The Faculty Senate is gaining more involvement in the University’s strategic planning process, while Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are using ethics investigations into Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans to push back debate about D.C. statehood.
Here’s the best and worst from this week’s headlines:
The Faculty Senate passed three resolutions earlier this month aimed at increasing faculty involvement in the University’s next strategic plan, which some professors and officials have criticized for potentially deemphasizing the importance of humanities departments and reducing diversity in the student body. Officials aim to cut enrollment by 20 percent and increase the percentage of students majoring in STEM fields to 30 percent over the next five years.
The resolutions are not the first time faculty have expressed concern over the effects of the enrollment reduction on non-STEM fields and the University at large, and they should continue to ask questions until they get the answers they want. Internal documents have already shown that diversity will be affected by the cut, and the University is projected to shrink its revenue by millions of dollars.
Faculty leaders should be applauded for encouraging transparency from the University and can act as an inspiration for students to weigh in too. Students are ultimately the ones applying to GW and should be the ones to question officials on everything from how their school will be affected by the enrollment cut to whether the revenue losses will impact the quality of student life.
Professors have been rightfully fighting for information on one of GW’s biggest institutional changes to date, but they cannot take up the fight alone. The resolutions should encourage students to call on officials for clarity on what kinds of changes they can expect as the number of students drop.
A bill that would grant D.C. statehood should be discussed by Congress next month, but Evans’ yearslong investigation is standing in the way of debate.
GOP members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform have used federal investigations into the embattled councilmember as a means of delaying the consideration of the bill, saying lawmakers need more time to fully understand the probe before they can discuss the legislation. But shutting down debate because of Evans’ many ethics violations is blatantly political. There is no reasonable justification to oppose statehood, and Evans only serves as a scapegoat to push back deliberation.
We have waited long enough for D.C. to become a state, and disingenuous arguments involving Evans should not block discussing the bill. Without statehood, 700,000 District residents are unrepresented while the federal government uses D.C. to test legislation like school vouchers and marijuana policy.
Evans’ expulsion from the Council is imminent, but the effects of his misconduct may reverberate beyond his tenure. It is unlikely that D.C. gains statehood while Republicans control parts of the federal government, but the argument that D.C. is too corrupt for statehood may, unfortunately, serve as a talking point for years to come.
Kiran Hoeffner-Shah, a junior majoring in political science and psychology, is the opinions editor.