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The GW Hatchet

AN INDEPENDENT STUDENT NEWSPAPER SERVING THE GW COMMUNITY SINCE 1904

The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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PAUL closes in Western Market
By Ella Mitchell, Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Best and worst of this week’s headlines

After facing pushback from some area residents and business owners, the D.C. Council approved the District’s contract to purchase the former University residence hall, providing unhoused people a small but necessary victory. And in other news for the unhoused community, Dorian Jenkins will become the interim director of D.C.’s Housing Authority. With a new leader comes new possibilities for much-needed improvement.

GW and D.C. get a break this week. While the worst of this week’s headlines may not be local, they’re a potent reminder of the value of student journalism — and the pervasive reality of toxic masculinity. The Daily Northwestern, a student-run newspaper, exposed a culture of hazing within Northwestern University’s football program, an investigation that led to the head coach’s firing.

Here are the best and worst of this week’s headlines:

Thumbs Up:

The D.C. Council approved the District’s $27.5 million contract to purchase the Aston from GW last Thursday, with the city planning to convert the Aston into a non-congregate shelter for unhoused, mixed-gendered adult families and medically vulnerable people. A number of mental health staff will support residents in the Aston, and the shelter will prohibit the use of alcohol and illegal drugs. Rather than just providing a place to stay, mental health resources take the accommodation further and set residents up for success moving forward.

The conversion of the Aston provides shelter for people who can’t properly be taken care of in other shelters, like those with acute medical conditions, an important step toward addressing the District’s housing crisis. Unhoused people deserve access to affordable housing and curated resources regardless of what neighborhood they live in. D.C. only operates ten low-barrier shelters, but 8,944 people reported experiencing homelessness in D.C. in 2023. 

With Jenkins, an affordable housing consultant, stepping in as the interim director of D.C.’s public housing agency starting in August, D.C. can hopefully provide the unhoused community with the accommodations they need rather than the mold, bugs and fire hazards that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported in other public housing buildings.

Jenkins will start his position with the opportunity to reconstruct its public housing waiting list, which is set to open this summer for the first time since the last one opened a decade ago. Hopefully he can organize a new system that doesn’t leave residents waiting for 32 years for housing, unlike the current setup. With a new shelter and leadership, D.C. should make a difference for the unhoused community.

Thumbs Down:

Taking a breather from dire local news, student journalists in Illinois broke the story of the abusive culture of a college football team. A former Northwestern football player explained how players were coerced into sexual acts while playing for head coach Pat Fitzgerald, according to the Daily Northwestern. A second player confirmed the hazing, and Northwestern fired Fitzgerald on Tuesday. The hazing included “running,” where players would be restrained by upperclassmen who then “dry-humped” the victims in locker rooms. Abusive hazing on male sports teams and in fraternities only exacerbates the toxic and patriarchal notion that men are meant to use violence to motivate, initiate and bond. 

The culture of abuse that men are sucked into only to avoid emotional intimacy or appearing weak is manipulative, especially to young adults. In May, student organizations at GW, which has its own history of hazing, implemented anti-hazing training to comply with a Virginia law signed after a Virginia Commonwealth University freshman died while pledging a fraternity.

The worst headlines have to come from somewhere, and the Daily exemplified the importance of student journalism by bringing down Fitzgerald’s abusive football program. The Hatchet will be back next week hoping to follow in the Daily’s footsteps of admirable reporting.

Riley Goodfellow, a rising junior majoring in political science, is the contributing opinions editor.

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