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Sunday, April 14, 2024
The Eagle

Gerrymandered and (sorta) lovin’ it

The fight for representation in government is part of American heritage. By Wednesday night, it might be time for AU to add another chapter to that storied tradition. On Sept. 20 representatives from all Advisory Neighborhood Commission districts within Ward 3 will vote on a redistricting plan, part of Washington’s redistricting process every 10 years. This proposal would create an ANC district composed entirely of AU students, a scenario which virtually guarantees university representation in local government. After unpacking the (admittedly) dense details of ANC politics, it is clear the redistricting is an improvement over the status quo.

Currently, AU is spilt between two ANC districts — North Side in 3D02 and South Side in 3D07. Following an extensive PR campaign and voter registration drive last year, South side was successful in electing then-freshman Deon Jones to the 3D07 seat, AU’s first student representative in recent memory. 3D02 resident and incumbent Tom Smith defeated a second student candidate, Tyler Sadonis. Thus, only half of campus is currently represented by one of our own in the 3D ANC.

Under the present districts, representation of student interests is significantly diluted. While Smith contends that he strives to represent all of his district’s residents, there are those who would still prefer to see student interests represented by someone who is actually a student.

And while AU does have in Jones a representative that is a student, a significant portion of his district extends beyond campus, possibly forcing him to balance student desires with those of constituents outside the university community. In the past, the interests of AU’s neighbors have often clashed with those of students.

These problems are largely rectified in the redistricting proposal. The redrawn ANC 3D07 district would include only AU students living in Anderson, Centennial, McDowell, Hughes and Leonard Halls.

No longer would students elected to the ANC need to temper their advocacy for the university. No longer would ANC campaigns dissolve into catty back-and-forths between AU and its neighbors as they fight over control of their district’s seat. Not only students, but AU as a whole, would have a clear and uncompromised representative on the ANC.

However, because all districts are capped at 2,000 residents, the remaining AU students in Letts, Roper and Clark Halls would remain in the 3D02 district. While the idea of a district specifically for AU is welcome, isolating this sliver of campus from the rest of the university might give some pause.

To be sure, with fewer students in 3D02 under the proposal, students would have a less likely chance of challenging Smith for the seat than they currently have. Statistically speaking, Smith is virtually guaranteed the position for as long as he wishes to run, since AU students only constitute one-third of his electorate.

Yet these student residents still make up a significant portion of his constituents. If organized, this is certainly a large enough group to remain an influential demographic within their own district. And they will always be able to take their concerns to their student representative in the neighboring district.

We’re being gerrymandered. There’s no getting around it. But in doing so, we’re concentrating the power of students and being given a seat on a district council that will be a guaranteed voice for the University in community affairs. And as members of this community, our voices deserve to be heard as clearly as possible.

Section 202 host Gabrielle and friends go over some sports that aren’t in the sports media spotlight often, and review some sports based on their difficulty to play. 

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