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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Letter to the editor

An open letter from the real Steven Knapp

Dear Benjamin,

I was quite touched by your column, “Will the real Knapp please stand up?” (Nov. 3, p.4), in which you voiced regret over our lack of personal interaction during your freshman and now your sophomore year at GW.

You mention that, despite my living right across the street from you last year (in the campus home where my spouse Diane and I have lived for the past three years, together with a dog, a rabbit, three cats, a Senegal parrot and a number of koi and goldfish), you only saw me walking my dog Ruffles on one occasion.

Let me assure you and our readers right away that Ruffles is a real dog and consequently must be walked several times a day, rain or shine, although, during weekday business hours, it is usually Diane who walks her. You can generally catch me with Ruffles in our backyard around 7 a.m. each morning, though.

It is quite a surprise for someone who writes so many e-mails and gives so many speeches every day all around campus to read that anyone out there would want to hear from him more directly or more often.

But perhaps what you had in mind was a greater frequency of face-to-face conversations, something you and I have not yet had the pleasure of experiencing.

But with 25,000 students, having conversations with even half of them in the course of a year would be quite a challenge. Even if I held office hours all day every day, seeing a different student every ten minutes, this would leave me with time for (quite literally) nothing else!

I know, of course, that holding endless office hours was not what you had in mind. Nor do I suppose you were asking for more speeches, more snowball fights or even more drum solos, like the ones I have played three times so far this semester (with Chuck Brown, at La Fiestasa and at a jazz brunch).

You recommend that I start a weekly column to let students know what I’m thinking. Again, that’s a flattering suggestion. The truth is, however, that not enough changes in a president’s thinking from week to week to justify quite that many intrusions into the mental space of students who have other information they really need to master.

But if The Hatchet can spare the space, a regular column is something I would seriously consider.

Meanwhile, if you’re up for it, let’s meet at my house so I can formally introduce you to a very enthusiastic and student-friendly dog named Ruffles and we can take her for a walk together. Call my office, or just knock on the door.


(The real) Steven Knapp

Steven Knapp is the 16th president of the University.

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