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

Representing The District’s Students

On Tuesday, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics certification of November 2nd’s election results confirmed that Georgetown University’s Jake Sticka and American University’s Deon Jones won seatson their area Advisory Neighborhood Commissions. As a result, come January, D.C. will have two student representatives on ANCs for the first time in over a decade.

The last time this was true, it was due to the success of Campaign Georgetown, an organization that worked tirelessly across several years to defeat two neighbor incumbents on Georgetown’s ANC, gaining student ANC representation for the first time. Now, more than ever, a new Campaign Georgetown is needed.

Even with the election of Jones to AU’s ANC, through a similar campaign effort known as A Voice 4 U, students will hold less than 1% of the 276 citywide ANC seats. Between American, Georgetown, George Washington, Howard, Catholic, Trinity, Gallaudet and the University of the District of Columbia, students represent nearly a seventh of D.C.’s population. Undoubtedly, a serious under-representation of students is at work.

Unfortunately, this marginalization of students is long-standing. Across the last decade, neighbor incumbents have done everything in their power to keep their seats at the expense of fair representation for students. In 2000, following Campaign Georgetown’s successful holding of two seats, neighbors callously ripped one away through an extreme gerrymander of our area, as covered last month in the Hoya.

This year at AU, challenged neighbor incumbent Tom Smith used the familiar tactics of filing complaints with the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics against students. Furthermore, he spread the falsity that students must obtain a D.C. driver’s license in order to vote in the District. When this failed to remove his challenger from the ballot, he and his supporters, including Georgetown ANC commissioner Bill Starrels, showed up to the voting precinct on election day and challenged student ballots, on various technical grounds.

Resident incumbents additionally have the benefit of neighborhood organizations like the Citizens Association of Georgetown (CAG) and the Burlieth Citizens Associations (BCA). What elected ANC commissioners cannot deliver in anti-student rhetoric, the associations’ leaders certainly do, as CAG President and Vice President Jennifer Altemus and Gianluca Pivato have shown time and again.

Clearly, resident incumbents fight hard and dirty. If we ever want to overcome this power monopoly, we need to efficiently unite. The only reason that neighborhood residents believe they can get away with the suppression they practice is because students often remain silent. When they do speak, they speak with fractured voices that fail to resonate.

Recently, a coalition of college students from the District founded DC Students Speak. We aim to become the sustainable, long-term infrastructure that allows students throughout this city to gain the representation they deserve. Our organization, taking Campaign Georgetown as a model, focuses on gaining that representation through the election of students to ANCs.

We do not want to settle for just Georgetown, though. The problems that we feel as students on the Georgetown campus are felt throughout the District. ANC abuse of their campus plan review power has been particularly bad at Georgetown, but similar debates have broken out in the communities surrounding AU and GWU.

Throughout the city, the Metropolitan Police Department hands out 61Ds citations to first-time offenders for little more than incidental noise. These trivial citations both drain our police resources and ruin students’ resumes. ANCs have also been known to use their zoning capabilities to close student-populated eateries and businesses.

To remedy this problem, we are now setting the groundwork to run student candidates in a number of ANC single-member districts within D.C. that, despite being populated by student majorities, are represented by neighbor commissioners. Although 2012 may seem distant at the moment, we must come together now if we want to achieve our shared goals and give the D.C. student community the political representation it so desperately needs.

Scott Stirrett is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service.

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