Letters to the Editor

‘Screwed’ by the SA

What Student Association officers do you have to sleep with to get some funding?

I thought it was just my particular student organization that was consistently getting the shaft from the Senate Finance Committee. We have had two big financial disappointments from the SA in the last month with not so much of a “morning-after ‘I’ll call you.'” The Hatchet’s recent article about the Islamic Alliance for Justice’s benefit event is evidence that the SA is screwing other groups, too.

For readers who missed the Web Extra article, IAJ requested a $2,000 co-sponsorship from the SA for a fundraiser to help victims of the earthquake in Pakistan. The SA offered them $250 from the $150,000 set aside solely for co-sponsorships. SA Finance Committee chair Michelle Tanney (U-At Large) reasoned that the event was not fully funded by the SA because the money was going to a charity and not directly to a GW student organization. I could swallow this logic were it not for the SA’s recent, fairly unsuccessful monopolization of the Hurricane Katrina rally. Readers may recall that event was for a charitable cause. In the end, the SA rightfully caught a lot of heat for throwing around its weight and leaving other, smaller organizations out of the planning process. Is this type of inconsistency the SA working for students?

SA President Audai Shakour made a lot of glittering promises during his campaign. Two of the more notable promises, which can be found on the SA’s Web site, are “$35,000 of additional money that will go to student organizations” and “provide additional funding for existing orgs that are in dire need” and his plan for a Presidential Arts Fund of $5,000 “for the purpose of promoting the arts at GW.” I know my performing arts organization and other groups like ours have not seen any of those resources. Neither have we gotten any clear (or considerate) suggestions on what to do to be in the Finance Committee’s good graces.

I am curious to know who is seeing that money and what their secret is. With so much money at its disposal, why is it so difficult to get some financial help from the SA? Why can the SA officers spend so much time and money putting their important titles on their important business cards, but they cannot help support the small student organizations that depend on them?

-Erica Taylor, senior, GW Vibes

To SJT: The truth about THC

This letter is in response to last Thursday’s article featuring GW NORML and particularly the comments of our fearless leader, President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg (“Group pushes for GW to change marijuana policy,” Oct. 27, p. 1).

Trachtenberg, despite having written an article for a journal in 1972 as a proponent of marijuana decriminalization, stated that he changed his stance on the matter because later studies showed that marijuana has more harmful effects than he was aware of at the time. More harmful? That’s odd. The studies that I’ve read about suggest the exact opposite.

In fact, in 1982, the California Research Advisory Panel found that marijuana is effective in relieving nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients, and that a safe dosage to minimize undesirable side effects had been tested. They reported a 78.9 percent effectiveness rating among chemotherapy patients. Was this study a fluke? Maybe. But the panel reviewed their data through 1989, and reported the same results.

Another article published in October 1988, in The New York Journal of Medicine, reported the same success rate in chemotherapy patients, and went on to include that no serious negative side effects were present.

There is a wealth of information on the subject available. It’s up to all of us, including you, Mr. Trachtenberg, to start making realistic decisions about the benefits and risks of marijuana. Sure, it’s a touchy subject. But many people, including myself, have realized that it must be exposed to protect our civil rights.

-David Pribulka, sophomore

Keep it up NORML

The GW chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is to be commended for taking on GW’s zero-tolerance stance against marijuana. It would appear that President Trachtenberg has been deluded by the White House Office of National Drug Policy’s “reefer madness” revisited campaign. The marijuana plant has not changed since Trachtenberg authored an article in 1972 arguing for decriminalization. What has changed is the federal government’s willingness to lie and deceive to keep the drug war gravy train chugging along.

If health outcomes determined drug laws, instead of cultural norms, marijuana would be legal. Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco. Marijuana can be harmful if abused, but jail cells are inappropriate as health interventions and ineffective as deterrents. The first marijuana laws were enacted in response to Mexican migration during the early 1900s, despite opposition from the American Medical Association.

Dire warnings that marijuana inspires homicidal rages have been counterproductive at best. White Americans did not even begin to smoke pot until a soon-to-be entrenched government bureaucracy began funding “reefer madness” propaganda. By raiding voter-approved medical marijuana providers in California, the very same Bush administration that claims illicit drug use funds terrorism is forcing cancer and AIDS patients into the hands of street dealers.

Apparently, marijuana prohibition is more important than protecting the country from terrorism.

-Robert Sharpe, alumnus and policy analyst for Common Sense for Drug Policy

Students deserve a spot on the board

In response to the editorial “Students have no place on the Board of Trustees” (Oct. 27, p. 4), I must disagree.

As most everyone knows, GW’s tuition is already one of the highest in the nation, and doesn’t seem likely to stop growing anytime soon. Our reliance on tuition as our dominant source of funding will not stop unless students have a stake, however small, in their own governance.

It has been argued that a student on the Board of Trustees would fail to see the “long term” effects of their decisions. The Hatchet’s own article even described students as “ephemeral.” While it’s true the majority of students will only spend four years here, it’s equally true that a Board of Trustees looking only to the long term is a board that does not have the interests of the student body in mind. To ignore the students you have is an insult to those who worked hard for years to get here.

Recently, GW unveiled its 20-year plan for the school and surrounding community. Where were students in this decision? I think many people forget (including The Hatchet) that while GW needs to look to the future, its foundation is built on the present student body. We worked hard to get here and certainly earned it; I’d like to see the school start working for us a little more, rather than for higher revenue 20 years from now.

-Sean Shannon, freshman

Off campus in the ’70s

During a visit to GW on Colonial Weekend, I read with great interest The Hatchet article titled “The long way home” (Oct. 20, p. 1), dealing with off-campus living.

I attended GW from 1971-1975. In my sophomore year, I moved to Alexandria, Va. I shared a three-bedroom, centrally air-conditioned apartment with three other students. There were many other GW students in my apartment complex. Rent in Virginia was much less expensive than in Northwest D.C. The cost of the apartment was about the same as the dorm.

Of course you needed a car to live in Virginia at the time, since the Metro was still under construction. Parking in the parking garage was $1 a day. There was a shortage of parking at the time so GW had arranged for students to park in the Kennedy Center underground parking facility.

Times seem to have changed, just as the campus has.

-Marc K. Goldsmith, alumnus

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