Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Friday, November 16, 2018

Letter to the editor: Doing your homework: Liz Pancotti has a track record of Title IX advocacy

Student Advocacy Center Director Will Mascaro endorses Liz Pancotti for SG comptroller

Letter to the editor: Doing your homework: Liz Pancotti has a track record of Title IX advocacy

It’s a little wonky of me, but I’m prepared to admit that I’m an avid reader of The Eagle. I check the online edition multiple times a week, am always sure to pick of a copy of the print edition and am routinely impressed by the quality of the staff’s work.

That’s why I’m particularly disappointed in The Eagle’s rationale behind not endorsing Liz Pancotti in this year’s election for Student Government comptroller. I’m not upset that they endorsed her opponent Christine Machovec; every student organization, The Eagle included, is entitled to support whatever candidate they want. My concern is not with whom they endorsed, but with how they reached their decision.

As voters, all of us are required to do our homework on each of the candidates, their policies and their experience. The Eagle, operating as the largest student-run newspaper on campus, should naturally be expected to do the same. They didn’t. In researching the candidates running for Comptroller, the Eagle’s editorial board dropped the ball.

In its endorsement letter, The Eagle suggests that there are others more likely to “show up,” for students on issues from financial aid to sexual assault prevention and awareness. The problem is that anyone who knows Liz, or anyone doing their research to decide whether or not to endorse her, would know that she “shows up,” for students on these specific issues every single day.

That could not be more true than when it comes to advocacy relating to Title IX adherence and reform of the practices AU employs to adjudicate Title IX violations. Liz is currently the deputy director of policy for the Student Advocacy Center; her entire job revolves around hearing student concerns and proposing policy changes to administrators that reflect those concerns. Assuming she’s done her job, there should be a pretty clear record of her showing up for students.

Fortunately for us students, and unfortunately for the research team over at The Eagle, she has done her job. Before Liz even got to campus for Welcome Week, she’d emailed administrators asking to be included on the Sexual Assault Working Group run by the Dean of students. This year, she served as an EmpowerAU facilitator and educated incoming freshmen on consent.

Liz single handedly wrote a memo proposing important changes to the Step Up training; working with both administrators and student activists to acknowledge issues within the training and propose recommendations (that were later implemented) on how to fix them. She then released another memo recommending changes to University’s policies on sexual misconduct and violence to improve parity and rights for sexual assault survivors.

These policy recommendations didn't just sit in a filing cabinet; Liz worked all of last summer and fall with administrators in Campus Life and Conduct to ensure they were implemented.

She doesn’t quit after releasing her ideas, she keeps going until she delivers. Liz honestly spends nearly as much time in the Office of Campus Life as the administrators who have offices there do. To me, that’s the definition of showing up.

I have a lot of respect for her opponent, and The Eagle is within its right to endorse her. At the same time, The Eagle’s editorial board does a disservice to all undecided students when it fails to do its research on the candidates it’s writing about.

Liz Pancotti has my support to be our next Comptroller because she’s jumped at every opportunity to be a fighter for students. She's been an important voice in the room during the conversations that impact the lives of the students on this campus. I want that voice in the Boardroom when she serves as our next Comptroller.

Will Mascaro is a junior in the School of Communications and the current Director of the Student Advocacy Center.

edpage@theeagleonline.com


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