Letters to the Editor

Financial confusion

The GW Hatchet’s front page article “Student Association redefines group funding” Nov. 17 contained several inaccuracies and misrepresentations.

The Commission for Responsible Financial Allocation was created three months ago by SA Executive Vice President Tony Sayegh, who appointed the commission members and scheduled them to begin work following fall allocations in mid-October.

Instead of seeking facts from EVP Tony Sayegh, commission head Sens. Bob Nelson, or Finance Committee Chair J.P. Blackford, statements were solicited from two self-appointed spokesmen, Sens. Jason Haber and Mark Levin. As another commission member, I am disappointed by the misinformation intentionally spread by The Hatchet and SA undergraduates.

The description of “the current channel” was muddled at best. The SA, like student governments at most universities, funds student groups through appropriations deliberated by the legislative branch and subjected to approval by the executive branch.

The pool of money used to support the 200 GW student groups via direct allocations and co-sponsorships is derived from the so-called mandatory “activities fee” (the line-item on a semester bill below “tuition”). The University administration earmarks a certain percentage to be granted to student groups through the SA.

Gaining a larger percentage of the fee from the administration, boosting the quality of support to groups and evaluating allocation mechanisms are all among the issues being considered by the commission. Contrary to The Hatchet’s insinuation, the commission was not created because of a presumed dissatisfaction with the Senate Finance Committee. Although a feeling of “total disappointment” with the SA may be Levin’s personal motivation and the source of his bombastic remarks, the commission as a whole could be described as working to improve, not replace, the current system.

Two years ago, in a published interview with Independence Magazine, Blackford responded to a question about line-item budget allocations decided by a committee of elected representatives. He said: “You’re voting as a student for your senator. You’re voting for that person to represent you. This is the same way it’s done in the U.S. You’re not voting for this amount of money to go to the defense budget. You’re voting for somebody deciding that. So obviously if you’re concerned, you can choose to vote or not to vote for a Senate candidate.”

Levin employed the phrase “taxation without representation” and criticized the composition of the finance committee. Senators face popular election every year. Committees and chairs are then elected internally. Chairs are held accountable throughout their tenures. The record shows that Blackford has achieved broad support and respect as finance chair.

Another mistake in the article was the false statement that the commission has endorsed the voucher system described by Levin. The commission has neither completed the student survey nor put forth any reform proposals, even unofficial ones. The Hatchet could have noted the specifics of Levin’s idea in a responsible manner by also mentioning the myriad of other suggestions the commission may consider.

The efforts of our campus publications to keep students informed on financial issues is appreciated. I wish The Hatchet success in approaching a higher standard of fact-checking and editing.

-Emily CumminsCSAS graduate senator

Irresponsible journalism

During the past month, The GW Hatchet has featured numerous articles pinpointing alcohol-related incidents among student groups. The articles included alcohol poisoning and binge drinking, not to mention alcohol-related deaths that are plaguing campuses nationwide.

In the Nov. 24 Hatchet, the winning picture of the Free Travel Contest was published with it was a caption that read, “Matt McGrath enjoys a tough night in Cancun” (p.9).

If you luckily bypassed this blatant display of irresponsible journalism, you missed a photograph of a person passed out on the floor with a joint in his mouth, shaving cream all over his face and arms, a bong on his stomach and another by his side, Skoal chewing tobacco and a box of Trojan condoms in his hand. What message was this supposed to send?

As a student at GW, I was personally disgusted that my school newspaper would publish such a picture. In doing so, not only was such obnoxious behavior condoned, but publicized as well.

For partaking in the illegal activities and substance abuse that the photo showed, that person is now being rewarded with a free trip. Because he partied irresponsibly and unsafely, he is now being given the opportunity to do it all over again, courtesy of The Hatchet.

-Deborah Klotz junior

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