A rejected candidate for the position of student representative on the University’s Board of Directors claims to have been discriminated against because she is not Catholic. Shocking, right? What’s even more shocking is that she continues to claim this despite the fact that the candidates who received the appointment are also non-Catholics. That is only the tip of the iceberg, however. There were several unfounded claims made by the author of Friday’s Viewpoint, “GUSA Discrimination Results in Resignation,” (THE HOYA, Sept. 19, 2003, p.3). It is unfortunate that someone would lash out in such a manner against an organization that exists to serve students and has done so because of the tireless efforts of student volunteers.

The article begins by stating that the candidate spent her first two years serving in GUSA, while she actually only served on SAC. Someone who has served in GUSA, or SAC, as her case may be, knows that the two organizations are not one and the same. Yes, organizational structure dictates that the GUSA president appoints SAC commissioners with the help of the outgoing SAC chair, and a few GUSA assembly representatives double as commissioners. It is quite a stretch, however, to claim that serving as a SAC commissioner is equivalent to working within GUSA.

The writer goes on to bring up the point that the appointed board members are white males, and she implies that other candidates should have been appointed for the sake of diversity. Student membership on the board has included females as recently as last year, but this year the qualified candidates happened to be white males. Yes, diversity is a valuable quality for a community. This is a situation, however, in which two and only two candidates had to be chosen, and it would have been an injustice to make a decision based purely on gender or skin color.

As the piece continues, the writer claims to know what went on in the interviews of other candidates. Since she was not present for these interviews, it is difficult to imagine that she knows anything for sure, and it is unfortunate to read a Viewpoint containing claims based on hearsay. Besides discussing the events of the other interviews, the writer says that the will of the interviewing committee was not obeyed. This is an incomplete and unfounded claim because there were at least two cabinet members in the room who did not vocalize their opinions, and even without these two, the room did not have one clear voice. Again, it is unfortunate that someone would stipulate something as fact when she was not a witness to the event.

Powell suggests that another interview process should have occurred before the appointments were finalized. However, she fails to consider two important factors: the GUSA constitutional appointment deadline would have passed, and the two best candidates had been found.

The candidate makes a case with “evidence” that she was qualified for the position on the Board of Directors because she has worked with many student groups, sat on the New South Advisory Committee and sits on the Homecoming Committee. However, she neglects to reveal that the candidates chosen possess pertinent experience and knowledge that is more important for a member of the Board of Directors. This experience and knowledge includes familiarity with town-gown relations, Washington, D.C. law and high-level administrative procedure. In addition, candidates for the board should have tact, reason, assertiveness and composure. The candidates chosen certainly embody these characteristics.

Finally, I must make some concessions to the author of the Viewpoint. Yes, her interview was tougher than others. Yes, there were a select few members of the interviewing committee who had preconceptions that led to a more poignant string of questioning. She neglects to recognize, however, that these few individuals were chastised heavily for their rude treatment of the candidate. She also neglects the fact that the candidates who were chosen, including my campaign manager Mike Glick (COL ’05), who is also an elected ANC commissioner, are impeccably qualified, possess superior qualities for the position, and are both non-Catholic.

I hope that the term discrimination will not be thrown around so liberally in the future because it is a very serious and damaging accusation. It is especially disappointing to see it in the headline of a flawed and unfounded Viewpoint. GUSA is an organization of students who represent other students, work tirelessly to improve student life and stand up for what they believe in. We are human; we make mistakes. The decision to appoint Glick and Eric Lashner (COL ’05) as the newest members of the Board of Directors is not one of them.

Brian Morgenstern is a junior in the College and serves as President of GUSA.

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