Column: Bring democracy to GW

Now that freedom is on the march throughout the Arab world, we can finally focus our attention on tyranny here at GW. We should thank President Bush for fighting for freedom, but would it be too much to ask for his help supporting a group of students next door to the White House? I know he believes that all people can be free and democratic. I agree with the President; Jews, Arabs, blacks and even college students deserve democracy.

If you think being a student at GW is a trip, I would like to direct your attention to the Board of Trustees. They do okay. Not only do they oversee the administration and all campus decisions, but they also don’t have to live with the consequences of those decisions?- how liberating. Unfortunately, things are a little less glamorous for students around campus. Tuition is raised, academics are slashed and community priorities are determined by institutions from which students are excluded. People far removed from our life experience make most decisions affecting our college lives. Major campus finance decisions and records are kept secret from the student body. Shhhhhh. I guess it would be considered silly to suggest students be allowed make decisions for themselves. Clearly, students can’t handle the truth.

There are student leaders that are fighting for meaningful student representation on campus. Student Association presidents and most student leaders have always been afraid to take a strong stand on student membership on the Board of Trustees. Columbian College Senator Morgan Corr is the real thing. Through Senate legislation, Corr is fighting for a student voice on the Board. Is he suggesting that students can be trusted to have a voice in campus decision making? Does Corr think he can make his constituents matter? For his bravery, I consider him a campus hero.

I have a ‘modest proposal’ for a trade students can make with the University. In exchange for representation on the Board of Trustees, students could permanently abandon the Marvin Center. That way all of the space being occupied by students can be put to far more profitable uses. By giving the University what it wants most, students might be able to secure the leverage necessary to gain the representation that we need and deserve. GW could even use this extra money to hire professors and build classrooms. In the long run, the Marvin Center would be a small price to pay for democracy on campus.

The Student Association president and a Hatchet designate are the only students permitted to attend open sessions of the Board of Trustees. But they are far from voting members. In fact, at the last meeting, SA president Woodard had nothing to say to the Board of Trustees. Because students are not even allowed to attend meetings, it is hard to say exactly what happened. It seems that Woodard simply thanked the Board for having him, acknowledged the previous speaker and walked out. Although I think that the SA president should sit through entire Board of Trustees meetings, I can see why he would not want to. Why should someone endure a meeting in which he is not allowed to vote or hear the facts? I guess everyone on campus is equal. However, clearly, some of us are ‘more equal’ than others.

In the heart of American government, you might expect GW to practice genuine dedication to democratic values. One thing is for sure; campus decision-makers understand and practice capitalism perfectly well. But democracy has not been on the march at GW. President Bush has been spending all of his time liberating the Arab world. We live so close to you, Mr. President, and we really need your help.

-The writer, a junior majoring in political science, is a Hatchet columnist.

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