AU’s student ANC seat vacant, but there’s plenty of mustard gas!

These watchdogs of democracy are busy reporting important national news

American University’s The Eagle doesn’t have a reputation for being umm… any good at all. Wrote City Paper back in August:

One [AU] writing professor joked that his colleagues spend their end-of-semester party opening a random issue and doing shots for each grammatical error …. In some cases the paper even quotes its own opinion columnists as sources.

Ouch! So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the author of the article reporting that the seat in ANC 3D reserved for a student representative is vacant clearly didn’t have a clue as to what the heck an ANC-thingy does.

Still, the fact that The Eagle staff has only just realized (or worse, only just reported) that they don’t have a rep on the ANC is truly frightening. Seriously guys, elections were in November! And another thing! The article downplays the importance of an ANC to an absurd degree:

The Advisory Neighborhood Commission’s Ward 3D commission – part of the governing body for D.C. neighborhoods – meets once a month and discusses issues that could be pertinent to AU students, but the committee has no AU student representation.

Issues that could be pertinent to AU students? I seem to remember that there are undiscovered caches of chemical weapons still buried on your campus leftover from WWI, when you were a chemical weapons testing site for the army.

The Army has been cleaning up chemical weapons buried in AU’s neighborhood since the nineties. But ANC 3D Commissioner Thomas Smith (who is currently AU students’ only representative on ANC 3D—two of AU’s dorms lie in his district, 02) worries that there’s nothing safe about the way American University is going about it (more to come in this week’s Voice).

And really, even if your school wasn’t a former chemical weapons laboratory, representation on these ANC dealies is nice to have. At Georgetown, the ANC does everything from attempting to curtail where your pizza-eating to yelling at WASA when your fire hydrants don’t work. On special occasions, it decides whether bars can stay open late. ANC members channel crotchety neighbors and tell your school where its buses can’t drive. It can even try to legislate egregious off-campus keg bans. (Boy, do some of those things sound petty compared to “deposits of mustard gas”).

I guess once the author fails to grasp how important ANC representation is, I shouldn’t expect him to seek (what I would hope would turn out to be angry) students’ (or, for their purposes, angry opinion columnists’) comments. And should students be angry: this seat has been vacant since before the 2008 election cycle:

AU’s Student Government attempted to field a candidate for the 3D07 seat during the 2006 election but were unable to find someone before the registration deadline, The Eagle previously reported.

To be fair, that must’ve made filling the 2008 seat even harder for AU students. The way former ANC Commissioner Jenna Lowenstein (COL `09) tells it, it took a lot of campaigning to find her successor, Aaron Golds (COL `11). There are also problems with D.C. Board of Election and Ethics requirements, but more on that this Thursday (and it’s not really the DCBOEE’s fault, as the wording of the article might lead you to believe).

Enter The Eagles editorial board? Sort of.

While they seem to understand in more realistic terms how this affects students (“The Advisory Neighborhood Commission is best known on campus for being that group that slows down construction on campus by introducing endless layers of extra red-tape”) and beg someone to step up to the plate, it’s no home run. You won’t believe what they identify as the number one thing that they think needs to happen before somebody proffers themselves in service to the student body:

1. The U.S. government needs to quit tweeting and posting videos on YouTube and finally pass this D.C. voting rights bill. By expanding D.C. voting rights, it would encourage students to switch their voter registration. This would make it easier for students across the city to have their voices heard in their neighborhood commissions.

Furthermore, it would encourage students to become more civic minded in general. Right now, it is all too easy for students to come to D.C., go to school, get drunk and then split for the summer. It is important that students give back to this great city. Giving D.C. the representation it deserves will help this happen.

That’s right. In order to get AU students off their dupas, Congress needs to pass a landmark voting rights bill. They’ve clearly earned it, what with having taken such enthusiastic advantage of what little representation they already have. What’re you waiting for, Congress?

Photo taken from Flickr user This Year’s Love under a Creative Commons license.

2 Comments on “AU’s student ANC seat vacant, but there’s plenty of mustard gas!

  1. In fairness to the Eagle, I don’t think that reporter is really saying ANC isn’t important to students. He’s just saying only some of its issues are important–not all of our ANC’s issues (how many seats are in front of a restaurant, for example) matter to students either.

    But that ed is rich! Oh boy.

  2. Bologna! There isn’t anything in the article to realistically indicate to otherwise unknowing students what an ANC can do and why it’s important.

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