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

Addressing Community Concerns With Joint Effort

Just over one year ago, I was elected to serve as commissioner on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission here in Georgetown. This remarkable opportunity to enter public service at the age of 19 would not have been possible without the support of the student body; and for that, I will always be thankful to all my dear friends on the Hilltop. With the new year upon us, I would like to take an opportunity to reflect upon the progress of the last year and the challenges that lie ahead for the Georgetown community.

Though there still remain a number of unresolved issues, in the arena of town-gown relations we have made remarkable progress. By opening the lines of communications and bringing students and community members together, a more positive and respectful relationship has begun to take hold. The seeds of this new era of mutual respect were on display last November, when other student leaders and myself brought community members together. We offered a number of innovative proposals to improve many neighborhood issues such as public safety, noise, city services and trash. In the coming year, we must commit ourselves to putting these proposals into practice.

Even on issues where students and neighbors hold respectful disagreements, the two sides have been able to get past the politics that have divided us in the past, and work to achieve consensus and compromise. In response to the discriminatory provisions aimed at students in the Board of Zoning Adjustment’s Ten Year Plan ruling, I introduced a Student Bill of Rights that articulated the simple premise that our community “affirms the right of university students to full participation in community and civic affairs and opposes illegal discrimination against all citizens.” Despite opposition to even this basic concept of rights, myself and Justin Kopa (COL ’03) were able to pull together a coalition of community members and pass a resolution that for the first time, specifically spoke to the protection of the rights of university students here at Georgetown. Then with the hard work of members of Campaign Georgetown and the GUSA administration, we took our message to the entire city, including the mayor’s office.

Likewise, this summer I served on the ANC Redistricting Taskforce and introduced one of the two major redistricting proposals. While in the past these taskforces had intentionally attempted to disenfranchise university students, working together we were able to reach a compromise that – while not perfect – ensures strong future representation in local government for students. This ability of both students and certain community leaders to work together in the face of genuine disagreement is what will ultimately lead to a more respectful and positive relationship in the future.

As Chairman of the ANC’s Public Safety Committee, I understand the concern regarding a series of very disturbing crimes that have been committed in the area. Despite the perception of rising crime, the fact is that crime in Georgetown has decreased over the past year and this community remains one of the safest urban environments on the East Coast.

However, for those who have been victims of crime, one act of violence or theft is one too many. Because of this, we must focus attention on the need to improve public safety in our neighborhoods. A first step is to give the Metropolitan Police Department the resources and manpower to do the job. Recently plagued by understaffing during the midnight shift, the ANC took the lead in demanding more officers for nighttime duty. Fortunately, we have just received assurances for additional midnight officers to protect our neighborhood. With the recent accounts of violent crime in the community, these new officers could not come at a better time. But the city must go further by increasing the number of officers and reservists, improving communications between MPD and citizens, providing new technologies that allow officers to do their jobs efficiently and increasing compensation of officers and lieutenants in order to keep talented people in service.

In addtion, the ANC also spent the year working on historic preservation issues in Georgetown, helping the city redesign the commercial district with a nine-million dollar grant entitled the Streetscape Project, supporting the future construction of a Metro stop in Georgetown, ensuring establishments that sell alcohol meet basic city standards, advising the City Council on a number of important pieces of legislation and improving safety at dangerous intersections around schools.

Primarily, the ANC acts as a sounding board for community members to be heard, and that includes students. Thus, I look forward to continuing to work with both the student body and residents on issues of mutual importance. We certainly have come a long way from just a few years ago and it remains for us as a community to continue this momentum into the new year.

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