Patrick Kennedy: Earn your voice in D.C. government

It has often been remarked that it is an ironic failure of justice that citizens in the capital of the world’s most powerful democracy are deprived of a voting voice in the federal government they host.

Yet there is a similarly disenfranchised class within the city that has little to no representation in D.C.’s government: college students.

Unlike the broader group of Washingtonians who are taxed without representation, we have the ability to collectively resolve our lack of representation.

D.C. Students Speak is committed to increasing civic participation among students in local universities. There are 85,000 college students in the District of Columbia, representing well over 10 percent of the city’s overall population.

Yet of the 276 Advisory Neighborhood Commission seats across the city, current college students occupy only two.

This should be particularly distressing for GW students, since there are no Colonials serving on the Foggy Bottom/West End ANC, despite students composing around half of the neighborhood’s population.

To get a seat at the table, we must step up as a group and become contributing members of the city’s vibrant civic community. Elected officials will only listen to students when we have established ourselves as visible, active and informed voters.

To that end, D.C. Students Speak will be conducting a city-wide student voter registration drive next week starting Feb. 27. I encourage all students to register to vote in the District, either through the drive or directly with the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics.

The election on April 3 in this city features a competitive Democratic primary for an at-large council seat and Republican presidential primary.

As a native Floridian, I know it’s difficult to give up the right to vote in a competitive state, which also has Senate and House elections.

But the intimate nature of District politics amplifies the importance of your vote, and the decisions made by D.C. officials will have a significant impact on your quality of life for as long as you attend school.

For that reason, I encourage my fellow students to band together so that we may give ourselves a voice in this great city.

Patrick Kennedy, a sophomore in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, is the president of the GW chapter of D.C. Students Speak.

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