GW is known for the speakers it attracts. Heads of state, famous comedians and influential thinkers are frequent guests here in Foggy Bottom. Usually, this brings good press for the University, and is a selling point for prospective students. It is for that reason perhaps that the fiasco surrounding Meghan McCain’s scheduled appearance in February is especially embarrassing for GW. It is clear that political posturing, misrepresentation and petty conflicts have marred our school’s reputation.
For those who haven’t followed the story, both Allied in Pride and the Graduate School of Political Management’s Student Association put a deposit down to have McCain speak. The event was going to be sponsored by those groups, along with Program Board and the GW College Republicans. However, a Hatchet article about the event quoted Michael Komo, president of Allied in Pride and Student Association senator, as saying that McCain would be the keynote speaker of Marriage Equality Week. After the article was printed, the CRs claimed ignorance of the intended purpose of her appearance and withdrew their support. The story made national news when McCain (incorrectly) tweeted that she had been “uninvited” to GW’s campus because of her views on marriage equality.
Of all the key players in this debacle, the majority of the blame falls on Komo. When approaching the CRs to support the event, he did not make it explicitly clear that McCain would be speaking in favor of marriage equality. At best, the exclusion of this detail was a foolish oversight; at worst, it was intentionally deceptive. With Komo a potential SA presidential candidate, his recent efforts seem to be motivated by political ambitions. Between the McCain event and launching two SA resolutions right before the start of the election season, it is hard to imagine that Komo’s actions are not meant to garner positive publicity for a potential campaign.
Though Komo deserves much of the blame, it is perhaps SA graduate senator Jamie Baker who has played the most erratic role in this episode. Baker was instrumental in bringing McCain to campus by attaining the financial support of the GSPM student association. However, after the controversy arose between Komo and the CRs, Baker claimed that he did not know McCain would be speaking about marriage equality. If this is true, then Baker irresponsibly committed money to McCain as a speaker without knowing the most basic facts of her political views. It seems much more likely that Baker is now attempting to distance himself from a political firestorm that he helped create. Either way, the situation is not good for a person who is likely considering a run for SA executive vice president.
In agreeing to sponsor the McCain event, the College Republicans failed in the elementary responsibility of event planning. It is no secret that McCain is an active supporter of gay marriage. For the executive board of the College Republicans to not realize that marriage equality would be a topic of discussion is unprofessional.
Unfortunately, as the debate has reached the national level through numerous blogs and articles, people have not separated the petty actions of several individuals from the University as a whole. This botched situation has brought out the worst in all involved, and done so at the expense of GW’s reputation.
Readers can visit the Forum to comment on this editorial.
The article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
The article originally stated that the Graduate School of Political Management helped fund the deposit for McCain’s appearance. In fact, it was the GSPM Student Association.