Students Appeal to Community on Redistricting, Frustrated by Process
Georgetown University students showed up in force at the Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting Monday to speak against the proposed redistricting plan.
What might have appeared to some as a blip on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission agenda Monday evening, brought out about 40 Georgetown University students ready to speak their minds about the ANC redistricting proposal.
The "sides" in this situation are the Georgetown citizens in support of the redistricting plan put forth by the co-chairs and Georgetown students seeking a plan they consider to be more equitable.
The ANC agreed to hear only five minutes from each side plus comments from three additional people, pro and con. Students objected to not being given more opportunity to speak, but the ANC proceeded citing time concerns.
A committtee of Georgetown community members voted nine to six in support of an Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) redistricting plan that would create an additional single member district (SMD) assigned to Georgetown University students. However, students would have preferred a plan that proposed two additional SMDs to better represent a large student population in the neighborhood.
One of the primary arguments used by residents in defense of their plan and against the student plan is "neighborhood cohesiveness"
But student Michael Meaney asked, "If we’re 45 percent of the ANC population, then with whom is the other 55 percent trying to be cohesive?"
Paul Musgrave, a graduate student, said he and other graduate students who live in the community are "concerned that according to the ANC we don’t count as voters or residents to be represented."
Representatives from both the Burleith and Hillandale neighborhood associations said they supported the co-chair's plan and did not think the students should have more than the two proposed ANC representatives.
One man said he has lived in Georgetown since 1954 and that he believes property owners, since they pay property taxes, should have more rights than students, who do not own property.
The evening was mostly an exercise in frustration for the students, as the ANC did not take any official position on the matter.
Commissioner Ron Lewis said "the issues have been flushed out...the members of the working group will take this discussion to heart. If the majority wants to take it further then that’s what we’ll do."
The recommended plan could be reconsidered if a majority of the members of the working group request reconsideration by email before Sept. 7.
Should the co-chair's plan win out, Meaney said students intend to "appeal to the council to hold a hearing on the matter and arbitrate a more equitable solution."