Sophomore selected to represent AU community on advisory neighborhood commission
Seat was unfilled for two years before Taylor Berlin stepped into role
AU sophomore Taylor Berlin is now one of D.C.’s youngest officials after she was selected to represent AU on Ward 3D’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission. The seat, which is designated for an AU student representative, remained unfilled for two years until Berlin, 19, stepped into the role.
“I never thought I would do something like this, but I just figured if no one else is going to do it, then I have to,” Berlin said.
ANCs are bodies of local government in D.C. that weigh in on policies and programs affecting their neighborhoods, including traffic, parking, liquor licenses, zoning, police protection and sanitation, among other topics. Berlin is a commissioner for the ANC representing AU, Spring Valley, Wesley Heights and other neighborhoods in the surrounding area.
“It's a way for residents of the community come together and voice their opinions,” Berlin said.
Berlin is in the School of International Service and is involved in AU’s Model U.N. team and AU Students for D.C. Statehood, among other organizations on campus. Before coming to AU, Berlin said she never pictured herself being involved in local politics.
“I came into AU knowing I wanted to study IR [international relations] and kind of ignoring domestic politics,” Berlin said. “Then the 2016 election happened, [and] I think myself and a lot of other students felt this pull to my more involved, active and loud about how we are feeling.”
Berlin said the ANC is an outlet for student ideas in the local community and is already working on two initiatives. She is working with AU Student Government to expand AU’s food pantry into the local community so it is more accessible to students living off campus. She is also working with the District Department of Transportation to increase pedestrian street safety by signalizing the crosswalks by Ward Circle.
Berlin is hoping to bridge the gap and build relationships between AU and other neighborhood residents. She said she wants to be a voice for AU within the community and welcomes student input, as well as the AU community joining her in attending monthly meetings. The meetings are currently scheduled for 7 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month, except for August when there is no meeting.
“For a long time AU’s relationship with the surrounding neighborhoods wasn't very strong,” Berlin said. “I think part of that is because there's a negative connotation around college life in general, and I don't think that exemplifies AU students.”