This letter addresses the recent public attention on Sen. J.P. Blackford (SEAS-G) of the Student Association.
While I was in graduate school at GW, I served several terms as an SA
senator, including time on the Senate Rules Committee, which Blackford chaired. I always respected Blackford’s integrity and judgment even when we disagreed on campus issues. Blackford consistently demonstrated fairness, intelligence and empathy.
In addition to the Student Association, I also worked with Blackford in other student groups. Blackford has helped students, student groups, administrators and faculty in many ways. I consider him to be a mentor and a true leader.
I could write a chapter about Blackford’s humility and kindness as a leader, but space is limited here. I regret some people are tempted to depersonalize Blackford as merely a politician. I see him as a teacher and mentor who will soon be a great engineering professor. I understand some readers of this letter may not know how much value Blackford has added to the GW community over the years.
Campustruth.org, an Internet based organization, attempts (emphasis on attempts) to promote equality and unbiased news media in the Middle East. The half-page ad on the back of the last Monday’s Hatchet depicts an Israeli athlete and a Palestinian suicide bomber.
I now know that the organization’s goal was to depict Israelis as noble, superior, compassionate human beings and Palestinians as nothing more than ruthless killers. We are led to believe that Palestinians do not partake in athletics or other activities, or that they are simply too busy blowing up people to do so. But what about the many Palestinian athletes that were killed by the Israeli army according to the Jordanian newspaper The Star, like Al Kalha, a dead goalkeeper for the Palestinian football team, and Ahmad Ayoub a now dead Palestinian basketball player? The Israeli army also has destroyed athletic structures including a major Palestinian football stadium, which has forced Palestine to be dropped from FIFA recognition.
I suppose its all about making that dollar, no matter what moral, ethnic and political implications lie beneath. I think it was in poor taste for The Hatchet to run this ad and I hope they will learn from their mistake.
Recent Hatchet articles and editorials have demonstrated conclusively the ineptitude of our Student Association leaders. The accelerating politicization of the SA reveals that our “representatives” are no longer promoting the collective interest of the student body. However, there is still a body of power on campus that has not been corrupted by politics – the Navel Reserve Officer Training Corps.
GW has a battalion of young, fit military leaders-in-training, individuals dedicated to the promoting the common good. It is imperative that the University’s military institution temporarily suspend the SA constitution, forcibly de-politicize the student government and restore direction and decisiveness to the democratic institutions of this great University. A period of apolitical leadership, headed by GW’s finest young men and women and guided by knowledge of the best interest of the student population is the only realistic way to restore order to the rapidly disintegrating institution of student governance.
I implore GW’s ROTC midshipmen to recognize their solemn duty and to restore dignity to our student leadership.
I would like to thank and commend the Hatchet for its fair, generally accurate portrayal of the scandal that has recently rocked the Student Association. In my conversations with them during my recent efforts to expose corruption within the SA, Hatchet reporters demonstrated that they adhere to the highest tenets of responsible journalism.
There are only three items, in fact, in the Hatchet’s coverage of the entire sordid mess that I wish to take issue with. The first concerns the paper’s statement in its Nov. 1 editorial (“Working for Who?” p.4) that I “drew others into a myriad of political debacles.” If the “others” referenced here are Daleo, Blackford and Moss, the portrayal of exactly who drew whom is inaccurate. They were critical of Phil Robinson from the beginning and determined to get rid of him. I, on the other hand, wrote a column in the Hatchet’s March 14 issue urging the Working for Us slate to forget its differences with Robinson and work with him. Second, the Hatchet’s Nov. 1 presentation of the analysis I wrote (“SA officials resign,” p.1) fails to mention the fact that the purpose of the document was to demonstrate to Daleo, Blackford and Moss that attempting to impeach Robinson, short of evidence implicating him in the distribution of a Senate staffer’s private emails to campus media organizations, was a bad idea. The memo, which I am certainly not proud to have authored, states: “As things stand, (i.e., without such evidence) I’m not sure we have enough right now.”
Finally, I did not “write that an impeachment effort could be aided by exploiting the race of SA officials.” I did write that both the university’s reputation in the minority community and the political careers of those involved could be damaged by the politically-motivated impeachment of a student body president who is a member of a minority group.
In the end analysis, it is up to the Hatchet’s readers, the members of the student body, to demand change and apportion blame. I earnestly hope that they will do both, and I am willing to accept my share of the latter. Students must make up their own minds about whom to believe, someone who initially and very publicly supported Robinson but who has quit the SA, and has nothing to gain and everything to lose by having his embarrassing involvement blared across the front page of The Hatchet, or three senior SA officials who want to remain in their jobs and who actively campaigned for and are close associates of Robinson’s opponent, who have everything to gain and nothing to lose by trying to avoid responsibility for the scandal. Trying to blame this whole mess on a 35-year-old doctoral student who would gain absolutely no advantage whatsoever from Robinson’s removal is an indication of how low SA politics have sunk. I’m glad to be out.
political science Ph.D. candidate, former SA senator (CSAS-G)