End of the road for D.C. police chief

It seems D.C.’s police chief will be gone in the very near future. Metropolitan Police Chief Charles Ramsey has long been known to have a less-than-amicable relationship with Mayor-Elect Adrian Fenty, and his departure has long been rumored.

Ramsey leaves behind a mixed legacy. His eight-year tenure is far longer than most major city police chiefs, and he leaves behind a city with a crime rate far less than what it was when he first took over in 1998. As de facto head of security for much of the city’s federal buildings and officials, he has also been praised for his post-9/11 leadership.

On the other hand, crime remains a huge issue in the city, and Ramsey has his fair share of critics. For many D.C. residents, every burglary, every assault, every murder in the city rests on his shoulder. Why should he receive the ultimate blame every time Georgetown students gets a DPS email regarding the latest mugging in the neighborhood? Or for this summer’s crime spike that resulted in the brutal murder of a British political activist in the Georgeown neighborhood?

On the other other hand, that Ramsey used that murder as the impetus for the crime emergency that, while controversial, led to a noticable decrease in criminal activity.

For all his criticism of the police chief and the mayor’s oversight of the MPD, Fenty must now prove he can do better. Let’s hope he can find a police chief who can fill Ramsey’s large shoes, and finally end the District’s reputation as “America’s Murder Capital.”

Posted by Marco Cerna, Contributing Editor

A shot at alternative journalism

Last Friday, October 27, a New York documentary filmmaker and journalist was assassinated by government officials in Oaxaca, Mexico while reporting on the conflict between police and the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO).

Brad Will, 36, was working unpaid for the alternative media network of Indymedia. Will had gone down to Oaxaca to cover the violence that has blown up since the teacher’s union began protesting last spring.

There have been many disappearances, imprisonments and at least 13 deaths in this conflict, which has escalated into low intensity warfare as the Mexican military has occupied the city center. Will was an activist and solidarity worker who put himself in the midst of the conflict to get the story out.

Alternative media outlets such as Indymedia highlight the populist angle of more traditionally reported stories, and provide media attention in cases of political, military or governmental repression. Such attention is otherwise overlooked because of a lack of a wider desire to know about these struggles or perhaps the idea that if we don’t listen, the problem will go away.

The fact that he was shot by a group identified in a Mexican newspaper as consisting of a police officer, public safety chief and a city personnel director is disturbing. But it does not compare to the horror I feel in knowing that Will was holding a camera while he got shot and was obviously a foreigner working for the side of the social movement.

The Mexican armed forces are wielding fear and intimidation to their advantage. Just this past weekend it is estimated that approximately 50 people disappeared, and as the protesters outnumber the armed forces, someone up top is taking drastic measures. The message is clear: foreign journalists, especially the ones reporting from the side of popular movements, should be warned.

I imagine that for other journalists that support the people in Oaxaca, Will’s assassination comes as a rude awakening and the latest embodiment of the stand-off between this movement and the powers that be. For activist journalists, being there at the ground level in such a time of strife and mobilization, whether in Mexico or Sri Lanka or Sudan, means living the fight: “es la lucha, baby.” But when people like Brad Will are gunned down, one cannot help but think twice before hopping on that bus down south. Whether or not that second thought will keep us off the bus is the question that we all must answer.

Posted by Lauren Gaskill, Associate Editor

A Sign of the Apocalypse?

According to a study by The College Board, price rises in college tuition for this academic year weren’t as large as in years past. That doesn’t mean they didn’t rise, of course, or even that they didn’t rise faster than inflation. In some ways, it’s a positive sign. Keep in mind, however, that Pell Grants have been declining and that “need-based aid” rarely fills any family’s real needs.

For more information, check out the Washington Post‘s article.

Posted by Austin Richardson, Senior Writer

Rape Village

Last year I broke my favorite pair of sandals journeying down the awkwardly spaced steps next to Henle Village. Later, while bemoaning my foot-wear woes, I was informed that the steps were built as a deterrent to rape. They are apparently spaced to allow a woman of average height to run up the steps (presumably from a menacing attacker) with ease. The rape steps are situated right next to Henle Village, an area of campus I have come to term Rape Village.

Think about it. Dark alleys with cast-iron bars ideal for cornering defenseless victims; overgrown landscaping perfect for lurking behind; very poor lighting. All these factors combine to make Henle the ideal environment for a predator.

Although no one talks about rape at Georgetown, it still happens. Imagine this scenario: a drunk girl leaves a Henle apartment party to get some air, her companion gallantly offers to accompany her outside, one thing leads to another and you end up with a situation that can scar someone for the rest of her life.

The University needs to be proactive in this situation. Georgetown should at least install more lights in the creepy alleys to give us girls a little peace of mind on Saturday nights. It is up to the administration to determine whether or not Henle will disentegrate into a simmering den of iniquity.

Posted by Clare Malone, Voices Editor

Color-coded Cliques in Maryland

Did your high school seem like a bunch of sick little cliques? Does college feel the same way? Either way, it could be worse: you could be a student at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring.

If splitting kids up by their academic abilities and corralling them into different classes wasn’t embarrassing enough, this school decided to make kids wear colored tags around their necks, according to the Washington Post:

“black for seniors, white for magnet kids and a particularly loud shade of yellow for students of limited English proficiency,” among others.

Some students reported hazing as a result of the program, and two-thirds of the student body called it a “hideous embarrassment” in a poll conducted by the student newspaper.

School officials said they hoped to build a sense of identity and security through the program. And they’re enforcing it with punishments–from verbal warnings to in-school suspension, depending upon the degree of insubordination.

In high school, it seems, you will know your place.

Thanks to DCist.com for the tip.

Posted by Austin Richardson, Senior Writer

A t-shirt for a (GUSA) vote

Students voted on the Student Association’s proposed “Accountability and Reform Amendment” today, and quirks in the electoral procedure abounded.

Supporters of the amendment, including author and Student Association Deputy Chief of Staff Matt Stoller (COL ’08), spent election day in Red Square handing out t-shirts and encouraging passing students to vote on a nearby laptop. This might ring a few bells for those who remember last year’s presidential election debacle, in which candidates Khalil Hibri (SFS ’07) and Geoff Greene (SFS ’07) were disqualified for campaigning on Election Day and encouraging students to vote on a nearby laptop.

“That raised a few eyebrows in the administration,” Eden Schiffmann (COL ’08), Student Association Chief of Staff, said. But he said that nobody outside of the Student Association seemed to be concerned.

And although the vote doesn’t appear to be exactly by the book, Twister Murchison (SFS ’08), President of the Student Association, said that this was simply because there is no book when it comes to referendums. The rules referring to the procedure for taking referenda are remarkably brief for a document as complicated as the Student Association bylaws.

With the procedure for referenda so open, Schiffman said that extensive dialogue took place between the Student Association and the Election Commission in order to make sure that everything was done in an acceptable manner. Eventually the decision was made to follow the format of presidential elections, which by extension would seem to make campaigning on voting day illegal.

The logic, Schiffman said, did not extend that far. He said that without an actual competitor in the vote, there was no one to offend with voting day campaigning.

The amendment was also attached to a survey on the keg ban, which Stoller said probably boosted voter participation.

In fact, activists spent most energy encouraging students to vote on the keg ban survey rather than on the amendment, even going so far as to include a keg full of root beer in the middle of Red Square. The tag line for attracting potential voters was not, “Have you voted on the Accountability and Reform Amendment?” but “Did you vote on the keg ban yet?”

Schiffman said that there were probably some people who voted only for the keg ban and ignored the amendment, but he said that this was probably countered by the fact that some students probably voted on the amendment and ignored the keg ban. He smiled as he added, “I have to say that.”

Posted by John Lawless, Staff Writer

A Primer for Midnight Madness

As if the expectation weren’t big enough for this year’s men’s basketball team, the hype has already begun for the ’07-’08 season. On Wednesday, Chris Wright, a 6′-1″, 190 pound senior from local St. John’s High School committed to the Hoyas.

Wright is ranked as the #6 point guard in his class, and will join Austin Freeman (the #2 shooting guard in his class) at the Phone Booth next year. What convinced Wright to come to the Hilltop? “I feel as though we’ll have a shot to win the championship my freshman year,” he said, “… if not this year.”

Read more at the Washington Times.

Posted by Austin Richardson, Senior Writer

The best time-waster ever

The section of Google’s web page called Google Labs is a little bit like Disney World. It’s where you can try out all of Google’s cool new Google things while they’re still working on them. And none is cooler than this little guy right here, called “Google Trends,” where you can look up roughly how many people are searching for any given thing and where most of those searches are coming from.

Maybe that doesn’t sound that exciting, but check out all the things you find out about the world and maybe even your hometown (I sure learned a lot about mine!):

  • The UK is obsessed with “monkeys,” with different cities holding spots 1-8 on the top 10 (Sheffield is #1)
  • Don’t make out with Canadians. They have the top 4 cities for “cold sores” (Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa)
  • People in Cairo, Egypt love “fat women,” clocking in miles ahead 2nd-place St. Louis, Mo.
  • St. Louis does care the most about “fat men”
  • Philadelphia, Pa. (my hometown!) loves “beer”; Vancouver, Canada comes up again for “liquor” (Canadian cities own the top 3), and Portland, Ore. is the place for “marijuana”
  • St. Louis also has an inexplicable love of “poop” (Philadelphia 7, Washington not on there despite everyone on the Hill being so full of crap)
  • Hicksville, New York is the town most in a “Billy Joel” state of mind; Harvard kids, too (Cambridge, Mass. 7)
  • We now know what those Egyptians are doing with those fat women, as Cairo also came up #1 for “sex”
    • no American city cracked the “sex” top 10, proving we’re holding up a little false modesty compared to the rest of the world
  • People in Birmingham, UK have nothing better to do than look at “porn”; in fact, it seems to be a UK-wide thing. Los Angeles is the only American city on the list.
  • Spanish-speaking countries dominate those trying to find “Jesus” (Latin America in particular); Dallas, Tex. comes in 10th.
  • Spanish-speaking countries also appear to be finding the 80s, as La Paz, Barcelona and Buenos Aires were the top 3 searchers for “Duran Duran”
  • Despite their collective reputations, Philly, New York and D.C. may be the most polite places in the world, based on the number of searches for “thank you”

So, there’s just a bit of the glory. Go ahead and waste hours. It’s too much fun.

Posted by Mike Stewart, Feature Editor

Our school could beat up your school

Looks like all those hours at Yates finally paid off, as Georgetown ranked 18th in the 2006 “fittest colleges” edition of Men’s Fitness. The rankings were based on a 17-question survey that took into account student diets, life habits (i.e. smoking) and of course exercise. Sweet.

The top college, Dickinson, requires four phys ed classes for graduation (two for varsity athletes). I don’t know exactly how they operate them, but I think requiring a couple of one-credit gym classes over the course of four years isn’t such a bad idea. Cura personalis, right? Besides, I’ve seen people get winded after climbing up the Village C steps. Not good.

I have always thought we’re a pretty attractive campus overall. Now it’s a scientific fact.

Posted by Mike Stewart, Feature Editor

Ominous Predictions for Republicans

First it was the war in Iraq, then Jack Abramoff and Tom Delay. Now, it’s Tom Foley, who’s been struggling to find an acceptable excuse for his behavior—alcoholism, the priest that supposedly molested him as a child. For the moment, it doesn’t seem to be working.

Even George Will is predicting big things for the Democrats in the upcoming elections. He even compared Foley, and the Republican Party, to Elmer Gantry, the sanctimonius firebrand Preacher and title character of an Upton Sinclair novel.

What’s left for Republicans to do? Well, the New York Times is warning of a possible anti-gay witch hunt on Capitol Hill. Our beloved Pat Buchanan (COL ’61) took the first step down that road on MSNBC earlier this week.

The key quote: “Is it a coincidence that 90 percent of the victims of the priests and the other folks who abuse those altar boys and others, 90 percent of the victims were boys, 90 percent of the perpetrators were men?”

Here’s hoping that, if the Republicans don’t take the high road, it blows up in their face.

Posted by Austin Richardson, Senior Writer