Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

In Defense of Dignity

It is no doubt that sensational claims always take place during Georgetown University Student Association elections — this time, in the form of an obvious character assassination attempt on Chris Wadibia (COL ’16), Meredith Cheney (COL ’16) and their Dignity campaign [“Sexual Assault Platform Lacks Dignity,” Feb. 15, 2015]. To declare: “If Chris and Meredith win, the campus will stop being a safe place for survivors” is not only rash, offensive and malicious, but also demonstrates fallacious extrapolations that cannot rationally be made from what should be an objective critique of a campaign’s platform.

To all leaders of sexual assault awareness, education and reform, we applaud and highly respect all of you. Sexual assault needs to be taken seriously, as last Friday’s article affirmed. Without a doubt, it is one of our most important societal and campus issues, and this calls for both constructive dialogue and collaboration in efforts to make the campus a safer place, whether that safety comes from making the blue light system effective to aid in the prevention of assaults or looking at the process through which we handle sexual assault cases. It’s one thing to be critical of a point, but to say that the campus will stop being a safe place for survivors” because they won’t put any energy towards the issue is absurd.

To objectively review the platforms of each campaign, highlighting weaknesses and calling for more in-depth consideration is indicative of this positive leadership. However, to smear the characters of one campaign’s leaders and accuse them of not caring about such an issue is neither constructive nor is it collaborative. It does not reveal a genuine desire of collective campus change, but rather political motives in hindering a campaign’s progress, which trivializes the issue of sexual assault awareness in the first place.

Sexual assault is not an issue that any candidate running for GUSA can fix alone. It’s a collaborative effort that will draw from the help of survivors, the Georgetown University Police Department, Counseling and Psychiatric Services and the entire campus community. We need survivors to feel comfortable to even come forward to report such an instance with GUPD so that they don’t feel as if this is somehow their fault. It was because of student criticisms of the judicial process of sexual assault cases on this campus that led to a change.

Because last Friday’s article made no attempts at subtlety in addressing the characters of Christopher Wadibia and Meredith Cheney, neither will this one. Christopher Wadibia is an aspiring theology professor. Ergo, GUSA is no stepping-stone for his career path, nor is it a necessary addition on a resume. Wadibia is running for GUSA  president, dedicating all of his spare time and energy, as well as enduring rash claims on his character only for one very simple and profound reason: He passionately cares about the condition and the needs of our campus. For him, GUSA is not some mock political stage. It is, or is supposed to be, the avenue through which needs of the student body are met.

GUSA is about Georgetown and Georgetown only. This is what sets Chris and Meredith apart from the other campaign leaders. They know this, and aspire to do what they’ve been doing all along: serving the campus community. As a supportive resident assistant and an avid participant in interreligious dialogue — to name a few of the many campus communities he partakes in — Wadibia demonstrates only his capability in understanding the diverse community we are and the needs we represent. His ambition of cultivating a safe community where the voices of each and every member is heard, respected and valued is a lifelong one. GUSA is simply one of the ways in which he and Meredith can accomplish this.

We could provide a laundry list of reasons for which Wadibia and Cheney are of incredible character and are capable to lead our community, but you’d only need to ask their peers nlour peers. Ask those who listened to his talk at TEDx Georgetown. Ask his professors. Ask his coworkers at the Academic Resource Center. Ask his Community Director. Ask his current and former residents. Ask him. Dialogue and debate about campus platform is warranted, necessary and what should be the focus of criticism during GUSA elections. Let’s objectively have these conversations as we strive to assess the needs of our campus. Rash conclusions made about one’s character, however, are unwarranted, although clearly, enough people can vouch for Wadibia and Cheney anyway.

It is no surprise that we publicly support the Dignity campaign. The authors of last Friday’s article conveniently left their political allegiances out, but we have no issues expressing our confidence in Chris and Meredith as capable and cooperative leaders who are dedicated to the needs and safety of the Georgetown Community. They are the leaders who will seek constructive and collaborative dialogue on various complicated issues, striving to reach this collective campus change that we seek. They are indicative of the positive leadership we need.

Demetrius Cooper is a junior in the College. Rabia Mirza is a junior in the College.

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  • N

    Not Nate TisaFeb 19, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    “You have talent, Joe, and it is humor, but it is sad because that is the only talent you have”

  • S

    SeniorFeb 19, 2015 at 10:29 am

    The comments above have done a great job of capturing my issues with the Dignity campaign, namely that in relying solely on Chris’ character and not policy, they took a risk that flopped with his mean-spirited performance at the debate.

    But in defense of the authors of the “Sexual Assault” article, I have talked to them several times in the past few weeks about their article and GUSA. Not once have they attempted to get me to vote for any specific campaign. Rather they engaged me on the issue itself and the pros and cons of individual platforms, as befits them as passionate student activists (and not political strategists). Their reasons for writing the article were not politically motivated. Regardless of your opinion of their tone, they brought up objective and glaring flaws in the Dignity campaign that, to date, I have not seen properly addressed.

  • D

    D.P.Feb 19, 2015 at 1:50 am

    To the authors of this article:

    As much as friendly and awesome as Chris may be, he cannot run GUSA with only his personalities. Good character does not equate to sound and practical policies. His poorly-written and somewhat ignorant platform certainly do not match those of a candidate who has been campaigning since June. This only help to discredit him as an incapable leader.

    The entire article is simply a parade of Chris’ personal disposition: hardworking, dedicated, devoted. The authors painted his character with flying colors, to the point as if he were a talented but ill-fated martyr. While Chris’ personal attributes may be subject to different opinions, his campaign, just like this article, simply failed to coherently address his platforms.

    Also, just because Chris claims to be an aspiring theology professor does not mean anything. a) dreams can change and b) top positions in GUSA certainly matter to Georgetown students and administrators but also to anyone outside of Georgetown, be it family members or future employers (Bill Clinton served in GUSA for Pete’s sake). I’m pointing this out not because I don’t believe in Chris’ aspiration but because this argument is just invalid.

    I hope that next year GUSA candidates take good notes of this election.


    A Hoya

  • A

    Artemis WilliamsFeb 19, 2015 at 12:18 am

    Concerned Hoya,

    To blame the real and serious concerns about Chris and Meredith’s campaign and platform on racism is cheap and blatantly false. The reason his character is in the spotlight is because that is his only selling point. Chris is running based on an idea of him being a caring, supportive guy – a idea which was hurt by his nasty personal attacks on the other candidates.

  • C

    concerned HoyaFeb 18, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    I am so disturbed with the way recent media and attacks have gone after Chris’ character.

    This is unprecedented of GUSA campaigns in the past. Has anyone taken a step back and realized that the sole reason he is reviewing so much scrutiny is because he is a black man.

    Do better Georgetown.

    • F

      FreshmanFeb 18, 2015 at 11:16 pm

      “The sole reason he is reviewing scrutiny is because he is a black man”

      Or it’s because his platform is weak and contains factual errors. Or because he bases much of his campaign around his character and dignity and avoiding the pettiness of GUSA, but then openly attacks candidates during debates.

      If there are concrete examples of Chris receiving unfair scrutiny because of his race, then they are of course out of turn and deserving of mockery. But simply assuming that he is being criticized SOLELY because of the color of his skin when his campaign contains objective weaknesses is clearly conjecture, not to mention wildly unfair to the Georgetown community.

    • S

      someoneFeb 18, 2015 at 11:40 pm

      Please don’t play the race card. The only reason why Chris has gotten so much scrutiny is because he’s running solely on the idea that he has a better character than every other candidates.

      Attacking other candidates’ characters while lacking a concrete platform was simply foolish on Chris and his staff’s part.

  • F

    FreshmanFeb 18, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    It speaks volumes that this article spends whole paragraphs affirming Chris’s character but fails to explain any concrete, specific policies on the subject of sexual assault.

    Members of the Dignity campaign need to realize that their platform and policies are the most concerning parts of their ticket, not the candidates themselves.

  • A

    A StudentFeb 18, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    While I can get behind the idea that the attacks on Chris and Meredith have been over the top and patently ridiculous in some cases, the belief that Chris has behaved in anything close to the manner his supporters like to think he represents just isn’t matched by facts.

    He has been running since June, a fact stated by his VP at the VP debate, yet only has a 3 page platform that barely mentions sexual assault, is filled with spelling mistakes, and is devoid of actual policy. Regardless of how nice he is and how he doesn’t want to pander to different student groups, that is still pretty bad for a guy who constantly mentions how he has met with 11 administrators (as if the other people running haven’t?)

    Next at the Presidential debate, the only person who attacked others was Chris. He started out accusing the others of slandering his name, and then openly questioned his cross endorsee out of turn. After that, he said Tim was making the campus unsafe for Muslims, questioned Joe’s ability to do anything and essentially accused him of being a racist with his BSA/NAACP question, and then topped the debate off by claiming everyone else on the stage was an elitist. Many of the complaints about him are well deserved.

  • H

    Hoya '15Feb 18, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    I am fed up with how all the staff are praising Chris’s character (he’s even been compared to Christ?) as the reason he should be elected GUSA president. Nevermind his clear lack of dignity and pettiness at the presidential debate out of frustration from being called out as a hypocrite (GIA) and as very ignorant (every policy question).

    The more you repeat how leaderly his character is, the more false it rings, and the more like a cult you sound. I have no doubt Chris is kind, but I also have no doubt that he’s been lining up the chips for a GUSA run since June.

    You insult the efforts put in by the other candidates to not only seriously understanding the issues, but actually work in the space for many years. You also insult the students who have suffered the challenges of sexual assault, discrimination, income struggles, and many others by passing off all critiques of the platform as personal attacks.

    Never have I found a campaign so selfish and narrow minded in my 4 years here.