GUSA Roundup: The Senate takes on the Student Activities Fee endowment, campus rodents

GUSA debates rats and the perennial publicity problem

STUDENT ACTIVITIES FEES: The Senate waded further into the morass of club funding, passing a bill about the Student Activities Fee. Students currently pay a $100 Student Activities Fee, half of which goes into the student activities budget, and the other half of which goes into a student activities portion of the endowment.

Students cannot use the student activities portion of the endowment until the total sum reaches $10 million, and the interest accrued on the account is rolled over into the university endowment.

Many Senators weren’t too happy about that arrangement.

“They’ve been robbing us,” Josh Mogil (SFS ’11—Off Campus) said.  “It’s completely unacceptable.”

GUSA wants the interest to be put into the student activity fee account, and they want to consider a way to recoup the interest that has already been rolled over into the University’s endowment. Some Senators voiced concern that it would be difficult to get the administration to implement such a policy, though.

RATS: Senator Arman Ismail (COL ’11—Reynolds) has found his issue: Rats.  He wants GUSA to step in and address the rodent menace plaguing campus.

However, Mogil voiced concerns that such a project would harm “the spirit of the new GUSA.”

“I’d like to remind everyone that if we tackle a problem we can’t solve, it’s not going to help our image,” Mogil noted.  He said GUSA is not the right body to eradicate the rats, and expressed concern that “The Hoya will cover it in their front article: ‘GUSA tries to kill rats, complete failure.’ Everyone will be laughing at us, it will be embarrassing.”

Ismail interrupted him with a spirited “Yes we can!” and stressed the importance of connecting with the “common man on the street.”

Some Senators suggested setting the traps themselves instead of hiring an exterminator, but Mogil is concerned about animal rights and the liability issue of people stepping on the traps. Ismail will be seeking a preliminary meeting with Special Assistant to Vice President and University Architect Margo Gottesman this week.

SENATE VACANCIES: More woes for the underpopulated GUSA Senate: it turns out there are four Senate seats open now instead of three since Kelly Rohrbach (COL ’12—Copley) had to resign over tennis conflicts. Luckily, one of the bills amended the vacancy election bylaws. The bylaw is now as follows:

Upon a seat in the Senate becoming vacant, the President of the Student association shall issue writs of election, with a special election to take place within thirty days of the vacancy, University holidays and final examination periods excepted. Such elected successor shall hold that Senatorial seat until the termination of the remaining Legislative Term of Office, as mandated by the Constitution of the Georgetown University Student Association.

CONSTITUTIONAL COUNCIL: GUSA also appointed three students to the Constitutional Council, the judicial body of the student organization that deals with election issues and advises Senators on the constitutionality of their bylaws.

GUSA President Calen Angert (MSB ’11) said last year the members of the constitutional council weren’t appointed soon enough to effectively deal with the problems in the election.

This year’s appointees are Carlos Delatorre (COL ’13), Jagmeet Singh (SFS ’12) and Paige Lovejoy (SFS ’12). The senators were mostly concerned first about the council members serving their full terms (their entire undergraduate career), and second about the Constitutional Council defending the constitution against administrative pressure.

Apparently, the administration has some “extra-constitutional documents” which conflict with the Senate’s constitution and bylaws. All the candidates said they would feel comfortable proactively communicating with the administration if the council felt it was necessary. However, Lovejoy was unable to give a specific example of a contradiction between the constitution and the administration’s extra-constitutional documents, and Singh admitted, “I’m not currently familiar with the constitution. I’ll be completely honest with you.”

MIDNIGHT MADNESS: There was some discussion about how GUSA should react to the incident of the stolen gun at Midnight Madness. They discussed the possibility of an awareness campaign about public safety and decided to continue looking into the facts of the incident.

LOOSE ENDS: Additionally, GUSA allocated $400 for food for town hall meetings to attract students. There was disagreement about whether money has been allocated in the past or not. Mogil said adding food would help attract constituents and hear their concerns, saying last year when he held a meeting only three people showed up.

GUSA also edited its bylaws to get rid of “inconsistencies, misspellings, and hanging participles.”

Photo by Flickr user caruba, used under a Creative Commons license.

47 Comments on “GUSA Roundup: The Senate takes on the Student Activities Fee endowment, campus rodents

  1. Great rundown, Kara.

    Just a quick point of clarification; you wrote, “Students cannot use the student activities portion of the endowment until the total sum reaches $10 million, and the interest accrued on the account is rolled over into the university endowment.”

    That’s been a policy, not a rule. The Finance & Appropriations Committee, at the budget summit with the advisory boards, can vote to use all of the endowment if it so wishes, and the Senate and President approve.

    It just happens that it hasn’t happened yet.

  2. Kara:

    Thanks for your coverage. I fundamentally disagree, though, with your characterization and conflation of what was a Good of the Order discussion of Senator Ismail’s visit to facilities to gather information on the rat problem on campus. There was absolutely no sincere discussion of GUSA “setting the traps themselves instead of hiring an exterminator.” I this section of the post is fundamentally unfair to Arman who is simply working to gather information and reach out to facilities on this issue.

    Adam Talbot
    GUSA Speaker

  3. That should be, “I *think this section of the post is fundamentally unfair to Arman who is simply working to gather information and reach out to facilities on this issue.”

  4. “GUSA wants the interest to be put into the student activity fee account, and they want to consider a way to recoup the interest that has already been rolled over into the University’s endowment. Some Senators voiced concern that it would be difficult to get the administration to implement such a policy, though.”

    Difficult? Haha that’s a good one. I can guarantee you right now the answer will be no, and it will not become a yes unless students occupy their offices or raise hell in a sustained manner. No amount of polite requests/emails/committees/fora will change that. Call me crazy, but you know I’m right.

  5. Matt- Thank you very much for that clarification.

    Adam- I appreciate your correction, but I respectfully disagree. I recorded this exchange in particular:

    Senator Cusimano: “From the few conversations we’ve had on this, I don’t think what we’re thinking is we’re going to pay an exterminator to take care of this, this is something we are going to attack… We can set traps.”
    Senator Mogil: “And when a student steps on it, we can get sued.”
    Cusimano: “There are traps that take safety into mind, [traps] that a small child can’t step in.”
    Mogil: “I think it should be a discussion, and I think it should be educational, like avoid the rats. I don’t think we should actively waste our time on rat hunting.”

    Throughout the rest of the discussion, different senators also used the phrase “rat hunting.” Cusinamo also said to me after the meeting, “I almost just did this on my own volition, bought the trap… but safety-wise, if someone stepped in it, that’s a problem.”

    I contend that constitutes sincere discussion, though I agree the final decision was to allow Arman to simply gather information and reach out to facilities. I hoped I made that clear by saying “Ismail will be seeking a preliminary meeting with Special Assistant to Vice President and University Architect Margo Gottesman this week,” but I apologize if my wording was not clear enough.

  6. I should take this opportunity to point out that GUSA has a new (well, old, but it’s been revived and stronger than ever) public documents vault, where all meeting minutes, attendance records, bills, resolutions and anything else will be kept:

    http://www.box.net/gusasenate

  7. Ah yes, the guy who does push-ups in front of the crowd at basketball games (supposedly as some kind of “cheerleading,” but pretty transparently as an attempt just to get personal attention) wants to use his high rank as “Senator” to go “attack” the rats. Absolutely brilliant.

    I would pay for transcripts of GUSA meetings. It would be high comedy, indeed.

  8. Kara-

    My point is a procedural one. We dedicated an hour and a half to legislative business at the last meeting. It was in the Good of the Order period, a period defined by free-form discussion between Senators on non-legislative issues of constitutuent concern, that Senator Ismail brought up his communications with facilities on the matter and discussed it with other senators for a period of about ten minutes. To say that there was no sincere discussion of any policy is inherently true simply by definition of what a Good of the Order discussion is.

    My request would be that all Senators continue to feel comfortable presenting any and all constituent concerns during the Good of the Order period, and that any Georgetown students themselves feel comfortable attending a Senate meeting and voicing their opinions during the Public Comment period.

    Thanks,
    Adam Talbot

  9. Tim:

    Fortunately for you, you don’t have to pay for transcripts of GUSA meetings. You can view the minutes of all meetings of the 4th Senate online at:

    http://www.box.net/gusasenate

    Alternatively, you could also attend a meeting and register your opinions during the new Public Comment period.

    Hoping to see you!

    Yours,
    Adam Talbot

  10. Roger:

    As Kara wrote, this was a point that was discussed during the meeting. The sense of the Senate seems to be that as it was GUSA that proposed, and the student body that approved via referendum, the Student Activities Fee, and that as the students’ continued payment of the Student Activities Fee is directly tied to Student Activities Endowment’s reaching of a $10 million dollar goal, it simply ought to follow that any and all interest on the Student Acitivites Endowment not associated with a management fee by retained by said Endowment.

    It was the recorded sense of the Senate that all should see how this follows.

    Yours,
    Adam Talbot
    GUSA Senate Speaker

  11. Adam,

    Minutes =/= transcript. While I appreciate the increase in GUSA transparency, minutes are not nearly as good as an actual transcript. For example, the minutes on the rat problem read as follows:

    a. Floor yielded to Senator Ismail
    o Issue of the rat problem on campus
    o Should GUSA deal with this problem?
    o More visible problem to students than other issues, such as finance
    o If GUSA fails, it can be a target of bad publicity
    o Do we have the resources to deal with this problem?
    o Is it an animal rights issue?

    Compare that to what Kara had … I think those are wholly different levels of detail, and for some dedicated GUSA watchers, it makes a big difference.

    Of course, transcription would be both impractical and expensive. But to say that minutes are an acceptable substitute is not accurate.

    I think it was Sen. Troiano (apologies if it was someone else or if I just butchered your name) who started webcasting the meetings last year. Perhaps we could do that again and archive the video? I’ll be upfront and say that there’s no way I’d watch a whole GUSA meeting, but I’m sure some people would and it wouldn’t cost much more than 10 minutes of effort to upload meetings to megavideo.

    Just my two cents.
    Alex

  12. Alex,

    I take your point. We’re working on getting the GUSA livestreaming back up and running. It should be ready for next meeting.

  13. Alex:

    Those are available at http://opengusa.blogspot.com — at least some of the meetings from last year. Dunno if they’re going to do it this year, though they certainly could easily.

    I agree that was pretty cool though (from a purely wonky standpoint).

  14. Alex,

    I take your point. We’re working on getting the GUSA livestreaming back up and running. It should be ready for next meeting.

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, though, I would encourage any dedicated GUSA watchers to join us at the meeting for public comment. We can only benefit from your counsel.

    Yours,
    Adam

  15. Best part of meeting: Nick telling us how he got chased up the stairs by a rat, and Jason asking “wait you outran a rat?”

  16. This rat issue is a serious problem. Glad that Senator Ismail is courageous enough to take on the issue. GUSA, rather than worrying about your image, concentrate on supporting Senator Ismail on his rather commendable efforts and facilitate him in whatever way possible. I wish you all the best of luck!

  17. Nothing about Senator Ismail’s “efforts” are commendable or realistic. Setting up a few hundred traps (if that many) will have no effect whatsoever. This is a city wide problem, by no means limited to the Georgetown University. Tackling this problem will be a tremendous waste of time, money, and credibility for GUSA. Focus on the important issues like getting wireless internet on campus and obtaining flu shots for all students. This is a farce, GUSA. Don’t embarrass yourselves.

  18. The rat problem has gotten noticeably worse since last year and is especially visible around Healey and Copley Halls at night. It’s gotten to the point where tour groups see dead rats lying around as the visitors walk through the school in the morning – hardly the kind of impression we want to give future students, their parents, and most importantly donors! I wholeheartedly support Senator Ismail’s much-needed efforts to contain this problem.

  19. This MOGIL guy deserves to be thrown out of GUSA. Arman is actually on to an issue we the student body cares about. How difficult can it be to exterminate rats! Facilities needs to be cleaner and HIRE and exterminator. Why do we pay $60,000 again? Good JOB ISMAIL! He should be president of GUSA as he cares about his constituents. Mogil, please resign NOW!

  20. Seriously, this Mogel guy is a JOKE. RATS are a problem, I see more and more every night around village B. Its embarrassing to be giving a tour and tell the future hoyas, “that’s life here.”

    Mogel, either listen to your constituents or GET OUT OF GUSA. Mogel=a 75 year old congressmen that has been elected more than 23 times because no one votes, and he never does anything, just uses GUSA to put it on his resume.

    Arman Ismail, should seriously run for president. FInally a man that will bring change to the new GUSA>.

  21. A couple hundred rat traps will do nothing. To kill the rats GU would probably have to use poison which brings up a bunch of liability, ethical, and disposal issues. Is Senator Ismail going to walk around campus all day to pick up thousands of dead rat carcasses?

    I can think of something worse than seeing a few rats scurry past you on the way back from the library and that is the smell of Healy hall in August after the dead rats have been left a little too long baking in the sun. Plus, part of the reason rats are so prevalent is that old campus was built hundreds of years ago…to fully stamp out the problem we would probably need to undergo a multi-million dollar renovation of old campus

    this is a facilities issue, not a GUSA issue.

  22. SamanthaB,
    You are a complete fool. If you are going to make an argument, make an argument. Don’t simply insult those who oppose you. Rats are plaguing the entire city, not just Georgetown. Any rats you kill will surely be replaced by the millions that are lurking outside campus.

  23. The rat problem has gotten worse since the end of last year, and something must be done. GUSA must explain to the student body the steps that Facilities or any other relevant depts. have taken to ameliorate the situation. To dismiss this issue now shows GUSA’s lack of respect for the student body’s concerns.

  24. we are probably not going to see cusimano, ismail and a merry team of rat hunters roaming the campus. but how refreshing to see students willing to actually address an issue as opposed to bickering! I am concerned by Mogils outlook. Sure, if GUSA or facilities or whoever higher exterminators, the rats might come back. but tackling and missing is way better than simply butting heads with one another. Arman Ismail- way to take on an issue relevant to students. Facilities or whoever should be concerned, and Arman is doing his job admirably bringing this issue forward. If facilities or whoever says, “oh we didnt know it was such a problem, we’ll use traps/poison/whatever” then great work arman. If facilities or whoever say, “we tried poison, and the stench was overwhelming, or every time we kill the rats they are back in a week” then thanks giving it a shot arman. The response to arman should not be “OMG we might not be able to work out a solution to the rat problem, best not to try”. I like that Mogil is looking at the issue from all sides. but he sounds a bit like a lifetime bureaucrat afraid of things moving around him. (yes, that was unfair, i dont know him, have never been to a meeting, but its rewarding to pin your frustration on someone)

    its exciting to see enthusiasm and initiative, even if it is marked by ignorance of rodent exterminating best practices.

  25. keep up the good work arman. facilities must be made aware of this problem. rats really are a drag on student life. And if nothing can be done, thank you for putting your neck out there and trying.

  26. I’m, um, surprised this issue has gotten all the comments, compared to the student activities fee issue.

    But hey, that’s why the Senate has 25 members. It doesn’t hurt anything if one wants to go out, write a resolution to bring it to Facilities’ attention and try to get the issue spotlighted and addressed.

    The Senate it did it two years ago with broken waterfountains all around campus. There was an article about the number of waterfountains broken, and it quoted the administrator responsible saying that “she did not believe broken fountains were a pressing concern” because people didn’t use them. (http://www.thehoya.com/news/many-fountains-remain-out-of-order/)

    It took about 10 minutes’ of effort writing a resolution, getting it passed and writing a letter and bringing to the that advisor’s attention. Within a short amount of time, nearly all the fountains were fixed.

    So hey, keep it up. Can’t hurt.

  27. Hey Mogil you are a coward. Stop hiding under the “rational student” name. Seems you are the fool. The University can either place pressure on the local politicians to do something or hire an exterminator. Mogil any suggestions? You mention other issues like wireless internet, what are you doing to help the student bocy achieve that? Nothing. Get a life, get out of GUSA and let people like ARMAN ISMAIL that care about real issues get their job done.

    Mogil please resign! Just know you already have a group of people working towards taking you out of GUSA and diminishing your worthless influence.

  28. I have to congratulate Senator Ismail for the courage to take on an issue which many people don’t take seriously. This is not just about rats, it’s about STUDENT SAFETY. No one is saying that the rats are going to magically disappear, but we can’t just do nothing while the school continues to become infested with these creatures. Mogil seems to have well intentions in wanting to focus on areas where the GUSA might be more effective, but it is not acceptable for GUSA to do nothing about this issue. The student body will be thankful if GUSA can at least look into ways where they can help students deal with this mess or push the administration to do something. Thank you Senator Arman Ismail!

  29. I have seen many cities in my life, and in all of them never as many rats as Georgetown. Arman Ismail is actually trying to accomplish something! Gusa should back him as we the student organization view GUSA as a JOKE already. Mogil should seriously stop trying to attack view points under diff. names. The muslim community here at Gtown all agrees that the only reason you are making Arman look like a joke is because he’s brown. If he wasn’t im sure the issue would already have had progress.

    Someone should start STUDENTS FOR THE RESIGNATION OF JOSH MOGIL club.

    SRJM Club!

  30. I seriously can’t believe all this is happening becuz someone wanted to try to get rid of the rats! COME ON PEOPLE! Arman Ismail is just looking out for us. Nobody likes the rats, we can agree on that right? All this talk about collecting the bodies is ridiculous. We can’t have them out there in a free for all increasing in numbers. Whenever I pass Village B, Lauinger, or Healy, I see one to three of those pests. I give Arman my full support and hope he continues his fight to do SOMETHING!

  31. I’m from NYC and I’ve seen rats my whole life, but this is RIDICULOUS! I think GUSA should stop worrying about their image (cuz they have none to protect anyways) and actually do something that students care about. Ismail is right. Mogil seems to not take this issue very seriously (ANIMAL RIGHTS!?). I’m not saying that GUSA alone can solve the rat issue, but surely they can do something that may push other the school and the local government to do something. I DON’T WANT TO SEE A RAT EVERYTIME I GO OUT FOR A WALK!

  32. Rats are unsanitary and I must say that it makes no sense that we have not tried to tackle this problem before. In all seriousness, this isn’t a “normal” problem that occurs on all college campuses. Other campuses in the D.C. area do not have rat problems like we have. I have been to several campuses where rats are not as populous. They aren’t even scared of us! They will continue to breed and infest our campus and will get into dorms and apartments. They carry many diseases and there is no stopping them! Mogil would be all for getting rid of the rats if a rat got into his sleeping quarters. It has happened at Darnall Mogil. It really is a disgusting problem and I am all for stepping up and trying to find solutions instead of just buckpassing this problem.

  33. Please come to our next Senate meeting. I want anti-Mogil signs, anti-Mogil posters and please make hip anti-Josh T-Shirts. I’d also like a committee formed to impeach me. You can use the fact that I am pro-rat to begin the proceedings. I’d also like a milkshake. These are my demands. Failure to comply will mean that more and more rats will invade your school. the ball is in your court! And no, I haven’t written the other posts. But please, please, please start the anti-Josh crusade. I haven’t been this excited since the Georgetown Snow Day of 2007!!!!!! If you want help making the signs, email me.

    Questions or comments? Joshmogil@gmail.com .

  34. I am not Josh Mogil. Josh posted his name in here when he commented. Take note of that. Before you make that accusation again, get some proof. Again SamanthaB, stop attacking people. Focus on the issue. Do you know what an ad hominem argument is? Look it up. It is what you are doing. You are only discrediting yourself. I’m sorry. I agree that the rats suck, but this is not GUSA’s issue. The whole city needs to attack the problem. I have worked for several real estate companies, I know firsthand that rats are wreaking havoc all over DC. This is not an isolated situation. Setting up a few hundred rat traps will have no effect. I commend Senator Ismail for trying, but honestly, I’m worried about getting the flu then I am about seeing a rat outside lau. I hope GUSA understands this, and acts accordingly.

  35. I want to apologize because I just signed on as SamanthaB to make myself look good and take away from SamanthaB.

    I am actually Mogil’s best friend. sorry for using SamanthaB’s name and acting like I was her.

  36. Someone impostered the imposter’s imposter.

  37. I am the real SamanthaB. I like porridge. Kill the rats. Kill em all! This is our Independence Day! Come to Narnia with my aunts and uncles.

  38. I am the real Rational Student and irrationality is my specialty. Not to mention I like attacking girls on forums and in public to make them look inferior.

  39. I am the real Rational Student. I have not been posing as other people. I have clearly stated my points. I don’t have much else to say. Samantha B, I’m sorry that you felt the need to pose as me. Thank you for taking this debate seriously, and using sound logic and reason to prove your points. Good luck with your future in litigation. I never meant to make you look inferior. I’m just smarter than you. Peace.

  40. Pingback: Vox Populi » Student complaints about vermin drop sharply, Facilities says

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