Op-Ed: The importance of the ANC for students

While I do appreciate the kind words spoken about me by Justin Peligri in his column, “The dull reality of Foggy Bottom politics” (Aug. 23, p. 4), I must say I’m disappointed that they take the tone of condolences.

Peligri correctly notes that the student population is generally as interested in politics as they are detached from the politics of their own neighborhood. I find that to be a disappointment and something worth challenging, as opposed to a reality we must be consigned to.

Far from only dealing with mundane quality-of-life issues, the ANC deals with a lot of topics that affect students – albeit often more indirectly than those that come before the Student Association. That the ANC, as Peligri notes, “simply doesn’t represent their needs” is not a function of the body being incapable of doing so, but rather a natural outcome of a body that currently has no student representation.

The campus that we all interact with today has been shaped most directly – for better or worse – by the interplay between the ANC and the University administration over the past three decades. Historically, students have had little to no involvement in that process, because it wasn’t until 1998 that ANC 2A saw its first student-commissioner elected.

We have a historic opportunity this fall to elect three current GW students to the neighborhood’s highest governing body, alongside two incumbent commissioners that are GW alumni. The potential for Foggy Bottom to have five ANC commissioners – a majority of the commission – in January that are current or recent GW students is something that should excite the University community.

As for myself, I am most excited about potentially having the opportunity to serve Foggy Bottom residents as an effective, engaged commissioner who represents all of the people in my district and just happens to be a student. I am as invested in this neighborhood as any non-student resident, and emblematic of that is my proud service on both the Student Association Executive Cabinet and the Foggy Bottom Association Board of Directors.

Students have a role to play in making Foggy Bottom a better place to live, learn and recreate. While my opponent is correct that the ANC doesn’t exactly deal with “sexy” tasks, it also wouldn’t be a “miserable” time for me either. If it is for him, I’d be more than happy to relieve him of his misery Nov. 6.

Patrick Kennedy is a junior in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences majoring in political science.

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