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Saxa Politica: The dog days of summer

August 26, 2013


It’s well known that organizations announce bad news on Friday afternoons. However, instead of these Friday news dumps, the University has been engaging in “summer news dumps.”

In place of waiting for students to come back to campus to announce unpopular decisions, administrators often decide to resolve these issues over the summer when students are much less tuned in to campus news.

In early July, the University announced that plans are underway to construct a new seven-story residence hall on one of the last remaining green spaces on campus, near the Reiss Science Building. Almost immediately, students went online to voice their opposition to the location and design of the structure. Of course, students don’t want more dormitories on campus. If anything, students want more apartment-style housing. Unfortunately, though, students lost that fight after last summer’s resolution of the years-long campus plan saga.

To their credit, administrators and architects hosted a forum over the summer that drew a healthy crowd of students, especially considering most students weren’t on campus. The Old Georgetown Board’s refusal to approve the measure as expediently as the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E bought students some more time to give input. Again to their credit, top administrators including Todd Olson will be present at a town hall Wednesday for students to ask questions and give feedback on the proposed structure.

This summer’s worst example of the University’s tendency to duck from student pushback came when the communications office quietly announced on the school’s website that our beloved new mascot Jack Jr. would be retired before he even started his mascot duties. What’s worse, student leaders of Jack’s Crew were not informed before the school made its announcement. They had to read the press release to find out they will have one fewer puppy to take care of this year. Surely, if students were on campus when that decision dropped, the outcry would have been enormous.

While the University’s decision to drop J.J. was a case of legal liability, perhaps a different resolution compromise could have been reached if students had a stronger say in the matter.

Certainly not all summer news dumps are a result of a malicious intent to stifle student input by the University. A lot of these cases simply reveal the fact that, on many cases, students just have to acquiesce to administrators’ decisions. Students only have limited power, and the University has legitimate and wide-ranging concerns.

Still, when students are given the opportunity to speak their mind immediately after a decision comes out, sometimes we can speak with one voice.

After the University announced the details of a “scaled-back” Georgetown Day in 2012 that would include barriers and increased entry checkpoints, students blew up online comment threads and sent hundreds of annoying letters to administrators. After hundreds of students joined a Facebook group that heavily implied students would just take the party to Leavey Esplanade, within hours, the administrators in charge of the regulations relented and allowed Georgetown Day to proceed as it had in years past.

Of course, nothing has ever stopped students from voicing their concerns in a productive way over the summer. Especially considering the relevance of online media in shaping debate on campus, students always have an opportunity to do all the obnoxious and constructive things necessary to get administrators to reconsider unpopular decisions.

GUSA should be credited for its initiatives over the summer to engage students online and on social media. Live-tweeting the first forum on the new dormitory and hyping it on Facebook was an especially welcome development this summer. If students always know what’s going on, they always have an avenue through which to register their discontent.

 

Want to take a news dump on Connor? Email him at cjones@georgetownvoice.com


Connor Jones
Connor Jones is the former editor-in-chief of the Georgetown Voice. Before that, he edited its blog, Vox Populi and the features section. He was a double major in mathematics and economics and is from Atlanta, Ga. He can be reached at cjones@georgetownvoice.com.


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