Signs of an increased student voice in the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission were evident at Wednesday night’s meeting, the first that included members who were elected last fall.
The 2A commission appointed newly elected members to all three leadership positions, choosing Barbara Spillinger (single-member district 2A04) as chair, GW alumnus Richard Sheehey (2A01) as vice chair and GW junior Steven Mandelbaum (2A06) as treasurer.
The three members, elected to the ANC last November, represent all but two residence halls on campus and said they plan to include student input in the committee’s decisions. Student opinion has not been taken into account in the past, Sheehey said.
“It is time for students to give input to what their commission is doing,” Mandelbaum said.
“I haven’t looked into (student response) yet, but I think it is a good idea,” said Spillinger, who represents residents of New and Madison halls.
The three new additions to the committee plan to discuss the ANC’s concerns about the plan for a new GW hospital with their University constituents, Sheehey said.
“We know the University, out of its alliance with Universal Health Services, wants to build a new hospital, but we want to find out if GW students want it because they are the ones that will pay for it,” Sheehey said.
Sheehey’s new position as vice chair gives him control of the committee’s agenda, a responsibility that will help him back his campaign promise to make the committee more organized and responsive to residents, he said.
While the ANC has historically battled the University on issues such as construction and parking lot renewal, the election of a University alumnus and current student to leadership positions and a new commission chair are positive signs for University residents, Sheehey said.
“It’s going to be more positive in the future because it can’t get more negative,” Sheehey said.
The University’s struggle to renew parking for six University parking lots is evidence of conflict between the University and the ANC, Sheehey said.
“Basically, some (ANC) members don’t want GW to do anything,” Sheehey said. “They only renewed parking for one year out of a political ploy, and we want to try to alleviate future incidents.”
Sheehey and Mandelbaum plan to initiate dialogue between the University and the commission while using student input to ease past pressure, Sheehey said.
The three new members of the committee will canvass students for their reactions to construction of a new University hospital and how much it will cost students. They also will work to make the ANC more organized for community meetings, Sheehey said.