By Angelica Sisson
As part of National School Choice Week last month Washington D.C. Mayor, Muriel Bowser, hosted a student journalism panel featuring students from the D.C. universities and high schools. The event was forty-five minutes long and broadcast on a local channel dedicated to public interest stories.
The college journalists in attendance were from Trinity Washington University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Howard University and Catholic University. All students were given the chance to ask one question of the Mayor and then the floor was opened to discuss a variety of topics as Mayor Bowser fielded questions on a variety of topics.
“Gang’s all here, what’s on your mind?” Was the opening line given from Mayor Bowser to the fifteen students, multiple members of her staff, and other press members from D.C. circuits.
The first question, and many following, centered on how the D.C. government and universities are reacting to the Executive Order President Trump signed last Friday banning seven countries from immigration to America.
The representative from Trinity Washington University asked Bowser what it meant for D.C. to be a “sanctuary city.”
“Here in Washington nobody should be concerned about calling the government,” said Bowser. “Washington is a safe and inclusive city so if you’re a D.C. resident and you need police services, medical services or you need to enroll your child in a school there’s no police officer or person in the government who’s going to ask you to show documents.”
The student asked a follow-up question about whether the recent Executive Order would have any unique effects on D.C. since the city has limited power due to its lack of statehood.
Mayor Bowser began her answer by saying that there was still a lot left for the Secretary of Homeland Security to clarify regarding the Executive Order.
“I think many of us in leadership will be sure to make the Secretary of Homeland Security understand how important it is in cities that everybody be able to call the government for help,” Bowser said.
A student from Georgetown University brought up the fact that many D.C. students are not from the surrounding area and are only temporary members of the D.C. community. She then questioned the Mayor on what the transient students of D.C. can do to be good citizens of this city.
“While you’re here I’m your Mayor,” Bowser said. “So we want students to look for ways to volunteer. Find something you’re passionate about; if it’s schools, volunteer to become a mentor to public school student if it’s working with homeless families or homeless peoples find a nonprofit organization because there are many that can work on different issues.”
The representative from Howard University asked Bowser to comment on the fact that the college plans of some students were affected by Donald Trump’s recent election.
“I think it’s a reminder to everybody that elections have consequences,” Bowser said. “I know a lot of people are angry or scared but fact of the matter is we have a president who is executing on something he said he was going to do and he got elected anyway now we have to make sure every institution is holding him accountable and making sure he follows the law.”
The panel ended with a discussion about a plan proposed at many universities in D.C. regarding discounted Metro SmarTrip cards for university students.
“If the opportunity ever comes up, you vote yes and pay it,” Mayor Bowser said. “You’re paying scads of money anyway what’s another 300 dollars and then you’ll have unlimited rides on the metro and you’re probably already spending that on Uber.”
The panel concluded with Mayor Bowser telling everyone that she serves the entire community, including college students from states across the country, and if any students had concerns regarding any subject at any point throughout their college career they should reach out to her office.