I’ve read several letters and Viewpoints in THE HOYA that I feel I must respond to as a student leader on campus. The first deals with a Department of Public Safety issue and the second with student government appointments and my take on the issue of diversity with respect to these decisions.

Sofia Khilji’s Viewpoint (“DPS Goes MIA on Saturday Night,” The Hoya, Sept. 26, 2003, p.3) on DPS’s absence from an incident in her Village B apartment stairwell got me concerned and I share in her sentiment and frustration, because I too, at different times throughout my years here at Georgetown have called in with reports. But I would like to strongly note that the incident was not so much an issue stemming from a particular club’s event programming. Rather, it is, in so far as what happened and how she described it, a DPS issue. Let me first start by saying that I attended the NAACP’s event in Hoya Court that evening. As a SAC Commissioner I try to attend as many clubs’ events as possible to support our student programming on campus and by all measures, the NAACP’s event was a great success. It was well planned, advertised and it was well attended by Georgetown students as well as many other students from our neighboring universities – American, Howard, George Washington, etc. The event was a great example of a fun and exciting non-alcoholic event that I don’t think, from a programming standpoint, could have turned out any more successful than what it was. With regards to safety, all clubs are required to have DPS officers at their events if they expect large amounts of people and there were about three officers at the event. Moreover, NAACP board members arranged cab pickup for the attendees and went out of their way to ensure a safe event.

Having noted this, the issue then arose from the absence of DPS at the front gates at that particular time and the noise and interaction dynamics associated with large groups of people. I am not sure whether or not a DPS officer at the front gates would have prevented the situation, for incidents involving large groups of people making noise and moving about campus are not uncommon, even when DPS is around. But I completely agree that DPS should have immediately responded to Sofia’s call when she made her initial noise report. Perhaps that would have spared her the experience that she went through that night. But other than that I believe Georgetown’s NAACP planned and executed a great event.

With regards to student government appointments, I am saddened to read about Hannah Powell’s (“GUSA Discrimination Results in Resignation,” The Hoya, Sept. 19, 2003, p.3) disillusion and departure from student government service. She is a very good friend of mine with whom I’ve worked in SAC and whom I admire and respect very much. Her contributions to this university have been immense and I was, and still am, very upset by the way she was treated and the way her interview was conducted. Upon hearing of this incident last semester, I suggested that new interviews be held and that an apology be sent. I felt so strongly about this that I was the only member of the assembly who voted against passing the appointments, a vote that I considered to be not against the selected candidates but against the poor management and protocol of those respective interviews. The appointments passed but I was not aware that an apology had not been sent out and would like to take this opportunity to apologize to Hannah for the awful treatment she received from GUSA. This should have never happened and I can only hope that this did not affect the appointments because I absolutely disagree, as many student leaders on campus do, with the notion that Hannah was “underqualified” for the position.

Moreover, I would also like to add that I strongly share Hannah’s sentiments that the student government should and can better represent the interests of the student body and am of the opinion that embracing the diversity in thought, values and ideas of our student body by recruiting and encouraging the most qualified people to apply for positions like the Board of Directors should be a top priority. For what it is worth, the student assembly is, like many assemblies in the past, working to improve the system in place so that student interests are better represented and more importantly so that these things do not repeat themselves again.

Luis Torres is a junior in the College. He is a junior class representative for GUSA and a SAC commissioner.

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