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Granberg reaffirms free speech plan at ANC meeting

Sage Russell | Assistant Photo Editor
ANC Commissioners sit in a meeting this year.

University President Ellen Granberg reaffirmed the University’s recently announced free speech plan at a local government body meeting Wednesday.

Granberg introduced the three-part plan, which comes after students criticized the University’s response to the Israel-Hamas war, to the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission after commissioner questions about the University’s reaction to the conflict. She also maintained the University’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and hiring a permanent director for GW’s Multicultural Student Services Center.

Commissioners also approved a resolution expressing dissatisfaction with the D.C. Department of Human Services’ communication on the conversion of a former GW residence hall into a homeless shelter.

Here are some of the meeting’s highlights:

Granberg shares University response to on-campus tensions

2A01 Commissioner Yannik Omictin, a GW alum, asked Granberg about GW’s plan to protect student safety and freedom of assembly, referring to the doxing truck that displayed names of pro-Palestinian students in November, in his single-member district. Granberg said University policy prohibits speech that is discriminatory or constitutes harassment.

She said the University is promoting intergroup dialogue and “intimate dinners” to foster conversations on the topic. Three students attended the inaugural “Dinner and Dialogue” event, which offered training about University policy and discourse.

“We are looking at all of our policies, including our policies around reporting incidents of harassment,” Granberg said.

2A07 Commissioner Dasia Bandy, a senior international affairs major, asked Granberg about the future of the MSSC after its director, Dustin Pickett, resigned earlier this month after one year in the role. Community members and former MSSC staff expressed concern over the center’s funding and staff turnover following Pickett’s departure.

Granberg said officials are reviewing their budget models and hope to improve funding for the Multicultural Student Services Center. She said the University will hire a permanent MSSC director to replace Pickett.

“We are not at all backing away from our commitment to providing that kind of space for our students of color,” Granberg said.

Commissioners criticize DHS, DGS communication on forthcoming shelter

Commissioners unanimously approved resolutions disapproving of the DHS’ and the D.C. Department of General Services’ communication and effort on a project that will convert a former GW residence hall into a homeless shelter.

The resolutions request representatives from DHS and DGS attend every ANC meeting to provide an update on the conversion until the opening of the shelter. 2A03 Commissioner Trupti Patel, who introduced the resolutions, said DHS has been slow to respond to ANC requests.

“They have not been forthright in telling us when The Aston will be coming up operationally,” Patel said.

Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution requesting the D.C. Council amend the Restaurant Revitalization and Dram Shop Clarification Amendment Act of 2023, which will implement a public education campaign surrounding the District’s plan to eliminate tipped minimum wage, so that it restricts and regulates service fees to support tipped workers.

The ANC also unanimously approved a resolution requesting DC Water repair the sidewalk at 25th and I streets, which was damaged when DC Water crews repaired a main break in the area. Commissioners approved a resolution requesting the D.C. Department of Transportation provide a timeline on necessary maintenance in Snows Court.

Due to time constraints, commissioners deferred the consideration of resolutions that would support efforts to improve the process of issuing unemployment benefits and ensure adequate funding for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Commissioners create bylaw review committee

Commissioners voted unanimously to create the ANC 2A Bylaws Revision Committee, which will ensure the ANC’s bylaws are up-to-date and consistent with D.C. code. The committee will consist of four ANC commissioners and representatives from the Foggy Bottom Association, West End Citizens Association, Foggy Bottom West End Village, the Student Government Association and an at-large member the ANC will vote on.

ANC Chair Jim Malec presented bylaw amendments that would clarify that commissioners appearing over audio and video connections will be considered present and that, for voting purposes, a majority will be defined as more than half of present commissioners. Commissioners will further discuss the proposed amendments at their March meeting.

Commissioners consider three liquor license applications

The ANC unanimously approved Bodega Taqueria y Tequilas’ application for a Retailer’s Class C Tavern License after reaching a settlement agreement. Patel said the agreement addressed her initial concerns about noise level in the neighborhood.

Commissioners unanimously approved Hotel AKA’s application to sell alcohol and provide live entertainment after they agreed to close the “summer garden” earlier. The summer garden will be open from 8 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; and 10 a.m. to midnight Sunday.

The ANC unanimously voted to protest For Five Coffee Roasters’ application for a new restaurant on the second floor of the office building at 2000 L St. NW. Commissioners protested the application because of concerns that the public would be unable to access the location without being stopped by a front desk attendant.

Commissioners unanimously approved an application for the Marine Corps Marathon to be held on October 27.

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About the Contributor
Erika Filter, News Editor
Erika Filter is a senior majoring in international affairs from Carson City, Nevada. She leads the Metro beat as one of The Hatchet's 2023-2024 news editors and previously served as the assistant news editor for the Student Government beat.
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