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 Students: Vote in the District

Despite all of the hype lately about voter registration, the fact of the matter is everyone knows that it is up to you to decide whether to vote here in D.C. or whether to vote by an absentee ballot in your home state. It is only fair, however, that you understand some things about voting in the District.

Currently, and in the foreseeable future, the D.C. government has a great deal of control over its residents’ actions. This control is maintained through a wide variety of city agencies and commissions. One of these commissions, arguably the most important when it comes to both student and non-student residents of D.C., is the Advisory Neighborhood Commission. The ANC’s job is to advise the other city government offices on how their plans are affecting the community that the ANC represents. For example, when a Georgetown resident who lives in a historical building wants to make any changes to that building, they have to get approval from different city agencies, one of which is the Board of Zoning Adjustment. The ANC takes a position on that proposal based on how the change would effect the community. By law, the BZA must respect the ANC’s recommendation unless compelling evidence is presented that would necessitate a change.

So now you may be saying, “What does this have to do with me as a student?” Local government, including the ANC, makes decisions about block party, building new buildings such as a performing arts center, a science building or a graduate business school building, and whether or not the university can remodel cDonough Arena. Recently, it even seems that local politics can have a major say in where students live, even off campus.

In a recent recommendation made by the city’s Office of Planning, officials advocated that a “minor amendment” be made to the District’s Human Rights Act. This act prevents employment and housing discrimination on the basis of age, sex, race, religion, etc. One of the protected groups within that act is students. In other words, no one can ever say, “You can’t rent my house because you’re a student.” Or, “I’m not hiring you because you’re a student.” The Office of Planning is looking to strike the student clause, essentially making it legal for people to discriminate against students in these ways.

Local politics plays a huge role in our lives as students. This fall, two students are running for the ANC in an effort to fairly represent all Georgetown residents. As a result of a lengthy court battle in 1996, students have the right to choose where they vote and be a part of the democratic process. This November presents the opportunity for us to elect our ANC commissioners in a contest that has in the past been won by a margin of as few as four votes. Do we want to have say in what goes on?

If you decide to forfeit your right to vote here, be aware that you are also forfeiting your right to complain about not having a block party because the ANC did not approve it, or having to live in Rosslyn or Foggy Bottom because City Council decided that it was a good idea to let communities discriminate against students. Will you take advantage of your right to be a part of the decision-making process?

Justin Kopa and Justin Wagner are sophmores in the College.GU Students: Vote in the District

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