Saxa Politica: The benefit of the Dowd

November 20, 2008

Finally, somebody said it: “This personal GUSA [Senate] bullshit is stupid,” GUSA President Pat Dowd (SFS ‘09) said Tuesday when I asked what he thought of the GUSA vs. Student Activities Commission showdown, adding, as he threw up his arms, “It’s aggravating me … It’s a sideshow.”

Security, Dowd continued, is not a sideshow. Recently, a friend of his was sexually assaulted, and he witnessed her trauma first hand when he accompanied her at the hospital. In light of this, Dowd has vowed to do something about safety at Georgetown in his last months as president, and he wants to start by expanding and improving the SafeRides service, which currently operates from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and until 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

“There are bad people that prey on our community,” Dowd said. “When the sun goes down the bad people come out … It’s like zombies.”

Maybe Dowd meant vampires, but Dowd has a good point-crimes don’t always occur between the hours of 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. On November 10, a student was sexually assaulted at 5:15 p.m., after the sun had set but long before SafeRides shuttles had begun running. To make matters worse, according to Dowd, the limited service is also unreliable, either arriving to pick up students “way late” or not showing up at all.

Dowd has already had a relatively successful presidential term. After his election last year, he promised students the GUSA Summer Fellows program, which he succeeded in implementing only two months into his term. The alcohol policy, an issue near and dear to Dowd’s campaign, was moderately improved at the end of August, when Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson acquiesced to the beer pong table’s return for students over the age of 21. And throughout the fall, Dowd and GUSA have held several high-profile events, including a lecture by Romero Britto, a renowned artist, and “Opera in the Outfield,” which shuttled about 400 students to the Washington Nationals’ stadium to watch La Traviata. Barring the ridiculous pumpkin carving event around Halloween, the things Dowd has accomplished up until now would be enough to make his entire term a decent one.

It is a shame that change only comes to this University when something truly outrageous happens. A hate crime precipitated the establishment of the LGBTQ Center, and while Dowd has been talking about better campus security since his campaign, it took a personal experience with the horror of sexual assault to spur him into action. But late than never. And if Dowd can pull off an expanded SafeRides program with the same alacrity with which he established GUSA Summer Fellows, he will have about as many accomplishments under his belt as Vice President James Kelly’s (COL `09) has hair styles. Dowd just might set a precedent for future GUSA presidents that will encourage them to accomplish something worthwhile for the entire student body.

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Will Sommer

If Pat’s so into safety, why does he oppose a Senate commission on it?

I would like to compliment the skillful deployment of a James Kelly hairstyle joke.