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MASON MEN’S BASKETBALL EYEING A RUN IN THE UPCOMING A-10 TOURNAMENT

Tue, 12/03/2024 - 4:33pm

Fourth Estate/Mitchell Richtmyre

Mason will tip off against St. Joseph’s to begin tournament play on Wednesday

BY TRISTEN SCHAEFER, STAFF WRITER

Mason men’s basketball is firing on all cylinders this season under first-year head coach, Tony Skinn. Skinn has led the Patriots to their best season in over a decade. 

The name Tony Skinn might sound familiar. As a former player for the Patriots, Skinn suited up for 91 games from 2003 to 2006 and was an integral part of George Mason’s Cinderella run to the Final Four in 2006. Named the team’s 12th head coach in April 2023, Skinn expressed that he wants to lead the Patriots in a way that mirrors the success of his senior season under Jim Larrañaga

Mason is eyeing a potential run in the fast-approaching Atlantic 10 Tournament

“Winning is not easy, but the formula to winning is clear,” Skinn said before the season. It appeared that he did indeed have the winning formula in 2023, as he led the team to wins in 11 of their first 13 games. The team looked like they had the potential to play into March. 

The level of success the team experienced during the first half of the season was hardly sustainable, but the Patriots began to falter during the latter half. Halfway through February they sat in seventh place in the A-10 with a 17-8 record.

The A-10 is competitive this year and six of Mason’s losses were in bouts with conference foes. 

Mason’s biggest challenge of the season came against Dayton on Feb. 15. Dayton was sitting atop the A-10 with a 21-4 record and slotting in as the No. 16 team in the country at the time

The Patriots kept up with the competition, as they trailed by six at halftime. However, it was nothing compared to their second half performance. Freshman guard Baraka Okojie scored 19 points in the second half and Mason climbed back to beat Dayton by a score of 71-67. 

The Patriots’ comeback victory over Dayton offered a look at Mason’s potential in the Atlantic 10, as they improved to a stellar 13-2 home record on the season with their win over Dayton.

With the A-10 Tournament quickly approaching, the win over Dayton seemed like it was exactly what the Patriot’s needed to gain momentum down the home-stretch of the season. While the team faltered a bit to start the final five-game stretch of the season, they silenced doubters with double-digit victories over Rhode Island and the 23-win Richmond Spiders to cap off the season.

Coach Skinn led the team to a 20-11 regular season record and a .645 winning percentage; the team’s best win percentage since the 2011-12 season.

The Atlantic 10 Tournament is set to kick off on Mar. 12, which will reward the winner an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. While Mason’s path to that bid seems uphill as an eight-seed, the team proved they’re capable of challenging any team in the Atlantic 10 with their victories over two of the conference’s top seeds: Dayton and Richmond.

To begin the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament, eighth-seeded Mason will face off against the ninth-seeded St. Joseph’s Hawks. Both schools will travel to the Barclays Center on Mar. 13 for the matchup. Mason will be looking to atone for the teams’ previous meeting back in January, when St. Joseph’s was able to edge past Mason, 75-73.

MASON FACULTY ATIF QARNI RUNS FOR CONGRESS

Mon, 11/03/2024 - 6:32pm

Fourth Estate/Andani Munkaila

Mason Adjunct Faculty runs for Congress with a focus on education reform

BY ANDANI MUNKAILA, SOCIAL MEDIA AND GRAPHICS EDITOR

Mason Adjunct Faculty and former high school teacher Atif Qarni is a Pakistani-American politician and war veteran. Gaining recognition for his work in education and public service, he served as the Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

According to his campaign, Qarni is now running for Congress in Virginia’s 10th district with a focus on education reform and improved access to quality education for all students. Qarni additionally shares plans to make advances in topics such as women’s rights, gun safety legislation and educational funding. 

Editor’s Note: This interview was edited for length and clarity.

What is your political party?

There’s no party registration in Virginia, but I’m a Democrat.

When I was deciding to get involved politically, I looked at my values to see which party aligned closely. Most of the alignment was with the Democratic Party. [I] feel that it was a bigger tent that made at least somewhat of an attempt to embrace marginalized groups. I didn’t feel that that was the case with the Republican Party.

What was it like teaching eighth graders?

Fun. There’s no boring day. There’s always good and challenging drama. It was the most meaningful because you’re becoming a teenager.

I really enjoyed my eighth grade year specifically. There was something really excited in me when I did my student teaching. I tried high school as well, but for some reason, eighth grade really resonated with me. 

How did your time in the military affect your teaching?

The military has a lot of discipline and structure, which can be good for the classroom. Sometimes too much structure can also be suffocating, so you have to kind of let go and be nimble and agile as you work with human beings in any kind of setting. 

The military really focuses on integrity and building relationships. I’m a combat veteran, and I was in Iraq. What folks don’t realize is that nine out of 10 times, a lot of issues get resolved and temperatures come down [when] we have conversations with people.

I don’t speak Arabic, but because of my background as a Muslim, I understood the cultural norms of Iraqis so many times [that] I was able to defuse situations.

So… same thing in teaching eighth grade. Children are human beings. Just like adults, they have feelings. There’s a lot going on in their lives. It’s not just about figuring out a two step equation.

When there’s tension between two students, I say, “Okay, let’s take a deep breath…Let’s try to understand what’s going on.”

Can you tell me more about when you won Teacher of The Year during your time teaching high school?

It’s an award that students and teachers have to nominate you for. After I won, I got a binder. And it was dozens of students who wrote letters.

I read them and they emphasized that, “He’s very good at building relationships [and] really caring for students or teachers.”

It’s funny because when you think of academics, you think of hey, content, right? They didn’t talk about the facts that they learned in history class. They talked about those relationships, that they felt welcome, had a lot of fun and enjoyed learning.

What is the IDEA act?

IDEA stands for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. There are a lot of vulnerable students that are neglected in our systems. Activists passed [it] several decades ago, but it’s never been fully funded. I really want to fund education. You know, we’ve spent a lot of taxpayer dollars funding war machines… and there’s too much global chaos which is not even keeping America safe. Only 10% of our federal budget is made up of education, while other countries are spending much more per capita. So it’s a significant issue and IDEA funding is one example of that, but there’s a lack of funding.

Why do you care about people?

It’s life experiences. You know, coming here as an immigrant, I faced a lot of challenges learning a new language [and] learning about a new culture… it’s an experience that a lot of us go through and then it changes you or gives you perspective. 

What are your main goals if elected into Congress?

I really want to economically uplift families. I want to focus on the “Child Care Stabilization Act” [and] I want to focus on IDEA. We have the inflation reduction… and then with healthcare, making sure that we’re regulating the prices of prescription drugs and making use of the very expanding Medicare [and] Medicaid reimbursement rates. 

There are other things that I want to do with gun safety legislation, pass a Women’s Health Protection Act which will protect women’s reproductive rights and [to] expand the Supreme Court. 

Not only do we have to get a Democrat elected as president, but we have to get the House back. When you have a political trifecta, that’s when you can really advance those things.

Can you tell us more about the Women’s Health Protection Act?

The Women’s Health Protection Act has been pending in Congress for a while. That’s really, really robust. It codifies that women’s reproductive care is safely available everywhere in the United States.

What are your thoughts on the Supreme Court?

The Supreme Court is very antiquated. They’re not representative of the American people. The diversity is still lacking [and] the perspectives are still lacking. I think they’re really out of touch [and] I think term limits would be good. I think they need to just go through a better accountability test. I know that they go to congressional hearings and so forth, but the current representation is definitely not representative of the majority of Americans right now.

The way it’s functioning right now is not an elected representative body and has way too much intervention in our lives. We need to rein that in and bring a big balance. I think one of the ways to do that is to expand the Supreme Court to 13 justices. Nobody should be able to serve on the Supreme Court for more than 20 years. That’s my policy position.

What are your thoughts on gun safety legislation?

What I believe is that military grade weapons do not belong in homes [or] schools. I’m talking about assault rifles [and] high capacity magazines. The vast majority of Americans want comprehensive gun safety legislation reform.

Because of special interest groups like the NRA, they keep locking it [and] they keep spreading misinformation.

I think also part of that [gun violence] is mental health. One, we have too easy of an access to assault rifles in America. Second, we still feel we have a stigma with mental health. We’re not doing a good job in addressing mental health. The “Mental Health Act” is one act that I also want to fully fund because we’re lacking social services [for] PTSD. 

What is the biggest issue facing our country?

There’s a lot, but I think polarization. Politicians like Donald Trump are exploiting the minds of human beings and they’re taking advantage of them. People care about the same things. They care about their children… they care about the children’s future. But, politicians are exploiting people’s economic fragility and saying, “You are struggling because of this distant person that you don’t know.”

There’s a divide and conquer approach between racial groups [and] between classes based on different identities and that’s the biggest problem: Political exploitation by politicians. We need more integrity in our politics.

Why should people vote for you?

I think they should vote for someone that cares for them [and] about their values, which I represent. I think they should vote for someone who’s going to go bat for them [and] is going to have their back, always. 

I think they should vote for someone that they can be proud of. My track record is that I’ve really led from the front. I want to make people proud of being Virginian and to be a voter of this district.

GAMEMASON 2024 VALORANT FINALS

Sat, 02/03/2024 - 5:06pm

Fourth Estate/Christian Segovia

A hometown rivalry matchup in Fairfax, Virginia at GAMEmason 2024

BY CHRISTIAN SEGOVIA, STAFF WRITER

George Mason University’s Valorant Esports (GMU) team faced Northern Virginia Community College’s Valorant team (NOVA) in the Valorant Finals at GAMEmason 2024 on Saturday, Feb. 24.

The competitive tournament format is a best-of-three series. Out of the seven playable maps in rotation, the players competed on maps Sunset, Bind and Ascent while maps Split, Breeze, Lotus and Icebox were banned.  

A commentator by the username “SHK” said on GMU Esports’ Twitch stream, “Sunset for sure is going to be interesting because GMU doesn’t play [Sunset] often. Bind, on the other hand, has been a strong map for both of these teams.” Ascent has been in the rotation since the game came out, that teams are usually running the same set of agents against each other.

Fourth Estate/Christian Segovia

GMU started with the attack on Sunset going up 4-0. GMU used its characters’ abilities to get into the site and plant the Spike, which is the main objective for the attacking team. NOVA had agent abilities like Sova’s recon bolt to scan enemies. They didn’t put it to use to get information from where opposing players would attack, giving GMU the upper hand.

GMU player with the gamertag “Blaze” capitalized on his teammates’ abilities and created space as character Raze to help them get into the site. GMU player, who goes by the gamertag “Ktran,” played Breach and stunned the enemy team with a blinding technique while his teammates took fights.

When NOVA switched to the attacking side, they played the slow game way into Sunset’s B site, throwing GMU off with timing not being prepared for their attacks. NOVA attempted GMU’s 11-6 lead, but GMU changed their plan and came out with the win on Sunset, 13-6. 

Fourth Estate/Christian Segovia

On the map Bind, GMU got off to a hot start on defense, winning 3-0. In round four, NOVA won in a 2 vs. 5 by isolating their fights and getting information about where the GMU players were.

NOVA won the half 7-5 as GMU switched to attack. GMU’s attacks were timed off which gave NOVA the advantage 10-5.  GMU took a timeout to fix their mistakes and caught up 12-10. 

Ktran was put into a 1 vs. 2 situation with no more ability charges and won the round for GMU. The home crowd cheered excitedly for their team’s comeback. Despite the return, GMU lost 13-11 in the following round. 

Fourth Estate/Christian Segovia

The final map was Ascent, and GMU got off to a great start on defense going up 3-0. GMU player, who goes by the gamertag “Jluy,” had Cypher’s spycam to see where the opponents were coming onto the site. GMU was putting their agents’ abilities to work as NOVA struggled to find any information on where the GMU players were located on site. To end the half, Blaze and Ktran each got two kills to put their team up 9-3.

GMU struggled to win some rounds after switching to the attacking side. After a timeout, it all changed. GMU player with the gamertag “Coco” got two kills on the B site while another GMU player, who goes by the “tony gawa”, got an additional kill. GMU pushed into the A site and put their lead up to 12-6.

GMU’s Blaze, tony gawa and Ktran pulled off a 3 vs. 4 in the final round and won the Finals 13-6. GMU was motivated by their home crowd. “The energy made us play even better… Yesterday when we played against some of the other teams, we didn’t do well without a crowd, but once we got a crowd behind us, we started winning,” Ktran said.

MASON ROLLS DAYTON, SECURES DOUBLE BYE IN A-10 TOURNAMENT

Sat, 02/03/2024 - 1:41pm

Fourth Estate/Mitchell Richtmyre

The Patriots dominated behind a career performance from Kennedy Harris

BY GABRIEL KING, SPORTS EDITOR

Mason women’s basketball defeated Dayton 78-53 on Wednesday at EagleBank Arena in their final home game of the season. With the win, the Patriots (23-5, 14-3 Atlantic 10) clinched a top-four seed and double bye in next week’s Atlantic 10 Tournament.

“This was really a good game to just finish our home season. I really was proud of the ladies. They went out there and took care of business,” Head Coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis said. Despite a slow start, the Patriots never trailed in the game and held the Flyers (11-17, 5-12) to 32.8% shooting.

Mason was led by Kennedy Harris, who scored a career-high 27 points. The Patriots had a 10-6 lead after the first quarter before Harris erupted for 15 points in the second quarter, giving Mason a 17-point halftime lead. “The game just flowed. My teammates would call me when I was open and I just knocked down the shots,” Harris said. 

The Patriots dominated the third quarter as well, outscoring the Flyers 25-17. Mason ended the third quarter on an 8-0 run to extend their lead to 25. The victory is Mason’s 11th by 20 or more points this season, including two against Dayton.

“It took us a little while to get started, but everybody got the chance to be a part of this,” Blair-Lewis said. Nine Patriots scored in the game, including three in double figures. Harris’ 27 points led the way along with 11 from Ta’Viyanna Habib and 10 from Zahirah Walton

Graduate student Jazmyn Doster and Seniors Taylor Jameson and Sonia Smith played their final games at EagleBank Arena. The trio will look to end their careers at Mason with the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth.

“To know how my teammates feel about me…is just very inspirational to go even harder for this last stretch of games that we have through March,” Smith said. 

The Patriots will likely have to win the A-10 Tournament to secure an NCAA bid, but still have a chance at receiving an at-large bid.

Mason will play at VCU in its regular season finale on Saturday, Mar. 2. Even with a double bye secured, Mason will look to end the regular season strong against an in-state rival. “It’s been the same mindset [since] the season. We’re just the next game up. We put our hard hats on, we put our head down… and we’ll prepare for VCU,” Blair-Lewis said.

Depending on other results in the A-10, the Patriots can finish anywhere between first and fourth in the conference. Mason will begin the A-10 Tournament on Mar. 8 in the quarterfinals. The full bracket and schedule will be finalized following Saturday’s games.

2/8 – STUDENT SENATE REFLECTS ON STUDENT TOWN HALL

Thu, 29/02/2024 - 4:48pm

Fourth Estate/Erica Munisar

Student Senate reflects on Feb. 8 Town Hall

On Feb. 8, Student Senate passed multiple pieces of legislation, a new election code with ranked-choice voting and held a 40-minute discussion about the Student Town Hall on Wednesday. A major portion of the session addressed issues of respect and gossip between members of Mason Student Government, or SG.

President Paul Wyche delivered an 18-minute executive report, expanding on emails between former Secretary Gabriel Curtis and Vice President of University Life Rose Pascarell, a focus from the Feb. 1 session. Wyche also addressed claims from the Feb. 1 session that former Speaker Colin McAuley sent an email to Pascarell in fall 2023. The email reflected that McAuley declined to have SG host a town hall. 

“It was an email from former speaker McAuley, which everyone on the current lead team, except for Jack, was cc’ed on… For that written note [email]… I had no foot in the game, I had no… say in whether student government would do it or not in terms of this written note, so do I agree in the method of the process that came to be in terms of how this was… organized or decided, no, not necessarily,” said Wyche.

McAuley, who now works as a Student Assistant to the Vice-President of University Life, shared a full statement to the Fourth Estate regarding the email between him and Pascarell. The statement can be viewed below. 

“On Nov. 9 there was a general body meeting for the Student Senate that Vice-President Rose Pascarell requested to attend… where many Student Senators voiced that they do not believe SG should host a town hall and rather the President’s office should hold this town hall,” McAuley said. “Where the confusion occurs is that it is being said that I made a unilateral decision to forgo the right to host this town hall…that decision was based on a lengthy discussion.”

In the full statement, Fourth Estate released a recording of the Nov. 9 Senate session and verified that two senators publicly objected to an SG hosted town hall.

In the last portion of Student Senate, the gallery was invited to sit at the senate roundtable for discussion of the Student Town Hall where 13 senators and nine gallery members made comments, each limited to one minute and 30 seconds per comment.

“I think the student outreach was not great… I had to ask PR to do outreach to RSOs… We should have had a moderator because it got really intense, really fast. I wasn’t there in person… but I watched it live and it was rough,” Speaker Pro Tempore Bas Rawat said.

“Having limited question times, like we’re having in this debate right now, would really help in limiting those triple questions that were asked,” Speaker Scott Tatum said.

“It would be better if we made the next town hall a panel, so like President Washington, Vice-President Pascarell, maybe a student [representative] and then another person if applicable… another idea is to bring in Trishana Bowden to discuss foundation investments because that was a big thing, and a lot of people were dumbfounded that President Washington doesn’t control that,” Wyche said.

Wyche noted to the chamber to refrain from labeling themselves as SG members when asking questions at future student events. He also added that town halls should happen once a year or ideally once a semester. 

“I know President Washington’s reactions or disrespectfulness might’ve taken some people aback a certain way. I am not defending him, but I think that there is somewhat of a cultural and racial background to why he might act a certain way,” Wyche said.

“It would be great to set future town halls to two hours or 90 minutes,” Sen. Gibran Adnan said.

The Senate also passed four resolutions and a new Election Judicial Board and the Disputes Board, or EDC code with ranked-choice voting for the upcoming presidential election.

The Senate also passed the following four resolutions: R. #42 A Resolution to Support an Earth Month Environmental Fair, R. #43 A Resolution to Adopt a Mentorship Program, R. #44 A Resolution to Host a Campus Housing Beach Volleyball Tournament to Foster Community at Mason and R. #45 A Resolution to Support the February 24th Tailgate.

STATEMENT FROM FORMER FALL 2023 SPEAKER COLIN MCAULEY

BY COLIN, MCAULEY, CONTRIBUTOR

Editor’s Note: Relating to a Student Town Hall on Feb. 7, claims emerged in two Student Senate sessions on Feb. 1 and Feb. 8 that former Speaker Colin McAuley sent an email in fall 2023 to Vice President Rose Pascarell. The email reflected that McAuley declined to have SG host a town hall. McAuley, who resigned over winter break and now works for Pascarell as Student Assistant to the Vice-President of University Life, was invited to provide context for the email.

The minutes for Pascarell’s presentation to Student Senate on Nov. 9 were not available in the Mason Student Government Legislation Log. However, Fourth Estate received access to and uploaded a recording of the presentation.

Fourth Estate determined that a total of 20 questions and concerns were directed at Pascarell during her presentation. However, the number of senators who spoke is unknown due to the nature of the recording. While there was no formal discussion on who should host the Town Hall, two then senators, former Sen. Jack Fedak and Speaker Pro Tempore Bas Rawat, directly voiced objections to Pascarell about an SG-hosted town hall. The remaining senators provided comments without a stance.

There is currently a lot of talk in the Student Senate about what happened with Student Government’s decision not to host the Student Town Hall with President [Gregory] Washington. I want to share my recollection of the events leading to that decision as I am currently being blamed for making this decision on behalf of the Student Senate. 

On Nov. 9 there was a general body meeting for the Student Senate that Vice-President Rose Pascarell requested to attend. She wanted to speak with us about the letters that Washington was sending to the student body. At this meeting, there was a 55-minute discussion between the Student Senate and Pascarell where many Student Senators voiced that they do not believe SG should host a town hall and rather the President’s office should hold this town hall. 

While I would provide the minutes for this discussion, they aren’t available as they weren’t recorded for this discussion. 

At the end of the meeting, Pascarell requested that the Student Government hosts a town hall. At this point, I spoke for the first time in this discussion, and said to Pascarell that from the discussion that was had, it is clear that the Student Senate would prefer for the President’s office to host this town hall. 

After the meeting I spoke with the Student Senators leading SG’s response to the war in Palestine. We strategized what we would like to see from the town hall. From there, I worked with Pascarell to ensure that a town hall was held as it was the request of my organization. 

I publicized every update and conferred with Senate Leadership on all decisions. At no point was I told that we should change course. The option to host it ourselves was available, but nobody would support it. Where the confusion occurs is that it is being said that I made a unilateral decision to forgo the right to host this town hall. While the words came out of my mouth, that decision was based on a lengthy discussion in which I facilitated the discussion and did not share my opinion.

If I were to make a decision, I would’ve had the Student Senate host a town hall last semester, and then continue them on a monthly basis to create an avenue for students to speak with their President. However, as Speaker of the Student Senate, I am beholden to what the members of my organization ask for. 

Instead of taking initiative and requesting to host all future town halls, the Student Senate is choosing to blame a former member for their problems. If the Student Senate wants to hold town halls with the President of the University, they have the power to do so. This is why I’m confused that I’m being blamed for anything. All I did was ensure that upset students had an opportunity to speak with the Chief Executive of the University, regardless of who hosted it or not. 

I hope this clears up the confusion on my role in this business, and I hope the Student Senate takes advantage of the power they hold to make things happen, rather than continuing the consistent internal conflict that has plagued the organization for years.

2/22 — STUDENT SENATE ADDS NEW CHAIR AND SENATORS, PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR RESIGNS

Thu, 29/02/2024 - 4:30pm

Student Senate passes seven pieces of legislation amidst membership changes during session

BY ERICA MUNISAR, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

On Feb. 22, a Student Senate session was held where new senators were appointed. This followed former Presidential Advisor Zayd Hamid’s resignation, all while the Senate moved to pass seven pieces of legislation. The legislation included approval for giveaway items and Mason Student Government, or SG, hosted events such as a Kickback and a GIVE BLACK Summit.

President Paul Wyche, who serves as a non-voting Student Representative on the Board of Visitors, thanked members for attending the BOV meeting earlier in the day. Wyche also shared that a Tuition Town Hall was confirmed for March 21 at 10 a.m in the Hub Ballroom.

Former Student Presidential Advisor Zayd Hamid announced his resignation from Student Government after being in the organization since fall 2021. The full speech can be viewed below.

Hamid spoke to the environment of the chamber. “We cannot as a bipartisan organization… be a cohesive partner to the university if we are not cohesive partners to each other… We are here to serve 40,000 students to our fullest extent across organizational and institutional capacities.”

“I worked tirelessly to rebuild student governance [sic] organizational presence and reputation with student groups, administrators and other campus stakeholders… It has been a great honor to do so for the last two and a half years. And with that, I formally submit my resignation from the Student Government at George Mason University…“ Hamid said.

Sen. Gabriel Curtis was elected as Chair of the Administrative and Financial Affairs Committee uncontested and won with 22 votes in affirmation and three abstentions. Curtis shared that he has plans to contribute to a Town Hall, increase transparency on the fee committee and monitor tuition increases.

Additionally, two new senators, Sophomore Ryan Afshar and Sophomore Jack Gibson were appointed by the chamber.

“I would like to be a part of the Student Government here at George Mason because I’d like to work on a few initiatives. Some of those initiatives I am interested in doing are academic support programs, student wellness activities [and] student advocacy campaigns.” Sen. Afshar said.

“I liked the town hall [and] I would like to have more means to be involved… I want to boost your engagement and [have] an opportunity to get more people to join Student Government.” Sen. Gibson said.

The Senate moved to pass seven pieces of legislation.

B. #46 A Resolution to Support the April 11 Farmer’s Market was passed with 25 votes in the affirmation and one abstention. 

B. #30 A Bill to Amend the Code of Student Government (Fee Committee) was sent back to the Administrative and Financial Affairs Committee after 30 minutes of discussion and debate. The Bill originally intended to “To select a Student Representative on the University Fee Committee from among the members of the Administrative and Financial Affairs Committee.”

In the midst of the legislation period, nine senators left the chamber, leaving 21 senators to vote on legislation.

B. #31 A Bill To Amend The Code of Student Government (Code Bills) was passed with 20 votes in the affirmation and one abstention. “At the beginning of the academic year, the Speaker of the Senate shall identify six (6) General Body meetings as Amendment Meetings… The Speaker may change the time of an Amendment Meeting if this change occurs one month prior to the previously selected time.” The new code said.

B. #32 A Bill to Amend the Code of Student Governance (Undersecretary of Government and Community Relations) was passed with 19 votes in the affirmation and two abstentions. The code shared a job description. “The Undersecretary of Government and Community Relations for Business Relations shall be responsible for representing concerns and interests of the student body to private sector officials in the local Fairfax community, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the Washington, D.C area…”

B. #33 A Bill to Amend The Rules of the Student Senate (Volunteer Requirement) was passed with 20 votes in the affirmation and one abstention. The Bill would require all organization members to volunteer one hour a month.

B. #34 A Bill to Allocate Funds for the Presidential Discretionary Fund (GIVE BLACK Summit) was passed with 19 votes in the affirmation and one abstention. The Bill allocated funds for giveaway items such as candy, face masks, moisturizer, hair spray, hair scrunchies, PURE AROMA essential oils, sleeping bonnets and one durag among more.

R. #48 A Resolution to Support the Kickback Spring 2024 was passed with 19 votes in the affirmation and one abstention. “This event allows students to learn about the departments within Student Government and their achievements.”

B. #35 A Bill to Allocate Funds for The Kickback Spring 2024 was passed with 18 votes in the affirmation and one abstention. The Bill includes funding for items such as stickers, Dunkin Donuts, s’mores, and Fujifilm Instax Mini Instant Film Value Packs. 

After legislation, Wyche gave a presentation about his GIVE BLACK initiative.: “The ‘GIVE BLACK’ initiative is a collaborative effort between GMU Student Government and various student organizations representing Black, African-Heritage, and Caribbean communities. Together, we are dedicated to uplifting individuals within these communities and fostering a collective commitment to teach others the importance of giving back, both locally and globally.” The mission statement said.

The session lasted for a total of two hours and 33 minutes, beginning at 4:43 p.m and ending at 7:16 p.m. Of the 30 senators who were present during the session, 19 senators remained and continued to vote on legislation until Wyche’s presentation. Four senators were absent for the session.

RESIGNATION SPEECH: FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR ZAYD HAMID

The full speech of former Presidential Advisor Zayd Hamid’s resignation from Mason Student Government on Feb. 22

BY ZAYD HAMID, CONTRIBUTOR

Members of the Student Senate,

I recall with great frustration that qualms were raised when the last member of LEAD resigned without giving a public statement. Allow me to ensure that no such qualms are raised today as I deliver this final speech as a servant leader and member of the organization’s leadership team.

For the past two and a half years, it has been my great honor to serve within George Mason University’s Student Government. It has been a formative experience for me, a story of great triumph and, yes, great shortcomings and loss. Allow me to, at this time, share with you elements of my journey so that my hard-earned wisdom may be learned from by this organization’s proven leaders and those emerging into leadership roles now. 

Shortly after joining this organization in fall of 2021 as an elected freshman senator, I became this organization’s first-ever outreach liaison. And I carried that distinction with honor, working tirelessly to rebuild student government’s organizational presence and reputation with student groups and administrators. Many of you, particularly our younger senators, are too new to this university to remember the campus environment during the height of the pandemic. To rebuild relationships and, more importantly, build trust is an essential part of your work as senators. To represent students, you must reach them where they are; visiting student groups, yes, but also engaging in gestures as simple as having coffee with a stranger and hearing them out. 

Too often in our work, particularly as it relates to administrator relations and the sheer amount of procedure we find ourselves engrossed in, senators may become vulnerable to losing sight of the average student experience outside of this organization. A hard but necessary line is to walk between student and government; I’ve always said we, as members of student government, should be students to each other and our peers and government to administrators.

We must be agents in shared governance, yes, but we cannot forget that we are students too. We have coursework to finish, classes to attend, jobs and internships to experience and pay our bills through, and, ultimately, a degree to achieve in a timely manner. All these considerations necessitate upon us an organizational norm of grace, empathy, and camaraderie that burgeons to be cultivated. And, yes, that type of culture requires a commitment to being socialized accordingly and developing behaviors that support the perpetuation of those norms. ​

Student Government being students to each other covered, I move to the matter of shared governance. Speaking administratively, we cannot as a bipartisan organization construed with present dynamics effectively be a cohesive partner to the university if we are not cohesive partners with each other. That extends to the relationship between senators internally, yes, but it also manifests as a matter of senatorial relations to the Executive Cabinet both institutionally and interpersonally. And I can speak from experience there, having served as a leader of both branches. 

And I could choose to continue this speech by enumerating the accomplishments of that leadership; co-planning Mason Lobbies for three years, facilitating passage of over two dozen courses and two curricular framework changes as student representative on the organizing two tuition town halls, creating a formal mentorship program, etc. But I will not spend any more time on that. Instead, I will use the remainder of my time to impart the wisdom I have learned in these two and a half years of servant leadership. 

Accomplishment is derived from merit. To be in the meeting rooms you want to be in requires the continual, steadfast accumulation of merit in the eyes of changemakers. It is not enough to simply demand representation; you must strive to make the benefits of student representation so self-evident that it cannot be denied. And that is done through the skillful art of strategic diplomacy; know when you must be the carrot and know when you must be the stick. Know when you must work with administration and with the system and know when you must work with students and without the system. And, most of all, know this: you can learn from everyone, but you must be selective and cautious with whom you choose to be guided by. Keep your head clear and your resolve strong and the rest will come. 

We are here to serve 40,000 students to our fullest extent across organizational and institutional capacities. It has been an honor to do so for the last two-and-a-half years. And, with that, I formally submit my resignation from the Student Government of George Mason University effective at the end of today’s Cabinet.

MASON NOTCHES SENIOR DAY VICTORY AGAINST RICHMOND

Tue, 27/02/2024 - 1:07am

Fourth Estate/Jordan Giles

Seniors led the way for the Patriots in a big win

BY GABRIEL KING, SPORTS EDITOR

Mason women’s basketball defeated Richmond 82-76 in overtime on Saturday at EagleBank Arena. In a matchup of the two of the A-10’s top teams, the Patriots (22-5, 13-3 Atlantic 10) prevailed to keep their title hopes alive. 

“This was a really good game for us to bounce back from the last two weeks. We’ve been inundated with injuries and sickness, it was just really good to be full-steam ahead today,” Head Coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis said. The Patriots were led by 23 points from Senior Sonia Smith and a season-high 19 from Senior Taylor Jameson.

“I feel like in this situation, we’ve been waiting for Richmond. We were prepared and we were ready to take the opportunity,” Jameson said. The Patriots are now one game back of the Spiders (24-5, 14-2) in the Atlantic 10 standings.

Mason led for over 34 minutes, but Richmond rallied to take a two-point lead with 1:10 remaining. Smith then hit two free throws to tie the game, and the Spiders failed to win the game on their final possession of regulation. The Patriots outscored the Spiders 14-8 in overtime behind back-to-back 3-pointers from Ta’Viyanna Habib.

“You want to have these gut-out wins at the end of the season like this,” Blair-Lewis said. The Patriots have now won three consecutive games, all coming by single digits. In all three games, Mason rallied from fourth quarter deficits to win. 

Jameson cemented herself in the Mason record books with her performance. The senior guard scored her 1,000th career point for the Patriots and moved up to 10th in program history for 3-point field goals. “It’s definitely a full-circle moment,” Jameson said. “Just being part of a legacy, being part of the history of this program. It means the world.”

Richmond was led by 20 points from Maggie Doogan and 16 from Grace Townsend. The Spiders committed 18 turnovers, including three in overtime, which proved costly.

The win moved the Patriots into a three-way tie for third place in A-10 with Duquesne and VCU. Mason holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over both teams. Richmond fell back into a tie with Saint Joseph’s for the conference lead. All five teams are separated by just one game with one week remaining in the regular season.

Mason will play its final home game against Dayton on Wednesday. The Patriots will then travel to VCU on Mar. 2 to close out the regular season. Mason can secure a double bye in the A-10 Tournament with two wins.

“I feel like we have a very great chance of getting two byes. I think we will get two byes if we keep playing how we should. So it’s very motivational to win at the end of the day,” Smith said. “That’s our motivation to keep pushing through teams [and] keep beating them.”

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS INITIATIVE PROMOTES CIVIC ENGAGEMENT

Tue, 27/02/2024 - 12:58am

Fourth Estate/Viviana Smith

The Know Your Rights initiative was introduced by Griffin Crouch, the Chair of the Academics Committee in the Student Senate, in hopes to foster a more informed and engaged campus community

BY ALI ALI 

In his first semester at Mason, Freshman Griffin Crouch joined Mason Student Government in an effort to make a difference for the student body. He served as Secretary between October 2023 and January 2024, where he aided Clerk Austin Emery. On Jan. 25, Crouch was elected as Chair of the Academics Committee. “I am still getting used to the role but excited for the months and initiatives ahead,” said Crouch.

In fall 2023, Crouch initiated the “Know Your Rights” campaign, inspired by observing various protests taking place on campus. Crouch shared that an uneven playing field, characterized by a lack of awareness of rights, rules and resources could lead to heightened tensions on campus. 

The initiative, which was passed on Nov. 30, 2023, aims to provide students with a comprehensive guide to their rights, Mason’s rules, and other protest related. The guide itself has been published on the Student Government website. It simplifies university policies on public demonstrations and free speech, outlines the limits of rules concerning First Amendment rights and directs students to appropriate channels if they feel unjustly treated. It also educates students on the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, and the Sixth Amendment right to counsel.

The Guide starts off with a note on Mason’s Notes, which states: “This campaign intends to ensure a level playing field for everyone at Mason, by spreading awareness about rules protest and rallies for students, members of the general public and faculty.” The flier shows protesters the limitations they must adhere to, which include Sound , Space, Poster and General Public Policies.

While the promotional phase is set to conclude in February, Crouch sees improvements to address concerns on campus. Plans include emphasizing all First Amendment rights, incorporating specifics regarding new University policies and responding to student feedback to enhance the guide.

The guide mentions resources available to students which includes forms and contacts provided to them by the university. First, an Incident Reporting Form can be filled out by a protester in an event of a violation of constitutionally-protected speech. Once the protester either completes the form or a Bias Incident Reporting Form, which itself can be reported after an act of “intolerance, hate, harassment, or exclusion” is found, then they are contacted by campus resources for further assistance.

Crouch shared his thoughts on the recent policy change requiring students to present identification if covering their faces, particularly in protest situations. “I think it’s a good sign that all the Mason policy requires is that someone with a face covering needs to show identification only to an authorized Mason employee,” Crouch said. “That means their identities won’t be found out by anyone trying to dox them, as has happened elsewhere.” 

The Know Your Rights initiative is an effort to ensure that Mason students are well-informed and able to safely participate in civic engagement on campus. “Don’t be afraid to exercise your First Amendment free speech, always try to be civil and respectful, and Know Your Rights,” Crouch said. “Hopefully, constant improvement of the guide will outlast me and become a permanent part of how Student Government helps the Mason community.”

MASON SHOCKS NO. 16 DAYTON FOR HISTORIC WIN

Fri, 23/02/2024 - 4:53pm

Fourth Estate/Mitchell Richtmyre

The Patriots picked up a signature win in thrilling fashion

BY GABRIEL KING, SPORTS EDITOR

Mason men’s basketball upset No. 16 Dayton 71-67 on Wednesday night for its third straight victory. The Patriots (18-8, 7-6 Atlantic 10) used a 19-0 second half run to stun the Flyers (21-5, 11-3). 

The victory is Mason’s highest-ranked win since the Patriots defeated No. 2 Connecticut in the 2006 Elite Eight. “That’s a big-time win for George Mason basketball. I’m proud of these guys,” Head Coach Tony Skinn said. After shooting 33.3% in the first half, the Patriots shot 70.6% and outscored the Flyers 44-34 in the second half.

Freshman guard Baraka Okojie led the Patriots with 19 points, all in the second half, shooting 9-9 from the free-throw line. Okojie sealed the victory with two free throws after Dayton cut Mason’s lead to two with 18 seconds remaining. “To be able to go down and just knock down 9-9 at the free-throw line … That’s ballgame right there,” Skinn said.

Fourth Estate/Mitchell Richtmyre

Despite the return of Darius Maddox, Okojie started his third consecutive game for the Patriots. The freshman erupted in the second half after a quiet first half, which propelled Mason to a monumental win. “I came out in the second half and just decided to attack their defense,” Okojie said.

The Patriots outrebounded the Flyers 33-27, led by six rebounds from Keyshawn Hall. “We just had to make sure we had our technique right for our defense. Closing out the right way and boxing out,” Hall said. Hall also scored 17 points and shot 9-10 from the free-throw line. 

Mason fed off the energy from a raucous crowd throughout the game. “It was amazing. I feel like this is the best game of the year for us. I love the fans,” Hall said. The victory is the Patriots’ first home win against a nationally-ranked opponent in program history.

Fourth Estate/Mitchell Richtmyre

Dayton was led by 26 points from All-American candidate DaRon Holmes II. Holmes shot 8-15 from the field and 2-4 on 3-pointers, but was the only Flyer to score in double figures.

With the win, the Patriots now sit in sixth place in the Atlantic 10. Mason is two games back of VCU for fourth place in the conference. Dayton fell out of first place with the loss, as the Flyers now sit in third behind Richmond and Loyola Chicago.

Following their historic victory, the Patriots will look to carry the momentum into the final five regular season games. “This is what the standard needs to be… The belief is there. And now we’ve just got to be able to flip the page and keep that rolling,” Skinn said.

Mason will begin a two-game road stretch against Loyola Chicago on Saturday. The Patriots lost to the Ramblers in Fairfax on Feb. 7. Mason will then travel to the Bronx to play Fordham on Feb. 27.

MASON WEEKLY CRIME LOG

Sun, 18/02/2024 - 11:17pm

The Fourth Estate

BY ALI ALI, NEWS EDITOR

Sunday, Feb. 4

No incident(s) to report.

Monday, Feb. 5. – Lot K, The HUB Mail Room

Case 24-001378/Theft of Vehicle: Complainant (GMU) reported the theft of property from an unsecured vehicle. (Location: Lot K)

Case 24-001373/Theft from Building: Complainant (GMU) reported the theft of unattended property from an unsecure area. (Location: The HUB Mail Room)

Tuesday, Feb. 6 – Lot A, Arlington Campus

Case 24-001429/Simple Assault/Intimidation:. Complainant (GMU) reported involving multiple Subjects. (Location: Lot A)

Case 24-001400/Credit Card Fraud/Theft from Building: Complainant (GMU) reported unauthorized charges on stolen credit card. (Location: Arlington Campus)

Wednesday, Feb. 7

Case 24-001451/Stalking/Use of profane, threatening, or indecent language over public airways or by other methods: Complainant (GMU) reported receiving unwanted contact from an unknown Subject. (Location: Hylton Performing Arts Center, Sci-Tech Campus)

Thursday, Feb. 8

Case 24-001518/Trespassing/Warrant Service: Subject (GMU) was issued a releasable summons for violating a previously issued criminal trespass notice. (Location: Van Metre Hall, Mason Square)

Case 24-001515/Hit and Run/Damage/Destruction/Vandalism of Property: Complainant (GMU) reported a hit and run of a vehicle. (Location: Rappahannock Parking Deck)

Case 24-001515/Hit and Run/Damage/Destruction/Vandalism of Property: Complainant (GMU) reported a hit and run of a vehicle. (Location: Shenandoah Park Deck)

Case #24-001489/Drunkenness: Subject (Non-GMU) was arrested and transported to Fairfax County Adult Detention Center for being highly intoxicated in public. (Location: George Mason Boulevard)

Friday, Feb 9

Case 24-001561/Drunkenness/Disorderly Conduct: Subject (Non-GMU) was arrested and transported to Fairfax County Adult Detention Center for being highly intoxicated in public. (Location: CUE Bus Stop)

Saturday, Feb. 10th

Case 24-001604/Theft From Building: Complainant (GMU) reported the theft of property from an unsecured location. (Location: DeLaski Performing Arts)

Case 24-001598/Use of profane, threatening, or indecent language over public airways or by other methods: Complainant (GMU) reported receiving unwanted contact from an unknown Subject. (Location: Johnson Center Bookstore)

Case 24-001595/Theft From Building: Complainant (GMU) reported the theft of property from an unsecured location. (Location: Johnson Center)

Case 24-001579/Liquor Law Violations: Subject (GMU) was referred to Office of Student Conduct (OSC) for possessing alcohol while under age 21. (Location: Patriot Circle/Shenandoah River Lane)

Case 24-001574/Liquor Law Violations/Medical Assist: Subject (GMU) was referred to Office of Student Conduct (OSC) for possessing alcohol while under age 21. (Location: Potomac Heights)

This information was retrieved from the George Mason University Department of Police and Public Safety Daily Crime and Fire Log.

MASON WBB BOUNCES BACK WITH WIN OVER GW

Sun, 18/02/2024 - 11:01pm

Fourth Estate/Mitchell Richtmyre

The Patriots avoided a second straight loss with a rivalry win

BY GABRIEL KING, SPORTS EDITOR

Following its midweek loss to Davidson, Mason women’s basketball defeated George Washington 60-57 on Saturday at EagleBank Arena. The Patriots (20-5, 11-3 Atlantic 10) are now 5-0 following losses this season.

“I thought this was a real gritty and resilient win for our program. We’ve been down some players due to injuries,” Head Coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis said. With the win, the Patriots sweep the season series against the Revolutionaries (10-16, 3-11) for the first time since 2019.

The Patriots were without Sonia Smith, their leading scorer, for the second straight game. Paula Suárez and Zahirah Walton returned after missing Wednesday’s loss at Davidson. Suárez scored 16 points and shot 4-5 from 3-point range in her return.

The Patriots started the game on a 9-0 run and led by as many as 16 points in the second quarter. The Revolutionaries stormed back to take a 46-45 lead at the end of the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Mason held GW to 4-12 shooting to secure the victory.

Jazmyn Doster led Mason with a season-high 17 points on 8-14 shooting. The veteran center also grabbed eight rebounds for the Patriots. “[We’re] showing everyone in the conference that this is what we’re capable of. Not where our limit is, but what we’re capable of,” Doster said. 

“Jazmyn was huge for our win tonight. After coming off just such a disappointing loss to Davidson, I really thought this was a team win, led by Jazmyn Doster,” Blair-Lewis said. Along with a season-high in points, Doster posted season highs in assists and field goals made.

The Revolutionaries’ second half run was led by 14 points and a game-high 15 rebounds from Mayowa Taiwo. Despite Taiwo’s performance, Mason outscored GW 15-11 in the fourth quarter to overcome the Revolutionaries’ run.

“We just wanted to make sure that we recovered and that we rebounded,” Blair-Lewis said. “And then on our end, we wanted to go inside to Jazmyn and get contact to be able to get to the free throw line.”

With the win, Mason remains in the top four of the A-10. The Patriots are still alive for the regular season A-10 championship, as they are two games back with four games remaining. Two of Mason’s remaining games are against fellow top-four teams, Richmond and VCU

The Patriots will return to action on Wednesday at St. Bonaventure. Mason will then head home for a matchup with in-state rival and current A-10 leader Richmond on Feb. 24.  

MASON UNDER FEDERAL INVESTIGATION FOR ANTISEMITISM FOLLOWING ALLOWANCE OF PRO-PALESTINE PROTESTS

Sun, 18/02/2024 - 9:19pm

Fourth Estate/Andani Munkaila

DOE investigation raises First Amendment questions amidst pro-Palestine protests on campus.

BY ERICA MUNISAR, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Editor’s Note: Fourth Estate uses language in accordance with AP style guidelines. For more information on the use of the “Israel-Hamas war”, please visit the AP Stylebook.

The full letters from the Department of Education, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares and Students For Justice in Palestine at George Mason University can be read below. A full transcript of the Feb. 7 Student Town Hall can be seen on Fourth Estate.

Since Dec. 22, George Mason University is currently under federal investigation for “Title VI – National Origin Discrimination Involving Religion” alongside 15 other pending investigations from previous years. In response, President Dr. Gregory Washington has attributed the recent investigation to his approval of pro-Palestine protests during a recent Student Town Hall on Feb. 7. 

The investigation has raised discussion about free speech and the First Amendment, particularly in Virginia universities’ decisions to allow or disallow pro-Palestine protests as shown by letters from the Department of Education, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares and Students for Justice in Palestine at Mason, or SJP Mason.

During a Feb. 7 Student Town Hall hosted by University Life, nine out of 11 questions referenced the Israel-Hamas war and campus protests. At the Town Hall, Washington addressed concerns and shared a letter addressed to him by the Department of Education.  

“Dear President Washington: The U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) received a complaint on November 29, 2023, against George Mason University (University). The complaint alleged that the University discriminated against students on basis of national origin (shared Jewish ancestry) by failing to respond appropriately to incidents of harassment in October and November 2023,” Dan Greenspahn, Supervisory Attorney for the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights said.

Washington responded to the claim in his presentation by first addressing reports of antisemitism on campus. “We had more than 70 incident reports that came to our offices [which] were about instances of antisemitism… We’ve had now two confirmed assaults on students. Those were both to students of Jewish descent,” Washington said.

Washington then claimed that Mason is under federal investigation for allowing student protests. “We have received now hundreds of letters and calls, mostly angry, that we are allowing student protests and we are allowing our students to use hateful language… The reality of the situation is right now the university is under investigation by the Department of Education because we’ve allowed the protests to continue,” Washington said.

“Look, I have been asked on numerous occasions to stop the student protests. Even when you’re protesting against me, I still support it because I support freedom of speech,” Washington said. 

Washington then claimed that other universities have shut down pro-Palestine protests over face coverings or experienced pushback due to allegations of hateful language. 

He explained Mason’s new Concealment of Identity Policy, requiring students wearing face coverings to show ID to authorized officers if requested, is a method to enable protests without shutdowns. “That’s our way of meeting the spirit of the law while simultaneously allowing you to protest, and not doing what other institutions are doing when students show up in face masks and shut the whole protest down… You will see that we are actually supporting First Amendment speech more than you think.”

However, details as to how the Concealment of Identity Policy will be efficiently enforced within protest settings remain unclear as of Feb. 18. 

Washington said that pushback against pro-Palestine protests is due to perceptions of the language used during the protests. “There’s a reason why people are angry and you’re seeing such a pushback [with shut down protests by other institutions]… When our students marched across campus and you use slogans like ‘from the river to the sea,’ we have other students who see that as the annihilation of their culture…,” Washington said.

In another letter provided during the Student Town Hall, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares supported this sentiment: “Virginia College and University Presidents… groups like ‘Students for Justice in Palestine’ have repeatedly held demonstrations in Virginia where students chant ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.’ This statement is a call for the complete destruction of Israel and a denial of its right to exist… The First Amendment does not protect speech that is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action, and which is likely to incite or produce such action,” Miyares said.

On Nov. 8, SJP Mason made a post claiming what their chants mean, further alleging that “zionists have fallen for typical racist, orientalist tropes and attempted to twist our messaging.”

The investigation of Mason and Student Town Hall follows the holding of 13 protests by SJP Mason since Oct. 10, including one protest during President Joe Biden’s visit to Sci-Tech campus, where Biden’s speech was interrupted by at least 14 pro-Palestine protestors who were not confirmed as official members of SJP Mason. In their most recent protest on Feb. 8, SJP Mason made funding allegations towards Washington which were disputed.

Along with the protests, The Office of The President and Office of the Vice President published eight letters relating to the Israel-Hamas war on the following dates: Oct. 10, Oct. 17, Oct. 25, Nov. 2, Nov. 13, Nov. 14, Nov. 28 and Nov. 28 [Nov. 13 is not available online, so it is shared below]. “In my leisure, I call in my letters for Palestinian self-determination, for Palestinian state. I support that, all right? I also support Israeli and Jewish safety and defense. I support both,” Washington said during the Student Town Hall.

The letters do not address all reports of incidents on campus.

On Oct. 30, a post went viral on X, gaining 2.9 million views after two unidentified women ripped up a flyer of kidnapped Israeli children in the Johnson Center. Mason responded to the situation with a statement on social media, however, Fourth Estate could not locate a published letter from the University regarding the incident. The incident is reported as “Pending” in the Daily Crime and Fire Log.

On Nov. 1, an unidentified individual distributed antisemitic fliers to students in the Johnson Center pertaining to the media. Fourth Estate could not locate a published response from the University. The incident is not reflected in the Daily Crime and Fire Log.

On Nov. 11, SJP Mason reported receiving racist and Islamophobic remarks from counter-protestors. Fourth Estate could not locate a published response from the University. The incident is not reflected in the Daily Crime and Fire Log.

On Nov. 14, a fight broke out between a pro-Palestine protest and counter-protest in which three individuals were detained. However during this protest, a flag representing Lehi or the Stern Gang, which was declared a “Zionist terrorist organization” by Oxford, was flown over the third-floor balcony by a masked individual. The flag was not addressed in the Nov. 14 letter. The incident is reported as “Cleared by Arrest” in the Daily Crime and Fire Log.

LETTERS PROVIDED AT FEB. 7 STUDENT TOWN HALL Letters shared from Mason regarding federal investigation of antisemitism and pro-Palestine protests.

BY ERICA MUNISAR, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

During a recent Student Town Hall on Feb. 7, University Life physically shared documents and letters from the following: A Letter from Supervisory Attorney for the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights Dan Greenspahn; a letter from Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares; a statement from Students For Justice in Palestine at George Mason University; and letters from the Office of the President on Oct. 10, Oct. 17, Nov. 2, Nov. 28 and Nov. 28.

As of Feb. 18, there are eight letters from the Office of The President and Office of the Vice President regarding the Israel-Hamas war which were released on the following dates: Oct. 10, Oct. 17, Oct. 25, Nov. 2, Nov. 13, Nov. 14, Nov. 28 and Nov. 28 [Nov. 13 is not available online, so it is shared below].

Not all letters were physically shared at the Student Town Hall. Additionally, not all eight letters have been publicly shared online.

The documents pertain to an ongoing federal investigation of George Mason University for “Title VI – National Origin Discrimination Involving Religion.”

 

Letter written from Dan Greenspahn, Supervisory Attorney for the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights to President Dr. Gregory Washington:

“Re: Case No. 11-24-2106

George Mason University

Dear President Washington:

The U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) received a complaint on November 29, 2023, against George Mason University (University). The Complainant alleged that the University discriminated against students on the basis of national origin (shared Jewish ancestry) by failing to respond appropriately to incidents of harassment in October and November 2023.

OCR enforces Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), 42 U.S.C. Section 2000d et seq., and its implementing regulation, at 34 C.F.R. Part 100, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin, including shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics, in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance from the Department of Education. Because the University receives federal financial assistance from the Department of Education, OCR has jurisdiction over it pursuant to Title VI.

Because OCR determined that it has jurisdiction and that the complaint was timely filed, OCR is opening the complaint for investigation. OCR will investigate the following issue:

Whether the University responded to alleged harassment of students based on their national origin (shared Jewish ancestry) in a manner consistent with the requirements of Title VI.

Please note that opening an investigation in no way implies that OCR has made a determination on the merits of the complaint. During the investigation, OCR is a neutral fact-finder, collecting and analyzing relevant evidence from the Complainant, the University, and other sources, as appropriate. OCR will ensure that its investigation is legally sufficient and fully responds to the allegation in accordance with the provisions of the Case Processing Manual. Please open this link for additional information about OCR’s Complaint Processing Procedures.

When appropriate, a complaint may be resolved before the conclusion of an investigation if the university expresses an interest to OCR in resolving the allegation(s) and OCR determines that it is appropriate to resolve them because OCR’s investigation has identified concerns that can be addressed through a resolution agreement. In such cases, OCR obtains a resolution agreement signed by the university. This agreement must be supported by the evidence obtained during the investigation, and it must be consistent with the applicable statute(s) and regulation(s). Additional information about this voluntary resolution process may be found in OCR’s Case Processing Manual.

Attached is a request for data necessary to investigate this complaint. OCR requests that the University submit this information within 25 calendar days of the date of this letter (i.e., by January 16, 2023). We prefer that you submit information electronically, if feasible. [Footnote: ‘If your submission cannot be sent via email, OCR can set up a secure site for you to upload your submission. You may contact us for more information about this option.’] If any item in our request is unclear, or if you experience any difficulty complying with this request, please contact us as provided below prior to the expiration of the 25-day period. Please be aware that OCR may need to make additional requests for information in the future. If OCR needs to conduct an on-site investigation, we will notify you in advance.

Please be advised that the University must not harass, coerce, intimidate, discriminate, or otherwise retaliate against an individual because that individual asserts a right or privilege under a law enforced by OCR or files a complaint, testifies, assists, or participates in a proceeding under a law enforced by OCR. If this happens, the individual may file a retaliation complaint against the University with OCR.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, it may be necessary to release this document and related correspondence and records upon request. If OCR receives such a request, OCR will seek to protect, to the extent provided by law, personally identifiable information that, if released, could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

We look forward to your cooperation during the resolution of this complaint. If you have any questions, please contact Sharon Goott Nissim, the OCR attorney assigned to this complaint, at 202-245-7261 or sharon.nissim@ed.gov.

Sincerely,

Dan Greenspahn

Team Leader, Team 1

District of Columbia Office

Office for Civil Rights”

 

Letter written from Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares to Virginia College and University Presidents on Nov. 16, 2023:

“Virginia College and University Presidents:

The barbaric terrorist attack against Israel on October 7th was without excuse or justification. Since then, we’ve seen tensions rise on our campuses in Virginia amid a spasm of antisemitic protests, chants, and rage. Countless Virginia students of Jewish background feel threatened and unsupported in today’s climate on our college campuses.

This is unacceptable.

Concerned students and parents are urging us to act with decisiveness and moral clarity. Our Virginia universities should do more to address antisemitism.

First, groups like ‘Students for Justice in Palestine’ have repeatedly held demonstrations in Virginia where protestors chant ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.’ This statement is a call for the complete destruction of Israel and a denial of its right to exist. Conveniently, these protestors never explain what would happen to the eight million Jews who live between the river and the sea, leading to the inescapable conclusion that the protestors are calling for a second Holocaust against innocent men, women, and children.

These slogans and chants mostly have been met with silence from university leaders, a silence both agitators and the most vulnerable have noticed. The Anti-Defamation League reports a 388% increase in antisemitic incidents compared to the same period last year. Across the country, Jewish students have been threatened in person and online.

The First Amendment does not protect speech that is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action, and which is likely to incite or produce such action. See ‘Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444, 447 (1969)’. I strongly recommend that you review your policies to ensure that you are taking those steps necessary to protect your students and others in your campus community from unlawful incitement beyond the bounds of the First Amendment.

Second, the right to freedom of speech does not shield individuals who commit crimes from prosecution. If you have demonstrators who commit assaults or acts of vandalism, they can and should be held criminally accountable. You can do this by working with law enforcement and your jurisdiction’s Commonwealth’s Attorney. If students are threatened, you can inform them of how they can obtain protective orders. In addition, students are, of course, subject to student codes of conduct. Of note, pursuant to § 18.2-422 of the Code of Virginia, it is unlawful for any person over 16 years of age to, with the intent to conceal his identity, wear any mask, hood or other device whereby a substantial portion of the face is hidden or covered so as to conceal the identity of the wearer, to be or appear in any public place, or upon any private property in this Commonwealth without first having obtained from the owner or tenant thereof consent to do so in writing. There are exceptions to this prohibition including but not limited to wearing a mask for a bona fide medical purpose. I urge you to confirm there is sufficient security at any demonstrations to promote student safety and to ensure that Virginia’s criminal laws are followed.

Third, consistent with their existing policies, public universities may apply different rules to demonstrations that are initiated by individuals who are not affiliated with their institutions. Some Virginia universities require a school-affiliated sponsor for a non-student to demonstrate on campus; others have created a limited public forum regulating the time, place, and manner of demonstrations. Such rules can help you promote a safer campus environment for your students.

Fourth, I encourage you to remember your own First Amendment voices. In 2017, virtually every college president in Virginia rightly condemned the “Unite the Right” rally in which bigots marched through campus shouting antisemitic statements. We weekly confront the equivalent of multiple “Unite the Right” rallies across this nation, including in Virginia. Your deafening silence in 2023 following your unhesitating condemnation in 2017 has not gone unnoticed.

We need leaders with moral clarity, not leaders who shirk the responsibility of calling out bigotry and antisemitism. I urge you to help demonstrate that, in Virginia, we oppose antisemitism and anti-religious bigotry in all its forms.

Finally, on October 31st, Governor Glenn Youngkin issued an Executive Order instructing the Secretary of Education to coordinate with college and university presidents to promote the safety of, and provide resources for, Jewish and Muslim students, including mental health resources. In February, I created the first Antisemitism Task Force to monitor, gather information, educate, and investigate instances of antisemitism in the Commonwealth. As you consider more counseling and mental health support for students who are affected by anti-religious hatred, my Task Force stands ready to assist.

Now is not the time for moral equivalency or half measures. Now is the time for moral courage and leadership.

Thank You,

Jason S. Miyares

Attorney General”

 

Statement by Students For Justice in Palestine at George Mason University on the Current Situation in Palestine, Oct. 9, 2023:

“George Mason University’s Students for Justice in Palestine stands in support of the liberation of the Palestinian people and supports the right to resist for Palestinians living under the zionist occupation. On October 7th, 2023, Palestinian resistance fighters began mobilizing from Gaza into surrounding occupied areas, reclaiming land and seizing settlements considered illegal and a violation of international laws. This mobilization is in response to decades of colonial violence against the Palestinian people – including the never-ending siege on Gaza, the consistent brutal attacks committed against Palestinians, both by the iof and by settlers, and the iof’s habitual desecration of Al-Aqsa mosque. The iof’s bombing of Gaza in response to the resistance is unceasing and barbaric, carrying out several massacres, leveling homes on residents’ heads, and leaving entire families martyred in a pathetic attempt to restore its broken ‘prestige’ due to historic resistance advances.

As university students, it is crucial to have a genuine understanding of the true nature of decolonization. Decolonization is not just a term studied within the confines of a classroom, and it is not just a term analyzed through political theory and social literature. Rather, it is a term that entails resistance in the face of a colonizer. Decolonization entails the struggle for liberation of a colonized people from the grasp of their colonizers. This struggle for the much-sought after liberation from the colonizer is not meant to be metaphysical – but material. It has been clear from the start of this occupation that the Palestinian people year for a material end to their colonial suffering – not for the continued proliferation of metaphysical discourses and acknowledgements of their colonized existence.

As this happens, it is our obligation to our principles that dictates we must not fall into the trap of distinguishing between armed resistance fighters and non-combatants, as every Palestinian has a role in the current state of affairs. Every martyr must be mourned, and every zionist strike must be seen for the crime that it is. We will not allow the occupier or western media to dehumanize us by creating distinctions between colonized people whose remaining existence on their lands is ‘militant.’ Just like the United States, the occupation and their allies labeled the ANC and Nelson Mandela as ‘terrorists’ for resisting Apartheid South Africa. They will always label those who resist their colonial and imperialist interests as ‘terrorists.’ This does not, however, make it true.

Every Palestinian is a civilian even if they hold arms. A settler is an aggressor, a soldier, and an occupier even if they are lounging on our occupied beaches. As the iof calls up thousands of reserves, it is clear that all settlers are soldiers. There exists a colonizer and the colonized, an oppressed and the oppressor. The people cannot be dissociated from resistance, because we are in a constant state of resistance. This struggle has been imposed on the Palestinian people. To resist is to survive, and to resist is a right.

We as Students for Justice in Palestine at George Mason call for a free Palestine, from the river to the sea, and support all forms of resistance which helps the Palestinian people inch closer to that reality. We call on all those who identify as ‘allies’ to the Palestinian liberation movement to take similar action. Peace cannot exist without justice, and justice for the Palestinian cannot prevail without action.

With steadfastness and confrontation,

GMU SJP”

 

Letter from President Dr. Gregory Washington on Nov. 13:

“Dear students,  

Given the recent event with George Mason University’s all-campus listserv and feedback it generated from some students, I am writing to update you myself on what happened and why certain decisions were made. 

The incident involved issues with one of our listservs, where individuals were inadvertently enabled to respond to a listserv that is not supposed to allow for responses. Nonetheless, nine email responses to my original email were sent to the listserv, which every student, faculty, and staff member in our community received – more than 49,000 in all. 

Based on a rigorous after-action analysis, we attribute this primarily to system configuration and human error that allowed responses intended for me to be sent to all 49,000-plus recipients. We removed those responses from our server, and the listserv was shut down until we could pinpoint the malfunction. 

Responses to emails to broad-distribution listservs about any issue, especially campus security enhancements, cannot be accommodated, as our listservs are dedicated to outbound campus information communications purposes only. Allowing responses of any kind to a 49,000-recipient listserv would quickly overwhelm our inboxes, and render useless a critical channel to share vital and trusted information for our community. In addition, if we were to allow one set of responses to a listerv message, we would need to allow others the chance to respond, and this is just not the purpose of our listserv. 

Our removal of these emails did not hinder anyone’s free speech, nor was it intended to. Those messages were simply not supposed to be there and were removed. We continue to provide students with ample opportunities to exercise their free speech rights even when they use speech that others deem as hateful and demeaning. 

Warmest regards, 

Gregory Washington 

President”

 

SHOULD CHILDREN BE EXPOSED TO SOCIAL MEDIA?

Sun, 18/02/2024 - 12:43am

Fourth Estate/Brandyn Fragosa

Mason students and professors discuss the question about children using social media.

BY TIFFANY BOGGS, STAFF WRITER

Social media is very popular among youth and it seems the ages are getting younger by the minute. 

When mixing children and social media, it is not a good match. I can recall not having much access to social media as a kid. The only form of media I used was YouTube with my older siblings when it was still new at the time. When I got to use it on my own, I was only allowed to look at music videos. 

The idea of children under the age of 13 years old using social media does not sit well with me because they are so impressionable and can easily internalize the content they don’t understand. 

Especially for young girls in this world of TikTok and Instagram, along with filters making their appearance look different, I feel it leads to self-consciousness about how they’re supposed to look. 

Connection is also a big part of social media. If there’s one thing that teens love, it’s communicating with one another online.

Online communication can open the doors for negative encounters with strangers who might not want to be friends. My first social media account was Instagram when I was 20 years old. Now that I’m an active user, I sometimes get direct messages from accounts wanting sexual advantages from me. 

My response would be to ignore the DMs because it’s an uncomfortable feeling having a stranger connect with me in such an inappropriate manner.  

In my opinion, when teenagers connect with people online, they often don’t reveal their true identities, which can lead to a dangerous situation where teens are at risk of being catfished.

Mason students and professors expressed similar thoughts on children using social media and the dangers that come along with it. 

Senior Andrew Daniel Lackabaugh recalls that when he was growing up, he experienced kids around him as early as 13 or 14 years old using social media. He expressed his worry about the mental health aspect of children being exposed so soon.

“For what I see with the younger generation, the amount of information they have access to, that’s a very malleable time in a child’s mind, so you can really do a lot of damage with kids psychologically,” Lackabaugh said. 

He also touched on online groomers, recalling a time when a friend of his told him about a man she met online and requested pictures of her as a young kid. 

Some students shared mixed emotions about the topic. Freshman Valeria Castro-Rivera said she had her own Instagram account at the age of 10 years old watching art and animal videos. “For me, I didn’t have a lot of restrictions, but I feel like I should of…,” Castro-Rivera said. 

Now as a young adult, she questions some of the content she comes across that children have access to. The type of content Castro-Rivera questions being watched by her little cousins are horror clips from TikTok feeds and knowing they shouldn’t be consuming it. 

Communication Professor Dr. Megan Tucker gave a teacher’s perspective on how she feels about children having access to social media. 

“I would say children under 13 years old should not have access to social media, if they do, they need to have full parental controls there, maybe with them watching it, but they shouldn’t have their own accounts, in my opinion, as a nonparent,” Tucker said. 

Dr. Tucker discussed the necessary precautions of oversight by parents and being aware of the types of messages their kids are receiving. This is to ensure their safety due to bullying that happens and certain expectations they might not understand but adults do. 

“I would say until they’re like, 15 or 16 years old and have a little bit better grasps on what social media means, they shouldn’t have free reign over it,” Tucker said. 

Social media can be a tricky place sometimes and one wrong click of a button can lead to a bad place that no child should ever be in. Children don’t know better, which is why grown ups need to teach their little ones about the safety of internet use and parental practice.

HEALTHY MIND, HEALTHY GUT

Thu, 15/02/2024 - 10:44am

Fourth Estate/Nadine Abdalla

Health advocate Nadine Abdalla shares how you can start a healthy diet

BY NADINE ABDALLA, STAFF WRITER

Growing up, I would rely on food to serve as a coping mechanism for the bullying I received at school. Whether it be physically or mentally, eating junk food made me feel good. However, it was only temporary, as the moods I would have after binge eating were always unpleasant. I’d have stomach problems and feelings of sadness and insecurity. Issues in the stomach stand as a prominent symptom of anxiety and stress, arising from the link between the brain and the gastrointestinal system

My name is Nadine Abdalla, and while I don’t hold specific qualifications as a nutritionist or dietitian, my expertise comes from personal experience and ongoing research. Understanding the connection between mental and gut health has been a personal journey. Through my struggles with using food as a coping mechanism, I’ve learned the importance of nourishing both the body and mind. I aim to inspire and educate; however, each person’s journey to optimal health is unique, and finding the right approach for you may require individualized guidance and experimentation. 

The connection between your stomach and brain is known as the gut-brain axis. There are numerous physical and biological links between these two organs. You may have heard the phrase, “Brain in your gut.” This represents an alternative medical perspective on the interconnectedness between digestion, mood, overall health and even cognitive processes. Even when we are asleep, our brain continues to work hard. It needs a steady flow of fuel, which we get from the food we eat. What you eat has a direct impact on your brain’s structure and function, which in turn determines your mood.

There is one easy step you can take to significantly improve the health of your gut. Consume a diversified diet that primarily consists of plants, ideally organic. A varied, plant-based diet that provides you with a spectrum of fiber and nutrients your gut bacteria require to flourish is the well-known, simple-to-follow Mediterranean diet. The “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D, also supports our immune and neurological systems while improving bone health. Additionally, it promotes the growth of beneficial intestinal flora. 

You can strengthen your digestive system by consuming wholesome foods, but avoiding certain items like refined sugar is crucial, as it can worsen digestive issues. Excessive sugar intake can lead to the removal of beneficial gut flora. This can lead to inflammation in the body, which can exacerbate existing health issues. Furthermore, refined sugars are quickly broken down by the first segment of the small intestine, which raises blood sugar levels and leaves the other microorganisms in your stomach hungry. Therefore, consuming a reduced amount of refined sugar can be beneficial for your body. 

The connection between nutrition and mental health is frequently disregarded. Adults with busy schedules struggle to maintain a healthy eating habit and their mental well-being. Individuals often need help to uphold a balanced diet due to the convenience of readily available, low-nutrient foods compared to nutritious alternatives. There should be more affordable, widely available and healthier options for meals and snacks. 

There’s a notion that healthy food is not delicious, but this perception cannot be more wrong! The idea that healthy food lacks flavor is simply the result of feeling restrained when compared to eating the typical high-calorie, high-fat and sugary meal options. Knowing the kinds of foods that promote both your gut and mental health is the key to enhancing your gut health.

Christopher Taylor, certified personal trainer and head of training department at Lifetime Fitness athletics said, “Don’t fully take out the foods you like, unless your doctor recommends you to do differently. When trying to entirely cut out a food group, telling yourself you’ll never eat it again can make you crave or desire it more, which can impair your focus. Allowing yourself to indulge in a pleasure can prevent you from becoming overly preoccupied with what you can and cannot eat.’’

It’s important to find a balance in life wherever possible, whether it’s between work or amusement, rest or effort and even abstaining or indulging. You don’t have to give up the foods you love to eat, but moderation and balance are key.  

“Eating junk food and working out might sound like they don’t go hand in hand, but life should be all about balance,” Megan Olson, a certified personal trainer and registered nutritionist, said.

I like to follow the 80/20 rule where I eat foods that are nutrient-dense about 80% of the time and the other 20%, I let myself have what my body and mind are craving. Food should fuel you, not stress you out,”  Olsen said.

The gastrointestinal tract acts as a disease-fighting organ, in addition to being the primary portal for absorbing and metabolizing nutrients. Your entire health depends on having a healthy gut, which has an impact on all bodily functions, including the neurological, immunological and digestive systems. 

If you’ve ever “gone with your gut” when making a decision or felt “butterflies in your stomach” due to nervousness, you’re most likely getting signals from your second brain known as your gut. You’ll notice an improvement in your physical and emotional well-being once adopting a healthy diet. In the long run, your body and mind will thank you. 

PUBLICIZING YOUR LOVE

Thu, 15/02/2024 - 10:37am

Fourth Estate/Madalyn Godfrey

Find out who Masons students are sharing their love with this Valentine’s Day

BY MADALYN GODFREY, ASSISTANT OPINION EDITOR

Love: It’s for everyone! Your dog or mom, that special someone, a roommate or even yourself. No matter who it’s for, the love you have deserves to be shouted from the rooftops! Okay, maybe not from the rooftops, but still, it deserves to be shared nevertheless. That’s why we at Fourth Estate dedicate ourselves to publicizing your love this Valentine’s Day.

For Junior Allie Meilier, her love goes out to her roommate, Alexandria. “We have been living together for a long time and she is so sweet,” Meilier said. “I love talking to her and I know she always has my back. She truly is a bright light in my life!”

Freshman Samantha Bruder’s love also goes out to a friend who has her back. “I love my friend Isabel for always being there for me no matter what,” Bruder said.

Junior Olivia Lee says her love goes out to her boyfriend and best friend, David.

“He is such an awesome human being and I really enjoy spending time with him. He is my best friend and I love that I can be myself around him,” Lee said.

Sophomore Abbi Harmon sends her love to her mom in Idaho. “I love my mom so much. She is the reason why I am able to come [to George Mason University] for school and she just makes my day so much better whenever I talk to her,” Harmon said.

Senior Rae Wagner and Sophomore Jessica Ochoa send out love to their dogs for being cuties, with Ochoa also shouting out that her dog has “a really nice face.”

For Senior Alphy Abulimiti, his love goes out to his girlfriend, Jennifer. “My beloved Jennifer is amazing and is just the best. I love her a lot and she makes me a better man,” Abulimiti said.

Senior Adam Rizzoli sends love to Mason UBU, an organization for disabled and neurodiverse students. “I love [UBU] because it is an organization no other universities have,” Rizzoli said. “I love how it is ahead of its time and it helps a lot of people that don’t get help otherwise.”

Freshman Adam Marcell says his love goes out to Johnathan for being such an influential person in his first year at Mason.

“Johnathan has been such a great friend since meeting him as Patriot Leader this past summer,” Marcell said. “He is a great Resident Assistant and an awesome Altar Server at church. He makes sure I am well taken care of and have everything I need and I can’t ask for a better friend in Christ.”

Freshman students from Lincoln Hall send their love to Community Director Kaya Mitchell, thanking her for always supporting their residence building and dealing with their shenanigans.

Last but certainly not least, I extend my love to our readers and staff writers at Fourth Estate. Thank you for being part of our community and supporting Fourth Estate’s endeavors! Have a happy Valentine’s Day Patriots!

MEMENTO MORI ET AMARE

Thu, 15/02/2024 - 10:25am

Fourth Estate/Madalyn Godfrey

How Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day are connected according to Mason Catholic Chaplain

BY MADALYN GODFREY, ASSISTANT OPINION EDITOR

Editor’s Note: This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Falling 46 days before Easter and marking the beginning of Lent, the Catholic tradition of Ash Wednesday makes its appearance this Valentine’s Day. Although serving as a reminder of human mortality, the tradition may seem unlikely to mix well with this day of love, but it is quite the opposite.

Sitting down with George Mason University’s Catholic Chaplain and Mason alumni, Father Joe Farrell explains the significance of Ash Wednesday and the way it intertwines with Valentine’s Day.

A lot of Catholic students on campus are discussing Ash Wednesday this year and making preparations for it throughout the day. What is Ash Wednesday?

“So on Ash Wednesday, we are both recognizing the fact that we are sinners and we are mortal and that we will go back to God, but with it comes a great deal of hope that there is always this opportunity for renewal and rise from the ashes just as Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead. So the ashes are a reminder of our mortality, but also a reminder of the resurrection we can experience through Christ.”

With Ash Wednesday falling on the same day as Valentine’s Day, how does this day of mortality go with this day of love?

“It’s actually very fitting because Valentine’s Day is based on St. Valentine, who was an Early Church martyr. So he actually died for the [Catholic] faith and was considered a saint connected with romance because he helped couples discover their vocations [of marriage]… So having [Valentine’s Day] coincide with Ash Wednesday, which is about mortality and rising again with Christ, we can focus on the true story of St. Valentine. A saint who gave it all up for Christ but also gives us great hope and a great deal of love among people.”

With Ash Wednesday marking the beginning of Lent, which is a penitential season of sacrificing, how is love mixed within?

“When we give something up, it does not mean we give something up that is bad. We give up something that is perhaps good, but we start to mistake the creation for the creator…[and] give us an opportunity to redirect ourselves toward God. The three traditional ways the [Catholic] Church celebrates Lent are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. So we give God the gift of time through our prayer… We stop using and enjoying something that is good to focus on the high good, which is God, and almsgiving. Perhaps we give up going to Chipotle or going to Starbucks and then that allows us to have extra money to give to those who are less fortunate, give to those who are hungry or those who are homeless.”

In a way, is the traditional celebration of Lent of taking time to do more similar to the celebration of Valentine’s Day?

“Things we experience that we love, whether it is God, family, friends or our romantic partners, those are things that we can take for granted… Special events and anniversaries like Valentine’s Day and the holiday season where [we] can be more intentional about [our] appreciation for others is the same thing with Lent. It’s an opportunity to reconnect with God and become more intentional about our relationship with Him. It is a great check-in period for our relationship with God, the same way we have it in our relationships with one another.

I encourage people to find their own way of living out Lent and St. Robert Bellarmine Chapel is available every day of the year. It’s right across the street from the university and please check us out and we would be happy to help you live a great Lent and beyond.”

Those who are interested in getting connected with Fr. Joe Farrell at St. Robert Bellarmine Chapel may visit Catholic Patriots.

MASON SOARS TO WIN IN REVOLUTIONARY RIVALRY

Thu, 15/02/2024 - 10:21am

Fourth Estate/Mitchell Richtmyre

The Patriots dominated the Revolutionaries from start to finish

BY GABRIEL KING, SPORTS EDITOR

Mason men’s basketball defeated George Washington 90-67 on Tuesday night to split the season series. The Patriots (17-8, 6-6 Atlantic 10) never trailed in the game as they sent the Revolutionaries (14-10, 3-8) to a seventh straight defeat.

Mason started the game on a 14-2 run, which included a 3-5 start from 3-point range. The Patriots ended the first half with a 54-27 lead, marking their most points in a first half this season. Despite George Washington outscoring Mason in the second half, the Patriots cruised to a dominant win, as they scored at least 90 points for the fourth time this season.

“This was a much-needed win on our home floor,” Head Coach Tony Skinn said. Following its three-game losing streak, Mason has won consecutive games to get back to .500 in conference play. The Patriots were led by 20 points and 12 rebounds from Keyshawn Hall, 16 points from Amari Kelly and a season-high 13 points from Woody Newton.

Darius Maddox, the Patriots’ second-leading scorer, missed his second straight game with an ankle injury. In his absence, freshman Austin Ball played extended minutes and scored a career-high ten points. “With Darius out, someone’s got to step up. And I thought that was my time to show up and play some big minutes,” Ball said.

Along with a strong offensive performance, Mason was able to grow its lead by playing stifling defense. The Patriots held the Revolutionaries to 30.6% shooting in the first half and 40% in the game. This included holding GW’s James Bishop IV, the A-10’s fourth-leading scorer, to 10 points on 4-15 shooting. 

“I’ve got a lot of respect for James Bishop… Our defense in the first half really set the tone and made him uncomfortable,” Skinn said. The Revolutionaries were also without Darren Buchannan Jr., their second-leading scorer, which made Bishop’s struggles even more difficult to overcome.

“[When Bishop struggles] we lose. That’s one thing that happens. We lose,” GW Head Coach Chris Caputo said. “We were bad, obviously. They returned the favor… We played very well at home against George Mason.”

Avenging the 75-62 January loss to the Revolutionaries was on the Patriots’ minds heading into the game. “It was really revenge. We wanted this one bad, so we went and got it,” Ball said. The 23-point victory is Mason’s largest win ever against GW.

With the win, the Patriots maintained their seventh place position in the A-10 standings. Mason remains three games out of a top-four spot. The Revolutionaries’ freefall in the standings continues, as they sit at 13th following their seventh consecutive loss.

The Patriots have a week off before returning to action against nationally-ranked Dayton on Feb. 21. Despite the tough test ahead, Mason’s mindset remains the same. “With all due respect, we’re going to do what we do. We’re not going to change anything because we’re playing Dayton,” Skinn said. 

SJP LEADS PROTEST FOLLOWING STUDENT TOWN HALL MEETING

Thu, 15/02/2024 - 12:49am

Fourth Estate/ Brandyn Fragosa

SJP Protestors aim chants at President Gregory Washington during the “Divest From Death” protest last Thursday

BY BRANDYN FRAGOSA, OPINION EDITOR

Last Thursday, Feb. 8, the “Divest From Death” protest was held by Students For Justice in Palestine at George Mason University. The protest started in Wilkins Plaza at 2 p.m. and ended at 3:28 p.m. following a march to Merten Hall. According to their post, SJP Mason demands “an end to all ties that George Mason University has to military contracting companies.”

Protesters, wearing black and white keffiyehs along with red painted hands, held up signs saying, “This is not a conflict,” and “Free Palestine now.”

“You [President Washington] have blood on your [his] hands because as we know, George Mason University is investing in and taking money from the defense contractors for its programs,” an SJP Mason protest organizer alleged.

The Protest, which took place a day after the Student Town Hall on Feb. 7, featured a speech about President Gregory Washington.

“Yesterday, the President of our university, Gregory Washington, stated, and I quote, ‘The same companies that create damage over there, create the same weapons that defend your freedom, the same company provides the weapons that allow America to be what it is,’ and to Gregory Washington I would like to ask, allows America to be what? The perpetrator of global violence? Do Palestinians in Gaza not deserve that same freedom,” an SJP Mason protest organizer said.

“Gregory Gregory you can’t hide, you’re complicit in a genocide” protestors chanted. “Shame on you Washington,” another chant said.

Fourth Estate/ Brandyn Fragosa

The SJP Mason protest organizer then said that Mason is allegedly, “investing in the American corporations that are profiting from the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.” 

The organizer then claimed that Washington is, “complicit in the murder of innocent Palestinians,” and, “hold [him] responsible for [his] failure to act.”

One protester also made a claim regarding Mason’s funding. “I feel like it is important for us to speak up and speak on the $26 million that George Mason directly funds to bomb the children in Gaza,” the protestor said. “I feel like it’s very important for all students to come out to protest because all of our oppressions are connected and that includes Sudan, Congo and Tigray.”

Regarding an alleged funding of $26 million, Washington denied this claim at the Student Town Hall. “We don’t know where that number came from, don’t trust what you read on social media.”

 “George Mason University does not actually invest money anywhere. There is a separate 501(c)(3) called George Mason University Foundation that actually does all of the investments for the campus. It’s a separate 501(c)(3) with a separate leader with a separate board. It does not answer to the Board of Visitors, and it does not answer to the President… It is not your tuition dollars,” Washington said.

As of Feb. 14, Fourth Estate could not verify funding allegations made by SJP Mason.

At 2:45 p.m., the protesters left Wilkins Plaza and began marching towards Merten Hall, holding up signs, beating drums and chanting along the campus. “Up, up, up with liberation, down, down, down with occupation,” they chanted.

Fourth Estate/ Brandyn Fragosa

An SJP Mason protest organizer then gave the speech they spoke at Wilkins Plaza outside Washington’s office in Merten Hall for the remainder of the protest.

At 3:28 p.m., another SJP Mason protest organizer ended the protest with a chant in Arabic, saying:

“!أنا راجع راجع – راجع

!أنا راجع راجع – راجع

!على أرض بلادي – راجع

!على صفد و يافا – راجع

!على عكا و حيفا – راجع

!على الخليل – راجع

!و على غزة – راجع

!أنا راجع راجع – راجع

!أنا راجع راجع – راجع”

According to the organizer, the chant is a call and response meant to rally and energize participants in student protests. 

“The part that I would say or the person who is leading the chant, they are saying, ‘!راجع

– أنا راجع راجع,’ which basically means I’m returning or I’m going back, and then the people respond with I’m going back. So I’m returning and they’re returning… then when we start switching up saying things like, ‘!على أرض بلادي – راجع.’ That’s listing the cities that we want to return to, which are cities in either occupied Palestine or the West Bank or the Gaza Strip,” the SJP Mason protest organizer said.

“We will return because that’s ultimately what we want with our movement… to return to our rightful home.”

FEELING SOME TYPE OF WAY FOR VALENTINE’S DAY

Wed, 14/02/2024 - 11:29am

Fourth Estate/Tiffany Boggs

Some Mason Students have mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day

BY TIFFANY BOGGS, STAFF WRITER AND VIVIANA SMITH, MANAGING EDITOR

The concept of “Cupid’s arrows” are a hit or miss for some in the Mason community. With both traditional and modern points of view, various Mason students plan to listen to their hearts this Valentine’s day and show appreciation for others in their own ways. 

The special holiday falls every year on Feb. 14, where it’s known across the world as the day full of love, flowers, chocolate and gift exchanges between loved ones. However, there are some Mason students who have a different thought approach towards the holiday.

Sharing the love is universal, but for some students, traditional societal norms influence how they navigate the romance scene. 

Students like Junior Edmund Leigh agree with traditional expectations, explaining that men are expected to approach the person they are interested in. “I don’t think it’s wrong for a woman to ask a guy out… but I feel like initially, the guy should ask the woman out. Be a little more bold.”

Freshman Paul Laosiri expressed that today’s society has moved away from traditional standards surrounding asking someone out. “I think a few years ago it used to matter but now… general consensus [is] it can be both.”

Despite long-standing patriarchal standards, many students agreed that times have changed and gender doesn’t dictate who should do the asking. 

“I think the purpose is just the other person telling the other person how much they care about them,” one student said.

For students like Sophomore Sydney Carver, Valentine’s Day is a favored holiday, and she explains how much she has loved heart-shaped things since her childhood. The flowers, heart-shaped candies with romantic sayings like “Kiss me” and the chocolates are the core part of Valentine’s Day, but Mason students feel it’s overrun by commercialization. 

“I think it has been really commercialized, especially because you don’t really get off on Valentine’s Day,” Pirooz said. 

Though some believe companies capitalize on the holiday, the Mason community agrees that the memories you make with the people you care about are priceless. 

“Of course companies [are] gonna commercialize everything and every holiday, but I think it’s still meaningful,” one student said. “It’s just another day to show your appreciation [for] someone you care about.”

Sophomore Jenifer Zhandira feels the holiday is losing its value due to seeing younger kids not celebrating as much in school and the social pressures of hookup culture. “Now for our generation, it’s more like who’s going on dates and then, like, if you’re not in a relationship then it’s, oh, girls, we gotta find dates.” 

Although there are mixed feelings about the holiday, Valentine’s Day is widely believed to be a meaningful celebration of love.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, or what you think, you are loved and you should be loved no matter what anyone else tells you,” Junior Grace Millirons said. 

UNIVERSITY LIFE HOSTS FEB. 7 STUDENT TOWN HALL

Wed, 14/02/2024 - 3:35am

Fourth Estate/Andani Munkaila

Students addressed concerns about letters to the student body, safety and funding to President Washington during Student Town Hall.

BY ERICA MUNISAR, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF AND BRANDYN FRAGOSA, OPINION EDITOR

Editor’s Note: Fourth Estate uses language in accordance with AP style guidelines. For more information on the use of the “Israel-Hamas war”, please visit the AP Stylebook.

The full transcript from the student Town Hall held on Feb. 7 can be viewed on Fourth Estate.

On Feb. 7, a Student Town Hall was hosted by University Life at The Hub Ballroom, in which the student body was provided the opportunity to ask questions to President Gregory Washington about the university. The Town Hall, scheduled from 1 to 2 p.m., ended 23 minutes overtime. 11 people spoke, with several asking follow-up questions.

The town hall featured several questions revolving around the Israel-Hamas war, funding and security topics along with protest demonstrations from Students in Justice For Palestine at George Mason University.

During the beginning of the session, Washington delivered a 16-minute speech addressing the Israel-Hamas war following the release of numerous letters to the student body since Oct. 10, from the Office of the Vice President and Office of the President.

“Our support of one group of students does not mean we are against another group. Our support of one group of students does not mean that we support their government or any government,” Washington said.

Washington went on to address more aspects of free speech at Mason.

“Look, I have been asked on numerous occasions to stop the student protests. Even when you’re protesting against me, I still support it because I support freedom of speech,” Washington said.

Washington also shared that antisemitic incidents have occurred on campus. “More than 70 incident reports that came to our offices were about instances of antisemitism… We’ve had now two confirmed assaults on students. Those were both to students of Jewish descent,” Washington said.

“This is an extraordinarily complex issue,” Washington said. “No, it’s not,” one protester interjected. “Apartheid is not complicated,” another protester added.

Washington also mentioned that students come to Mason to learn, with some of them considering future careers in the defense industry. In response, a member of the town hall interjected, “They want to be war criminals.”

Following Washington’s presentation, students lined up to ask questions, give speeches and provide statements. While Washington responded to the student’s concerns, attendants of the town hall voiced their rebuttals. 

In an Instagram post by SJP Mason, they encouraged students to join the Student Town Hall to, “make [their] voice heard,” and “Demand justice for Palestine.”

During the session, SJP Mason members took up the majority right side of the hall, wearing black and white keffiyehs and holding up red painted hands. Additionally, SJP Mason handed out posters with statements that read, “Israel bombs, GMU pays,” and, “Drop defense now, no money for genocide”

Regarding allegations of Mason’s funding, one SJP member accused Washington of investing $26 million towards the Israel-Hamas war, which was promptly denied by Washington.

“It is also public knowledge that George Mason University is investing in American corporations [which are] profiting from the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza,” said one SJP Mason member. “$26 million, approximately 10% of the student investment fund, is funding the ongoing genocide to murder innocent civilians, men, women and children.”

Washington responded, “We don’t know where that number came from… George Mason University does not actually invest money anywhere. There is a separate 501C3 called George Mason University Foundation that actually does all of the investments for the campus. It’s a separate 501(c)(3) with a separate leader with a separate board. It does not answer to the Board of Visitors, and it does not answer to the President… It is not your tuition dollars.”

Another attendant of the town hall said, “For disabled activists like me, face masks are vital in [the COVID-19 pandemic]… As someone who especially struggles with fine motor skills, pulling out my ID when prompted can be a struggle. Thus, I and many others are faced with the dilemma of either attending political actions…or forcibly [staying] at home… Why will you not support and protect disabled activists at GMU?”

President Washington addressed this concern about Mason’s Concealment of Identity policy, explaining that the university is required by Virginia state law to identify those who wear face coverings at venues or protests. 

“We don’t tell you that you can’t wear your face coverings. We just tell you that somebody has to identify who you are… That’s our way of meeting the spirit of the law while simultaneously allowing you to protest, and not doing what other institutions are doing when students show up in face masks and shut the whole protest down,” Washington said.

Washington was asked if he could halt tuition increases by an attendant who shared that they struggled to pay for their books and courses. “As you know, there are five R1 institutions in the state of Virginia. Of those five R1 doctoral institutions, Mason has the fourth lowest tuition. We live in the region that is by far the highest cost of living in the state, and in the top five highest cost of living regions in the whole country.” Washington said.

“I have to balance what the tuition is relative to what resources we need in order to provide the faculty and staff to be able to teach and support them. The fact that our tuition is as low as it is, given the constraints that we have, and that we are still able to operate, is actually a testimony to success,” Washington said.

Another attendant asked Washington to address alleged ties with military-industrial complexes and graduate students who go on to work for defense contractors.

“[It is] not just defense contractors. It’s Amazon, it’s Microsoft, it’s Apple, it’s everybody… George Mason University is a public institution. Those corporations pay public taxes…” Washington said. “A large percentage of students come to Mason to engage and get jobs from the very companies that you’re telling me to divest from. …Just because you don’t think you should take a job there… what about those students who actually are trying to get jobs at those companies?”

“The same companies that you will say ‘okay, well that company created a bomb that caused damage over [there],’ that same company produces the weapon that will defend your freedom. That same company provides the weapons that allow America to be what America is.” Washington said as multiple protesters interjected.

Towards the end of the town hall, one attendant delivered a four-minute speech related to the history of Palestine. In his statement, the attendant told Washington, “Look at me. Look at me. Don’t look around. Look at me.”

“Listen to me, we’re not going there. I will sit you down son, you will not disrespect me. You don’t tell me to look at you.” Washington said.

The town hall ended overtime at 2:23 p.m. Of the 11 people who had spoken, five people remained in line without asking a question while one SJP Mason member attempted to speak into the microphone while it was turned off. 

The full transcript of the Town Hall, including Washington’s presentation and questions from all 11 speakers can be seen on Fourth Estate.