Letters to the editor

Start a revolution

While reading “2006 should be the Student Association’s 1776” (Nov. 21, p. 4), I felt an eerie sense of d?j? vu.

As an idealistic freshman I became involved with the SA, working primarily on the GW Votes campaign. While in the SA I came to realize the extent to which the Student Association did not represent the student body. Slowly but surely it became astoundingly clear that every last person I met in the SA didn’t have a vision for GW; they had a vision for their own future political careers. It was a sad game of dress-up for kids that hadn’t quite grown up. So I left.

As I saw former SA President Omar Woodard struggle with the Senate to institute pragmatic legislation, I became increasingly annoyed at the impotence of the Student Association as a whole. I simultaneously became more vocal on how the organization could be improved. Eventually my non-SA (and don’t-really-care-about-the-SA) friends suggested that I run and help improve the SA from the inside out. I toyed with the idea, but wasn’t really keen on becoming another SA pawn, SA tool or worse: fresh meat for the Senate.

Finally I reached the same conclusion as Will Dempster: what the SA needed was a clean slate. I began to contact people recommended to me by peers: people who were in touch with the issues, but weren’t sucked in by the madness. To quote your very words that gave me d?j? vu: I began to speak with people “from as varied interests as club sports, religious groups, Greek-letter organizations, advocacy and performance arts groups among others.” What the Senate needs is a fresh group of minds grounded in reality that will work with each other and with the executive branch to develop pragmatic initiatives and constructive solutions. The only way to accomplish this is through electing a body of people who truly represent the diversity of GW students and can put aside personal agendas for the good of the whole.

-Bevin Doherty, junior

Keep the promise

Thursday is World AIDS Day. This day was established in 1988 by UNAIDS and approved unanimously by 180 countries to show solidarity in fighting the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. But we must ask ourselves, how far have we really come in the past 17 years? The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is “Keep the Promise.” But I wonder if we are keeping the promise.

About 8,400 people die every day from AIDS, and HIV infection rates continue to rise. Our leaders need to do more on this day than give lip-service to the accomplishments that have been made – they need to fulfill their promises to do more.

The United States has promised to fund a variety of global HIV/AIDS programs, but we have not yet fulfilled these promises. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria remains severely underfunded. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, also underfunded, has been used as a tool to promote political ideology over science in global HIV/AIDS prevention programs.

While some progress has been made in sub-Saharan Africa, in countries such as Uganda, AIDS continues to devastate others such as Botswana, where the average life expectancy has decreased from 72 to 39 in the past 20 years. AIDS, however, is not only an African problem; in India, China, Eastern Europe and Russia prevalence rates continue to rise with no stop in the foreseeable future. Nor is the developed world immune to the effects of the pandemic – in the United States there are currently 1 million people living with HIV/AIDS, with a quarter lacking access to treatment.

As GW students we cannot ignore what is happening right around us in the District of Columbia. It is estimated that one in 20 people in D.C. is infected with HIV. More than 15,000 people in the District have been diagnosed with AIDS, yet the government continues to severely cut the budgets of organizations serving the community with treatment and testing.

At GW, students pride themselves on being politically active and knowledgeable about world issues. But solely wearing bracelets and joining listservs does not constitute student activism. This day serves as a reminder to the world, to all of us, that we have promises to keep. Student activism can make a difference, but only with effort and commitment.

-Kathy Wollner, sophomore, Global AIDS Alliance

Sticker shock

I was somewhat shocked when I read President Trachtenberg’s justification for his raise of $62,000 and total compensation package of $700,000 (“SJT received $62,000 raise,” Nov. 21, p. 3)

SJT justified his high pay with the following logic: “Compared to corporate (chief executive officers), this is relatively small. A university is a multi-million or billion-dollar company, and CEOs running corporations of this size get paid a lot more.”

The president of the United States, who oversees budget running into the trillions, gets paid $400,000. Does SJT deserve to be paid almost double the salary of the president of the United States?

SJT should compare his salary to public servants, not CEOs.

I am not at all against performance-based compensation packages. Perhaps when GW breaks into the U.S. News and World Report’s top-50 tier of colleges should he get a raise.

-Austin Kim, senior

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