Most GW students do not concern themselves with local politics – and with good reason. With the major agencies of the federal government only blocks from campus, there is not much interest in the minutiae of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions or the D.C. City Council. Yet, it is these very institutions that play a major role in determining campus boundaries and regulating some aspects of students’ lives. A successful student candidate for the upcoming vacancy on the Foggy Bottom ANC would benefit both students and residents and provides the perfect opportunity for students to have a stake in local decisions and work toward alleviating the problems that often arise between local residents and the University.
Traditionally, the relationship between the University and non-student residents on the ANC has been extremely contentious, even though students comprise a significant number of Foggy Bottom residents.
A student ANC board member would provide a compromise between University and resident concerns, since he or she would most likely advocate for student concerns rather than the University’s. In some cases, student interests are best represented by the University’s position, but in other cases a student member might agree with the rest of the ANC and help to mediate divisions between GW and the commission.
Having a student on the board capable of clearly articulating student concerns could even be a mitigating factor in University-neighborhood relations by making non-student residents more apt to consider the student point of view. Instead of viewing students as a group of rambunctious college kids, the board would have to listen to the ideas of a student-colleague. The idea isn’t new, as students have served on the ANC in the past.
Residents consistently take the stance that they hate GW but don’t have a problem with its students. Now is the time for a student – who lives in the area represented by the vacant seat – to step up to a community leadership role and work with the residents to build better relations and ensure that student-resident voices are heard just as much as non-students’.