Letters to the Editor

Gun amendment is appropriate

Ms. Claire Autruong makes some good points but also has some very idealistic hopes in her argument. She refers to Sen. John Ensign’s amendment to S.160, the D.C. Voting Rights Act of 2009 as something he threw into the bag to derail voting rights for District residents.

We always hear how Republicans are to blame for everything, such doom and gloom. In reality, the gun amendment was supported by Virginia’s two Democratic senators and Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Democratic top honcho. The question that no one is raising is what use is Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton if she can’t even get her own party members from voting against her most important piece of legislation?

For the last eight years, it was President Bush’s fault and that of the Republican Congress. So what happens when the Democratic leadership votes for an amendment that will muck up voting rights? It’s the NRA’s fault. Come on, get real. Autruong is misguided in suggesting the motto for D.C. be changed from “Taxation without Representation” to “Representation without Power.”

Let’s not forget that when the Democrats were in control and Marion Barry was mayor, Barry refused Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy’s offer to give District leaders their own budget autonomy. No right-wing conspiracy was behind that decision either. To be perfectly blunt, the gun amendment has wide support. Norton has proven that she is completely ineffective within her own party and the gun amendment can be added to any bill at any time and pass, so might as well get it with voting rights. That is, unless you really want voting rights or just something to complain about for the next 40 years.
JJ Gottschalk, Senior

No basis for SMPA claims

I write today to express my disappointment and steadfast disagreement with the staff editorial entitled “SMPA’s Schism,” printed in The Hatchet of April 9. As a proud member of the School of Media and Public Affairs and a political communication major, I find no basis for the editorial’s claim that by having two distinct programs in the SMPA, neither one can flourish.

On the contrary, I have found that my political communication program has been enhanced by the journalism class requirements because they essentially force me to be the journalist that, as a political communicator, I am trying to reach. These programs represent two sides of the same coin, and their symbiotic relationship is integral to the success of both programs.

I also reject as false the idea that because “most of the top journalism undergraduate schools in the country are called a “School of Journalism” and not a “School of Media and Public Affairs,” we should restructure an entire academic school and make a name change, as if changing the name of a school would do anything but make The Hatchet’s editorial board feel better.

It is also worth noting that these classes deal with the intersection of public policy, politics, the public and the media. These are specialized classes that require a very specific faculty and while I mean no offense to the political science department, I would prefer constitutional scholars and political theorists not teach me how to write a campaign speech or analyze public opinion. We have fantastic professors in SMPA that have done these things in the “real world” for decades, and the idea that because the program has the word “political” in its name it should be rolled into the political science department is simply inept.

As a rising senior I have come to regard both of the programs offered by SMPA as some of the strongest GW has to offer. It is one of the biggest reasons I came to GW and one of the many reasons I am proud to call myself a GW student. The School of Media and Public Affairs is great just the way it is.
Dan Curran, Junior

SMPA interaction is valuable (Web extra)

While GW’s School of Media and Public Affairs differs from other universities’ journalism programs, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Colleges such as Maryland, Northwestern and Syracuse all have schools dedicated to the journalism major, but none are like the political communications program at GW.

Students who come to GW are generally interested in politics, especially those in SMPA, and want to write about political news. Considering the current collapse of the newspaper and magazine industry, journalism students at GW have an advantage over their counterparts at other schools because their major opens up more opportunities in different fields. Just because a person is a journalism major does not me he or she has to become a journalist.

At the same time, political communications students have to take journalism courses, even though they may never have to write a news article. These two fields interact so frequently that it is fantastic that GW has a school that intertwines journalism and political communications while separating them enough by having journalism students focus on writing and reporting courses and political communications majors focus on political science and application courses. As students in Washington, D.C., we are in a unique location and consequently receive a unique education. Journalism and political communications students should value the School of Media and Public Affairs for its many assets, not criticize it for being comprised of two interrelated majors.
Jayne Orenstein, Sophomore

SMPA needs political communication major (Web extra)

It is with great perplexity and disappointment that we, the senior class of political communication majors, write this letter. Not only is the Hatchet’s “SMPA’s Schism” (April 9, p. 4) staff editorial incomplete and ungrounded in argument, it goes to disrespect and grossly underestimate the exceptional political communication faculty and students that SMPA represents.

SMPA describes itself as “an internationally recognized center for research and teaching in political and international communication; the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs is a dynamic, interdisciplinary program based in the heart of Washington, D.C., where media, public affairs and politics intersect.”

What would journalism in Washington be without politics? That’s right, nothing. Washington is first and foremost a political Mecca giving journalists a breadth and depth of content on which to write.

If SMPA is indeed simply “divided into two camps: former and current journalists teaching straight journalism and others who are more supportive of the school’s political communications program” as the editorial suggests, it has been unbeknownst to us for the past four years. Rather, we see SMPA as a power house educating students via a hands-on approach about political communication and journalistic practices in synergy.

In your ideal world, if the political communication faction of SMPA moved to be incorporated into the already overflowing Political Science department, SMPA would forfeit significant credibility and the very facets that put the school on the map in the first place.

It is the melding of politics and journalism along with renowned faculty and students that make GW’s School of Media and Public Affairs an academic destination for students from all over the world.

We expected better from The Hatchet staff and can only hope that future editorials such as this will be more carefully thought out and cohesive. At the very least, we would expect such of SMPA journalism majors.

Political Communication Majors, Class of 2009: Cara Edmundowicz, Matt Feger, Erika Gudmundson, Marshall Cohen, Lucy Flores, Andy Stoltzfus, LT O’Brien, David Earl, Jordan Teller, Eric Walker and Katie Biszko.

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