The 2010-2011 Georgetown University Student Association Senators were sworn in on Sunday, officially beginning the year’s agenda. While the meeting was heavy on ideas and questions from the senators and light on formal votes, the discussions suggest that many of last year’s issues will rear their heads soon.
Chris Pigott (COL’12), last year’s Senate Vice-Speaker, moderated the meeting.
Student Activities Fee and Endowment Reform (SAFE Reform)
In 2001, a system was set up to allocate half of the Student Activities fee to student organizations, club sports, and the media board. The other half went to an endowment, which, according to the plan, would eventually become self-sustaining and eliminate the need to collect a student activities fee from each student on a semester basis.
At the current interest rates, however, GUSA representatives are concerned that students wouldn’t see the effect of the endowment plan until at least 2025. Let’s hope that the Finance and Appropriation Committee looks into the endowment money and creates a plan to speed up the process.
While GUSA has provided all funds for the weekend GUTS buses in the past, GUSA senators have to consider whether GUSA, or the university itself, should be providing the funds for running of future weekend GUTS buses.
Plenty of the senators at Saturday’s meeting voiced their displeasure with Leo’s Dining Hall. Suggestions included greener packaging for Grab and Go foods, giving out empty containers to allow students to choose from the dining hall for Grab and Go, and letting unspent meals roll over to the next week. Expect Georgetown’s new contract with Aramark, which should be signed soon, to play a part in the GUSA negotiations.
Public Safety, Partying, and DPS
Although GUSA technically has no leverage in negotiations with the Department of Public Safety, senators voiced a desire to look into DPS’s on-campus role. Specifically, concerns revolved around DPS’s dual roles as a party deterrent and safety provider.
Tied closely to improving student life in general, senators interested in pursuing a campus advocacy initiative will look to improve students’ knowledge of their rights, as well as improve the resources available to students in need.
GUSA voter turnouts are down, again. Senators suggested possibly recreating a physical voting booth in Red Square, which had been employed in past elections with success. The drive to make GUSA more accessible and transparent to the student body is high on the agenda this year; some senators suggested strengthening GUSA committees by having those committees hold town halls.
Party Registration for Underage Students
Senators may look into making the rules of party registration more transparent for students. Underage students are allowed to host parties, but not serve alcohol, although the forms for party registration require that one host is over twenty-one years of age.
Finally, the issue of making housing more accessible for students with disabilities was discussed. The idea of gender-neutral housing on campus was also suggested—for students who identify as LGBTQ, or those who may feel more comfortable rooming with students of the opposite sex.