Commissioner Ron Lewis introduced the issue and the two proposals. He said that, although the working group voted 10-6 in favor of the co-chairs’s proposal, which places all students on campus in two over-populated districts, the decision is subject to possible reconsideration after last night’s discussion.
The co-chairs’s proposal, according to Lewis, has “respect for the political geography” of the area; whereas, the Flanagan Planagan (drafted by Vox editor John Flanagan), which creates two student districts and one mixed, leaves “hundreds of permanent residents to be abandoned, to not be represented by who they want.” Also to be noted, he underwent a series of verbal gymnastics to avoid calling LXR “on campus.” (Unfortunately he botched the landing, earning a modest score of 6.5.)
Although (or possibly because) numerous students attended the meeting to voice their opposition to the co-chairs’s proposal, Lewis restricted that “discussion” to a series of five minute speeches by representatives of each organization at the meeting. Three additional speakers from each side would have two minutes each to speak. Most students were aghast at not being allowed to voice their opinions (it even drove Commissioner Jake Sticka (COL ’13) to actually speak). But given the topic of discussion, is anyone?
Here are the highlights, starting with the most interesting comments:
- Ed Russel, a resident in support of the co-chairs’s proposal, said that because the students do not pay property taxes, they should not have “the ultimate right.”
- Karen Cruise of the Citizens Association of Georgetown asserted that the logic that students are 45% of the population and therefore should have 45% of the representation is faulty.
- Paul Musgrave, a PhD student living in Burleith, took the bully pulpit. Graduate students, who cannot live on campus, are fated to be represented by who oppose them, Musgrave argued, so what was that about residents being abandoned? Also, since the vote for the the plan was 10-6 with five students on the commission, any pretense of collaboration is, well, pretense. In closing, Musgrave brought up that, while everyone is on the topic of representation, a commission of white men fails to represent a more diverse community.
- GUSA executive Mike Meaney (SFS ’12) cited the ANC’s 2002 Student Bill of Rights, the D.C. Human Rights Act, and other points from his Dish post. Specifically in response to Lewis’s claim that the Planagan breaks up the cohesiveness of the neighborhood, Meaney posited, “If [students] are 45% of the ANC population, then with whom is the other 55% being cohesive?” Meaney also told the commission that students would fight this proposal at the Council at-large hearing on the matter.
More after the jump!
- On the other side of the aisle, Burleith Citizens Association representative Nan Bell says the BCA voted in support of the co-chairs’s proposal because the Planagan would destroy the spirit of the neighborhood. A representative from the Hillendale Citizens Association similarly supported the proposal.
- Student Rob Biemesderfer held up his D.C. voter registration card and called attention to the absence of “student” on it. He told the room that he has stayed in D.C. year-round and participates actively in the community. “I’m not a second-class citizen of this community; I don’t want my vote rounded down,” Biemesderfer said. “I want full representation.”
- Ruiyong Chen (SFS ’13), a member of the redistricting working group, called the tenor of the redistricting meetings disappointing, then quoted Councilmember Phil Mendelson coming out against the proposal.
- A resident in opposition to the co-chairs’s proposal said that, in light of the recent campus plan difficulties, “a mixed district or at least a competitive process would facilitate a better discourse.”
In closing, Lewis assured the room, “The members of the working group will take this discussion to heart. If there is a majority, they will reconsider.”
FASHION. Turn to the left.
On a lighter note, September 8th is Georgetown’s Fashion’s Night Out. From 6-11 p.m. (same time as NYC), hundreds of merchants, restaurants, stores, spas, and salons in Georgetown will hold within-store events and promotions.
The Business Improvement District of Georgetown will provide free pedicab rides for shoppers, as well as a lounge at Dean and Deluca’s and a DJ in the PNC parking lot.