Best and worst from this week’s headlines

The District is preparing for hundreds of people to take to the streets Sunday for the second “Unite the Right” rally. While that could have easily been the worst news of the week, the response by students, residents and D.C. officials shows the best of D.C.

In lighter news, GW fell off the list of most politically active schools as ranked by The Princeton Review for the first time in more than a decade, which is discouraging because students are often on the front lines of politics around the District.

Here’s the best and the worst from this week’s headlines:

Thumbs up:

Last year, hundreds of demonstrators armed with tiki torches took to the streets of Charlottesville, Va. as part of a white nationalist rally. The result was the death of one counterprotester and more than a dozen injuries. Because of this, the organizers of the first “Unite the Right” rally failed to acquire a permit to protest in Charlottesville, Va. this year. Instead, they relocated to the District where they’ll march from the Foggy Bottom Metro station on the edge of the University’s campus to Lafayette Park outside the White House.

The fact that this hate-filled event will occur is among the worst news of the week, but the actions of District residents in condemning these actions is the best news of the week.

Four organizations planned counterprotests for this weekend designed to drown out the message of hate with inclusive and diverse voices. While the “Unite the Right” rally expects about 400 protestors, the counterprotesters are estimated at a few thousand. Opposing this movement directly is the only way of showing the group that its message will not be tolerated and, so far, District residents have done that.

Aside from direct counterprotests, other organizations have also condemned this hateful demonstration. Metro officials made the decision not to provide the protestors with their own transportation, making it slightly more difficult for them to organize. Law enforcement agencies around D.C. are coordinating plans to prevent potential violence and keep peace in the city. In Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency to divert public funds toward preventing rioting. Even companies, including AirBnB, have expressed that they will ban people expressing racist beliefs at the rally from using their platform.

Closer to home, both the College Democrats and College Republicans condemned the rally.

With all of these groups speaking out against the weekend’s demonstration, I’m proud of my adopted home for taking a strong stance against bigotry.

Thumbs down:

GW has consistently ranked among the country’s most politically active universities for the past decade. But this week, The Princeton Review dropped GW from its list of most politically active campuses.

The fall in ranking is disappointing, especially because students remain active in politics. This year, I attended several protests around the District and saw many students and professors do the same. From helping to fill the National Mall for the second iteration of the Women’s March to protesting Education Secretary Betsey DeVos’ visit to campus, it’s clear that students are still involved in politics.

Students are involved on campus, too. GW’s chapter of the College Democrats remains the largest organization at GW and the largest branch of the organization in the country, and the College Republicans have been rated the most active conservative student organization in the country.

On an individual level, students are involved in local politics, they turn out to vote during Student Association elections and they have even run for office.

Ultimately, The Princeton Review’s ranking is only one perspective based on self-reported methodology. The list is compiled from students ranking their political awareness on a scale of one to five.

Regardless of what the rankings say, students should be proud to attend a politically active university and they should continue to speak out.

Kiran Hoeffner-Shah, a sophomore majoring in political science, is The Hatchet’s contributing opinions editor.

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