Vox‘s GUSA Candidate Survey: Hillary Dang and Katie Balloch
It’s that time of year again. Vox has sent the 2010 version of its annual Georgetown University Student Association Candidate Survey to each of the four Presidential and Vice Presidential hopefuls and we’re posting their (usually long-winded) responses as we receive them.
This year, we’re asking candidates things like what they think of club funding reform, how the University has handled the 2010 Campus Plan, and how they’d evaluate President Calen Angert (MSB ‘11) and Vice President Jason Kluger’s (MSB ‘11) time in office. (Or in Angert and Kluger’s case, their own time in office).
Up today is Hillary Dang (SFS ’12) and Katie Balloch (COL ’12).
What are three goals you’d try to accomplish as GUSA execs?
Our slogan says a lot about what we’re trying to do: “Simplify and unify.” We’re hoping that if we get elected, we will be able to make the entire campus more productive by utilizing current resources and simplifying the steps it takes to get things done.
1. Ensure success of the newly amended funding structure so that GUSA can effectively allocate the proper funds to student organizations.
2. Increase safety on campus and facilitate better relationships with neighbors. We’d like to reform SafeRides so that in conjunction with the loop, there would be an on-call car for people who feel they are in emergency or extenuating circumstances and can’t wait until the scheduled pick up time. We really like the effort that students have taken in starting Georgetown Samaritans and would like to take this type of “neighbors helping neighbors” measure further so that the surrounding neighbors respect us as mature adults.
This type of relationship will make both parties happier because students will be more conscious of noise at parties, and the neighbors will think twice before called Metro and issuing a noise complaint. By having SNAP as the first response, we hope to help more effectively mediate between students and residents of the Georgetown community.
3. Making better use of the resources and initiatives that have already been started across campus. By spreading awareness about the new Switch it Off Challenge and more effectively using the new recycling/trash bins we can take advantage of investments instead of creating new campaigns. Also, we’d like to try and create more transparency within GUSA and administrative processes so the students feel more informed about whats going on.
The GUSA website is badly managed and provides little information, much of which is out of date. We’d also like to try and create a biweekly session with President DeGoia so that there is a more direct connection between the President and the students.
What qualifies you to be GUSA’s next President and Vice President?
We are coming in this election with a fresh perspective on GUSA and its recent legislation. We believe we would provide the new insight and critical eyes needed to successfully foster relationships between GUSA and other organizations and to reinstate trust and legitimacy in GUSA, as GUSA was created to represent the voice of all students. Though we have limited experience in GUSA, we both served in our respective high school governments.
In addition, we feel that our diverse backgrounds in liberal arts and politics, our experience in the professional world, and our involvement in community service/outreach have given us the skill set to be driven, hands-on leaders capable of running the student government and bettering the student body on and beyond the hilltop.
What is your position on the bill passed by GUSA this past Monday that changed the composition of the funding board and made changes to the club funding process?
We see Monday’s legislation as a step in the right direction towards streamlining the organization of student club funding, and applaud this momentous change. However, with the complete dissolution of the former Funding Board, and an entirely GUSA-run Funding Committee put in its place, there is potential for increased tensions between GUSA and the likes of SAC, CSJ, and other former board members.
We want to ensure the succes of this new legislation, in order for that to happen further reforms must be made to increase efficiency and solidarity among the student body in the name of bettering our Georgetown community.
As members of the GUSA executive branch, we will work to create a clearly defined process so that students who are looking to create a new club or apply for funding know what steps they will have to take and the status of their request throughout the process. We would like to have a collaborative system of student clubs and organizations. Currently, there are too many divisions and rivalries between groups, especially in regards to funding allocation. Our goal is to simplify the confusing and inefficient system in order to build palpable connections between students, clubs, and the administration for a better Georgetown.
In addition, because the majority of the funds come from each student’s student activities fee we would like more direct input from the students about how they would like their money spent. The student body needs to be informed and involved in order to have a unified campus. We hope to achieve that be streamlining these processes.
How would you characterize Angert’s time in office?
Angert had a generally successful term, implementing many changes and progressive measures. However, during his time in office, these changes could’ve been more applicable to the general student body. We applaud many of Calen and Jason’s accomplishments this past year, especially the implementation of the GUSA funding reform, G’Town Samaritans, as well as bringing back the readership program. They made profound progress in funding reform, and created a fantastic new LSAT prep course, yet many students do not reap the benefits of these measures, or remain unaware of what has been done.
For example, the LSAT Familiarization course has helped only those students who are taking the LSATs. We would have hoped to see more widespread programs benefitting the entire student body. One negative aspect of the GUSA funding reform process is their neglect to address the issue of growing tensions between GUSA and SAC.
While the legislation to create a radically different structuring is a beneficial step to streamline funding for student organizaitons, they blatantly took away the power from SAC to distribute a large portion of the money which would and did cause obvious uproar. They could have been more diplomatic in anticipating the antagonists to their reforms in order to guarantee success and solidarity among the leaders of prominent student organizations.
If GUSA had unbridled control of all things Georgetown, what’s the first thing you would change?
The wireless. The administration has refused to expand it, yet they keep converting more and more of academic life onto the internet, like Blackboard, interactive classes, etc. If they want to save paper, and make more efficient use of the internet they need to broaden the wireless to the entire campus because it just creates inconvenience and makes communication more difficult in the many places there arent wireless.
But, if GUSA could also take over a homeless animal shelter by chance, we’d love to release all the cats on campus to get rid of the rat infestation… that is if snowmaggedon has failed to kill them already.
How would you evaluate the way the University has handled the planning of the 2010 Campus Master Plan?
We realize that the residents in the surrounding neighborhood are very unsupportive of the plan because they think more students will take up the street parking as well as an increase in noise/rambunctious parties. However, the administration is being very diplomatic in handling the needs of its students while trying to appease its neighbors.
In any type of reform there will be people who advocate for it and those who are against it, if Georgetown University wants to remain a prestigious university and continue to attract highly skilled and intelligent students, the actual infrastructure of the university needs to make progress as well. It is unreasonable of the neighbors to refuse to support an increase in matriculation because of a couple fewer street parking spaces. The University is obviously trying to make compromises by creating a 1,000 car parking lot. I’m sure that people on campus would rather have a beautiful quad than a parking lot, but everyone needs to work together to make progress and maintain our high standards.
We also applaud the University’s efforts in combating the recent uprise in hate crimes. In their campaign against attempts at satire, VP of Student Affairs Todd Olson reported some great progress in university attempts to bring together the students. Implementing dialogue programs (like “humor week”), collaborative luncheons, and the idea of Diversity Fellows show some stressed effort in resolving this issue.
What remains unclear, however, is whether such programs seem to be working, or whether they only further divide the student population. The solutions seem to centralize mostly around resolving the immediate issue, but lack an effort towards University unity in the long run. We appreciate the efforts at unity, but the lack of lucidity (and availability of information to the students) in the University’s plan to implement anti-bias programs in academic, social, and admission-based settings is a problem we hope to tackle if we were elected to office.
Regardless, we are akin to the fact that the main theme behind the 2010 Campus Master Plan focus on community involvement and building a sense of “community” not only within Healy gates, but also in the Georgetown neighborhood.