The idea for a university in the nation’s capitol was first conceived by President George Washington. Founded in 1821 under the name The Columbian College, ol’ Georgie’s funding fell through and a group of ministers and laymen took over the project and finished what Washington started, raising the necessary cash and erecting the first building on Meridian Hill. During the Civil War, most of the students took an academic sabbatical to fight for the Confederacy and many of the campus buildings were used as makeshift barracks and an infirmary. In 1873, the name was changed to the Columbian University and then again in 1904 it took on the current title of the George Washington University. Like the rest of Washington, DC, GW traces its foundations to the Freemasons. There are Freemasonry symbols on buildings and across campus, and the group has financially supported the university during hard times throughout its history.
Located in the center of DC, GW’s main “Foggy Bottom” campus has an urban feel that stands in contrast to traditional college campuses. The 18 city blocks that make up the campus are tagged with bronze bust statues, parks and plazas, and are distinguished from the rest of downtown DC by iron gateways. The Mid-Campus Quad is the hub of campus; with its open lawns and benches, it’s the perfect place to take a break from studying in the adjacent library or student union. University Yard is the other open quad just east of the Mid-Campus Quad that provides an airy hangout amidst bustling academic buildings.
Mount Vernon (aka “The Vern”) is GW’s secondary campus. Also located in DC, students can opt to live in this more suburban area and take advantage of the athletic fields and recreational facilities without being too far from the main campus. A 24-hour shuttle provides constant transportation between the two areas.
George Washington University is conveniently located in the heart of Washington, DC. Though it’s not primarily seen as a college town, the District appeals to the college kid who wants it all. The compact Foggy Bottom campus is bordered by Pennsylvania Avenue, 19th Street, E Street, and Virginia Avenue. The city offers a smorgasbord of experiences for eager college students; from internships and job opportunities to rubbing shoulders with national influencers, GW is a networker’s playground.
Students love being a part of the District’s social action. DC offers endless culinary, retail, entertainment, and nightlife options and the Metro system provides an efficient and cheap way to explore the nation’s capitol. A favorite (and especially classy) pastime of GW students is boozing before embarking on group monument tours.
When they say GW is in the middle of Washington DC, they’re not kidding. The campus is within walking distance of the White House, the National Mall, the Washington Monument, Georgetown, and dozens of museums. The city and surrounding area are Metro-accessible. American University, Georgetown University, and Catholic University are a few metro stops away.
Campus traditions (traditional and untraditional), annual events, etc.
The hippo became our unofficial mascot when former president Trachtenberg gave his wife a big ugly hippo statue. She didn’t want it, so he donated it to the school and it was placed outside the Marvin Center. Students rub the hippo for good luck before exams.
Another campus tradition is taking late-night walks to the monuments.
There are many traditions involved with Thurston, like unscrewing closet doors to make beer pong tables.
Casey Affleck (attended) starred in Gone Baby Gone, Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen.
Courtney Cox Arquette (attended the Mount Vernon College for Women, which was acquired by GW in 1999) played Monica in Friends.
Alec Baldwin (attended 1979) is a cast member of NBC’s 30 Rock and also starred in The Aviator and The Departed.
W. Mark Felt (1940), aka “Deep Throat,” was Associate Director of the FBI and Watergate scandal tattletale.
J. Edgar Hoover (attended 1916-1917, 1935) was the first director of the FBI.
L. Ron Hubbard (attended 1930-1932) founded the Church of Scientology.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis (1951) was the First Lady of President John F. Kennedy and the all-time First Lady of Fabulous.
General Colin Powell (MBA 1971) was the US Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Chet Simmons (1950) deserves praise from sports fans everywhere for founding ESPN.
Brian Williams (attended) is the ever-so-suave anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News.
Rachel Zoe (1993) is a celebrity fashion stylist and one of fashion’s biggest queen bees.
The most popular athletic programs are the men’s and women’s basketball teams. The GWU Colonials are NCAA Division I and also compete in the Atlantic 10 Conference. In 2004, the men’s basketball team topped the Atlantic 10 West Division and went on to win the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
The Hippo is the unofficial GW mascot because GW’s River Horse Legend has it that the Potomac was once home to hippopotamuses.
One of the largest student organizations on campus is the Colonial Army, a group of official student supporters of the men’s basketball team. Colonial Army is their new name, as they were formerly called “George’s Nuts.”
Thurston Hall is the second most sexually active dorm in the nation according to a Cornell University study. The horny hall was bested by Barlow Hall at the University of Rhode Island.
George Washington has some pretty fabulous dorms. Many of them have been converted from hotels and apartment buildings and almost all are conveniently located on or very close to campus. They can range from singles to six-person suites, and the majority of the student body lives in one of the 29 dormitories.
Thurston Hall is the most notorious dorm at GW. It houses over 1000 freshman in doubles, quads, and rooms for six. Some people get lucky and have only three people in their quads or five in their sixes, but overall the living space is pretty cramped. This party dorm provides the quintessential freshman college experience. It’s crowded, loud, and at times, smelly. There are no kitchens available. The location is a bit inconvenient because it is at the corner of campus. Some people find Thurston to be too much to handle, but it guarantees entertainment and a great social life.
Crawford, Lafayette, and Madison are smaller, quieter freshman dorms. They are all near the center of campus. Madison is made up of doubles and suites with four people sharing a bathroom and kitchen. This dorm probably has the largest rooms and the kitchens are very convenient. Lafayette also has four-person suites, doubles, and triples. Crawford has singles, doubles, and quads. These smaller dorms are not as conducive to meeting people as Thurston, but many freshmen find them to be less overwhelming.
Merriweather, Hensley, Cole, and Clark are the freshman dorms on Mount Vernon. These dorms are extremely small, and the residents become extremely close. This type of dorm is perfect for students who chose to live on Mount Vernon to experience the typical campus feel.