We all know Georgetown students are highly aware of and knowledgeable about politics, and there are few better examples of students’ dedication to the topic than the Georgetown University College Democrats and the Georgetown University College Republicans. The Dems, in an attempt to increase student participation in the upcoming election, planned an absentee ballot drive. This effort, however, recently hit a funding roadblock. A brief tussle with the Student Activities Commission ensued, calling into question the administration’s priorities.

Last semester, the College Dems applied for $300 in funds to devote to this semester’s voter registration and absentee ballot programs, which benefit both Democratic and Republican students. The money went toward the stamps, paper, envelopes and pens needed to fill out registration forms and absentee ballot request forms. Several months later, the general student body showed significantly more enthusiasm for the project than the group had expected, causing College Dems to apply on Oct. 3 for an additional $255. SAC agreed last Tuesday to grant $55 and loan GUCD the $200 they needed for the additional stamps and envelopes to send out absentee ballots requests, and required College Dems to fundraise to pay SAC back for the loan.

According to Bill McCoy, associate director of student programs, SAC initially refused to provide additional funds to GUCD because they had gone over budget, and also because soliciting is not allowed in Georgetown University residence halls and “dorm storming” falls into that category. The same rationale was behind splitting the Dems’ request into a grant and a loan.

We believe this treatment highlights the university’s attitude, which often does not align with students’ best interests. First, it was of vital importance that the College Dems send out the absentee ballot requests that they received – the Dems had volunteered to take care of the hassle of mailing the applications and not sending the forms would essentially have disenfranchised the students who had entrusted the Dems with their applications. That SAC only agreed to grant and lend what can be considered a paltry sum in comparison to the amount of money left in SAC’s coffers indicates SAC’s nonchalant attitude toward the well-being of one of the most popular student groups on campus. It is also blatantly negligent in helping students perform their civic duty.

Second, Georgetown’s handling of this particular situation and its general behavior toward efforts to mobilize students politically have been lacking. The university seems to be plagued by a fear of having its actions construed as supporting one candidate over another. Though they would face severe penalties if they were found to be doing so, not all political actions are partisan in nature, and the administration should be able to distinguish between the two. Though GUCD does carry a clear bias in its choice of candidate, the absentee ballot initiative the Dems called “Dorm Storm” was not an exercise in campaigning but rather a way to encourage student involvement in the American political process. Judging from the nearly 900 absentee ballot requests the Dems received from Georgetown students, students have responded positively to this initiative. The university should be encouraging any effort the College Democrats or the College Republicans launch rather than limiting access to necessary funds. The skirmish over the $255 shows that once again, Georgetown has put student interests on the back burner. Regardless of whom students plan to vote for on Nov. 4, we should all call for reform within the Georgetown community.

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