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.