Electing to Participate
Published: Friday, January 31, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 31, 2014 01:01
As the fight for the Democratic nomination for the D.C. mayoral office gathers steam, apathy for District politics appears stronger than ever on the Hilltop. Despite widespread student involvement in the 2012 Virginia Congressional campaigns, the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial campaign and the 2012 presidential race, this year’s mayoral race has since failed to catch the student body’s attention.
Although a lack of concern with local politics may not be surprising, as only a fraction of the student body call the District a permanent home, the university community is losing an opportunity to utilize its numbers and influence to take strong positions on candidates that could potentially advance the university’s interests and help improve the quality of life in Washington.
While many students may not be registered to vote in D.C., students and faculty alike need to remember that voting is not the only form of political participation. Georgetown students have a long and commendable record of acting on behalf of political candidates in jurisdictions where they will likely never cast a single vote.
Even though a majority of Georgetown students cannot claim to be D.C. residents, many are involved in various political and social justice groups on campus that partner with local organizations whose interests will be affected by the election’s outcome. D.C. Reads alone has more than 150 volunteers who commit 900 hours to District public schools each week. By becoming more involved in local debates and campaigns, students can demand that candidates make clearer commitments about community issues important to Georgetown’s programs.
If the university community were able to collectively leverage its talent and influence in the mayoral election, perhaps our interests as a university would also receive more sympathy in the mayor’s office. Especially in light of the upcoming debates on the 2017 Campus Master Plan during the next mayoral term, students would be ill-advised to let this election sail by unnoticed.