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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Column: Politics on the mind

My drunken roommate stumbles through the door, takes a swig of water, burps and collapses on his bed. He turns on the TV, channel surfing through a deluge of images, from G-string divas to Conan O’Brien to Star Trek. He finally makes his choice, opting to watch “NewsNight with Aaron Brown,” which tonight features a terrorism expert talking about America’s contingency plans should al Qaeda detonate a nuclear weapon in the U.S.

It says a lot about GW when its students, even while in drunken stupors, watch political talk shows. In addition to alcohol, Ritalin and marijuana, we are taking massive doses of politics.

Students who turn out in droves to attend anti-war and anti-globalization protests and student activities which center around political events like the president’s State of the Union Address are evidence of this. Tapings of CNN’s “Crossfire” give students the opportunity to listen to political commentary from some of the nation’s most renowned pundits. And what would eating in the Marvin Center be without CNN blaring from the TV screens?

Even for a student majoring in international affairs like myself, the omnipresence of politics can be overwhelming. Classes often turn into ideological battlegrounds, as pseudo-intellectuals who like to hear their own voices adamantly express their narrow-minded opinions, to the consternation of the professor. Flirting sometimes involves the exchange of views on a wide array of issues, ranging from abortion to women’s rights in third-world countries. I have also observed people break up over political differences – a scary phenomenon in which sex is not the most important thing in a relationship.

The University fosters this political atmosphere by heavily investing in political science and international affairs programs, and by bringing world leaders like Abdullah Abdullah, the foreign minister of Afghanistan, to speak on campus.

But not every GW student is interested in politics, and the University’s policy of promoting certain programs often comes at the expense of others. Students can pick from a wide array of political science courses, but find few classes offered in Arabic or Chinese, which are often filled to capacity. The University courts brilliant professors for certain departments, while other departments are forced to make due with lackluster part-timers.

In response to these accusations, some might say that GW is geared toward the study of international affairs and political science, and those who do not wish to major in these areas should go somewhere else. After all, when the University declares, “Something happens here,” they are talking about politics, not about the splitting of atoms or the discovery of a new star.

But the University cannot afford to alienate those who do not aspire to be the next Colin Powell. GW needs to start promoting other areas of study as vigorously as it has promoted its politically-oriented programs. They can start by bringing more quality, full-time professors to the smaller departments of the University and by offering more courses in areas of study such as Arabic, where interest has greatly increased. And maybe they can work on changing the channels on the TVs in the Marvin Center, because the food there is not the only thing that students are getting sick of.

-The writer, a freshman majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.

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