The implications of Georgetown’s recent redistricting decision have presented students with a new challenge. As the redistricting taskforce – a group of 17 self-appointed citizens – met to redraw the lines within Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E, the positive benefits of an integrated community of students and non-students were overshadowed by the lines being drawn – both literally and metaphorically – within our community.

The final plan, put forth by Peter Pulsifer, chair of the Georgetown ANC, and supported by a majority of those on the redistricting task force, calls for the creation of one all-student district in Georgetown – a prospect that is both disturbing and disappointing. In light of the determined efforts by many Georgetown students and neighbors to integrate our community over the past couple years, the adoption of a divisive plan – one that separates non-students from students – is a disappointing blow to the community. Despite Councilman Evans’ written objection to all-student districts, it looks like Pulsifer’s plan will be adopted by the City Council and – in turn – will give students and residents a new obstacle to overcome in the continued quest to improve town-gown relations.

The plan appears student-friendly at first glance. An all-student district, you’re thinking . That will be easy for Georgetown students to win. True, no doubt. A district without non-student residents will ensure an isolated student voice on the ANC. But the larger picture – the picture on which Campaign Georgetown was founded and the picture for which Georgetown students continue to involve themselves in off-campus affairs – has been lost as the struggle over dividing lines in our community has been settled. While a student-only district guarantees the student body a voice on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, it sends an unwelcome and disappointing message about student involvement in the community. By drawing lines, it does exactly that, creating divisions and erecting barriers between the students and the non-students. It is a regression in town-gown relations, a disappointing chapter in a once promising and successful struggle for better relations within our community.

Without question, the improved dialogue and openness between students and non-students in our community has resulted from acts of integration. Whether students attending ANC meetings, community members attending Campaign Georgetown meetings or students and their neighbors sitting down for dinner on a quiet Georgetown evening, the act of integration has long-proven the most successful method of building better relations off-campus. Only by interacting, intermixing and integrating will Georgetown students and non-students strengthen relations within our community. Only by forging a single community – not two separate communities, but one composed of students and one composed of non-students – will our concerns and our problems be adequately addressed.

While the redistricting recommendation sends the wrong message throughout our community, Georgetown students must be relentless in our struggle for improved relations with our neighbors. It is our responsibility to express our dissatisfaction with the message conveyed by the divisive redistricting plan. Even more importantly, however, it is our responsibility to demonstrate that we will not be deterred from working towards better community relations, despite this obstacles. We are disappointed with the decision, but undeterred in our commitment to improving off-campus relations.

Whether Georgetown’s redistricting task force spreads us through six districts as they chose to do 10 years ago – or attempts to clump us into student-only districts as they decided this year, Georgetown students must continue their quest for improved community relations. Our goal never has been student-domination of the ANC, as a small subset of neighbors contend. Rather, we have focused on ensuring a student voice – a voice that speaks on behalf of students in favor of improving the quality of the Georgetown community. The creation of an all-student district runs in opposition to the imperative of integrating our community. The task of integration, however difficult to achieve, has become all the more important.

Brain McCabe is a senior in the School of Foreign Service.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.