At its February 6 meeting, the Student Association Senate of The George Washington University in Washington DC passed a resolution calling on the GW administration to equalize penalties for possession of marijuana in GW Residence Halls with penalties for underage possession of alcohol.
The resolution took an unusual route to the Senate floor. Members of GW's chapter of NORML bypassed the usual methods by which legislation is introduced and collected enough signatures to introduce the resolution by petition. Normally, legislation must be introduced by a senator and is referred to a committee which must approve it prior to its being considered by the entire SA Senate.
A large number of students attended the Senate meeting, voicing pleas to the senators to set aside whatever personal feelings they had and vote in a way that accurately reflects the opinions of the students they represent. In a display of integity rarely found in politicans at any level, the Senate passed the resolution by a vote of 11-7 with one abstention. Of the seven Senators who voted against the resolution, it should be noted that three of them- Andrew Salzman (GSEHD), Michael Gettlin (SB-G), and Bryan Grackin (SB-G) are also permanent employees of the University, which raises ethical questions as to their motivations in opposing the resolution.
The resolution still must be signed by the SA President in order for it to be recognized by the University as the official opinion of the student body.
Perhaps if US citizens made as great an effort to enforce accountability among their elected officials as the members of GW's NORML chapter did, we wouldn't be stuck in Iraq. Forget that "control" of Congress shifted to the Democrats with the last election, because the lobbyists and corporations don't care which puppets the people put in their hands.
Of the 435 House members, almost every single one voted to allocate funds for US military action in Iraq. Why then, was the incumbent not reelected in only 55 races? (note: this is by my count during a scan of the election results on Wikipedia, so I may be slightly off) The argument that we can't have 535 Commanders-In-Chief doesn't hold water. Congress has the power of the purse. If the President chooses to deploy troops without funding, why shouldn't he be held accountable for that decision? Part of the duties of each of the three branches is to act as a check on the others. That responsibility is at least as important as any other function of our elected officials.
By holding the people elected to represent them accountable, these students have set an example for the entire country. Perhaps more important is the fact that the majority of SA Senators were willing to set personal opinions and politics aside and represent the wishes of the people who put them in office. If our elected officials at all levels of government had even half as much integrity as the Student Association Senators at GW, perhaps we wouldn't be wasting Federal tax dollars arresting medical marijuana users in California- freeing up money for things like Medicare, Social Security, Schools, or even (gasp!) paying down the National Debt rather than leaving it for the next generation to worry about.
It's things like this that give me hope for the future of America. Check the minutes from last night's SA Senate meeting when they are published and note how the Senators voted. Then, if you see one or two of them on a ballot in 5 or 10 years, take the integrity that they demonstrated in college into account. I, for one, would be proud to have one these brave young men and women represent me in national elected office someday.
GW SA Senate
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
Past news coverage of GW NORML
GW Hatchet: Group pushes for GW to change marijuana policy (10/27/05)
GW Hatchet: Progressive student groups oppose drug legislation (9/21/06)