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Fri, 02/02/2024 - 11:57pm

Fourth Estate/Andani Munkaila

SJP Mason unrolls large list of at least 5,000 names of deceased Palestinians during recent protest, expanding from the sixth floor balcony of Horizon Hall down to the second floor south entrance.


On Jan. 31 around 11:30 a.m, Students for Justice in Palestine at GMU, or SJP Mason, led a school-wide walk out and protest starting at Student Union Building I and ending at Horizon Hall.

Later during the protest, SJP Mason would unroll a large banner extending from the sixth floor balcony of horizon hall down to the southern entrance of the building. 

The banner, which at the top said in large words, “26,000+ Palestinians Martyred By The Israeli Occupation Since Oct. 7 2023,” was claimed to contain at least 5,000 names of deceased Palestinians according to a SJP Mason protest organizer.

In an Instagram post by SJP Mason, they announced their plan to meet at the Student Union Building I. “Take a stand by walking out of your classes, workplaces, or any activity you’re engaged in,” SJP Mason said. “Let your absence be a powerful statement, urging our university to address and acknowledge the atrocities taking place.”

The protestors then moved from the SUB I Quad to Horizon Hall.  

Before entering Horizon Hall, an SJP Mason protest organizer said, “We want everyone to just follow us inside. We’re not going to be chanting or disturbing in any way.”

Among the crowd, protesters could be seen holding various signs, some stating that Israel has “destroyed every university in Gaza in 116 days” and “Arab lives only matter when there’s oil under their feet.” 

Fourth Estate/Andani Munkaila

After entering Horizon, an SJP Mason protest organizer began a speech and said that thousands of students have died as of January 2024. “As of January 2024 there have been a number of [4,327] student deaths and 7,819 others have been injured. As students, we must recognize that this is an assault on the pursuit of knowledge as education is a form of resistance, and the most peaceful one at that,” the SJP Mason protest organizer said. 

The protest organizer then began to read the names of students who had passed away in Gaza. They said one child, aged five, “had just finished kindergarten, and was looking forward to starting first grade. He was killed alongside his parents and siblings. His cousin wrote, ‘Let the world know that we buried the body of my cousin without a head. His head is still under the rubble.’”

A long banner, said to be filled with at least 5,000 names, later descended from the balcony of the highest floor of Horizon Hall down to the 2nd floor expanding short of the south exit. 

After the speech, the SJP Mason protest organizer ended the protest, leaving their crowd with the words, “We will never back down. We will never give up, until Palestine is free.” 

SJP later hosted a Vigil on Feb 1. at the Horizon Amphitheatre. 


Thu, 01/02/2024 - 3:22pm

Photo Courtesy of Yonathan Mesfun

Mason Alumni Starts Successful Nail Business.


Graduating college during a pandemic is difficult enough, but Asra Abbas embraced the challenge by not only embarking on her career in the legal field but also establishing her own successful nail business.

Abbas had always enjoyed creative hobbies like henna and nail art, but it wasn’t until the pandemic in 2020 that she began sharing her nail art and gained enough traction to launch her business.

Abbas, who graduated from Mason in 2023 with a degree in Integrative Studies, has been interested in a career in law since her childhood in Pakistan, where she often spent time with her parents in their law office. However, her desire to pursue law was discouraged due to the safety concerns of being a female lawyer in Pakistan.

Abbas knew from a young age that her future would be in law, especially after experiencing the legal process of immigrating to the United States. She says this experience reinforced her determination to assist others in this same process.

“Immigration law has always held a special place for me given my experiences as an immigrant,” Abbas said.

Although her professional and personal interests may seem vastly different, Abbas says nail art provided a creative outlet that helped balance her demanding scheduling. It also taught her skills that she was able to carry over into her professional life, from financial literacy and client management to maintaining a strong work ethic.

Abbas began her journey as a professional nail artist in 2020 after the pandemic brought widespread layoffs to her company. Her art grew into an official business: Nailed It by Asra

Abbas’ artistry skills were primarily self-taught, but she says she learned valuable lessons about management from her business classes at Northern Virginia Community College.

“Applying the skills I learned in these courses directly to my own business proved to be extremely beneficial and helped me grow and manage it effectively,” Abbas said, who also has her Virginia nail technician’s license. 

Since launching Nailed It, Abbas has been able to serve over 500 clients and generate profits of up to $5,000 a month, allowing her to graduate debt-free. 

Abbas attributes her success to networking, which provides her with both client connections and opportunities to learn from other business owners. Her studio’s convenient location near Mason’s Fairfax campus helps attract fellow students as clients, and Abbas participates in online giveaways and collaborations with other beauty industry professionals so she can reach a wider customer base and hone her marketing strategies.

“Engaging with a diverse range of professionals and clients has broadened my understanding of various business dynamics and has expanded my knowledge base,” Abbas said. 

Now that she has graduated Mason and is focused on developing her career in law, Abbas is transitioning her business format from serving individual clients to educating aspiring nail technicians.

“This shift in focus will also allow me to contribute to the development of aspiring learners in a more meaningful and impactful manner,” Abbas said, who also hopes her services will benefit beginner nail technicians who do not have access to full-fledged beauty programs. She will continue serving her most regular clients while developing personalized classes for budding nail artists.

Establishing a new business while starting her law career is an ambitious endeavor, but Abbas attributes her success to meticulous time management and a consistent schedule that prioritizes her education while allowing her time to recharge.

“I carefully limited the number of clients I attended to each day, working strictly part-time and always made sure to have Sundays off to avoid burnout,” Abbas said. By ensuring she completed her homework before leaving campus each day, Abbas could focus on clients in her spare time.

As she prepares for law school, Abbas is grateful for the growth and confidence she gained from her business. 

“Having my own business has been a transformative experience, instilling in me a stronger work ethic and driving me to chase my goals relentlessly.” 

Although Abbas faced doubts while starting Nailed It, she encourages others interested in starting their own business to embrace the challenge if they are truly passionate about it. 

“Life is filled with risks, but unless you take the leap you’ll never know what’s possible. The rewards can be far greater than you ever imagined.”

Abbas can be found on LinkedIn or Instagram


Thu, 01/02/2024 - 3:12pm

Fourth Estate/Mitchell Richtmyre

The Patriots won a defensive battle to extend their win streak.


Mason women’s basketball defeated Fordham 54-47 on Wednesday night at EagleBank Arena. The Patriots (17-3, 8-1 Atlantic 10) relied on stifling defense and strong free throw shooting to close out the victory.

“It wasn’t pretty, but it’s good to be on this side of ugly,” Head Coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis said. “All in all, our players stepped up and they won a game without playing their best.” Both teams shot an identical 34.5% from the field, leading to a close, low-scoring game. 

The Patriots struggled in the first half, shooting 10-33 and committing eight turnovers. Fordham (7-14, 2-8) used a full-court press early and often, which forced Mason out of their rhythm. The Rams led by one at halftime, which was the Patriots’ first halftime deficit since Jan. 2 against Rhode Island.

Despite the slow start, Mason would begin the third quarter on a 9-0 run to retake the lead, which they held for the rest of the game. Ta’Viyanna Habib sparked the run with consecutive three-pointers. Habib finished the game with 13 points.

“We lacked energy in this game, at the start. Hitting those shots created energy, so it was really important,” Habib said. The run to begin the third quarter reenergized the Patriots, as they outscored the Rams 19-8 in the quarter. 

Fordham made a late push, going on a 9-2 run in the fourth quarter to cut Mason’s lead to six with 1:15 left. Taylor Donaldson led the Rams, as she finished with 24 of their 47 points. However, late free throws from Nekhu Mitchell and Taylor Jameson secured the victory for the Patriots. 

The strong finish leaves the Patriots with room for improvement heading into the second half of the season. “There’s so many things that we still need to work on to get better at,” Blair-Lewis said. “It’s kind of where you want to be going into tournament time.”

With the win, Mason moved into a tie with Richmond for second place in the A-10 standings, and half a game behind current leader Saint Joseph’s. A top-four finish would secure a double bye in next month’s Atlantic 10 Tournament for the Patriots.

On a national level, the Patriots sit squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble, as ESPN’s Charlie Creme projects Mason as the fifth team out of the field. An already strong résumé will be boosted if the Patriots can continue their dominance of conference opponents. 

The schedule gets tougher for Mason in February, beginning with a road game at Loyola Chicago on Saturday. The Patriots will return home on Feb. 8 to host Saint Joseph’s in a showdown of two of the A-10’s best teams. 


Wed, 31/01/2024 - 12:24am

Fourth Estate/Jordan Giles

The Patriots improve to 11-1 at home with an overall record of 15-5.  


Mason men’s basketball defeated the Rhode Island Rams 92-84 in the annual homecoming game on Jan. 27 at EagleBank Arena. The Patriots started the game slow with the Rams leading the score 14-4 in the middle of the first half, but later picked it up with the first half ending 42-40 in favor of URI.   

“My trust level is pretty high with these guys,” Head Coach Tony Skinn said. Mason was able to grow the trust more as the first-year coach viewed the team comeback from a 10-point deficit early in the game.   

Graduate student guard Darius Maddox recorded a career-high 24 points for Mason. Maddox finished the game shooting 50% from three and 8-13 from the field. “He shot the lights out tonight,” Skinn said.  

Graduate student guard Jared Billups continued his strengths with great defense and being a great all-around player with six points and 12 rebounds.  

Freshman guard Baraka Okojie also finished with a career-high of 18 points, two assists, and three rebounds. Okojie explained his experiences in his role at Mason, “being a point guard, knowing when to pass, when to be a scorer, when to slow down, I’m still learning but I feel like I’m doing a great job.” 

Sophomore guard Keyshawn Hall finished the game with 22 points, four rebounds, and four assists. The sophomore guard started the game slow due to foul trouble. Hall was able to pick it up in the points department with his game in the post and trips to the free-throw line.  

The Rhode Island Rams game was really surrounded around making shots beyond the arc. The team shot 48.1%, from three, but struggled to a low 54% from the free-throw line.  The Rams key pieces to the game were David Green with 29 points, Cam Estevez with 15 points, Jaden House with 13 points, and David Fuchs with 12 points.   

The Patriots strengths were the opposites of their opponents as they shot well from the free-throw line with a 75.8% but struggled from behind the arc with a 31.8%.  

The Patriots were able to lean on their home fans in EagleBank Arena as 7,000 were in attendance for the annual homecoming game. Baraka Okojie said, “I’d never played in an atmosphere like that, using them as energy on offense and defense, the crowd was our 6th man.” Keyshawn Hall said, “I loved the energy. I wish we could have every home game like that.”

The win gives the Patriots a two-game win streak.  The Patriots will continue their A-10 schedule with road games Jan. 31 at Saint Joesph’s and Feb. 3 at Massachusetts.  Mason will return to EagleBank Arena on Feb. 7 against Loyola Chicago at 7 p.m.      


Thu, 25/01/2024 - 10:10pm

Fourth Estate/Erica Munisar

New Semester, New Leadership


Editor’s Note: This article was written by the Clerk of Student Senate on behalf of Mason Student Government to relay information on recent legislation. Fourth Estate does not officially endorse formal activities or initiatives held by Mason Student Government.

On Jan. 18, the 44th Student Senate kicked off the new semester with a two hour meeting in Merten Hall, room 1201. In this meeting, the chamber elected a new Speaker and a new Chair of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs. 

Junior Colin McAulay was the Speaker at the start of Thursday’s meeting, but resigned shortly afterwards. Similarly, Junior Bas Rawat was the Chair of DAMA and Speaker Pro Tempore at the same time. Rawat stepped down from Chair of DAMA during the meeting.

Speaker of the Student Senate Election

Senior Jack Fedak won against Junior Michael Grossman 19-0 with one abstention.

Chair of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Election

Junior Maria Cuesta ran unopposed and won with 18 votes and one abstention.

During the election for Speaker of the Student Senate, Fedak and Grossman were asked about a variety of topics such as increasing retention within the Student Senate, improving onboarding for new members and responding to one Senator’s inquiry about alleged antisemitism at Mason.

The Speaker sent two brand new pieces of legislation to committees so they could be voted on and revised before they are potentially sent back to the full Student Senate next week. 

Bill #27: A Bill to Allocate Funds for Mason Lobbies allocates about $2,991 for transportation and $1,562 for food for an event called Mason Lobbies. Mason Lobbies is an event scheduled for next month where members of the Mason community are given the opportunity to travel to the State Capitol in Richmond to practice lobbying. Those who are interested can register on Mason360 before Jan. 31.

Resolution #39: A Resolution to Support the Afghan Student Mentorship Program Documentary Screening seeks to formalize the organization’s support for the ASMP’s screening of their new documentary “Desperate later this month.

Mason Student Government meets every Thursday at 4:30 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 25, 2024 at 4:30 p.m. in Merten Hall, room 1201. All are welcome.


Wed, 24/01/2024 - 2:37am

Fourth Estate/Erica Munisar

Stories of women who had life-threatening experiences following abortion bans are shared at Mason Sci-Tech campus amidst at least 14 pro-Palestine protestor interruptions. 


On Tuesday, Jan. 23, President Joe Biden hosted his campaign rally, Restore Roe, in Manassas, Virginia at George Mason University’s Science and Technology campus. The rally was hosted by the Democratic National Committee, and was not a university event. 

Attendants were heard chanting “Four more years,” from the chamber throughout the rally.

The event took place one day after the anniversary of Roe v. Wade in 1973. Speakers featured sensitive stories of women who received abortions, followed by Biden and Harris campaign attacks towards Donald Trump and interruptions from at least 14 pro-Palestine protestors during Biden’s segment. 

“Genocide Joe, how many kids…” one pro-Palestine protester shouted holding a Palestine flag before being abruptly cut off and removed from the rally, having their sentence muffled by the crowd’s responding chant of “Four more years.”

During Joe Biden’s 20-minute speech, 13 other protesters, one after another would stand up, shouting chants such as “Ceasefire now,” “Stop the genocide,” and “Free Palestine.” Some held painted protest signs in green, red and black before being removed from the event by security.

“This is gonna go on for a while. They got this planned.” Joe Biden said in a staggered speech, as the crowd continued to chant “Four more years.”

After the event, a large pro-Palestine protest could be seen outside the Hylton Performing Arts Center, joined by a strong police presence with officers lined up along the immediate street.

Joe Biden was joined by speakers Vice President Kamala Harris, First Lady Jill Biden, Second Gentlemen Doug Emhoff and guest Amanda Zurawski during the rally.

“Yesterday marked the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade.” Emhoff said, speaking first at the rally. “And I think about it, I have an 83 year old mother and we also have a 24 year old daughter. So how is it possible that my mother will have enjoyed more rights than our daughter?”

“That is simply unacceptable… and we’re going to hear some of these tragic, horrible stories tonight.” Emhoff said.

Jill Biden, speaking second in a bright yellow blazer, shared a story about a close friend who had experienced an abortion.

“Reproductive freedom affects us all,” Jill Biden said. “When I was in high school, one of my friends got pregnant. It was the late 60s and abortion was illegal in Pennsylvania… To end the pregnancy, she told me her only recourse was to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to declare her mentally unfit before the doctor would perform the procedure.”

“Secrecy, shame, silence, danger [and] even death, that’s what defined that time for so many women… and because of Dobbs, that’s where we’re finding ourselves back again.”

“The choice in this election is clear. Women put Joe and Kamala in the White House, and we will do it again.” Said Jill Biden. 

Jill Biden was followed by Harris. “In states across our nation, extremists have proposed and passed laws that criminalize doctors and punish women. Laws that make no exception, even for rape and incest.” Harris said.

“This is in fact a health care crisis.” Harris said. “Today in America, one in three women live in a state with an abortion ban. Since Roe was overturned, I have actually met more than one [woman] who have had miscarriages in toilets because they were refused care. I have met women who were turned away because doctors were afraid they would be thrown in jail for providing care.”

“Extremists are trying to pass a national abortion ban… but what they need to know is that we will not allow it.”

Harris invited Amanda Zurawski from Austin, Texas, who shared her near-death experience in trying to receive access to a life-saving abortion following catastrophic pregnancy complications. 

“The near-total abortion ban had gone into effect just after my water had broke.” Zurawski said. 

“Ending the pregnancy would have been considered an illegal abortion, and my doctor would be at risk of loss of her license or even jail. I had to wait until I got so sick that my life was in danger, one of the rare exceptions where a doctor can intervene in Texas.”

“It took 3 days in a near crash into septic shock before my doctor could finally provide the health care I desperately needed… I crashed again with another bout of sepsis and was transferred to the ICU. My family flew in from across the country for fear that I wouldn’t pull through.” Zurawski said.

At the end of the rally, Biden made attacks towards Donald Trump, claiming his responsibility for abortion bans.

“My name’s Joe Biden. I’m Jill Biden’s husband and Kamala’s running mate.” Joe Biden said. “Jokes aside… Women are being turned away from emergency rooms, forced to travel hundreds of miles to get basic health care, [and] forced to go to court to plead.”

“It’s a direct affront to a woman’s dignity to be told by extreme politicians and judges to wait to get sicker and sicker before anything can happen, even to the point where as you heard your life had to be in danger… or the idea that a woman should have to carry a fetus after she’s been raped or the victim of incest. It’s outrageous.” Joe Biden said.

“And let there be no mistake, the person most responsible for taking away this freedom in America is Donald Trump. Trump says that he’s proud that he overturned Roe v. Wade. In the past year, Trump himself endorsed a federal [abortion] ban promising to lead the change.”

“Know this: If Congress is to pass a national abortion ban, I will veto it.” Joe Biden said.

The Biden and Harris campaign is expected to host more rallies leading up to Election Day in Nov. 2024.


Sat, 20/01/2024 - 11:34pm

Photo Courtesy of Mitchell Richtmyre

A balance attack helped the Patriots get back in the win column.


Mason men’s basketball defeated St. Bonaventure 69-60 on Saturday afternoon at EagleBank Arena to end a three-game losing streak. The Patriots (14-5, 3-3 Atlantic 10) used a balanced attack and pressuring defense to come back from a late deficit.  

“I think these guys showed a lot of grit tonight. That’s the A10, that’s what it’s going to look like. I’m just really happy with this group and with finding a way to just gut out a really good win against a really good team,” Head Coach Tony Skinn said. The victory is Mason’s first win since defeating Saint Louis on Jan. 6.

The Patriots were down by five with 7:30 remaining, but forced six turnovers in the final seven minutes to turn the game in their favor. “We always fall back on our defense, that usually always gets us going. That’s what we preach in practice. We’re a defensive-minded team and that’ll help us get momentum offensively,” forward Amari Kelly said. 

“We didn’t turn the ball over at all towards the end of the game when they were full-court pressing us,” Skinn said. The late-game turnover differential proved to be the difference, as the Bonnies (11-6, 2-3) could not overcome their miscues.

Mason led for over thirty minutes, as they received scoring contributions from nine players. Kelly and Keyshawn Hall led the team with 13 points each. Darius Maddox added 10 points, including two three-pointers. The Patriots shot 7-21 from three as a team. 

Freshman Austin Ball provided a lift off the bench for the Patriots in the first half. Ball scored a career-high eight points on 3-5 shooting in his breakthrough performance. “He came in there and he gave us life. He’s going to continue to get better,” Skinn said.

Despite the strong start for Mason, St. Bonaventure rallied to a late lead behind 17 points from Chad Venning and 14 from Mika Adams-Woods. After the Bonnies took a 52-47 lead, the Patriots ended the game on a 22-8 run to secure the victory.

After the weekend’s action, Mason moved into a tie with Massachusetts for 7th place in the A10 standings. St. Bonaventure fell to 10th after the loss. The Patriots will now enter a crucial stretch, as they look to improve their conference standing. 

Mason has a week off before they play Rhode Island in this year’s homecoming game on Jan. 27. “It doesn’t matter who we play. On any given night anybody can get it in this league. We’ve just got to be able to take care of business at home,” Skinn said.


Fri, 19/01/2024 - 10:55pm

Photo Courtesy of Mitchell Richtmyre

The Patriots handled the Billikens to improve to 13-3.


Mason women’s basketball defeated Saint Louis 91-61 on Wednesday night, Jan. 17, at EagleBank Arena. The Patriots started the game on a 10-0 run and never trailed in the game. 

“I really felt that the girls were prepared today, from the beginning of the tip to the end,” Head Coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis said. Mason scored at least 20 points in all four quarters, including a 23-point first quarter, in which the Patriots shot 69.2% from the field. 

Guard Paula Suárez started the scoring for Mason, tallying the game’s first four points. Suárez finished the game with 13 points and four assists. “I’m just trying to find good shots on the floor. I’m always looking to get my team involved,” Suárez said.

Forward Zahirah Walton continued her stellar rookie season, as she scored 21 points on 9-15 shooting, while also recording a career-high five steals. “I’m just making sure I dominate every game,” Walton said. Walton has earned A10 Rookie of the Week honors twice. 

As a team, Mason was aggressive on the offensive end, scoring 42 points in the paint. This aggressive offensive attack quickly forced Saint Louis into foul trouble. Five Billikens had at least two fouls at halftime, which hampered their defensive gameplan. Head Coach Rebecca Tillet was ejected early in the fourth quarter for arguing a foul call.

The frequent fouls from the Billikens led to 27 free throw attempts for the Patriots. Mason capitalized on these attempts, making 21 of them. This allowed the Patriots to grow their lead early in the game, and never look back. Mason also shot at least 50% from the field for the third straight game. 

“We’re not worried about where the shots are coming from. We’re not forcing things,” Blair-Lewis said of the team’s hot shooting. Mason leads the A10 with 77.3 points per game and is averaging 90.3 points per game over their current three-game win streak.

The victory was Mason’s third straight, all coming by at least 25 points. The Patriots were coming off victories over Duquesne and Davidson, by 26 and 38 points, respectively. After three dominant performances, Mason rose to 52nd in the NCAA NET rankings. This is the best ranking in the A10 and in program history.

Following three consecutive dominations of conference foes, the Patriots will now begin a two-game road trip with games at Massachusetts and George Washington. Mason will return to EagleBank Arena on January 28 at 3 p.m. against VCU for this year’s homecoming game. 


Thu, 18/01/2024 - 8:08pm

Photo Courtesy of Zara Saemi

Zara Saemi shares her triumph over suicide with resilience and advocacy.


Editor’s Note: This article contains content about suicide. Students in need of assistance may reach out to GMU Counseling and Psychological Services for further resources.

My name is Zara Saemi. My mission is to share my story, spreading a message of strength to live life intentionally.

Night after night, morning after morning, I grappled with the relentless shadow that had made itself at home in my life. It haunted me and pilfered everything I had fought so fiercely to protect such as my peace and my very identity. I battled it with every fiber of my being, and I’ll confess, I lost many times.

The first time I lost my fight against the specter of suicide, I was just a fragile 14-year-old. My spirit shattered and felt that there was no more fight left within me. I tumbled to the cold, unforgiving ground, and in that moment, suicide emerged victorious. Like a prisoner, I was rendered incapable of facing anyone, forcing me into a desolate solitude and leaving me numb. I questioned whether anyone had ever experienced such agony. 

Fast forward several years to when I turned 21, the malevolent force returned. I reached out to my university psychologist about the seven-year torment. The path to healing was lonely and arduous. It led to a second attempt, through the tumultuous year of 2020, where I lost nine more times. But, remarkably, I am still here, growing stronger in the face of adversity.

Every day, I rebuild my life. I discovered that I did not want to die, but wanted to halt the excruciating pain that had threatened to crush me. I stand as a testament to the resilience that can emerge from despair. Suicide lost.

You might wonder how I am faring now. At times, the fear lingers, casting a shadow and threatening to engulf me once more. However, I remind myself that I am no longer the person I once was. I have a set of principles within myself. Especially in the darkest hours, I confront, articulate and share my struggles as my story may inspire and unlock hearts.

Should the shadow dare to return, I stand ready, armed with unwavering determination. I am still here, extending love and hope to those who may have lost their way. I share my story to instill courage and to let you know that you are not alone.

Today, I proudly serve as a senator in the Mason Student Government, dedicated to raising awareness about suicide and depression. I joined the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention as a volunteer which has helped me in advocating for the cause that used to be a burden.

I utilize my voice to spark positive change, to unmask that shadow, and to make it known that you, too, can assemble your own crew to battle it. With advocates along my side, it may be a long journey, but I won’t rest until tangible change is achieved.

While I wish there were more resources specifically for suicide awareness and life after attempts, here are the resources that I deeply care about: 

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has been a source of comfort for me as the organization advocates against suicide and transforms personal struggles into a desire to follow a purpose-driven life.

Another resource that has been a point of contact for both emotional support and emergencies is the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Reaching out to them has provided me with a sense of comfort, helping me navigate through moments of distress as their empathetic responses remind me that my pain is not an insurmountable force.

While in the company of others grappling with similar levels of pain and trauma, I have also found camaraderie by attending various group therapies, including dialectical behavior therapy, which has been instrumental in my journey toward regulating my emotions. These sessions taught me the art of sitting with discomfort and fostering mindfulness instead of seeking quick fixes. As a result, the experience has instilled hope within me while simultaneously illuminating perspectives beyond my own.

Gradually gaining control over my trauma has proven to be a transformative journey that has allowed me to be able to unearth more about myself. Through this process, I’ve been equipped with the resources and methods needed to reinvent myself, positioning me to now share these resources with others in need.

Therefore, I hope that by sharing my story, I can serve as a powerful reminder that even though it might feel like the end, we all hold a depth beyond our trauma, extending any past experiences.



Thu, 18/01/2024 - 7:23pm


Fourth Estate/Andani Munkaila

Mason instructs the community to still attend their in-person classes following Jan. 16 snowstorm.


Amid unsafe conditions caused by the Jan. 16 snowstorm, the Mason community was instructed to still attend their in-person classes. 

“George Mason University administrative offices will open at 12:00 noon Tuesday January 16th, due to Inclement weather. Only classes beginning at or after noon will be held as scheduled,” an email said, sent by Mason Alert.

Mason has seemingly struggled to decide when to call a snow day for years. Tuesday, Jan. 16 was no different.

On Jan. 11, the Washington Post Capital Weather Gang warned of the potential for the largest snowstorm in two years, which coincided with Mason’s first day of spring semester classes. As we all know, this prediction came true. On Jan. 15, weather conditions worsened across the DMV, with area public schools, universities and the federal government announcing all-day snow day closures.  

Georgetown University, who had their classes beginning at noon, notified their community at 9 p.m. on Jan. 15 about their online instructional continuity plan and a “liberal leave” policy. On Jan. 16, the area was hit with over four inches of snow, with icy conditions reported in many of the surrounding areas according to the Washington Post. However, despite the conditions, Mason waited until 5 a.m. Tuesday to announce classes would resume in person at noon.

It is unclear why Mason waited so long to address the impending weather conditions. However, by waiting until the last minute, the University inconvenienced students, faculty and staff, forcing some to endure dangerous road conditions. In a campus-wide email sent that morning, Mason put the responsibility on students to “use good judgment and travel safely.” Yet, road conditions, not the driver, often dictate how safely one can travel.

Waiting until the 11th hour led to stressful mornings and quick planning for the Mason community as some may have assumed Mason would follow the closures of other institutions.

For Mason employees and students who are also parents, this meant figuring out childcare for children who are now out of school. For students with substantive commutes, holding class as scheduled may even mean that they miss class due to weather-related traffic or accidents, or in the worst case, risk being in an accident themselves. However, for students living in rural areas, their streets often remain unplowed, making their campus commute impossible.

Among Mason’s core values, the university states “We are careful stewards” at a university where “Our students come first.” However, the decision to remain open was neither careful nor did it put the safety of its students first. 

Much of the student population commutes to Mason’s four campuses in Northern Virginia. Of the 40,000 Virginia-based students, excluding Mason Korea, 6,060 students were reported to live on campus in fall 2023.

Given the cost of housing close to campus, living nearby may be too expensive for students. Of these many off-campus students, some live in the suburbs outside of Fairfax, with others commuting from cities or towns outside the DMV, like Fredericksburg or Richmond. Students could have already been on the road when Mason sent their 5 a.m. notification.

Who is harmed by calling a snow day and moving classes to Zoom? In this era, we are all seasoned veterans of videoconferencing and are well-equipped to go virtual if needed. The precarity of not knowing whether classes will be in-person is stressful and frustrating and the directive to attend class in person is potentially dangerous.

Whenever possible, Mason must update its community sooner about closure decisions to give people time to make arrangements. No information was given on the Mason website or social media platforms until 5 a.m. that Tuesday morning through the Mason Alert.

By contrast, on the George Washington University campus advisories webpage, updates began on Sunday, Jan. 14, informing their campus community that the university was monitoring winter weather, leading to a school closure announcement the next day, a day before the snowstorm.   

The Mason administrators who make decisions regarding closures need to prioritize the safety of students over the marginal benefits of having classes in person for half a day when the roads are icy, kids are out of school and much of the surrounding area is already closed. Be proactive, not reactive.


Tue, 02/01/2024 - 7:26pm

Fourth Estate/Andani Munkaila

Mason students call on the University in several on-campus protests within the previous semester.


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.

Members of the student body participated in numerous demonstrations and protests throughout the fall 2023 semester regarding the Israel-Hamas war.

Earlier in the semester, Around 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 25, Mason students walked out of class, work and other activities to rally together alongside Students for Justice in Palestine at GMU, or SJP, in Wilkins Plaza on the Fairfax campus to protest the U.S. funding of the Israel-Hamas war. 

Protestors shouted, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” while raising Palestinian flags and signs stating, “Stop U.S. aid to Israel.” 

According to AP News, President Biden and White House officials requested about $105 Billion dollars to fund military and government operations in both Ukraine and Israel.

The national walkout was initiated by several groups supporting Palestine, including National Students for Justice in Palestine

In a post by SJP on Oct. 24, they called for the Mason Community to participate in the national walkout, demanding the university’s acknowledgement of the war and cutting ties with military contracting companies. 

“All of our institutions, including our universities, must be pushed to take clear stances,” an SJP representative said during the walkout. 

In a post by Instagram account Wearedissesnters, the walkout is referred to as the North American Student Walkout. The national walkout included about 100 university and college campuses spanning across the U.S. and Canada.

In a statement on Oct. 9, SJP said, “we call on all those who identify as ‘allies’ to the Palestinian liberation movement to take similar action.” 

In addition to the walkout, various organizations and student groups nationwide have urged further initiatives, such as boycotting companies including Starbucks and McDonald’s. 

In a post on Oct. 22, SJP said, “We, the Students for Justice in Palestine at Mason, call on the Mason Community to join us in a university-wide boycott of all Starbucks locations on campus indefinitely.”

Following the walkout, SJP addressed claims of members from Mason’s Muslim Students’ Association, or MSA following allegations of harassment towards student protesters.

In an Instagram post by MSA, students were urged to report behaviors of harassment and discrimination by counter-protestors. 

“It is imperative that these incidents are reported so that the administration can take action,” MSA said. “We as the university’s Muslim Student Association can hold them accountable.” 

In a statement made by the Office of the President on Nov. 2, the university has increased campus safety measures in accordance with increased standards of protection by National and State administration. 

The increase of campus safety is referred to as the Patriot Plan for Community Safety and Well-Being

According to the Office of the President, “Police have increased their presence at gatherings, are providing additional security to high profile events… In addition, you may see increased patrols and presence in high-traffic areas frequented by students.”

Since the National Walkout, SJP has hosted multiple protests on Mason’s campus, including the Chalk the Plaza and Stand up Speak out rally. 

On Nov. 30, SJP led a march towards President Gregory Washington’s office, located at Merten Hall.

In a post by SJP, the group was to meet at Wilkins plaza at 1:30 p.m. and bring “Palestine flags, kuffiyehs, posters, banners, megaphones, drums & noise makers.” 

SJP brought megaphones and began their speeches. Protestors shouted, “Shame on you! Shame on you!” towards Merten Hall.

An SJP member said, “They told us we couldn’t bring speakers, so we didn’t. We just got as many megaphones as we can, and we have our voices because they can’t tell us to be quiet.” 

Another SJP member said,“They are scared of our solidarity! They are trying to divide us!” 

On Dec. 1, SJP announced their plans of attending another assembly at the Justice Center in DC.

In an Instagram post by SJP on Dec. 5, SJP linked a donation effort towards an unidentified Palestinian organizer who the group claimed was a victim of “vicious targeting and doxxing” and allegedly faced death threats at their home, online harassment, and impact on their employment according to the group.

Most recently, SJP released an announcement on their Instagram asking students to wear Keffiyehs to the Fall 2023 commencement, “show George Mason University that even in our joy and celebration, we must show our resistance and solidarity.” SJP said in their post.


Wed, 20/12/2023 - 2:26pm

Fourth Estate/Viviana Smith

Student organizations encourage the Mason community to vote in the 2023 legislative elections.


Last month, Virginia’s Nov. 6 general election put Democrats back in control of the House while maintaining their control of the Senate with a 21-19 majority.

Mason students voted at Merten Hall, which counted a total of 225 ballots for this election. 224 voters checked in to vote at Merten Hall on Mason’s Fairfax campus. 112 voters registered the same day, with 3 voters non-same day registration provisionals. 

With all 140 legislative seats up for grabs and Virginia being only one of four states with a 2023 legislative election, Democratic leaders are hopeful the results are indicative of the upcoming 2024 presidential election. 

Meanwhile, Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin will face more Democratic opposition on policies such as his proposed 15-week abortion ban.

Mason Student Government encouraged their fellow students to exercise their right to vote by hosting booths in order to incentivize and reward voters.

Sophomore Kaylee Fernandez, Vice Chair for Government and Community Relations, said, “A lot of people do think that voting and presidential elections are a lot more important than local elections.” 

Fernandez explains that local elections allow voters to influence areas of local government from policies about education to public works. 

Another group encouraging young voters to head to the polls was Next Gen, a campus organization developed to help students register to vote and participate in elections.

Next Gen member, Junior Olivia Nealon, believes getting young voters active is a vital part of encouraging elected officials to consider their needs.

“Politicians often discount ideas and issues that are important to young people,” Nealon said. “It’s really important that young people get out and make their voices heard so politicians take us seriously in the future.”

Reflecting on how this week’s election will impact upcoming races, Government Community Relations Secretary, Junior Fenia Lampiranidou, explains that young voters should not underestimate the value of their vote. 

“Being a collective and having the need to represent ourselves is really important because this is what creates our democracy,” Lamprianidou said. 

Nealon hopes the efforts of Next Gen and Mason Student Government will help students understand local elections are often won by a narrow margin and lay the foundation for more publicized races.

“Get out and make sure your vote is heard in every single election,” Nealon said. “Once you vote it becomes a habit and you’re more likely to vote again.”

Chair of the Government and Community Relations Committee, Sophomore Ilia Sheikholeslami, reminds students that voting is just one of many ways they can participate in local government. 

“You can reach out to representatives, you can protest, you can organize movements. Voting is an important tool, but it’s not your only tool to get your voice out,” Sheikholeslami said. “But it’s still one of the most important tools that you have.”

Students can access more information about voting at MasonVotes.



Mon, 18/12/2023 - 11:18pm

Fourth Estate/Andani Munkaila

Mason Student Government requests the release of the mandatory student budget from the university.


The Mason Office of Strategic Budgeting & Planning has been requested by student government to release the 2023-24 mandatory student budget. The release of this budget would serve as a step to bring more transparency between the University and the public. 

According to the Office of Strategic Budgeting & Planning mission statement, “responsive and financially transparent operations and activities…” are a core value of the department. 

Mason Student Government requested that the university disclose the budget of each department receiving funds from mandatory fees.

Junior Gabriel Curtis, the Secretary of Administrative and Financial Affairs, explained that while the university disclosed the amounts of mandatory student fees each department received, detailed budgets were not made available.

“Regarding the Mandatory Student Fee, the university has disclosed how much [of] mandatory student fees different departments receive. A request was made for the budgets of these departments… this information has not been provided.” Curtis said.

Student Body President Paul Wyche confirmed that the university has no legal obligation to release the requested material. 

“While the Student Government has not been provided with the requested information… the university isn’t obligated by any law to provide said information.” Wyche said.

According to the Code of Virginia, universities are only required to provide information regarding in-state tuition and reduced rate tuition eligibility.

Wyche expressed that disclosing budget information aligned with his administration’s Mandatory Student Fee Transparency Initiative. This initiative aims to offer Mason students a precise understanding of how their tuition is allocated.

“We want to make sure that [the] programs being funded are what students actually want,” Wyche said. “We want to make sure every dollar a student spends on fees and tuition each semester is used as efficiently as possible.”

Wyche further said, “We are currently in the ‘waiting for a reply or meeting’ phase, arguably the longest phase.”

As of Dec. 18, George Mason University has yet to provide the specific materials as requested by Mason Student Government.  


Mon, 04/12/2023 - 9:05pm

Photo Courtesy Sofya Vetrova

The Difference Baker is a new addition to Mason dining to help Mason create a more inclusive dining experience.


​​The Difference Baker is bringing students together by offering food and baked goods free of 7 of the 9 main allergens. Located in the Nguyen Engineering Building, The Difference Baker is the nation’s first Certified Free From retail location on a college campus.

In a post by gfreefriends on Instagram, Mason was praised for creating a more inclusive dining experience for those with dietary restrictions.

Marketing Director of Mason Dining Sofya Vetrova said, “[The Difference Baker] have set a new standard for campus dining at George Mason by offering a wide range of menu items that cater to diverse dietary needs.” 

Their products are gluten, peanut, tree nut, soy, fish, sesame and crustacean-free. Additionally, The Difference Baker provides dairy-free, egg-free, legume-free dishes, as well as keto and vegan options.

The Difference Baker is one part of Mason’s goal of dining inclusivity. This fall, Mason became the first Spokin Verified College. Spokin is a platform dedicated to helping individuals with food allergies by providing ingredient lists and allergen information.

Additionally, this fall Mason Dining launched the Simple Zone, an allergen-friendly pantry located on the first floor of Southside, and The Spot, an entirely plant-based dining hall. Mason Dining also partners with two local vegan businesses, NuVegan and Sweet Vegan Eats.

Vetrova explains, “inclusive dining is not just about meeting dietary preferences; it’s about creating an environment where everyone can enjoy delicious and wholesome meals.”

To learn more or to get involved with Mason Dining, Vetrova suggests visiting or joining the Student Culinary Council.

Students with dining suggestions or concerns may reach out to Mason Dining by texting “TellSouthside,” “TellIkes,” “TellTheSpot,” “TellTheGlobe,” or “TellRetail” to 82257. Or by using the HappyOrNot machines located at Southside, Ike’s, and The Spot.


Mon, 04/12/2023 - 8:36pm

Photo Courtesy of Ali Ali

The 2023 baseball squad came out to celebrate a spectacular campaign in a familiar setting.


Picture this: A rowdy arcade filled with video games and vibrant colors, and nestled in the back of such a fun environment, a dining hall reserved for Mason Baseball. On Nov. 10, the group celebrated their 2023 season with a conference championship ring ceremony. The venue was Dave and Buster’s located in Fair Oaks Mall.

It is not a familiar path to secure a low-tier berth in a conference tournament, dominate, make it to the championship matchup and win it all. The George Mason Patriots baseball program did just that. Keynote speakers at this event included Deputy Athletic Director Todd Bramble and Head Coach Shawn Camp.

While addressing a crowd at Dave and Buster’s with the program’s players and coaches, administrative staff, recruits, family members and club donors, Camp gave the audience his thanks for their contributions to the team as well as an appraisal to this past season. “It was a magical season for us,” Camp said. “Everything goes to our players… you guys are everything to our program because you had more grit than anybody I have ever been around in sports. I appreciate you guys!”

Camp is not the only one to hold such admiration for the team as his players held the same feelings for the first-year coach. Speaking about his head coach, center fielder Jordan Smith laid out how impactful Camp was for the team. “The atmosphere was absolutely electric, and we get it from Coach. We kind of just bounce off him. He’s a big, big energy ball… so when you’ve got a guy like that it helps the team a lot,” Smith said.

After speaking to the crowd, the coaches, players and athletic training staff were handed their own championship ring. Once that happened, each player took pictures with the coaches and family members behind the center podium adorned by the conference championship trophy.

The event was mostly undeterred by the noise surrounding the play area of the venue. To someone who does not understand why Dave and Buster’s was the ideal location for this ceremony to take place, Camp said a trip to Dave and Buster’s sparked the team’s turnaround. “We win one game, lose one game, win two, lose two…,” Camp said, “We could never get over the hump. In college baseball, it is really hard to win. It does not matter who you are.” 

It was after this first retreat to Dave and Buster’s that the Patriots would go on to amass a 22-6 record which included their run in both the Atlantic 10 conference tournament and NCAA tournament play. The team recorded 164 stolen bases and utility player South Trimble led the team with 30 stolen bases. 

“As a team, we did want to steal a lot of bases this year. We knew that we could exploit other teams by doing that as that was a big part of our game: to get runners in scoring position,” Trimble said.

Both Camp and Coach Ryan Ricci were a part of Bill Brown’s coaching staff prior to 2023. Ricci served as a graduate assistant and currently serves as Pitching Coach for the staff. He spoke to Fourth Estate on the dynamic Brown and Camp have had for him taking the reins as Pitching Coach. “They both bring different skill sets to the table and I think they both complemented each other very well. I’ve just been fortunate to be around those guys and learn from two brilliant mentors like those two.”

Catcher Connor Dykstra, who recorded a team-high 48 RBIs and 18 doubles in 2023, took a couple of hits at home plate throughout the season. When asked about those incidents Dykstra said, “I felt like my teammates were counting on me… it’s not going to hurt forever. I just wanted to be out there as much as I can and I’m not going to let a little bruise keep me off the field because I like being out there with the guys and helping them win.”

Right fielder Derek Wood’s walk-off double against St. Joseph’s sealed a conference tournament berth for the Patriots. “Throughout the fall and in those early weeks in the spring, just getting ready trying to make the case for right field, I felt like it did a pretty good job of that. The ability to put my best foot forward and do whatever I could to be a valued member of the team was what really mattered to me,” Wood said.

Ricci chimed in and spoke highly of one pitcher who could see some work in the upcoming campaign, Nick Martins. “He had a great fall for us although last spring didn’t go the way he wanted to… But he worked extremely hard all summer and was pounding the strike zone throwing off-speed pitches over the plate and he is definitely in the running for one of our starting jobs in the spring.”

After a great 2023 season, Mason will look to make noise, just like the atmosphere of Dave and Buster’s, and build another solid run in 2024.


Mon, 04/12/2023 - 8:26pm

Photo Courtesy of James Carlisle

Meet the Mental Health & Well Being Awareness club.


The Mental Health & Well-Being Awareness Club is a new Registered Student Organization (RSO) centered around the emotional well-being of students. The club’s focus is to bring  students together while simultaneously providing them with access to mental health resources and to offer listening ears.

According to the National Alliance of Mental Health, about 1 in 5 young adults have mental health conditions, which could apply to Mason students who suffer from mental illnesses. 

The resources at Mason have expanded and can be found in places like the Mental Health & Well-Being Awareness Club, which aims to make a positive impact on students’ lives.

The club’s mission statement, created by Senior Dawit Thomas, aims to enhance mental health awareness, promote individual empowerment and to provide a safe environment.

The club has a discord server where they can chat about an array of topics with each other. There are unique features on the server that help fulfill the club’s mission statement. 

“Students help and support one another through conversation and positive interactions while creating a safe place to make valuable connections and camaraderie amongst students,” Thomas said.

“Our club stands for positivity, creativity and growth,” President, Junior Mohammad Fahim Rahman said. “What inspired our club was our ambition and desire to create connections and a support group towards our mental health and well-being.” The Discord group serves as a safe space for all students to build relationships and support systems via the online world.

“We have a mental health check-in feature on our Discord channel that gives members the option to select how they’re feeling by picking a colored heart,” Thomas said. “Red means they’re doing really great, orange equals pretty good, yellow equals doing okay, green means they’re starting to struggle, blue means they’re having a hard time and purple means they need to reach out for support.” 

Rahman emphasizes the importance of togetherness whether that is at a physical event or even on the club’s Discord server where they can chat about an array of topics.  

“We’ve had Friendsgiving. There are no rigid rules. All that matters is that you and your eating mates enjoy yourself.” Rahman said.

Whether the club holds events online or in person, the members emphasize the importance of being there for one another.

Students who are interested in joining The Mental Health & Well-Being Awareness Club may get connected with them through their Instagram or Discord.


Mon, 04/12/2023 - 1:01am

Photo Courtesy of Sydnee Jiggetts

Meet RatedR Models, Mason’s reign modeling troupe that promotes self-confidence and self-expression. 


Most people believe there are set standards to becoming a model. The idea of a model is thought to have a specific body type and attitude. RatedR Models says that being yourself with your own style and personality is all that it takes to become a model. 

Mason’s first Reign Modeling Troupe, RatedR Models, is a student organization established in 2015. Its mission is to promote high self-esteem, self-confidence and to give the ability to brand one’s self through performance-based modeling and fashion. 

RatedR does not have a specific fashion style for members to follow, instead, the style is based on how the models want to dress and express themselves. 

Throughout each semester, RatedR Models organizes photo and video shoots to give models a chance to show out with their own distinctive styles. “When people think of a modeling troupe, they think of America’s Next Top Model where you have to be something specific. For RatedR, we want models to bring their own personalities to their walk,” Senior Nina Durham, President of RatedR said.

The photo and video shoots help models prepare for the spring show in the spring semester each year. Preparation includes members learning and practicing different runway walk styles and posing techniques while also becoming comfortable with themselves in front of the cameras on the runway. 

“RatedR is my first time with more professional runway style modeling. It’s more lively than my other modeling experiences,” Junior Ian Joegriner said. “I’m a naturally energetic person, and RatedR allows me to incorporate that energy and personality into my walk and poses.”

RatedR is composed of first-time models, and those with previous experience in the modeling industry.

Junior Shaleyah McDowell, Vice President, is well versed in the modeling industry. She has been published in two magazines, one of them being Spellbound Magazine, and does freelance modeling in her spare time. McDowell uses her previous and current experience to teach models in RatedR through critiquing them based on her own knowledge.  

With the walk, comes the clothes. For some, being a model for RatedR has inspired the exploration of fashion, and creativity with outfits. 

“I started discovering who I am with my clothes and I wanted to do more with that. Fashion is definitely one of my favorite passions and pastimes,” Senior Ja’Corie Kinsey said, who joined RatedR as a first-time model in spring 2023. 

Joegriner has been modeling for RatedR since spring 2021. He identifies as gender-fluid and the way he dresses is not defined as specifically male or female. “When I joined RatedR, it helped me explore more fluid styles,” Joegriner said. 

RatedR is an inclusive team, and encourages those of any gender and ethnicity, shape or form, to audition and join, especially males. 

“They [males] are scared to try out because they think it’s more of a girl type of team, but it’s not that…we want more males…we want more inclusion on our team,” Senior Savannah White, Co-Vice President said.

A modeling troupe might be intimidating to some, but RatedR is anything but that. “People should join because the environment that RatedR Models offers is very unique; it’s a family,” Durham said.  

Students can follow RatedR Models on their Instagram and TikTok to see when their upcoming shows are. Students who have any inquiries or an interest in joining their team may email them at


Mon, 04/12/2023 - 12:35am

Photo Courtesy of Mitchell Richtmyre

George Mason looks to honor trailblazing alumni who set the foundation for women’s basketball at Mason.


As basketball season tips off, Mason is set for a historic season, commemorating a remarkable milestone: 50 years of women’s basketball. In the winter of 1974, Mason made groundbreaking progress by introducing women’s basketball as one of its first varsity sports. Since this milestone, women’s athletics at Mason have flourished and evolved into an empowering force in college sports today. 

The movement was made possible by the passage of Title IX in 1972. This transformative act not only allowed women in athletics the right to equal opportunities, but also banned any type of sex discrimination in college sports. Title IX opened the door for many women who dreamed of a career in sports. 

Mason’s head women’s basketball coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis is a huge proponent of women’s sports at Mason and the pathway that Title IX gave to women’s athletics.  

“It shows support and dedication to women in sports. We didn’t always have, in this country, the ability to play basketball for scholarships like the men have had for over 100 years. So for us, we are 50 years behind the men in this country,” Blair-Lewis said. “But we are proud of the women who paved the way for us, the pioneers, who played when they didn’t get paid and there weren’t any resources.”  

Mason women’s basketball played their first season during the 1973-74 basketball season. Coach Kevin Colgate led the team in their first season. The team lost their first game against Catholic University of America in a low-scoring game, 19-13. But they ended their first season with a win against George Washington University, 32-27. The Patriots finished their first season with a 3-4 record.

After years of being an established program, the women’s team finally became a Division 1 program before the 1982-83 season. Then for the 1985-86 season, Mason joined their first basketball conference, the Colonial Athletic Association. After 28 years in the CAA, Mason made the switch to the Atlantic 10 Conference, where they currently play. Throughout these 50 years, many student-athletes have been able to grow women’s basketball at Mason and build it into what it is today.  

“It’s inspiring to be a part of [this program]. Women’s basketball hasn’t been as big as men’s basketball. But seeing that there have been 50 years of women who have gone through a lot so that we can be here. It’s inspiring to be a part of that history,” Junior guard Paula Suárez said.

Throughout these 50 years, women’s basketball has not only improved at Mason, but has become a prominent force nationwide. The 2023 edition of Women’s March Madness drew its highest viewership in the tournament’s history. According to SportsPro Media, the championship game between Louisiana State University and the University of Iowa drew 9.9 million viewers on ABC. 

Broadcasters and publications have also started to show more support for women’s basketball, which has increased the visibility of the sport to the public. Now, more than ever, people have avenues to support the basketball players and help the sport grow to new heights. 

“It’s looking very positive. People are embracing the fact that basketball is basketball. The women have a lot to give. Women can be very athletic and can shoot very well. People are starting to see that,” CBS Sports journalist Isabel Gonzalez said. “It’s about visibility [in women’s basketball]. It starts with covering it and letting people know what’s going on. If you put the content out there people will watch it.” 

The college basketball landscape has evolved since Mason played their first game in 1974. Many alumni student-athletes have paved the way for today’s athletes. To honor the alumni who contributed to the program, Mason will celebrate these players and coaches throughout the season. The university will highlight the major milestones that the players accomplished that contributed to the growth of women’s sports at Mason.  

With Mason celebrating the past this season, the future is also something to look forward to. Last season, the Patriots had a winning season under Blair-Lewis for the first time since the 2018-19 season. This season, they are off to their best start in 23 years. 

This will be a special season for the players and staff as they will look not only to honor the past but also set the standard for future women’s basketball players at Mason. 

“I think it’s going to be so exciting to watch because these girls are passionate. They play with passion… and that’s what you are going to see. Us out there on the floor not caring who gets the credit, but just being passionate about the game we love. They just want to win and win together,” Blair-Lewis said.


Fri, 01/12/2023 - 8:03pm

Photo Courtesy of Jordan Giles

The Patriots hit the road for two games after beating NJIT.


Mason men’s basketball defeated NJIT 86-68 on Wednesday night at EagleBank Arena to improve their record to 6-1. The Patriots overcame early struggles and foul trouble to pull away from the Highlanders in the second half.

“These games are hard to come by. I’m just happy certain guys were able to step up,” head coach Tony Skinn said. Mason needed significant contributions from their bench due to starting guards Jared Billups and Keyshawn Hall being limited because of foul trouble. Billups ended the first half with three fouls and would eventually foul out of the game.

The bench contributed 28 points compared to only 13 points from the NJIT bench. This proved to be a major difference between the two teams. Among the bench players that stepped up for Mason was Malik Henry, who recorded nine points and five rebounds in just 10 minutes.

“I think it’s really cool having guys come off the bench, like Baraka [Okojie], Woody [Newton] and Malik [Henry]. And they really affect the game,” starting guard Darius Maddox said. Maddox delivered a strong performance of his own, scoring 17 points on 58.3% shooting. Maddox has now scored in double figures in five of the seven games this season.

The matchup was also a bit personal for Skinn, as one of his good friends, Grant Billmeier, is the head coach at NJIT. The two worked together as assistant coaches at Seton Hall from 2018-21 and at Maryland from 2022-23. Skinn said that Billmeier was a “huge part” in getting him the job at Seton Hall, which helped propel him to his current position at Mason.

“I know how [Billmeier] coaches his guys up. I expected them to give us a fight. We responded in the second half and showed who we are,” Skinn said. After only outscoring NJIT by one point in the first half, the Patriots outscored the Highlanders 54-37 in the second half, while also holding them to 27.6% shooting. 

This defensive identity continues to be a focal point for Mason, as they lead the Atlantic 10 in scoring defense and opponent field goal percentage. Aside from the first half success, NJIT was the latest victim of Mason’s stifling defense. Guards Elijah Buchanan and Adam Hess were the only Highlanders to shoot at least 50% from the field, and they scored 28 and 15 points, respectively.

The Patriots will now travel to face Toledo in their first true road game of the season on Saturday. “We’re going to be tested. I’m looking forward to it, road games are not easy,” Skinn said. After Saturday’s game at Toledo, Mason will travel to face #10 Tennessee. That will be the Patriots’ first game against a nationally-ranked opponent since they played #15 Auburn to begin last season.