Tag Archives: george washington university
October 25, 2010

POTD: The Watergate



As students at The George Washington University in downtown Washington, D.C., my classmates and I had the atypical college experience; we didn’t have a football team or expansive lawn on which to play frisbee, and most of the dorms consisted of former hotels and apartment buildings that the university acquired to house the burgeoning student population. During my freshman year I lived at the Hall on Virginia Avenue (HOVA), which was a former Howard Johnson’s hotel. My dorm was situated directly across the street from the infamous Watergate complex, site of the burglaries that eventually led to the downfall of President Richard Nixon. My room, 419, was the original site of the burglars’ “lookout room” from which Alfred Baldwin and James McCord monitored the DNC office. The photo above shows the view from my room.

December 16, 2008

Dear GW, my glorious alma mater

I just received your most recent e-mail, in which you once again implored me to contribute to this fine institution of higher learning. What intrigued me about this particular e-mail, however, was that you asked me to donate money in order to support scholarships for athletes, including a basketball player named Travis who expressed a desire to play in the NBA upon leaving GW.


A bit of advice, if I may. Asking recent GW graduates, many of whom toil in unglamorous office jobs that do not pay millions per year, to donate money to wannabe NBA professionals is a bit ridiculous. Perhaps in your next e-mail you could tell us about a student who wants to, oh, I don’t know, do something worthwhile, like cure cancer or work in a refugee camp.

Oh, who am I kidding? The next e-mail will probably ask for donations on behalf of Phil, the business school student who dreams of becoming a hedge fund manager and eventually purchasing a gigantic yacht.

Very truly yours,

Lindsay Fincher (B.A. Political Science, 2004)

November 6, 2008

GW students march on the White House, Secret Service moves to threat level yellow

Too funny:

ABC News Jon Garcia reports: Hundreds of cheering, screaming students from George Washington University in Washington DC streamed into the streets and down Pennsylvania Ave to chant and gloat out in front of the White House.

The students, who’d gathered the University’s Marvin Center to watch election returns, said they decided to take their celebration to the White House after the networks called the race for Sen. Barack Obama at 11pm.

Though they were loud, its hard to know if the current President, who was busy calling both President-elect Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, could hear them.

But they chanted nonetheless — “Yes We Can!” and “Yes We Did!” The US Secret Service moved to threat level yellow because of the size of the crowd gathered outside the White House.

Despite the heightened threat level, agents along the fence line were overheard saying they weren’t worried. “C’mon, these guys are peaceful and celebrating,” one agent said. Some students yelled “Goodbye!” toward the North Portico of the residence.

October 27, 2008

GWU: We’re #2!

Congratulations, George Washington University! We’re no longer the most expensive university in the United States! At a cost of $53,166, Sarah Lawrence College (uh, wherever that is?) has knocked GWU ($50,312) down to the #2 spot.

And Jesus, over $50k a year to go to GWU? That makes the $36k rate from a few years ago seem like a bargain!

September 23, 2008

Proof of life!


PR damage control in full effect:

GW Colonials everywhere, past and present, can rest assured that even though the Hippo may be an endangered species, it will be safe at GW.

(I stole these photos off Facebook)

September 22, 2008

The GW Hippo: Saved?

Administrators rebuffed reports this week that the University was phasing out its unofficial hippo mascot, saying it was never discussed by the senior administration and that the bookstore stopped ordering hippo apparel because of a “misunderstanding.”


“Counter to the implications of the story, there has been no high-level decision to do away with our unofficial mascot, which is a great part of our culture and lore at GW,” said Barbara Porter, chief of staff for University President Steven Knapp.


Saulny said the bookstore has ordered new hippo apparel this week which will be arriving soon.

I am guessing that the administration did not expect that their decision to minimize the hippo would result in such anger from the student body and alumni community.

With all that is wrong with the world today, at least we still have our hippo. Very much looking forward to the new hippo apparel.

September 21, 2008

Thankfully, I’m now registered to vote in Virginia

No Democratic presidential candidate has won Virginia since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, and Republican Party leaders say the selection of Ms. Palin has improved Mr. McCain’s chances of carrying the state. Even so, advances by Democrats over the last few years, including the elections of two successive governors and a United States senator, and demographic shifts favoring Democrats have led both parties to agree that the state is up for grabs in November.

May 5, 2008

Schenley Hell

Came across this story on DCist this morning. There was a fire in the dorm that I lived in while I was a sophomore at GWU. It wasn’t until I watched the news report that I realized that the location where the fire started was my former bedroom. The window A/C unit caught on fire, or something. Honestly, I can’t say I’m very surprised. Schenley Hall SUCKED. I distinctly remember one morning when I ran into a friend and fellow Schenley Hall resident who inquired as to why my roommates and I were not outside for the 3am fire alarm that morning. I had no idea what he was talking about. Apparently, all three of us slept straight through a fire alarm. Yeah GDub!

June 19, 2007

The Watergate burglaries and HoJo’s room 419


This past Sunday marked the 35th anniversary of the Watergate burglaries that subsequently led to the downfall of President Richard Nixon. I wasn’t alive in 1972 (and thank god for that, because life without cell phones, e-mail, google, and wikipedia must have been downright boring!) but the Watergate burglaries hold a special place in this former GW polisci major’s heart.

The view from room 419

If you read through this incredibly detailed Wikipedia article on the burglaries, you will see many references to room 419 of the Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge, which stood directly across the street from the Watergate building. This was the room that members of the “Plumber’s Unit” used as a monitoring post during the May 1972 break-ins and phone-tapping of the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters on the sixth floor of the Watergate:

Alfred Baldwin had been hired by James McCord, and on 26 May 1972 was the “monitor,” or lookout, in room 419 of the Howard Johnson’s. According to both [G. Gordon] Liddy and [Howard] Hunt, one of only four walkie-talkies available that night had been allocated to Baldwin for use in room 419. Another walkie-talkie had been allocated to McCord, who, according to some of the conflicting accounts, also was in room 419 with Baldwin throughout the entire dinner.


Hunt has said that there was a “guard change at eight o’clock,” after which McCord had taped the locks. He then states that “a little after ten o’clock” word came from McCord—who was in room 419 of the Howard Johnson’s—that the DNC headquarters were empty, so the Cubans “made ready to go.”


According to Hunt, McCord came from “the Listening Post”—room 419 of the Howard Johnson’s across the street—to report that there had been “little activity” in the Democratic headquarters that day. Hunt says, “the blinds had been conveniently raised, permitting observation from the Listening Post, and as matters stood, only one employee was in the sixth-floor offices” of the DNC. Liddy, though, has said that “to see into the DNC offices”, a room was needed on a higher floor of the Howard Johnson’s than room 419, and such a room was not rented by McCord until the following day, 29 May 1972, when records show that McCord rented room 723.


Fast forward 28 years later, to the Fall of 2000, when a young Californian arrived at the George Washington University with her freshman year housing assignment in hand: Room 419, The Hall on Virginia Avenue dormitory (or HOVA, as we affectionately called it), formerly the Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge until it was purchased by GWU in 1999 and converted to student housing.

Old HoJo’s

It was bizarre living in a hotel room for an entire year, but I loved it. Compared to other college freshman, we were incredibly spoiled: private bathrooms, spacious rooms, HBO and Showtime, A/C, and weekly maid service. And yet, while living there my roommate and I had no idea that our room played a minor role in the scandal that brought down an American President. I didn’t find out about this until a few years later, when my friend (and fellow HOVA resident) Will came across the room 419 link while researching the Watergate break-ins for a college paper.


As history goes, though, room 723, the monitoring post on the night of the June 17th arrests, stole all the glory, leaving room 419 to languish in obscurity.

Laura and I visiting the old room during Grad Week 2004

I can guarantee you, though, that the room 419 of May 1972 was not decorated as awesomely as it was when I lived there:

I’m guessing the walls weren’t plastered with Democratic memorabilia in ’72 (Yeah, this is back from my activist days when I actually cared about all that political BS). Please disregard any signs you believe to be illegally acquired.

October 6, 2005

Only at GWU…

The best part of GW’s paper, The Hatchet, has always been the crime log. The latest issue certainly does not disappoint:

Disorderly Conduct
10/1 – Hall on Virginia Avenue – 1:50 a.m. – case closed
A student entered the lobby of the dormitory and began to yell at the officer stationed at the front desk when questioned for his GWorld card. The officer said that the student insisted he did not need to show University identification because he had “diplomatic immunity.” UPD was notified, arrived on the scene and determined that the subject did not have any kind of immunity – and was intoxicated. He was assessed, determined to not need medical treatment and was escorted back to his “embassy” in Thurston Hall.