Student hit by car moved to rehabilitation center: Michelle Dawson undergoing speech and brain therapy

by   Posted on May 3rd, 2010 in Uncategorized

By Emily Sharrer, Editor-in-Chief

The road to recovery for Michelle Dawson, the student who was hit by a car while in a crosswalk on Patriot Circle on March 29, is going to be a long one say family of the junior marketing major.

Dawson, who was recently moved from INOVA Fairfax to a local rehabilitation center, is currently undergoing speech, brain and occupational therapy according to Danielle Dawson, Michelle’s older sister and a senior art and visual technology major.

“She’s gonna be in a wheelchair for a long time, there’s just no definite answer right now,” said Danielle Dawson, who has been at Michelle’s side almost everyday since the accident.

“She’s a fighter and she’s doing everything the doctors are telling her to do with the various rehab that she’s going through,” said Michelle’s dad, Dave Dawson.

“It’s like a waiting game and everyday we get a new little piece of the puzzle. [Michelle and Danielle] were like inseparable. [Danielle’s] basically taken off her semester to help rehabilitate Michelle, which is sweet of her and we all appreciate that. Thank god Danielle’s there with her everyday and night,” he said.

The driver of the car that hit Michelle Dawson, Jeffrey Jenkins, a 23-year-old non-Mason student was charged with failure to yield to a pedestrian.

“She’s been at the rehabilitation center for a little over a week and she’ll be rehabilitating for quite a while. . . she’ll be walking eventually, hopefully without even a cane or crutches, but that’s still months away,” said Dave Dawson.

Student allegedly sexually assaulted: Alleged attack occurs in Presidents Park’s Madison Hall

by   Posted on May 3rd, 2010 in Uncategorized

By Yasmin Tadjdeh, News Editor

A George Mason University student was allegedly sexually assaulted on the second floor of Madison Hall, a freshmen co-ed dormitory in Presidents Park, in the early morning hours on Sunday, April 25. According to police records, the alleged victim reported being sexually assaulted by an acquaintance in her dorm room.

According to Mason’s Press Secretary Dan Walsch, the incident involved a young couple who were together from late Saturday night into Sunday morning. During the course of the stay, “behavior occurred that was unwanted by the female,” said Walsch. The alleged victim then contacted the Mason Police Department.

Currently no one has been charged with any crime involving the incident.

“If we do make an arrest — I’m not saying that one will be [made] — it will be [included in the] blotter,” said Assistant Chief of the Mason Police Department George Ginovsky.

According to Ginovsky, the case is still under investigation.

Both the Mason Police Department and the university have been in contact with both parties involved in the incident, according to Walsch.

Students were not notified of the alleged sexual assault via the Mason Alert System.

Ginovsky maintains that the case did not warrant the system’s usage, as it did not present a threat to the Mason community.

“The alert system is [meant to be] used as an alert system, not as a breaking news system,” Ginovsky said.

Walsch also believed that usage of the system was not warranted.

“It was not deemed to be a threat to the Mason community . . . because it was contained and isolated to one specific couple,” said Walsch.

According to Walsch, had the alleged sexual assault come from a random attacker where a predator was involved, the Mason campus would have been alerted.

Mason Alert is a notification system used by the university to contact students and other Mason community members during an emergency situation. Messages are sent via text message to users’ cell phones and e-mail accounts. The alert system was put in place after the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings.

According to WUSA9 News, the Mason Police Department is receiving help from the Fairfax County Police with the case.

Sodexo workers explain grievances to Student Government: Employees reiterate concerns regarding pay and unsafe working conditions

by   Posted on May 3rd, 2010 in Uncategorized

By Ethan Vaughan, Asst. News Editor

Four Sodexo workers, accompanied by Service Employees International Union organizers and about 10 student supporters, appeared at a Student Government Senate meeting Thursday to further express objections regarding dining services, repeating assertions that management has engaged in “intimidation and discrimination.”

The student lawmakers heard testimonies from Southside employees Angelica Hernandez, Francisca Gomez and Elizabet Blas Falcon. Union organizer Amaya Henry translated their remarks from Spanish, which focused on payment and injuries sustained on the job.

Addressing a room of about 40 to 50 students, Falcon said that she was denied immediate medical attention following a grease burn.

“You can get hurt and they won’t call an ambulance,” Falcon told Student Media after speaking to the Student Senate.

“After an hour and a half of being interrogated by a supervisor, I was finally taken to the hospital. I was treated like an animal.”

Falcon was not the only one alleging misconduct. Two workers, Gomez and Angelica Hernandez, additionally told Student Media that Sodexo offered inadequate pay and sometimes reduced pay without providing explanation.

“I’ve been working here for 24 years,” said Gomez. “My problem is that I was making $11.67 [per hour], and after a review my pay was reduced to $11.32 [per hour]. They didn’t say why, and I want them to explain.”

Some Student Government members were skeptical of the statements made by workers.

“These claims are ridiculous,” said Alex Romano, a member of the Administrative Subcommittee on Dining Services that earlier this month issued a strong statement in support of Mason Dining’s management. “I’m confident they’re not true. I think [the workers] are being unfairly targeted by SEIU. SEIU promises higher pay, but that’s not in writing.

How can they guarantee that?”

Sodexo Resident District Manager Denise Ammaccapane expressed confusion at the accusations in a phone interview with Student Media after the meeting.

“Everyone has a right to come to me and no one has come to me at all,” she said. “We also have a 24-hour hotline and callers can be anonymous. Why wouldn’t they come to me?”

Newly-inaugurated Student Government President D’Leon Barnett showed interest in the issue, saying resolving the matter would be a priority.

“We need to sit down with both Sodexo workers and [management] to come to common ground,” Barnett said. “I know through my experience with Denise Ammaccapane that [Sodexo managers] want to provide fair opportunity for all employees, but the concerns that workers have are raising a lot of eyebrows, including in Student Government.”

Barnett’s position stands in contrast to the views expressed in the dining committee’s letter, the only prior Student Government action regarding the unionization efforts. However, he denied distancing himself from the outgoing government’s policies.

“I can’t speak on the past or on what’s written,” he said. “To get to the truth, we need to have a panel with both sides.

Then we can better help, and we can all be happy campers.”

As of press time, no unfair labor practices appear to have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board against the Sodexo account at Mason.

A petition has not been sent to the NLRB for a federally-supervised secret ballot election.

For more information visit www.connect2mason. com

Mason Ecosphere

by   Posted on April 26th, 2010 in Uncategorized

By Environmental Action Group

Just in time for Earth Day, Mason’s Office of Sustainability received word that they had been awarded a $5,000 grant for their Student Training for Environmental Protection program. For a week this summer, college students from all over the United States and Puerto Rico will be coming together at Prince William Forest to learn how to turn their passion for the environment into action.

Colin Bennett, outreach coordinator for the Office of Sustainability and director of the program, submitted the program to the Brighter Planet Project Fund competition at the beginning of April. The program had to compete against seven other environmental projects to see which one could receive the most votes during the 15-day voting period. Through the efforts of people across Mason reaching out to their friends and family to encourage them to vote, the resulting 2,233 votes won the program $5,000. This money will help greatly with aiding the students who will require scholarships in order to attend.

This year marks the second Student Training for Environmental Protection program organized by the Office of Sustainability. According to Bennett, “This program teaches students how to become successful environmental advocates; students will leave this program with the skills and knowledge needed to lead strong and successful groups that will be able to run effective environmental campaigns on their campuses or in their communities.” These skills will allow students to be part of the movement that solves climate change, environmental injustice and economic failure.

Shelby Steinberg, senior elementary education major, is looking forward to the program even though she is graduating in May. “I have friends that went last year and they said it was one of the best experiences they had while at Mason. I know that they really enjoyed their time . . . [and created] valuable relationships with other individuals of similar environmental interests and concerns. I know that the things I learn will be applicable to my future jobs and goals, as I plan on teaching the values of the environment to the students in my elementary classrooms.”

In addition to the Brighter Planet grant, the Student Training for Environmental Protection program is supported by the Environmental Action Group, the Mason Organic Garden Association, University Life and Campus Progress. “We are greatly appreciative of all the people and organizations that have come together to help us make this program a reality,” said Bennett. “With their help, we will be able to train part of a new generation of environmental leaders.”

In addition to learning, Bennett promises that students will meet awesome people, eat great food, participate in fun activities and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Participants from last year’s program have said it was one of the most empowering experiences of their life.

Environmental science and policy graduate student Ashley Mott, a participant in last year’s program said, “If I went in with any expectations, I definitely came out of it blown away because it far exceeded any expectations I had. I learned more in a week than I have in previous years of my life. The Student Training for Environmental protection was a truly incredible experience with incredible people.”

For more information about the program, contact Colin Bennett at

GMU sets gaze on East: Mason explores partnership with South Korea

by   Posted on April 26th, 2010 in Uncategorized

By Rashad Mulla, Staff Writer

George Mason University is seeking to build relationships beyond its established boundaries.

Within the last four years, Mason officials have contacted a number of universities in South Korea to explore the possibilities of setting up partnerships there. Already, Mason has recruited a number of Korean undergraduate students through admissions trips.

And in October 2009, the School of Art hosted a delegation from Kyonggi University, based in Suwon.

According to Provost Peter Stearns, the big project — still in its exploration stages — is a potential international education center in the
Incheon Free Economic Zone, directly west of Seoul. Mason officials are exploring whether such a plan is feasible, Stearns said.

“We have funded a formal feasibility study to see if conditions will allow us to set up operation[s] there,” he said. “This is a strong interest, but it is not yet a commitment. Lots of questions still need to be answered, but we’d love to do this if the conditions warrant it.”

In January, Virginia State Senator Chap Petersen (D-34th) introduced Senate Bill No. 712, which authorizes the exploration of the Incheon process.

“This partnership will establish a long-term alliance between GMU and South Korea, and effectively have a positive economic impact in Virginia,” Petersen said in a press release.

Stearns said the Incheon project is not set in stone, and still may not happen, but Mason is taking all the necessary precautions to make sure such a partnership can exist without deducting funds from the Fairfax campus.

“This has to be revenue-neutral,” Stearns said. “We would not and we cannot use tuition money or state money here to pay for things over there.”

So you think you can Cook? TAP residents face off in cooking competition

by   Posted on April 26th, 2010 in Uncategorized

By Kristin Conklin, Broadside Correspondent

Last Saturday, George Mason University hosted the third TAP Chef Cooking on a Budget event, as part of TAP’s (which stands for Townhouses, Apartments) annual, campus-wide Young, Broke and Fabulous program.

“Participants are required to cook a budget-friendly meal, under $10, in 30 to 45 minutes,” said Malissa Brennan, the TAP residence director.

One contestant, Kelley Towne, a junior and Communication major showed up with groceries in hand, ready to show off her cooking skills.

“I like to cook and it seemed like fun,” Towne said. “Plus, these events need support.”

On the menu was chicken stir-fry. With just five ingredients, Towne cooked up a simple meal, fit for any college student on a budget.

Towne brought with her chicken, white rice, canned crushed pineapple, frozen vegetables and soy sauce.

Towne first heated the chicken in a pan along with the frozen vegetables and cooked until tender. She then added the crushed pineapple and cooked for a few minutes more. She then added salt to taste and served it all atop white rice.

This event is part of the TAP’s Young, Broke and Fabulous program, which included seven events in total. With the program in its third year, it is a way for students to learn how to live on a budget, especially during hard economic times. Each year, TAP chooses different events, catering towards the students’ needs.

This year’s program focused on helping students deal with the economic difficulties by finding creative ways to budget their money.

Other events were equally helpful. Give the Gift of Thrift Crafts: Gifts on a Budget, and Darn . . . Student Loans! Money Matters both gave students tips on how to make money last, especially when having to deal with paying off student loans.

Don’t be a Dummy, Save Money: Craig’s List 101 helped students one-on-one, showing that Craig’s List can be a valuable tool, if used right. It cannot only be used to possibly find a job, but also to sell and buy things.

Getting the perfect resume is important to college students and Let Me See That Resume: Resume Workshop aided in getting students the resume help needed to land a job.

The last event of the program is Free Cycle: Re-invent Your Junk, which will give students a chance to donate their belongings to others who are in need of basic items. The date, time and location of the event are to be announced.

Each year TAP creates programs geared towards residents living in the area, as well as focusing on the Mason campus as a whole. Since the economic times have forced students to cut back on essential items, this program helped show that living on a budget can be a good learning experience.

Get the scoop on the budget: Provost Stearns and Vice President Scherrens host meeting with students at Ike’s

by   Posted on April 26th, 2010 in Uncategorized

By Yuri Svjagintsev, Broadside Correspondent

George Mason University will undergo a drastic budget cut and a tuition raise in the fall semester as a response to the global credit crunch and the Virginia General Assembly slashing part of its state subsidy to Mason.

Last Monday, Provost Peter Stearns and Senior Vice President of the University Maurice Scherrens hosted a town hall meeting at Ike’s with complimentary sundaes and giveaways. The idea behind the event was to inform students about what would be behind the cut, what would be cut and when it would be cut. The meeting also gave students the opportunity to discuss the budget directly with two of the senior decision-makers who influenced these new university-wide decisions.

Out-of-state students will be particularly affected. Already, many out-of-state students pay double the tuition their Virginia peers pay. With housing and living expenses included, out of state students can expect to pay more than $33,388 for an academic year as tuition is raised by $1,730. In-state students will be looking at a tuition increase of $950 or a rise of 6 percent from this year.

The tuition increases and budget cuts have been the trend for the last few years, but the rates have not been as dramatic as they are this coming fiscal year. Provost Stearns noted that “Many neighboring states are slashing their budget as well, some even more so than Virginia.” He added, “This may actually not negatively affect our national ranking.” This is because neighboring states are cutting their university stipends more.

According to Scherrens, the revenue from increased tuition and student fees will be going to a decreased budget.

“Most of the budget decreases will be coming out of the support operations of the university and not the academic programs,” said Scherrens. “This includes things such as maintenance, dining services and administrative staff.”

“Our primary focus is not to take money from academics,” said Scherrens. “In fact, we will be adding some new programs, [including an] environmental policy [course].”

Stearns also commented about the new Masonvale neighborhood and how it would fit into the budget.

“Masonvale was built [with] borrowed money, but it is expected to start making revenue in the fall,” said Stearns.

Most of the construction projects Mason has undertaken over the past decade will start to wind down. Other than new dormitories planned to be built near the corner of I-123 and University Drive, all current construction projects will be the last ones for some time.

Student Government also had their opinions about the new budget and tuition policy to be enacted by the university.

“The tuition and budget increases are unfortunate, but they are necessary due to the policies enacted by Virginia,” said Vice President Tyler King,

According to King, “The student government sits on many of the committees responsible for making these decisions.”

Student Government was responsible for organizing the budget town hall meeting at Ike’s to raise awareness on the issue.

“The feedback to the meeting was positive,” said President Devraj Dasgupta. “It gave a chance for the Mason administration and especially the freshmen to interact over this issue. Regardless, Mason received the highest budget cut of all universities in Virginia. A difficult time is ahead.”

U.S. Navy visits Mason:Hopes new program will recruit students

by   Posted on April 26th, 2010 in Uncategorized

By Sandra Evans, Broadside Correspondent

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a generous chunk of your tuition paid off for you even before working, as well as having the guarantee of a job after graduation?

The U.S. Navy will be visiting George Mason University today from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. in North Plaza. The purpose of the event is to promote the Navy’s Baccalaureate Degree Completion Program (BDCP), which helps qualifying college students with their tuition while also guaranteeing a job with the Navy upon graduation.

Christina Ramos, an account executive for Accent Marketing, an organization that helps arrange recruitment interviews for the Navy, said that she hopes a lot of students apply for the scholarship and that she’s very excited about the program itself.

The scholarship program pays up to $4,700 a semester, which is even more appealing when mentioned along with the guaranteed job with the Navy upon degree completion. If a student starts the program at the beginning of his or her college career, it adds up to $37,600 before even beginning work.

There are other benefits to the program as well, such as full medical and dental insurance during enrollment and payment of all moving expenses.

Ramos urged all students at Mason to come by for more information on this new and exciting program. She also mentioned that “There’s completely different jobs for different majors,” though their “focus is [specifically] on medical engineering and nuclear propulsion.”

Mathematics, science and engineering majors are also highly encouraged to apply.

Dani Russell, a senior music major, said “The program is a good idea, especially with so many new grads having a hard time finding a job.”

She also mentioned how “Tuition keeps increasing, and jobs keep decreasing, [and that] a program like this offers a little bit of a safety net.”

During the information session, issues that college students may face will be addressed such as increased tuition, working while studying and limited jobs after graduation. Then information will be given regarding the BDCP, the Navy program where qualified college students can still study in their chosen field, but also earn a salary to help pay off the tuition and be automatically employed as a naval officer upon graduation.

Students can expect interviews from Navy officers, live music and giveaways. Other collegiate programs will also be discussed during the event.

Following the event, there will be a career seminar offered from 3 to 4 p.m. in the Johnson Center, third floor, Meeting Room A. This will offer students the opportunity to spend more time talking to Navy officers one-on-one about the program, discuss if they’re qualified or ask any other related questions.

Kathryn Makin, a freshman nursing major, said “They’ll have plenty of success here at Mason. The Army seems to do just fine [with recruitment], so why shouldn’t the Navy?”

More information on the Navy BDCP, or on their other collegiate programs, can be found at scholarships.html.

Sodexo workers claim racism: War of words heats up as battle continues

by   Posted on April 26th, 2010 in Uncategorized

By Ethan Vaughan, Asst. News Editor

Accusations continue to fly between Service Employees International Union (SEIU) supporters and Mason Dining management, with both sides claiming the use of intimidation by the other and one union organizer alleging racism from Sodexo.

“Here, a big part of it is racial discrimination,” SEIU organizer Amaya Henry said Friday. “Sodexo has a history of racial discrimination. The mistreatment comes in varying degrees. It depends on if someone is from another country and doesn’t know their rights. At the top of the chain are the student workers. No one would dare abuse them, because they’re educated and they know their rights. Below them are Asian and African-American workers, and last are Hispanics.”

The assertion comes a month after Sodexo, the international food services and facilities management company, was ranked first on DiversityInc’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity. The company is currently receiving such criticism as Henry’s on a wider scale as a part of SEIU’s nationwide “Clean Up Sodexo” project. George Mason University’s on-campus Sodexo management, had not received any such criticism, at least publicly, until now.

Union supporters, including Henry, claimed Friday that two Hispanic workers, Elizabeth Blas Falcon and Marta Zelaya, were denied necessary medical treatment for workplace accidents. They also said that employees were being monitored and spied on.

“Management has increased security,” Henry said. “All of a sudden managers are sitting with [the workers] at lunch. [The workers] can’t communicate the way they used to be able to. That is not okay. That is intimidation.”

Before and after shifts last Friday, several pro-union workers handed out fliers to passing students that said they thanked them for their support.

During a Broadside interview with SEIU organizer Fabricio Herrera outside the Johnson Center, where many workers were handing out the fliers, Retail Operations Director Bill Fry took a seat on a bench about 50 feet away from Herrera and a Sodexo worker and looked at them repeatedly while talking on his cell phone.

“This is illegal,” Herrera said. “They think workers don’t know their rights. This happens all the time. They follow workers with cameras.”
Fry did not have any visible surveillance equipment with him at the time, and when approached by a Broadside reporter, he said that he was there “because it’s a nice day.”

“I’ve been cooped up inside since 8 a.m.,” said Fry. “I came out to enjoy the sun and hear some music.” A giant Coke bus was on the North Plaza on April 23 for an Earth Day-related recycling event, and music was being played.

Management and workers opposed to SEIU claimed that the intimidation is, in fact, coming from the union and its supporters.

“Unionization isn’t really the issue,” Dining Services Assistant Controller Charles Olson said. “Unionization is a side issue to SEIU’s tactics. Those who don’t want to unionize are ostracized.”

Others agreed, saying that they supported workers’ right to unionize but opposed the means by which unionization was being pursued.

“[On the day of the protest, the pro-union people] were outside our loading dock and they would not let people in,” said Rose Peterson, a freshman religious studies major who works for Sodexo full-time. “They told people that work was canceled, and when people proceeded to keep walking, they physically stopped them. Managers had to go outside so that people could come in.”

Two Chinese workers, one male and one female, who wished to remain anonymous, said that on the day of the strike they were taken on a three-hour car ride by pro-union employees who wanted to prevent them from going to work.

“When we were coming into work, we were stopped by co-workers,” the female said. “They were two Hispanic women. They told us, ‘Today, everyone is off and we’re going to have to go to a meeting.’

“We got in the car. We stopped somewhere on campus, and then they took us to a shopping center. We’re unfamiliar with the area and we didn’t know where we were. After we left the shopping center, we went to Arlington. We went into a building. When we saw that there were no managers, we stayed for a few minutes, and then we came out.”

The female worker arranged to have her daughter pick the pair up and return them to George Mason University.

Herrera acknowledged a meeting for workers at an SEIU office in Arlington the day of the strike but denied tricking or coercing anyone into attendance.

“There were two Asian workers there, and at one point we didn’t see them anymore,” he said. “We don’t know how they got there. We told people that if they didn’t want to be there, they should go back to work. No one was forced to be there.”

Sodexo Resident District Manager Denise Ammaccapane said that confusion on both sides could have been responsible for the incident, noting that neither of the Chinese workers had a good grasp of English.

“There is no legal action being taken,” Ammaccapane said.

SEIU organizers plan to continue their campaign for unionization throughout the remainder of the school year.

Students play crime scene detective: CSI: George Mason

by   Posted on April 26th, 2010 in Uncategorized

By Matthew Harrison, Broadside Correspodent

Crime scene investigation, or CSI, teams are well known to the public through hit television shows. In almost every court case involving murder or violence, a CSI team has to come up with accurate evidence to fully prosecute the suspect.

Last week, George Mason University students got to play the role of detective. Individuals enrolled in BIOL 575: Forensic DNA Analysis class Biology 509 put together a mock trial last Thursday at Innovation Hall, where students and faculty participated in a crime scene investigation.

“This is an opportunity to apply my knowledge of DNA in the legal community,” said Dr. J. Thomas McClintock, a professor of forensic DNA analysis.

McClintock started a consulting firm in 1993 that handled cases pertaining to murder and violence. He has also been working at Mason for over 11 years and has been publicizing this event for five.

The mock investigations last week included opening statements from both a defendant and prosecutor. Witness testimonies also took place under very strict guidelines set by the judge, played by McClintock.

The Forensic DNA Analysis class at Mason hosted this event to inform students about the importance of science and how it relates to prosecuting a suspect in criminal cases.

“Technology is critical in some cases because it could render a verdict,” said McClintock. “About 200-250 cases have been affected by faulty evidence in the past.”

The defendant’s and prosecutor’s closing cases will be continued this Thursday at Innovation Hall, room 103, from 7:30 to 10 p.m.

“Students at the trial present information learned throughout the semester and apply it to a real world scenario,” said McClintock. “Students talk about DNA analysis that can be applied in the courtroom.”

McClintock presents the case in a very realistic court case setting. He helps students understand any questions, concerns or unknown knowledge about proper courtroom procedure.

“I watch CSI: Miami or whatever is on Spike, but those shows are not a study tool,” said Tom Morrow, a junior biotech major.

Shows like CSI: Miami and Dexter are entertaining and glamorous to attract viewers, but a real crime scene investigation is far from the sitcom norm, said McClintock.

“I feel sorry for them,” said McClintock. “No lab looks like that, and a case can’t be solved that fast.”

According to the website Ballot Stub, a poll from Sept. 9, 2009 to April 2010 ranked the shows Bones and CSI: Miami among the top 20 most watched television shows in America.

“I like CSI: NY, Bones, Without a Trace and Law & Order,” said Fatuma Barqadle, a senior biology and English major. “They spark my interest, but I like the more real side like the show The First 48.”

This event also shows the steps and necessary procedures that the defendants and prosecutors need to follow to charge the suspect.