The Student Association is registering students to vote in next year’s D.C. elections, and urging them to run for seats on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission.
Adam Siple, who is spearheading the SA’s “GW Votes” campaign, said preliminary programs already have made 50 additional students eligible to vote in elections this November.
“The primary focus is on registering students,” Siple said. “As we get students registered, we are looking to identify potential candidates who will support students, or to get students to run themselves.”
The ANC has voted against GW building initiatives in recent years, including the construction of New Hall and, most recently, the future Health and Wellness Center.
Siple said he believes part of the problem community members have with students is that they equate students with the University as an institution.
“Some members of the community see the students and the University as one, and equate both with problems for the community,” he said. “(Students) know a lot about the community and want to be involved.”
Six single-member districts comprise the ANC for Foggy Bottom and West End communities. Siple said at least three of the districts are almost entirely within GW’s campus parameters.
Voters must be registered in D.C. at least 30 days before the election. Candidates for ANC must be registered voters and must have lived in their district for at least 60 days before the Sept. 4 deadline to file for candidacy. ANC members serve two-year terms.
Siple said students should not be concerned with losing financial aid from their state by registering to vote in D.C. He said research conducted by the SA and Georgetown University students showed only six states, including Pennsylvania, offer financial aid to students who attend schools outside of their state.
“Students need to see if they actually receive state aid,” Siple said. “The majority of financial aid students receive federal aid, and states cannot deny students federal aid.”
Georgetown ran a voter registration drive last year and elected a student to a local ANC. Siple said a group of students at Georgetown spread a rumor last year that students could lose aid if they registered in the District. The financial aid office at Georgetown quickly assured students they would not lose their aid if they changed where they are registered, Siple said.
“Most students are eager to register to vote in the District once they get the facts straight,” he said.
The SA wants students to register to vote to help the community, not just to push initiatives to benefit the University, Siple said.
“The message we are trying to send is that students are a part of the community,” Siple said.