Just like last year, Vox has compiled a guide to “news you can use”, or in other words, an excessively comprehensive review of last year’s important news stories. Today, we cover the on-campus issues that made headlines. Check in later this week for the year’s biggest crime stories.
In March, the United Feminists and H*yas for Choice created Plan A: Hoyas for Reproductive Justice. The campaign pushed the University to provide contraceptives, sex education, rape kits, the HPV vaccine, and informational resources on reproductive health. Plan A Hoyas also campaigned for less restrictive freedom of speech and expression policies.
After a series of escalating protests failed to get the University’s attention, protesters chained themselves to the John Carroll statue during GAAP weekend. The protesters unchained themselves after campus administrators sent them a letter, but it’s unclear what the letter said. The campaign organizers claimed victories, but not all of them could be substantiated. The campaign sparked debate about University funding and free speech policies, as well as what it means to be a Jesuit school.
General Petraeus and the counter-protesters
When General David Petraeus came to speak at Georgetown in January, a small, unaffiliated group of protesters interrupted his speech by shouting the names of soldiers who died in Afghanistan. The backlash against the protesters was swift. A group of counter-protesters, called Hoyas for Respectful Dialogue, formed to protest the tactics of the first protesters. Hoyas for Respectful Dialogue, along with a coalition of campus conservative groups, wrote a letter of apology to Petraeus and protested the protesters in Red Square.
GUSA and Club Funding
While the Georgetown University Student Association has long been known for election debacles, interpersonal bickering, toothless resolutions and general incompetence, this past year, GUSA has become substantially more powerful and efficient.
First, a bit on GUSA structure (Senate hopefuls: it’s pronounced “gus-uh”): the GUSA executive includes an elected president and vice president, along with a cabinet of their choosing. The GUSA senate is made up of 25 senators who represent dorms, apartments, off-campus housing or just run “at-large.” While some seats are hotly contested, in other districts, no one runs. The speaker runs senate meetings, and a parliamentarian keeps records and makes sure meetings follow procedure. The senate’s bills are posted here and meetings are livestreamed here.
GUSA president Calen Angert (MSB ’11) and vice president Jason Kluger (MSB ’11) were reelected to their second term in February with 50.1 percent of the vote and a record election turnout of about 44 percent of the student body. Their platform focused on their successes from last year: a LSAT prep course, a GUSA fund for clubs, and club funding reform. They have said that along with some key leaders in the GUSA senate, they represent the “New GUSA,” which they say is increasingly transparent and efficient.
The big debate last year was club funding reform. Every semester, Georgetown students pay a $50 student activities fee, half of which goes into an endowment to help future students, the other half of which goes into club funding for the year. Under the old funding structure, six advisory boards—Georgetown Program Board, Center for Social Justice Advisory Board, Club Sports Board, Performing Arts Advisory Council, Media Board, and the Student Activities Commission—met with the GUSA Finance and Appropriations committee to reach a consensus about how to split up the money. Students have long been frustrated that the advisory boards (mainly SAC) had overly bureaucratic processes and could not be held accountable. Under the new structure the advisory boards offer recommendations, but GUSA’s Finance and Appropriations Committee ultimately decides how much money goes to each board, including how much goes to GUSA’s own operating budget. Once GUSA secured control over the budget, it threatened to withhold funding from advisory boards that did not make six reforms. While the Voice editorial board agreed SAC needed reform, it was also quite skeptical of some of GUSA’s changes.
Two years ago, the Hoya was in the midst of finalizing a deal for independence from the University when it came under fire for its April Fools Issue. Students arranged a sit-in at the Hoya’s office over content they found offense. The Hoya hosted a forum for feedback and instituted a series of changes, but Media Board delayed Hoya independence another year. This past year, the Hoya’s board of directors decided to postpone independence again due to financial considerations.
Heckler’s KKK Satire
This year, the Georgetown Heckler, an online satire magazine, lampooned the Hoya by depicting Hoya staffers as unwittingly engaging in KKK traditions. The article featured a photo of a KKK cross-burning. Student Commission for Unity Founder Brian Kesten (COL ’10) held another forum to discuss Heckler content students found to be offensive. Since the University’s Media Board does not fund the Heckler, no sanctions could be levied.