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One of the advantages of attending the same college as a mayoral candidate is you have connections there.
City Councilman Carl DeMaio graduated from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. in 1996, nine years before I did. As part of researching my story on DeMaio’s background, I wrote Tim Shine, a current Georgetown senior and a former editor at my old newspaper, the Georgetown Voice. I wanted to see if there was anything about DeMaio in the archives.
Shine emailed me a picture of an op-ed DeMaio wrote for the student paper when he was a freshman in 1994. In an interview with UC San Diego’s conservative newspaper this past January, DeMaio said his favorite collegiate memory came when he ran an unsuccessful protest campaign against Georgetown’s student government. DeMaio’s op-ed appears to relate to that issue.
DeMaio uses much of the same language to rail against the Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA) as San Diego City Hall. It’s uncanny. Here’s my favorite example. On his mayoral campaign, DeMaio says time and again that he focuses on “the three P’s”: pensions, potholes and prosperity. DeMaio says it so much his mayoral opponent Bob Filner joked at a Wednesday forum that he was “tired of being P’d upon.”
In the Georgetown op-ed, DeMaio writes: “In GUSA, the three P’s are the rule — power, privilege, and pettiness.”
DeMaio also makes liberal use of the phrase “business as usual” to describe Georgetown government. It’s now one of his epithets for City Hall.
We’ve linked to the image of the op-ed and I’ve written it out below. For more context, DeMaio is referring at the beginning to an incident where a student government member sold his ticket to see President Clinton speak. A hearty tip of the hat to Shine, who dug through old newspapers for me.
At GUSA, it’s business as usual
The recent “Ticket-Gate” scandal and the revelation of Jahmal Green’s ethically reprehensible sale of his ticket to President Clinton’s speech provide an excellent opportunity to examine GUSA as a whole. Are “Ticket-Gate” and Green’s misconduct indicative of “business as usual” in GUSA or are they just the misguided actions of a few irresponsible individuals?
Recent events demonstrate just how ineffective, corrupt, and out-of-touch GUSA is. Throughout my involvement in uncovering this story, I witnessed and was appalled by GUSA politics. In GUSA, the three P’s are the rule — power, privilege, and pettiness.
This characterization is meant to describe GUSA as a whole, especially its leadership. However, there are many in GUSA who have clearly been working hard to change the status quo and I applaud them for their commitment to the student body. Unfortunately, these diligent few are the exception, not the rule in GUSA.
The problems with GUSA go far beyond the personalities of its members. GUSA is flawed as an institution and perpetuates a cycle of corruption. The faces in GUSA’s leadership may change over the years, but the tradition of political games and power plays continues.
One need only recall last year’s election and this year’s personal disputes to witness this trend. It would not surprise me if the upcoming election degenerates into bickering over “who is a better person” instead of a discussion of the important issues.
There is an alternative to business as usual in GUSA. Contrary to what GUSA leadership may think, students hold the ultimate power. If we can remember this important fact, we can take control of our student government.
The upcoming election should be used not to focus on who should lead GUSA, but to address what needs to be done about GUSA. Reforms must be adopted to ensure that a viable student government can be forged to adequately represent the student body without becoming entrenched in political disputes and quests for power.
With vitally important issues such as housing, parking, and financial aid needing attention, it is a pity that politics takes priority in GUSA. Groups such as the Lecture Fund and Joint Policy Committees are hampered by a monolithic and obstructive student government. These worthwhile groups should be reorganized as independent entities open to all students, thus enabling direct student involvement.
GUSA’s leadership will probably have much to say on this subject. GUSA representatives and administration will offer many excuses but few reforms. Do not be deceived by their political spin control. Let us send a message during GUSA’s elections that “business as usual” is just not acceptable here at Georgetown.
Carl DeMaio is a first-year student in the School of Foreign Service.
Liam Dillon is a news reporter for voiceofsandiego.org. He covers San Diego City Hall, the 2012 mayor’s race and big building projects. What should he write about next?
Please contact him directly at email@example.com or 619.550.5663.
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