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

GU Reacts to Obama’s First Week

While President Obama pledged throughout his campaign to work effectively in a bipartisan manner, campus response to his first week in the Oval Office reveals that his aim of unifying the country may take longer than expected. The reversal of a controversial abortion policy and the closing of the Guantánamo Bay detention camp in Cuba have left the Georgetown community deeply divided.

Last Friday, Obama reversed a policy that banned the provision of federal money to international groups that perform abortions and distribute information on abortions. A source of political debate for years, the policy was originally instituted by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, de-instituted by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and then re-adopted by President George W. Bush in 2001.

On campus, leaders of the Georgetown University College Democrats praised the policy.

“Reversing the executive order will allow groups to offer effective health services without being restricted by ideology. It is a wise and prudent decision, which will help those in need receive good medical counsel and safe access to reproductive medical services,” said Fitz Lufkin (COL ’11), the vice president of the College Democrats.

H*yas for Choice, a pro-choice and pro-reproductive health group, also supports Obama’s decision to lift the ban.

“I think not giving aid is counter effective – even if you think that abortions are wrong,” said Anila D’Mello (COL ’12), a member of H*yas for Choice. “Maybe the number of abortions would be lessened if people had more information. The more educated people are, the better.”

embers of the Georgetown University College Republicans, however, argue that lifting the ban will further divide Republicans and Democrats.

“Obviously, I think this is an unfortunate decision, which means that millions of taxpayers will be subsidizing abortions performed abroad, including those who believe abortion is morally unconscionable,” said Dustin Walker (SFS ’11), GUCR chief of staff. “I think it was also a poor choice to make such a deeply partisan and divisive decision now when this country needs bipartisan cooperation on more important issues.”

The reversal of the ban has also been criticized by members of GU Right to Life, an on-campus organization dedicated to banning abortions, the death penalty and euthanasia in an effort to protect human life, according to their Web site. Brigid Bower (COL ’11), the vice president of GU Right to Life, expressed regret about Obama’s decision to lift the ban.

“Obama courted voters during the election with the promise to reduce the number of abortions; however, the institutions who will now receive money from the U.S. do not share the same goal as our new president,” she said.

Similarly, Obama’s order to close the U.S. military base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba within one year has also been controversial on campus. Along with the command to close the base, the executive order signed on Thursday also mandated the CIA to close secret detention centers overseas and to halt the creation of new detention centers, as well as directed top Cabinet members to form a task force to review detainee policies. Furthermore, all interrogators must follow the U.S. Army Field Manual guidelines when questioning prisoners.

According to some members of the Georgetown community, closing the military base is ideal, but there are still many serious questions to consider.

“I think it is a critical first step toward restoring the rule of law in our approach to terrorism,” said David Cole, a professor at the Law Center. “It would have been more dangerous to keep it open, given how much it has hurt us and helped Al Qaeda’s image around the world. But closing it opens a host of difficult questions that still need to be answered.”

Some students also agree that closing the military base will require continued direction and oversight to avoid harmful implications.

“I think closing [Guantánamo] does help the image of the U.S. Ordering it to close on his first day is a strong and positive gesture,” said Joseph Luk (SFS ’11), communications director for the International Relations Club, “but it will have negative repercussions if it is not followed through with clear plans on how to deal with remaining prisoners.”

Other members of the Georgetown community disagree with Obama’s decision.

“In regards to the executive order to close Guantánamo Bay, I believe that the prison should remain open; however, we should bring charges against the detainees and give them trials because habeas corpus does apply,” Geoffrey Bible (SFS ’12), director of campus affairs for GU College Republicans, said.

* The Hoya originally printed that President Obama planned to close the “the U.S. military base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.” In reality, Obama plans to close the Guantánanmo Bay Detention Camp in Cuba.

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