GUSA Roundup: The Eleven election meeting

Go ahead and give your GUSA Senator one—or eleven—of these!

Three hours and forty-five minutes. That’s where the second meeting of the full GUSA Senate clocked in. But the 21 Senators got the most out of their time, electing 11 people to various internal positions, including Adam Talbot (COL ’12) as the Senate’s new Speaker and Chris Pigott (COL ’12) as Vice Speaker.

Talbot and Pigott were both vocal freshman Senators last year and seem to be good friends. They gave each other ringing endorsements when the other stepped outside to be elected to his position. (Both races were uncontested). The personal relationships don’t end there: newly elected Parliamentarian Sam Ungar (COL ’12) is Talbot’s roommate.

There’s no funny business going on here, though. The Senate was aware of the love triangle that now dominates its upper offices. Ungar, Pigott, and Talbot were simply the best men for the job—with the possible exception of Nick Troiano (COL ’11), who led the Senate’s Transition Team.

Troiano has said from the beginning that he would prefer not to be Speaker, though.  When nominated by a well-meaning Senator, he respectfully declined the nomination.

Troiano did, however, score the position of Chair of the Finances and Appropriations committee, which comes with the chance to sit in on Funding Board meetings—an excellent vantage point from which to continue his public war with SAC.

It was clear that the issue was very much on Troiano’s mind even this early in the year when he asked some very pointed questions of Director of Student Programs Erika Cohen-Derr, whom he had invited to speak to the Senate about the issues surrounding club funding.

The big debate, of course, is about the vast reserve funds that funding boards, and especially SAC, were found to have in 2008. Should SAC be allowed to keep so much money for a rainy day, or should it be handed out to help students now? Troiano would like to see the reserve funds spent to zero, and heading up the Finance and Appropriations Committee is a great way to start that campaign.

The meeting’s other accomplishments included electing the Senate’s first Secretary, Laura West (COL ’13), who will take meeting minutes and track all Senate legislation.

In addition, six Senators were elected to the Finances and Appropriations committee: George Roche (COL ’10), Matt Hoyt (COL ’12), Nicholas Nelson-Goedert (COL ’10), Colton Malkerson (COL ’13), Sandy Glassberg (MSB ’11), and Greg Laverrier (COL ’12). Two of the six, Roche and Nelson-Goedert, are veterans of the FinApp committee. Meanwhile, Malkerson, who represents Harbin, has already been pegged as a freshman to watch.

The Senate also passed two bills, one solidifying the structure of committees and another that permits Senators to use proxies, but no more than twice.

When the meeting, which started at 5:00, hit 8:45, the last bill was tabled to next week—regrettable, because it would have changed the process of filling vacant Senate seats from a special election to an appointment process. But nearly four hours of GUSA on a long weekend is enough to make anyone’s head spin.

9 Comments on “GUSA Roundup: The Eleven election meeting

  1. As love triangles go, one could hope to do no better than Chris and Sam. Here’s looking forward to a productive and efficient year filled with informed Senate action.

  2. The reason for establishing the large SAC reserve, according to the intent of the GUSA members who originally started the stash, was to eliminate the $50 Student Activities Fee–essentially by creating a student activities endowment.

    It seems that institutional memory failed both SAC and GUSA. So we have a massive SAC surplus fund, and yet the student activities fee continues.

  3. Mr. Reger, you are incorrect. There are two issues here:

    Half of the student activities fee is supposedly put into an endowment for Student Activities, which has shown no results, to my knowledge.

    SAC’s reserves are held because SAC wants to hold them. It’s as simple as that.

    Also, things are off to a good start on funding reform. It’s high time that this detrimental system be put to rest.

  4. This information about the SAC reserves is simply incorrect. SAC is indeed holding money aside to create an endowment, but it is not held in their reserves- it is in a separate account. SAC claims that the reserves are for unexpected costs that can occur at the end of the year, such as equipment being broken or reported lost.

    While I agree with them that keeping a small amount of money should absolutely be kept for unexpected expenses, keeping $200,000 is rather excessive.

  5. Fitz and Danny are correct.

    The Student Activities Fee collects some $620,000 or so ($100/person per year). Since 2001 when the fund was established, half of that is set aside in an ‘endowment’. The endowment is currently around $1.8mil, when it should’ve been around $10mil by now, and self-financing from the interest.

    Clearly something has gone wrong. When I was on the Senate, we were trying to find out where the rest of the money had gone, where the interest was being deposited, etc. I hope Nick works out those issues.

    Clearly it’s not making sense to keep putting away half the money, effectively doubling the capability of funding, for a self-sustaining endowment if such an endowment isn’t going to be achieved for the next 10 or 20 years (and by then costs will have risen more than inflation, making the money worth less).

    – – –

    The separate issue is the money that some advisory boards have been allocated but not spent and have placed in a separate reserve account. GUSA uncovered about $800,000 spread amongst the various funding boards — this is in addition to the $1.8m currently.

    SAC had the largest with about $250,000 (now around $200k or so). They claim they need it in case of catastrophic funding failure and need to cover liabilities. I fail to see how an event insurance policy couldn’t do this — indeed, $250k worth of insurance would probably only cost something around $10,000/year or slightly more. That could free up all the current reserves with little cost to the student body.

  6. I’m sorry I simplified the issue.

    As I understand it (mostly from ECD’s presentation), Fitz Lufkin has his facts right: there are two different kinds of reserves. One is the endowment that half of the Student Activities Fee gets put into every year. That endowment, as Jeff Reger said, was created so that its revenues could eventually take the place of the Student Activities Fee. The original plan was to start siphoning off the interest to pay for student activities when the endowment hit $10 million. It’s just over $1 million right now, so that plan may be altered. I think it was Talbot who implied during the Senate meeting that the plan for that fund has failed and it’s time to think of something else.

    The other type of reserve is kept by individual funding groups like SAC in case something goes majorly over budget. All in all, those funding groups have over $700,000 in interest-free accounts, but SAC’s reserve is the biggest. The concern is that that money is not being used for anything – not helping students, and not even earning interest. But SAC says it needs a safety net, and there have been times when it needed to dip into its reserves in the past.

    I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more on this later.

  7. Assuming a 2% annual rate of return (equivalent to a high-yield savings account, at least in the current situation) and a $310,000 annual addition, it would take between NINETEEN and TWENTY years to break the $10m barrier from a $1.8m starting point.

    That is to say, to keep this policy is to say we are going to be giving away half the money we take in, until 2028-29. Even with a 4% yearly interest expectation, that’s still 15 years (2024).

    Unless Georgetown wants to inject several million dollars to the endowment in its current fundraising drive (which, if it’s aiming to raise $1b, from what I’ve read, $3-5m wouldn’t be that huge), we need to rethink the current policy.

  8. It’s nice to read the vox even from Jordan and find this issue still simmering in people’s minds.

    It’s also kind of nice, to put it simply, to see my name and my comments and efforts from the past two years totally vanished from the conversation. Maybe a fresh start and Nick’s effective but different style will help.

    I don’t know if I’m going back to GUSA, in other news. These guys seem to have a pretty good handle on things, as it seems.

  9. Pingback: AZ Short Sale: Advantages for the Homeowner, Investor, And Bank | Stop Home Foreclosure

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>