GU Alumnus Awarded President’s Medal of Freedom

Georgetown graduate and former Rep. Henry John Hyde (R-Ill., C ’47) was awarded the distinguished Presidential Medal of Freedom yesterday for his service to the United States.

Hyde served in the House of Representatives for 32 years, where he was an advocate for a strong national defense program and an opponent of abortion rights. He also chaired the House Judiciary Committee from 1995-2001 and the House International Relations Committee from 2001-2007.

Hyde also served in the Navy during World War II, and as state legislator and majority leader in the Illinois House of Representatives. He retired from Congress this year.

His son, Bob Hyde, accepted the award on his behalf, as he is recovering from heart bypass surgery.

“It’s gratification,” Bob Hyde said to The Baltimore Sun. “I think it affirms the importance and the value of his stance on many things, like right to life. Frankly, he is a bit of a workaholic. This is one way of saying it was worth the effort and the price he paid, the time and energy.”

The ceremony was held in the East Room of the White House, where President George W. Bush presented medals to six recipients and the sons of two others.

Hyde is remembered in Georgetown basketball history for his impressive performance during the 1943 NCAA Tournament against DePaul University, when he held future NBA legend George Mikan in check for nine minutes in a Georgetown victory.

– Victoria Fosdal

New Regulations Aim to Increase Choice in Student Loans

The Department of Education announced on Thursday new regulations for student loans aimed at increasing transparency and protecting student loan choices.

The new regulations require universities to provide lists of at least three lenders for eligible students and include a description of why the school is referring the student to that bank. The new regulation also specifies that schools may not provide placement on their lists in exchange for “payments, gifts or benefits made to the institution.”

These new regulations came after an investigation by the office of the New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who proposed the changes, to clarify the relationship between institutions of learning and lenders.

Scott Fleming (SFS ’72), vice president for federal relations, said he does not expect the new regulations to significantly affect Georgetown students.

“This recent regulation does not affect us to a great extent. Georgetown’s policies won’t have to change much to follow these regulations,” he said.

The new lender lists will be created at individual universities across the country, on the basis of surveys rating lenders on customer service, unlike previous methods in which borrowers were not asked about their experiences with the lenders.

“I don’t think this is going to make it easier to get a loan because one will still need a co-signer and good credit, but it is better that the university will not be able to have a financial relationship with the loaners,” said James Scott (COL ’10), who has taken out a student loan. “In my experience, I was recommended one lender with which to use and their terms were OK, not great.”

“If lenders offered me choice and I was confidant that [the university] did not have a previous relationship with that lender that involved the school making money, I would be more satisfied, although I was generally satisfied with my own experience with the university,” Scott added.

– Matthew Swift

STAND Die-In Highlights Ongoing Crisis in Darfur

The Student Anti-Genocide Coalition brought a down-to-earth approach to their fight to end violence in the Darfur region of Sudan on Friday.

Members of the group organized a “Die-In” protest, in which about a dozen students lied down in Red Square pretending to be dead, all while holding up signs that displayed the number of people who have been killed or displaced in Sudan. Other participants handed out informational pamphlets to those who attended.

“This protest is to show that for three years the genocide in Darfur has been going on, and though it isn’t covered in the news as much, it’s still going on,” said Marybeth Acac (COL ’09), one of the coordinators of the protest.

“We’re here to visually demonstrate how many people have died in Darfur, to show the numbers and how startlingly high they are,” said Alysia Bone (COL ’08), a member of STAND who participated in the protest.

Acac said that STAND members hoped to increase the group’s presence on campus with the display, and hope the protest will help solidify them as an active student force.

“We want people to know we’re still here. We don’t want it to just be a fad,” Acac said.

– Tom Kelly

Fenty Announces New Meter Pricing, Effective Next April

D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty announced last week the specifics of a plan that would convert the zone fare taxi system to meters.

Under the new system, the minimum cab fare will be lowered from $6.50 to $4, and an additional 25 cents will be charged each sixth of a mile driven after the first one and each minute spent traveling slower than 10 miles per hour. A $1 surcharge will also be added during morning and evening rush hours. The base fare is significantly higher than those in some major cities around the country – in New York and Atlanta, passengers are initially charged $2.50.

In an eight-month trial period, 21 D.C. cabs charged 97 cents more per fare under the meter system than cabs using the zone system, according to the Washington Post.

Some local cab drivers object to the change, saying it favors long-distance rides. About 90 percent of city taxi drivers went on strike Wednesday – the day before the details of the new fare system were announced – to protest the change, according to the Washington Post.

Sarah Helinek (SFS ’10) said she prefers meter-based fares because it ensures that drivers are accountable.

“I think it’s easier for them to rip you off with the zone system,” she said.

Layla Zaidane (SFS ’10), however, said that the new meter system will encourage idling and unnecessarily long rides.

“They’re not going to necessarily take the best route,” she said.

– Yoshi Myers

GU to Lead Initiative to Better D.C. Early Education

Two Georgetown administrators will head a partnership aimed at improving the District of Columbia’s early education system after the university received a $4.5 million grant from the Department of Education.

The initiative – The Early Childhood Excellence in Teaching Partnership – will be led by Craig and Sharon Ramey, directors of Georgetown’s Center on Health and Education and co-principal investigators on the grant.

Sharon Ramey said the community partners will collaborate to improve student preparedness through enhanced instruction and support, fostering the linguistic, literary and social-emotional development of children ages three to four, especially those from more poverty-stricken communities.

“Georgetown will take the lead in hiring, training and supervising the in-classroom literacy and curriculum coaches for 120 classrooms over the next three years, as well as work closely with city leaders in developing a citywide comprehensive and coordinated system of professional development for all teachers that will be sustainable in the future,” she said.

Ramey also said that the grant will pay for the instruction of teachers and assistants in public and charter pre-kindergarten programs, Head Start classrooms and private childcare centers. Efforts will include side-by-side coaching, workshops and training sessions, as well as a rigorous study of the effectiveness of this type of development, she said.

Ramey also said that student involvement will be integral to the partnership’s effectiveness.

“We plan to have students involved at every level, starting this year,” she said. “There will be opportunities for assisting in conducting classroom assessments, learning about and assessing aspects of children’s progress, and interviewing teachers and principals.”

Community partners include the Office for Early Care and Education, The City Bridge Foundation, the University of the District of Columbia, the D.C. Public Schools, the D.C. Charter Schools Authority, the Universal School Readiness Stakeholders Group and Child Trends, an independent research evaluation center that will monitor and evaluate its developments. An Executive Steering Committee will oversee implementation of the partners’ decisions.

– Caitlin McDevitt

Microbiologist Discusses Implications of Bioterrorism

Gregory Stewart, a senior microbiologist at the U.S. Department of State, discussed the scientific implications of biological warfare during a speech yesterday at the Medical Center.

In the lecture, Stewart discussed the 15 articles of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, which went into effect in 1975 after being ratified by 22 nations – including the United States. This convention became the first multilateral disarmament agreement to outlaw an entire class of weapons.

“This has become a major source of contention in the convention itself, because as biology has evolved, the whole concept of dual-use biology has become an issue that we used to not talk about, so it’s very important that we discriminate the non-peaceful purposes from peaceful purposes when we are talking about the convention,” Stewart said.

Stewart also said it is difficult to determine whether the state’s laboratories are designed for defensive or aggressive purposes. Today, more than ever, laboratories can be transformed to produce biological pathogens quite easily, he said.

“It’s not like you find scud missiles full of this stuff or even that you need to have kilotons of material to have an effective [biological warfare] program,” he said.

Stewart also said that laboratories in this age of expanding technology must be held accountable for their practices.

“Pathogen security is a global problem, a single laboratory with insufficient security practices is all it takes to create global terrorism,” he said. “Therefore every laboratory that works with dangerous pathogens has an obligation to ensure the security of those pathogens.”

This speech was sponsored by the Georgetown University Medical Center’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

– Anastacia Webb

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