesch, a first-year International Studies major, said she worries that the increasing costs of textbooks may lead to inequity in education. All students enrolled in AU’s School of International Services, like Thimmesch, must reach the

student without financial aid at AU pays $26,535 a semester for tuition alone. That price does not include meal plans, housing, additional fees for the sports centers, the U-Pass program, technology or other activities.

“I think especially when a part of your grade lies in you being able to purchase the textbook, I think it’s really inequitable,” Thimmesch said. “I just think that’s an accessibility issue.”

From 1977 to 2015, textbook prices

enrolled college students were required to purchase a textbook written by the course professor themselves, according to a 2019 study conducted by Insider and Barnes and Noble College Insight.

The expectation to purchase textbooks written by their professors has led to ethical concerns and frustration among students. Steven Blum, a senior majoring in international studies, said he felt like professors assigning their own textbooks was usually unnecessary.

intermediate II level of a language to graduate. For students starting at the first level, this takes four semesters. One of Thimmesch’s online textbooks, only available for two semesters, cost her $180.

“Essentially, you can’t do the class, learn or follow along with what’s happening if you can’t pay for it, which to me is crazy,” Thimmesch said. “It’s not even an elective class, you have to do it to get your degree.”

rose by 1,041% – over three times the rate of inflation – faster than any other consumer product, according to a study conducted in 2014 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

AU Assistant Professor of Government Chris Edelson said students are at the forefront of his decision-making process regarding textbooks.

“The first thing I think when you say textbooks, I think of students and that some textbooks are very expensive,” Edelson said.

Edelson said he curated his courses throughout his 14 years at AU. In his earlier classes, he assigned a collection of works and articles he had written himself. However, in recent years, he combined the class readings into a textbook for his course.

“Look, this is a book I wrote, and I use it because it’s useful to me,” Edelson said. “This is nothing I’m doing as a money making venture.”

Nearly 70% of actively

“It seems cheap and sleazy,” Blum said.

Professors requiring their own textbooks has raised questions for Blum about the quality of education and the need to attend classes. Blum is currently in a class where the professor assigns a textbook that they wrote themselves. The professor named the course after the book, and the chapters directly coincide with the syllabus class schedule.

“You can take the class or read the book and get the same exact experience and knowledge,” Blum said.

Blum also said that professors who require their own textbooks ensure sales for their work.

“To go and use that, like teach a class to try and make money off of your own book and profit off of the class you’re teaching just doesn’t seem ethical,” Blum said.

Blum said he felt there is a space for professors’ work in the classroom, but this specific medium is not working for all students.

“You’re selling your own book, to promote it, and then teach your class based on the book that you wrote, I get that you think

“I think especially when a part of your grade lies in you being able to purchase the textbook, I think it’s really inequitable,” Thimmesch said.

it’s a great book,” Blum said. “But it just seems messed up.”

Other professors who require their own textbooks for class did not respond to requests for comment. However, Edelson said he makes a minimal profit from sales.

“I get approximately $1 for each book that is sold, so it’s not something that’s like a cashing in kind of thing,” Edelson said.

Edelson said he has nev er made purchasing his text book a requirement to take his class. His books have al ways been available to students through the university library. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and online learning, Edelson said he has found new ways to ensure the availability of his textbooks.

“During the pandemic, I realized that they both are available as e-books,” Edelson said. “So now when I assign them, I’d say you can buy them if you want to, you don’t have to.”

Edelson said course reserves have been especially beneficial while ensuring equity in his classroom.

According to the university website, the course reserves program started in 2009 as a way to keep down textbook costs by purchasing copies that students can share. Since then, it has grown into a much more comprehensive university resource. Donna Femenella, AU’s course reserves coordinator, said the course reserves service provides faculty a place to make course readings available to students.

students, Femenella said.

“Previously, it kind of had just been faculty submitting their requests to us and then us just placing those,” Femenella said. “But we’ve really attempted to kind of be more proactive by going to the campus store and asking what the required texts are from them, and then placing those required texts on reserves.”

While there has been natural growth, Femenella said course reserves have also had to adapt to the needs of the university abruptly.

“With the onset of the pandemic we really shifted to e-books,” Femenella said. “There was a need at that point, and then we continued doing that and made that kind of a priority so as to provide more accessible options to students. It’s like taking a little bit more of a proactive approach.”

The course reserves program under-

serves intends to expand on their program.

“We’re trying to have it so that we do have every required textbook available to students as another option for them,” Femenella said. “Course reserves is just kind of reaching out more and then therefore providing as many options as we can to help students.”

Despite course reserves’ growth and some professors’ actions, textbook costs still impact students.

A 2018 survey conducted by Florida Virtual Campus revealed that because of high textbook prices, 64% of students did not purchase the required textbook, 23% dropped a course, 36% earned a poor grade and 41% chose not to take a specific course.

Blum said he avoids buying textbooks and that the price impacts students’ ability to learn.

“I don’t know the last time I bought a textbook,” Blum said. “If it’s a textbook that’s quintessential and is required for the course and you don’t have access to it or you can’t get it, then that’s absolutely a disadvantage and not equitable.”

Thimmesch said it is important to promote accessibility to create a conducive educational environment.

ther required or optional readings, we also provide access to book chapters or articles. So it’s just a way to streamline that process for you all to have access to your course readings.”

Throughout the program’s 14-year history, course reserves have worked to grow and cater its selection to the needs

stands its role in ensuring equity across the university and the importance of equity to students, Femenella said.

“We’ve also in that kind of space of understanding costs, really tried to push more physical copies if we can’t get it as an e-book,” Femenella said. “So it’s not just one copy. So it does allow for students to have more options with it. So for the most part, I believe that there’s been quite a lot of great success with that and students seem to appreciate it.”

“It should be an equal playing field and everything is equitable,” Thimmesch said. “It’s unrealistic to expect that every single student will be immediately able to make that payment to take your class.”

“What we really have attempted to do is expand upon the amount of resources that we place on reserves,” said Femenella. “We not only do the textbooks that are ei-
Casey Bacot is a junior studying journalism and political science. Kevin Becker is a junior studying political science.
“It seems cheap and sleazy,” Blum said.


The Katzen Art Center brings in local and international artists

The American University Museum’s spring exhibit, located at the Katzen Arts Center, attracted students during the Spring 2023 semester with a variety of nontraditional art.

Each museum floor focuses on a different exhibit. The first floor displays photography from Gail Rebhan and a collection from artists across the District. The second floor includes art from the winners of the Tarwick Prize, which has honored artists from the metropolitan area for 20 years. The third floor is a collection of Aboriginal Australian art.

Photos by Jack Ford Article by Emma Pierce

The exhibition’s focus on different art forms reflects the museum’s mission to highlight international, political and local art, according to the Director and Curator of the AU Museum Jack Rasmussen. He said the museum’s mission is derived from AU’s commitment to international relations and politics.

“The mission of the museum is basically the idea that we are interested in international contemporary art because we have a strong School of International Service,” Rasmussen said. “We also show politically and socially engaged art.”

The museum’s mission guides the exhibits’ planning, which Rasmussen said begins two years in advance. The process begins with an idea from an artist or curator. Then, the museum will connect a curator and an artist to start working on an exhibit. Rasmussen said the museum connects with international curators, finds contemporary political art and supports D.C. artists.

Linh Duong is a first-year student at AU majoring in International Studies but has taken AU art classes. She said the spring exhibit’s unique art showed her that not all art needs to be in traditional styles.

“As an art student myself, I always have a huge imagination, but I feel like a lot of the art teachers dismissed it and taught us to abide by traditional forms of art,” Duong said. “Seeing this exhibition really proved that it is possible to think bigger and make those imaginations come to life.”

Duong said she attended the fall exhibition last semester as well as the new spring exhibition. The variety in pieces, from the Indigenous and Asian artists to the canvas size in this semester’s exhibits, was something she had not seen much before.

“I think this exhibition really pushed me out of my comfort zone to think more broadly,” Duong said.

When AU built the Katzen Art Center 18 years ago, it designed the building to be the face of the university and serve the surrounding community, Rasmussen said. Now, Rasmussen said the museum is trying to shift its efforts toward the campus to engage with students and professors.

Despite wanting to have events to involve people on campus, the museum has also struggled to work with students, Rasmussen said.

“The biggest, most significant change has been a shift towards the campus,” Rasmussen said. “And, for some reason, it’s very, very, challenging to involve the campus.”

Rasmussen said the museum involves student artists by getting students to host their own events and installations.

“We really, really, want to involve the students,” Rasmussen said. Jack Ford is a senior studing journalism and political science.

Emma Pierce is a freshman studying CLEG.

Immunocompromised students say the COVID-19 pandemic is still a concern

Katherine Greenstein is used to being sick.

They’ve been chronically ill their whole life and say they’re well acquainted with immune-related health issues. They’re a frequent visitor to their urgent care for upper respiratory conditions and are among the few who have received the pneumonia vaccine, which is only given out to adults under 65 years old if they experience a medical condition that puts them at risk,

the pandemic is over.

“I think that saying the pandemic is over is saying like the flu is over,” ScholesYoung said. “I think that we weren’t effective at controlling it, and so it has become endemic.”

While infection rates have decreased in the past year, COVID-19 was the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. in January 2023, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been significant changes in how the pandemic is

isolate themselves in their dorm rooms, according to the university’s COVID-19 guide for residential students. The guide explained that while isolating, students are expected to wear masks inside and outside their rooms but can leave to pick up food, do laundry and use communal bathrooms. Roommates of those sick with COVID-19 are not required to isolate but are encouraged to mask and are unable to request a temporary room change to avoid possible exposure, according to the guide.

According to a university memo-

according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, being sick took on a new meaning for Greenstein when the COVID-19 pandemic started.

“I remember hearing a kid who couldn’t have been older than 15 or 16 say, ‘Oh, it’s only the sick and elderly who are going to die,’” Greenstein said. “I had never fully had that hit me yet where I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m the sick.’”

Three years after the pandemic’s start, Greenstein, now a junior, is one of the many immunocompromised American University students who say the coronavirus is an ongoing concern for them.

Izzy Scholes-Young, the treasurer of AU’s Disabled Student Union, had COVID-19 for the second time at the start of 2023. Scholes-Young, who is on immunosuppressant medication to treat their autoimmune disorder, said that while the risks

handled on a federal and local level. The Biden administration announced in January that it plans to allow COVID-19’s public health emergency status to expire on May 11, and D.C. ended its free test distribution program in February, according to a statement from the Executive Office of the President.

AU followed similar protocols to the White House. The start of the 2022-2023 school year marked major shifts in the university’s handling of the pandemic. AU stopped conducting surveillance testing of the community and switched to voluntary testing, expecting students would test should they experience symptoms or come in contact with someone who tests positive, according to a university memorandum released August 2022.

Previously, if students living on campus tested positive, they were relocated to a local hotel to isolate. During the 2022 to 2023 school year, students are expected to

randum, AU also started the fall 2022 semester with a masking requirement inside classrooms, but it dropped its mandate in September. The decision was made based on community feedback and the university’s other ongoing safety efforts, including a reported 98% vaccination rate and on-campus PCR testing, according to the memorandum.

AU COVID-19 precautions continue to decrease. The university announced in an email to the AU community on March 7 that it would no longer require COVID-19 vaccinations or booster shots after the Spring 2023 semester ends. They will also stop offering PCR tests on campus, and rapid tests will be available for free.

Scholes-Young said they were frustrated by the easing of COVID-19 precautions on all levels and felt that it made it more difficult for individuals to take protective measures.

“We encourage our faculty and staff

“Community pressure is on the institutions who have made it a lot more inconvenient and a lot less accessible to do the sorts of things that keep other people safe,” Scholes-Young said.

members to work and support our students as we collectively navigate the endemic phase,” said Jasmine Pelaez, the internal communication manager for the Office of Communications and Marketing. Pelaez cited the university’s disability accommodation process, which allows students to request academic and housing accommodations based on their needs.

Scholes-Young said that even with accommodations, immunocompromised students might still feel pressure to ignore their needs. Scholes-Young has flexible attendance accommodations in order to allow them enough time to recover from illness fully, but they said some professors still expect them to meet attendance requirements.

Because of the pressure, ScholesYoung said they weren’t surprised to see so many students, immunocompromised or otherwise, drop protective measures. In some cases, they said they even felt the pressure to unmask.

“Community pressure is on the institutions who have made it a lot more inconvenient and a lot less accessible to do the sorts of things that keep other people safe,” Scholes-Young said. “I don’t fault individuals who feel like, ‘The pandemic is over and I don’t need to wear a mask anymore,’ because that’s the message that you’re getting from all levels.”

Sophomore Beck Hassen felt that policy changes were motivated by public opinion instead of the other way around. Hassen said he felt like the university maintained mask mandates because students were willing to wear masks rather than because it was necessary based on the numbers.

“I don’t think it’s much less of a threat than it was a year ago,” Hassen said. “I just

really affect me that bad if I got it, nor anybody in my family or anybody that I was around,” Hassen said. “For me that was worth forgoing the inconvenience of having to wear one all the time.”

Although some students may feel safe to unmask, others, like Caroline Arnette, felt that students should be keeping in mind the safety of everyone. Arnette, a junior studying public health who is immunocompromised, said the lack of masking among the student body was frustrating and represented a mismatch in the community’s values and actions.

“Don’t get me wrong, I believe in a community of care,” Arnette said. “But it’s ironic when you, a relatively privileged, abled person, in general, you talk about a community of care, while sneezing into your elbow without a mask on, and I’m sitting next to you.”

Arnette said she felt like other students don’t consider their actions’ impact on the disabled and immunocompromised students around them.

“I don’t assume that everyone who celebrated the end of masking is ableist and wants me to get sick and wants me to die,” Arnette said. “I don’t believe that. I think they don’t even consider me in the equation. And that also hurts.”

Henry Jeanneret, president of the Disabled Student Union, said that students could be more thoughtful when approaching COVID-19 precautions, including masking.

“It’s a way to show disabled people like, ‘Hey, I recognize you and I value your life,’” Jeanneret said. “’I don’t see you as disposable.’”

keep his immunocompromised friends safe.

“The big thing is, I can take a break from wearing a mask,” Jeanneret said. “My friends can’t take a break from being immunocompromised.”

As for Greenstein, they’re trying to remain optimistic. They spent the past school year abroad in Northern Ireland to escape a version of AU they described as “almost war-torn” from COVID-19 debates. Greenstein said they are hopeful that for their senior year, they will return to a community at AU that works together to keep at-risk students safe. But they said they’re worried AU hasn’t changed enough.

“I want to come back to somewhere that feels as good as it did when I toured as a high school junior and fell in love,” Greenstein said. “I want to come back to the same place I fell in love with, and I just worry that I’m going to come back and that love is gone.”

think public opinion changed a lot.”

Hassen said he feels safe to unmask because he feels that new treatments and testing options have made it so that he and the people he’s around wouldn’t be severely effected by COVID-19.

“I realized that the disease wouldn’t

Jeanneret, who is not immunocompromised, said that other students should be listening to disabled students and taking steps to protect them, even when it’s inconvenient. Jeanneret doesn’t like wearing masks because they trigger his sensory issues, but he said he wears one anyway to

Alexia Partouche is a sophomore studying journalism.
“The big thing is, I can take a break from wearing a mask,” Jeanneret said. “My friends can’t take a break from being immunocompromised.”


AU transitions services as more students are struggling with mental health

American University students have sought out more campus therapy services than ever this academic year, Executive Director of the Counseling Center Jeffrey Volkmann said. AU provides free therapy services to all students enrolled in their programs, including undergraduate, graduate and law students.

According to a 2017 study by the American Psychological Association, 61% of college students nationwide seek counseling for various reasons, including anxiety and depression.

The APA said that according to a Healthy Minds Study, 60% of college students in the United States during the 20202021 academic year had at least one mental health problem. The study analyzed data from 323 campuses in the country.

In the Fall 2022 semester, AU launched the Well-Being Center to combine two separate centers: the Counseling Center and the Health Promotion and Advocacy Center. According to the university website, AU established the center to accommodate students’ needs more effectively.

Sophomore Cheryl Tull used traditional therapy services at AU in the spring semester of her first year. She said she had a positive experience.

“I really enjoyed it, the person I had, we were really able to connect,” Tull said. “And she helped me through a lot of different things. Even more than what I initially came there for. She really put an emphasis on, I could talk to her about anything. And that felt really welcoming.”

As of the Spring 2023 semester, the center has 11 full-time therapists, Volkmann said. There are also four doctoral interns and two postdoctoral fellows.

Tull said she feels like the center doesn’t have enough employees.

“I just wish there was like, more people that could work with the students,” Tull said. “It always felt like, and from what she told me, it always felt like they were working with one hand tied behind their backs.”

According to Assistant Vice President for Community and Internal Communication Elizabeth Deal, AU is exceeding the standard regarding personal growth through counseling services.

Volkmann said anxiety is the number one mental health issue AU students struggle with. According to a Center for Clinical Mental Health, CCMH, report from 2017, anxiety is the top reason college students seek mental help.

“But students who complete treatment at AU improve much more than the average

college student,” Volkmann said.

Volkmann said he has been able to track this pattern by using data on the average college student collected by the CCMH. The CCMH, which AU is involved with, is an organization that monitors students’ mental health across the United States.

“I think I just want to get that out there as well, the students that put in the work in therapy do really well at AU and I think that’s part of who the AU student is,” Volkmann said.

AU students also show significant improvement in areas like eating disorders and depression, Volkmann said.

“There’s no category that we track where, on average, AU students don’t improve from a clinical index perspective,” Volkmann said.

Volkmann said AU provides counseling services to students in three major ways, along with emergency services. The university offers traditional therapy, group therapy and single-session appointments.

Sophomore Omika Malhotra said she was unsatisfied with AU’s traditional therapy but has continued using it in the Spring 2023 semester after first using it her freshman year.

“For now it’s fine because I don’t really have access to getting therapy outside of AU,” Malhotra said.

For traditional therapy, the center instructs students to call their office to set up an initial consultation.

Malhotra said when booking her consultation, they asked her why she was seeking therapy.

“Then they asked you your preferences for what type of therapist you want and then you’re told that someone will email you once they find someone who’s perfect for your preferences,” Malhotra said. “And the first time I did, it took like a week.”

Volkmann said that wait times for consultations this academic year have been three to five business days, sometimes more or less depending on the time of the year.

After the initial consultation, students are matched with a therapist based on their clinical needs, Volkmann said.

Data derived from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH)

“We have certain therapists who spe-


cialize in trauma more than others, it’s not that we’re all not trained in trauma, it’s just that for some that’s a specialty area,” Volkmann said. “And we may see someone who has acute trauma and say, okay, they would be best to work with this person.”

Volkmann said students are seeking out clinicians with similar identities, which has become the primary way the center makes matches between students and clinicians.

“We are very lucky to have a diverse staff, so that we can make a lot of matches occur,” Volkmann said. “We have some wonderful clinicians that represent a lot of different ethnicities and diversities on staff.”

When utilizing traditional therapy at AU, students receive six to eight sessions with their clinician during a semester. However, Volkmann said that if a student is struggling after using all their sessions, they will still provide help.

Tull said the restricted number of sessions with her clinician weren’t enough.

“The only thing that felt frustrating is we had a limited number of sessions together per semester,” Tull said. “And so that meant I didn’t get to see her as often as I would have liked to.”

AU offers six to eight sessions because that is what is recommended by the CCMH, Volkmann said. He said a research study on college students concluded that this was the amount of treatment necessary to get the maximum benefit.

Another counseling service that AU provides is group therapy, which is unlimited to students during their time at the university. Volkmann said there are typically four sessions of group therapy a semester. The two subcategories of group therapy are general process groups and specialty groups. General process groups are very popular among students, Volkmann said.

“It’s a space where students come to learn about themselves and others and then learn how to build relationships,” Volkmann said.

Volkmann said specialty groups depend on what clinicians are hearing throughout the year. These groups are intended to meet student needs. Some specialty groups include student-of-color groups, LGBTQ+ groups, COVID-specific groups, skills-building with anxiety groups, grief groups and international student groups.

“We basically try to look through the data and see who’s utilizing our services,” Volkmann said. “Who do we feel like we

can give more support to and how can we make a group fit from there?”

The third counseling service at AU is single sessions. Volkmann said these are for students who want to talk to a therapist once without attending an initial consultation, Volkmann said. Students have access to these two times a semester, separate from traditional therapy.

To ensure that students have access to counseling services outside of normal working hours and abroad, AU contracts with the My SSP app. According to the My SSP website, the app “supports the emotional health and well-being of students by providing real-time 24/7 access to professional counselors as well as scheduled

clinicians and it would be in a way that’s financially beneficial for them,” Volkmann said.

Tull said she appreciated that her clinician referred her to a therapist outside of AU.

“She gave me some referrals to some other therapists who might be able to take me on a more long term basis,” Tull said. “And I didn’t really end up working with any of them. But it was nice to see that like, she cared to take that extra step just to see how I would do afterwards.”

Malhotra chose to use AU therapy again this semester because it’s free. She said she liked her first therapist, but he left AU.

short-term support.” Volkmann said AU has made this available because they know not all students may have time to come in for services during the day.

If a student is seeking traditional therapy services and has used their allotted sessions, their clinician refers them to outside resources that they feel would fit the student’s needs.

Volkmann said 40% of the time, students feel AU therapy services were enough for them; another 40% of the time, they decide to pursue services in the community. The rest are unsure of what they want to do.

“We have relationships with community providers, and we will look at the community providers, and we’ll say like, oh, let’s say so and so wants to work with a clinician of color,” Volkmann said. “Well, here are the clinicians of color that we know are good and we will help connect you with them.”

The center works with insurance companies to help pair students seeking therapy outside of AU with providers. Volkmann said it’s connecting with the student insurance plan, Aetna, to try to increase the number of providers available to those students.

“We’ve worked with Aetna directly to try to increase the amount [number] of providers that are in network for Aetna so that students have an easier time accessing

“So he gave me his information and was just like find me outside of AU if you ever want to continue therapy,” Malhotra. “I found him and he didn’t take my insurance. And it was like $300 for a session.”

Volkmann said that most therapists in D.C. don’t take insurance, making the average cost $200 to $250 an hour.

According to an article by Therapy Group of DC, the average cost per therapy session in 2021 was $230. However, this cost can vary depending on specific services and the degree or credentials of the therapist.

Volkmann said the center tries not to leave a student hanging after their sessions are up without helping them find someone in the community to use for services. He said the center helps students with the process as much as possible, and they will always have access to emergency services and group therapy.

“One thing I should also note in terms of seeing therapists here is we never abandon a person,” Volkmann said.

Grace Hagerman is a sophomore studying journalism and political science.

“One thing I should also note in terms of seeing therapists here is we never abandon a person,” Volkmann said.


By this point in the year, most of us have fallen into a steady routine. It’s easy to put on your music and walk the same steps to class every day. These photos aim to highlight some things you may or may not have seen on your daily walks across campus.

A photo essay by Benjamin Austin Benjamin Austin is a freshman studying journalism.





The Podcast Team Presents:


Welcome to the Hum, a storytelling podcast dedicated to bringing untold stories to your ears. We aim to be a space where people in and around American University can express themselves and their experiences. Our podcast is designed to take listeners through a full range of emotions, from laughter to tears.

For the Hum’s eighth episode, we turned our focus from stories about the past to dreams of the future.

We took the age-old job interview question “Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?” and gave it a bit of a twist. We wanted to hear about everything our peers envision on the horizon—their hopes, dreams, ambitions, fears and highest priorities for their life in their 20s and beyond.

As AU students, it can be easy to become lumped together as “policy wonks” all vying for a high profile job in the Dis-

trict. Through our conversations, we found four students who each have different mindsets, goals and philosophies toward their own ideas of “the future.”

If you think that you have a story worth telling, please share it with us at awolau@ We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely, The

Caleb Ogilvie, Ela Hernandez, Sofia Borin, Blake Guterman, Grace Manson and Kate d’Arcy

The Multimedia Team Presents:


Clawed Z. Eagle represents the school spirit that many AU students are longing for

Though the mystery of who’s under the Clawed Z. Eagle mask at any particular time still remains, Clawed has been a uniting figure for American University students, as they cheer alongside him at sports games, take pictures with him on the quad and dance with him in TikTok videos.

For the Spring 2023 semester, AWOL’s multimedia team produced a documentary about school spirit at AU, seeking to learn how AU’s mascot contributes to students’ opinions on school spirit. The team talked to a former Clawed, AU’s athletics director, student athletes and non sports fans to assess the state of AU’s school spirit.

Cynthia Bland, a former Clawed who wrote a children’s book about a day in the mascot’s life, donned the suit from 1999 to 2003 while studying statistics at AU.

“School spirit was never really like an AU thing when I was there,” Bland said. “There was low pressure to be the mascot because there were so few people in the gym most of the time.”

AU’s Director of Athletics and Recreation, David Bierwirth, said the student support during athletic games is great.

“I think it’s one of the highlights of American University, the way that the students come out to support our student-athletes, whether it be through the Blue Crew or just a lot of activity on social media,” Bierwirth said.

However, some student-athletes see school spirit differently.

First-year Avery Barber, a member of AU’s D1 swim team, said she doesn’t see much of a school spirit culture.

“I definitely feel like the different teams support each other, which is really nice,” Barber said.

“Everyone supports each other, but I wouldn’t say there’s an overarching, rahrah kind of culture.”

While Barber said there aren’t many students that show up to sporting events,

she said she thinks it’s extra special when she has a larger audience.

For other athletes, like basketball players, there’s an additional level of support with AU’s pep band. Sophomore Pep Band Member Elliot Parrish said that school spirit is alive at AU.

“We serenade the whole place with the fight song, with popular songs that everyone knows such as ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams or ‘Shake It Off’ by Taylor Swift. And in between songs, we cheer as loudly as possible,” Parrish said. “I think it’s important because it shows AU does have school spirit. We do like to support our teams. And the pep band is the greatest example of that.”

From athletes, to pep band members to fans, students have varying opinions on school spirit. First-year Ethan Kauffman said he thinks that school spirit means having camaraderie.

“People like being happy with the school that they go to,” Kauffman said. “And having a community where people can rally around something and we just don’t have that. Like this is a playoff game and there’s not that many people there. So I feel like there could be more school spirit, but I also don’t think the games are advertised that well.”

Some students, like first-year Jasmine Shi, said there isn’t much attention given to fostering an environment of school spirit.

“I think it’s because we don’t know about it, because they don’t really do a lot to promote it,” Shi said. “Or you have to follow a very specific Instagram page to be at the right place at the right time.”

First-year Brooklyn Spathies said she sees Clawed as something that brings AU students together.

“I think everyone loves seeing Clawed at the basketball games and stuff,” Spathies said. “My vibe is he promotes ‘yay AU’ like people want to be a part of AU when

they see Clawed.”

While Clawed can be seen as a uniting figure today, the mascot wasn’t created until 1927, when The Eagle published an article advocating the creation of an eagle school mascot. It wasn’t until 1976 that the first person stepped into the bird suit and the unnamed mascot garnered a new identity: Clawed the Eagle.

Thirty years later, the familiar name Clawed Z. Eagle was born.

“[Clawed] is not going away,” Bierwirth said. “I think it’s a great tradition that the university has. Yeah, I think we’re sticking with it.”

To learn more about the process of becoming Clawed, the mascot experience and students’ opinions on school spirit, visit AWOL’s YouTube channel.

Produced by Jessica Bates, Maegan Seaman, Grace Higgins, Kathryn Gilroy, Katherine Seri Chang, Benjamin Austin, Jack Ford, Emma Pierce, Michelle Miramontes and Andrew Murray



Dr. Cornelius Kerwin is a government and public policy professor and President Emeritus. He served as American University’s 14th president from 2005 until 2017. He was previously Interim President, Provost, Dean of the School of Public Affairs and a student at AU.

Interview edited for length and clarity.

Photo by Maegan Seaman

Q: Why did you want to teach courses after stepping down as president?

A: Because that’s where I began, you know. My life started doing it. I never expected to be anything I ended up being. When I left the presidency, I did because the board and I had a great working relationship, but I probably could have stayed for another term. But I had reached an age where there were other things that I wanted to be able to do, that I knew I couldn’t do. Either to the extent I wanted, or at all, because of the appropriateness of it if I stayed as president. And one of those things was to teach on a more regular basis. So when I left the presidency, I took a little bit of time off and then I came back to where I started. The other thing is that I was in the first group of undergraduates that moved into this building. It was under construction when I was a sophomore, it was finished when I became a junior. This is where it started and I thought that, if I’m going to close out a life, doing it in the classroom working with students is how I wanted to do it. There are other things that I’m involved in now. I’m on a number of boards. I advise from time to time, consult on things if people think I’ve got something to offer, but it was never a question as to whether I teach. I mean, as long as they’d have me back, I’d do it.

Q: What do you enjoy about teaching?

A: I enjoyed being surprised. I enjoy hearing insights from people who may not have the depth of my reading, but grasp material and come up with something really innovative. I’ve been teaching graduate students primarily since I came back. People in our Master of Public Administration and Master of Public Policy programs, and most of them were undergraduate majors in Political Science or Economics, so they’ve got some exposure to it. But, I can probably say that in all the time that I’ve been back, there hasn’t been a semester where I felt I didn’t learn something just from the interactions with students in class. And if you stay open to that, it really keeps you young. The perspective of somebody who’s been at this for 50 years tends to get a little ossified, a little bit set in stone. And when somebody looks at you and says, ‘Well, why is it that way,’ you begin to think, ‘Well, I’m not 100% sure why it’s that way, maybe we ought to find out.’ In the field

that I study, new ideas are not only hard to come by. They’re precious when they do so. So I enjoy that. I enjoy the classroom a lot. I enjoy the one-on-one with students. I require both group and individual research papers. And working with small groups of students who have to agree on a topic approach and the division of labor, that’s fine. But also, working with students on individual topics, taking something that they have a passion for and helping them work their way through the process by which an idea of that sort is transformed into an operating program. It’s just a wonderful way to spend your life.

Q: The SPA Building was named after you in 2017. What was your reaction?

A: I was stunned when it occurred. I mean, you can imagine what it meant to me. Then I realized how weird it was gonna be. When I tell a student, ‘You gotta meet in Kerwin Hall,’ I realized that if they haven’t been around here for a long time, they may not put two and two together; This Kerwin is that Kerwin. The board, when I left the presidency, decided that this is how they would honor me and I couldn’t imagine anything that would have meant more to me than that. As I said, having been among the first group of students that used the building when it was first constructed and now returning it to it as my professional home. And I’ll be honest with you, I’m not sure when I go into a graduate class that the students put two together, either. I mean, they may, or somebody may tell them. But it was an honor beyond anything I could have expected.

Q: Does it change your relationship with the building at all?

A: I gotta tell you, it’s an odd kind of feeling walking into a building that’s got your

name on the front of it. And, yeah, that’s your name. What goes on in here is enormously important. As I said, to think that my name is going to be attached to this for as long as there’s a Ward Circle, as long as there’s a building doing the School of Public Affairs’ work; It’s something I couldn’t have even dreamed of when I was a kid. So you know, it’s profound to me.

Q: What advice do you want to give students and professors?

A: I think that the advice is, for the undergraduates that are here, treasure these years. Get the most out of them that you possibly can. Every faculty member on this campus is accessible. If you go your distance, it’s been my experience, they’ll reciprocate. The city, many of you will stay. I mean, that’s the one thing we learned too, is that students come from all over the country and all over the world, but a lot of them don’t leave. They stay here, and they build lives and they build careers here. It’s the greatest laboratory for whatever you’re studying that I’m aware of anywhere. I mean, there may be a bit more business in New York and there might be a bit more technology in Palo Alto, but there’s nothing you study on this campus that you can’t be doing a half an hour later and you really want to take advantage of that. You’re blessed in so many ways when you’ve had the kind of career I’ve had. My faculty colleagues are people that I treasure, and they’re the ones who teach me. I mean, they’re involved in stuff and in studying things that are just literally endlessly fascinating. To me, it’s just keeping up the good work because that work is vitally important.

Caleb Ogilvie is a freshman studying journalism.

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