ANC postpones Student Bill of Rights

By the

September 6, 2001

A vote on a Students’ Bill of Rights was postponed in an Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting Tuesday.

ANC Commissioner and sponsor of the bill, Justin Wagner (CAS ’03) said the bill is the beginning of what will become a large-scale effort to end discrimination against students residing in Washington, D.C.

The D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment, which has the final say on the University’s construction projects, attached several conditions to its approval of Georgetown building plans.

Many students said they felt the BZA’s conditions discriminated against students.

“I am discriminated against in my own home town because I am student, and it’s just not fair,” Wagner said. “We’re not asking the community for anything special; all we’re asking for is to be treated like everyone else.”

The BZA’s ruling requires that the University record the license plate numbers of students’ motor vehicles and report the numbers to appropriate District agencies.

The BZA also asked the University not to award on-campus parking permits to students who do not register their cars in the District.

Finally, Georgetown would have to abide by a number of reporting requirements. The BZA mandated that it release information on complaints of off-campus misconduct to a variety of local agencies. The University would also be required to release records of students’ disciplinary violations to their parents, although a federal law is generally interpreted as prohibiting the release of non-violent violations.

Many of those present at the ANC meeting said they had not heard of the bill until its presentation. Many non-University residents of Georgetown said they were unaware of any cases of discrimination against students.

“To say we disavow any past discrimination is to take an allegation and say it’s true,” ANC Commissioner Scott Polk said.

At the same time, the residents stressed a need to address specific issues of and have discrimination. “It is important if students feel victimized problems that we find a solution,” Commissioner Peter Pulsifer said.

Other neighbors said that students had not earned the rights the bill demands.

“I think that the community has a valid concern, in that students need to take more responsibility, but that is not related to the issue on the floor last night,” said Justin Kopa (CAS ’03), also an ANC Commissioner.

Wagner and Kopa said they want to familiarize Georgetown residents with the bill. Both said they plan to meet with community leaders and speak individually with neighbors.

“Our goal is to make sure that everyone sees [the bill],” Kopa said.

The purpose of the campaign against student discrimination is to build awareness among students and citizens about the policy, according to Phillipa Sparg (SFS ’03), co-chair of Campaign Georgetown, a student watchdog group for off-campus affairs. “It just says that students are residents of the neighborhood and deserve the same rights.”

ANC Commissioner Tom Birch said he was willing to cooperate on anti-discrimination measures. “The interest in all of this goes beyond passing the student bill of rights. My interest goes to addressing head-on the situation and problems and instances that exist where students feel that they are being discriminated against,” Birch said. “If students have complaints then I want to work to solve the problem.”

According to Matt Ingram (CAS ’04), Campaign Georgetown has planned other events aimed at ending discrimination against all D.C. students. Ingram said plans include letter-writing and phone campaigns.

“What we need to do in the next month is get students and the community together to form a consensus,” said Pulsifer.

Sparg and Ingram both said they thought support for the campaign against discrimination would increase as other D.C. universities bring their campus construction plans to the BZA.

Read More

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments