From the oppressive new D.C. noise law to the fight over the 2010 Campus Plan, Georgetown students have learned just how overbearing the District government can be. This month’s special election for the D.C. City Council’s at-large seat is an opportunity for students, who make up one-eighth of D.C.’s population, to change that, showing lawmakers their importance to this city. Bryan Weaver (D) of Adams Morgan is the best advocate for students among the wide field of candidates, and he is the right choice on Election Day for students seeking to stop more anti-student measures.
At a recent youth issues forum sponsored by DC Students Speak, all of the candidates for the at-large seat claimed to oppose the noise law and support greater student representation in D.C. government. But Weaver was the strongest on these issues. He argued not only against the use of the noise ordinance to target students but against the law in general, saying that its original intent, silencing union and religious activism, was unjust.
Weaver, along with some of the other candidates, also supports students’ right to live off-campus. However, he is unique among his rivals in that he has constructive solutions to related issues, such as his proposal to relax the height restrictions on D.C. universities so they can provide more on-campus housing.
Weaver is by no means the favorite in the coming election. His campaign faces an uphill battle against popular Pepco executive and former Councilmember Vincent Orange (D) and interim Councilmember Sekou Biddle (D), who enjoys the support of the Democratic State Committee, Mayor Vincent Gray, and the majority of the current Council.
But both frontrunners are lukewarm on students’ issues. In a recent candidate forum, Orange strongly opposed Georgetown’s campus plan, saying, “I know what happens when students move into the community: it’s parties every single day.” And all Biddle had to say about off-campus housing was that he was glad that it was the Zoning Commission’s decision and not his.
Still, it’s by no means impossible for Weaver to win. It was just this kind of special election that propelled then-Republican David Catania (I) to his at-large seat in 1997 in an upset against the favored Democratic challenger.
Even if Weaver fails to win, a strong showing for him in university neighborhoods fraught with town-gown issues would be an unmistakable sign of increased student activism. That in itself would make whoever wins on Election Day think twice about trampling on D.C.’s college students in the future.