Manouch Nava is a staple of the GW experience. The beloved late-night hot dog vendor who has been satisfying students’ hunger for more than 16 years apparently is now coming under heavier threats from the Metropolitan Police Department. MPD wants him to cease his operations because District law prohibits street vendors from selling food after 1:30 a.m. The law allows people on private property to sell food at all hours of the day and night. GW should hold true to its newly created mantra of “students first” and reserve space on University property so that Manouch may continue serving students.
If he continues selling past 1:30 a.m., Manouch could be subject to maximum fines of $300 and even arrest. In the past police have levied $50 fines against Manouch’s business, but the law gives MPD officers total discretion in the matter. Now, MPD tells Manouch that penalties will be more stringent to the point where his business operations are shut down through arrest, higher fines or both.
With such a GW institution at risk of losing his place for good, the University should allot space on campus for Manouch to conduct his business. University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, at GW’s helm for more than decade, is surely aware of Manouch’s fame and popularity. Barring a contractual breach with Aramark, Manouch should be given safe harbor by the University he vigorously claims as his home.
Those who would argue that the law must be upheld irrespective of the circumstances should consider the clarity of the situation. Manouch is at stake; not some faceless, impersonal vendor who just opened up shop. Through good and bad weather, Manouch has made it clear he will be out making sure students’ needs are met as they venture back to campus from a night on the town. Regardless of possible requests from other vendors to sell after 1:30 a.m., GW should allow Manouch to operate on University property because of the special place GW students have for him.
Whether the University asked for it or not, Manouch is a part of campus even more than its bronze statue or three-year-old gates. It is time to protect our tradition. Long lines are common at Manouch’s stand not because everyone wants a glimpse of a rebellious law-breaker, but because Manouch provides a much needed service for students in a unique and personable manner.