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

GUSA Locks Out Common Sense

Now that I’m in the middle of my senior year, it seems that each and every year the student publications make some tacit agreement amongst themselves to latch on to one specific issue and force it to the forefront. The newspapers then fuel the issue, controversial or not, with countless articles and editorials week after week and month after month. This is achieved, of course, at the expense of anything else that might be occurring on campus.

My freshman year, the newspapers were falling over themselves to convince students that more student space was, in fact, a good thing. This was, of course, a big shock to all of those students who, prior to the newspaper formalizing their stance, had been tirelessly campaigning for more offices on campus for administrators.

My sophomore year, I remember pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli students taking turns to gather in Red Square to demonstrate against whatever their counterpart had protested the week before. Although no one on campus seemed particularly concerned except those protesting or being protested, the student publications responded to the protests by a seemingly earnest attempt to use their editorials to broker a lasting plan for Middle East peace.

And then junior year, the alleged debate over the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender resource center commandeered the newspapers’ full and undivided attention. I say “alleged” debate, because I seem to remember that although the counter viewpoint was always loosely alluded to, it was never actually articulated in any of the student publications.

And now, my senior year is here. And The Hoya and the Voice have decided once again that a new entirely non-controversial issue again must be brought to the fore. This year’s issue is the administration’s new 24-hour residence hall lockdown policy. This policy prohibits students from entering a residence hall other than the one in which they live.

Now, I am against the policy. Every student on campus is against the policy. And GUSA has passed a resolution against the policy. Student opinion is entirely resolved against the policy – just as student opinion was entirely resolved in favor of more student space, in favor of Middle East peace and in favor of the LGBT resource center. So why do we keep talking to each other and not to the administration? A sizable part of the reason has been the mismanagement of the issue by our student government.

What our Student Association has never understood is that the real power does not exist in the specific wording of the administration’s policies. The power exists in the enforcement of those policies. This is the same reason that executives, cabinet members and representatives spend hours fine-tuning the rhetoric of their latest resolution or press release, but seem apathetic as to whether or not the administration actually does whatever it is that the document is demanding.

So when GUSA tests the practice of this latest lockdown policy and finds that student guards only enforce it approximately 24 percent of the time, it should have quietly reveled in the small victory. Student guards were admitting all Georgetown University students, not just residents of that specific residence hall – exactly what the GUSA resolution had called for. Instead though, GUSA complained loudly and publicly that the lockdown policy, which they were against from the start, was not being fully enforced! Our student body vice president even responded to the survey results by saying that the failure of student guards to implement the 24-hour lockdown policy underlined a pressing need for “responsible guards all the time” (“GUSA Test Shows New Safety Policy Ineffective” The Hoya, Sept. 27, 2002, p.1).

Our student government needs to set priorities. And ensuring that the administration enforces policies that are unfriendly to the student body should not be one of them. GUSA, please get it together, if only so we can read about something else in our student newspapers.

Sean Hawks is a senior in the College.

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