The 2017 Year in Review


 By Huong Cao, Staff Writer

The end of 2017 is around the corner. We have lots of big news in 2017. Here are some big stories that captivated this year.

1.Transparent GMU sued George Mason University

This year, a group of students from Transparent GMU sued George Mason University and its private foundation due to concerns over the university being influenced by its largest donor, the Charles Koch Foundation, after receiving up to $95.5 million since 2005. Transparent GMU launched a donor transparency campaign in 2014 after learning that the Charles Koch Foundation allegedly used a grant agreement to seek influence over hiring decisions and teaching curriculum at Florida State University. After multiple unsuccessful attempts to obtain donor records from these entities, Transparent GMU filed a lawsuit against the university and its foundation.

2. Sexual harassment scandals

In October, the New York Times reported on the sexual misconduct of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. After this allegation became public, news organizations discovered many accusations against powerful men in a variety of industries. Accused sexual harassers have resigned, been fired or experienced other consequences. The list of famous men accused of sexual harassment is still growing. Recently, Matt Lauer was fired by NBC News after the network received a detailed complaint about sexual misconduct.

Sabah Nasir, a senior at Mason, said that she was surprised to see so many familiar names, which made her feel nervous about the workplace. On the other hand, Lina Kastanos Salamanca, a Mason student, is not surprised at how many complaints there are.

“People close to me have experienced sexual harassment,” she added. According to Kastanos Salamanca, sexual harassment is happening a lot in conversations among women, and she feels glad that the truth has come out. Desiree Orr, another Mason student, said that #MeToo, a social media campaign, played a big role in empowering women to come forward and bring these things to light.

3. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA)

According to Anjelicia Walker, a junior at Mason, Donald Trump being the President and what he has been doing as president had huge impacts in 2017.

“A lot of things he does have effects on students,” she said. For example, in September 2017, Trump ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), which may affect roughly 800,000 people known as “DREAMers.” Walker said that DACA affected many students at Mason as well as people she knows.

4. Russia Investigation

When discussing big events in 2017, Orr said that the Russian investigation related to the state of our democracy. “Are we being influenced by a foreign power? This could control our lives,” she added. The influence of the Russian government over the 2016 presidential election has sparked national conversations since last year. According to the New York Times, former President Barack Obama announced sanctions against the Russian government, citing attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. Since then, President Trump’s former campaign advisers have been charged with collusion with the Russian government. Basit Mohammad, a student at Mason, said “regardless of how many things [President Trump] is accused of, the government will cover for him to save face.” The investigation is on-going.

5. The Solar Eclipse 2017

In August 2017, Americans witnessed a total eclipse of the sun, when the moon blocked the sun for a few minutes. Viewers in all 50 states could enjoy this experience, according to the New York Times. While people could witness a total eclipse in many states such as Missouri, Illinois and Georgia, in some states such as Nebraska, fog and local weather phenomena obscured the view, according to CNN.

Graphic by Billy Ferguson