New Perspectives for ANC
Published: Thursday, February 23, 2012
Updated: Thursday, February 23, 2012 22:02
The Advisory Neighborhood Commission offers students a unique opportunity to hold elected office before they graduate from college, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're best suited for the job.
As a result of December's redistricting process, it is likely that two students will be elected to the commission this year. But because each of their terms lasts only two years and the timing of the elections makes it impossible for students to run for more than one term, it is hard for a student commissioner to make lasting changes.
That's why a faculty member living on campus or a chaplain-in-residence should run for Georgetown's second seat on the ANC. The university cannot rely on students alone to help foster positive negotiations with our neighbors through the commission.
Jake Sticka (COL '13) has served on the ANC for two years, but his term will end in November. He has already taken it upon himself to prepare for the election by seeking out freshmen who wish to follow in his footsteps and be at the forefront of town-gown relations.
But student interest in the ANC is often — and understandably — underwhelming. Candidates must begin preparations starting in the spring of freshman year to serve through junior year, often only to have their opinions marginalized by other ANC commissioners. While we commend Sticka for his dedication and perseverance in the face of difficult relations and contentious issues, we recognize that it is impossible for him or any student to do it alone.
Because the university is set to receive another seat on the ANC this year, representation is more critical than ever. The question of who will represent Georgetown and student interests is even weightier given the controversial nature of the ongoing 2010 Campus Plan debate and already strained town-gown relations.
Luckily, the university has a more permanent option for representation. On-campus faculty and chaplains-in-residence should consider running for election to better represent Georgetown. With a tad more perspective than current students, faculty who live on campus would be able to advocate well on behalf of the university's interests and could run for multiple terms as other commissioners typically do. This would allow the university to have a more lasting voice on the commission to match the many long-serving neighborhood representatives. In addition, a full-time professor or religious leader might garner more respect from the other members of the ANC than another student representative could.
We do not, of course, want to ignore the role of student advocacy. Any student interested in running for a position on the ANC should look to Sticka's success for motivation. Now that Georgetown has been allocated an additional seat, we would like to see both a student and a faculty member or chaplain-in-residence represent us in hopes that the balance will allow us to better work with our neighbors.
It might be tough to persuade faculty members or chaplains to undertake such an endeavor, especially given that the option has technically been available in the past but never taken up. A position on the ANC is unpaid and requires a substantial time commitment. But given that these faculty members and chaplains already volunteer to live on campus for the good of students, sacrificing their time and energy, perhaps they might be willing to take on a similar burden for the university.
It's not easy to be an ANC commissioner, and we admire Sticka for acting on his realization that students should get involved in off-campus relations. But we can't help but feel that the student voice might be made clearer if a faculty member or chaplain were advocating on the university's behalf as well.