The headlines you should know going into the 2018-19 school year
Get yourself up to date on last year’s news ahead of the fall semester
With the start of fall classes approaching and the new freshman class acclimating to campus, it’s a good moment for students to familiarize themselves with the major AU headlines from the past school year. This is your guide to the biggest AU headlines from last year.
Confederate flag fliers, other offensive posters found on campus
In late September 2017, ten Confederate flag fliers were found hanging in four different academic buildings, with the phrases “Huzzah for Dixie” and “I wish I was in the land of cotton” printed on them. Cotton stalks were also attached to the fliers. The posters were discovered the same night Dr. Ibram X. Kendi was giving a presentation introducing his plans for the Antiracist Research and Policy Center, which he had recently founded.
University President Sylvia Burwell led a town hall in the Kay Spiritual Life Center the day after the fliers were found. Taylor Dumpson, the student government president at the time who was herself the target of a hate crime in spring 2017, released a list of “action steps and expectations” for the administration. Dumpson also organized the ‘Enough is Enough’ rally, held on the steps of Mary Graydon Center, where she and Kendi spoke about how to respond to the racist incident.
While AU police released campus security video footage of a man suspected of hanging the fliers, the suspect was never found or arrested.
The September 2017 incident was not the last time offensive flyers were found on campus. In January, eight anti-immigration posters bearing the phrases “NO means NO” and “#MyBordersMyChoice” were found hanging on campus. The posters were traced to a Neo-Nazi group, as part of a “#MyBordersMyChoice” campaign promoted by far-right leaders.
In February, The Eagle also discovered anti-Semitic flyers hung on the School of International Service building with the phrase “No More Wars for Israel” and the Operation Homeland, an alt-right organization, logo printed on them. The flyers also included the hashtag “#AIPACgohome,” referencing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which was scheduled to hold an annual conference in D.C. the following week.
Burwell launches diversity plan, reaches milestones
Sylvia Burwell was officially inaugurated as AU’s 15th, and first female, president in April in a ceremony in Bender Arena. Among the guests in attendance were D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser, an AU alumna herself, and former AU president Neil Kerwin.
Prior to the inauguration, Burwell started implementing her Plan for Inclusive Excellence, a two-year diversity and inclusion strategy released in January. The plan allocated $121 million for diversity initiatives over the course of two years, including this school year.
To cap off the year, the University reached a major milestone by achieving carbon neutrality in April, becoming the “first carbon neutral university in the nation” as well as the first urban campus and research university to do so. The University had originally committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2020, but reached the goal two years ahead of schedule due to “the rapid development of technology within the environmental field,” according to Megan Litke, the director of sustainability programs at AU.
SG elects Valentina Fernández, plans for student activity fee referendum
Senior Valentina Fernández will serve as student government president for the 2018-2019 school year. Part of Fernández’s initiatives include creating a student advisory council for President Sylvia Burwell’s Inclusive Excellence Plan, which accepted applications for positions this summer, and creating a student grievance policy with AUPD where students can file complaints about interactions with AU police, she said in a SG presidential debate in April.
SG also plans to hold a student referendum to vote on whether to increase the student activity fee or not this fall. Originally, the referendum was planned for spring 2018, but was moved to the fall amid strong opposition.
The fee funds student leader stipends, as well as AU Club Council (AUCC), AU Student Media Board (AUMB) and AUSG, The Eagle previously reported. The student activity fee is currently $88.50 per semester. If SG’s proposed referendum were to pass, the new fee would be $100 per semester.
Graduate student arrest prompts student outrage
In early March, AU police arrested graduate student Benjamin Brumer for unlawful entry after Brumer refused to identify himself to an officer who found him on a couch on the third floor of the East Quad building. Brumer was escorted from the building, handcuffed and escorted to a police van as a crowd of students gathered around the scene. The arrest sparked outrage among students, several of whom protested outside the Mary Graydon Center. The incident also prompted Student Government to add a new section to its online resource center dedicated to AUPD policies and procedures, including how to file a complaint against an officer and how to obtain a police report.
AU women’s basketball team enjoys huge success
The women’s basketball team had a remarkable season last year, cruising to claim the Patriot League championship with a victory record of 26-6 and an undefeated home court win streak of 16-0.
The team racked up gold stars all season, including awards for Patriot League Player of the Year, Coach of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The Eagles earned a spot in the NCAA tournament, but fell to UCLA in the first round. Despite the team’s achievements, the fan attendance for the women’s basketball games trailed the men’s team’s attendance by a considerable amount. The team will kick off its regular season in November.
Board of Trustees to decide how much tuition will rise
The Board of Trustees will vote this academic year on how much tuition will rise for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. The board voted in 2017 to increase tuition for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 by 4 percent each, The Eagle previously reported.
When deciding on the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, the board also looks at housing and meal plan costs on campus. The current tuition price for the 2019 fiscal year is $47,640 per year for undergraduates taking between 12.5 and 17 credit hours both semesters.