How are you voting in the GUSA SAFE reform referendum?

12:15 a.m. update: 741 votes have been cast as of 11:49 p.m., according to GUSA Election Commission member Adam Giansiracusa.

Original post: Voting begins tonight around midnight for the Student Activities Fee Endowment (SAFE) reform referendum.

The reforms passed their first obstacle when the Georgetown University Student Association Senate voted in favor of the referendum earlier this semester. In order for the changes to take place the referendum must be voted upon by the student population as a whole, with a minimum participation of 2,000 students. The referendum will automatically fail if it does not reach the required number of voters.

Voting is open until 12 a.m. on Friday.

After you vote, or abstain from voting, or get tired from trying to understand why so many acronyms are used at Georgetown, vote in our poll.

Who knows, maybe our poll can get more votes than the actual GUSA referendum?


37 Comments on “How are you voting in the GUSA SAFE reform referendum?

  1. Students SHOULD VOTE in this referendum. Do NOT sit out if you oppose the reform, just vote no!

    Will that make it more likely the referendum gets to 2,000? Sure. Does it make it more likely the reform passes? Not if everyone who opposes it actually votes. This reform is dangerous and the student body should oppose it.

  2. @vote no

    I half agree with you. I think it’s sad how few people vote for stuff like this and elections. Whatever you think, you should be voting.

    With that said, I am planning on voting FOR the referendum. I hardly see it as ‘dangerous.’ In fact, it sucks how little money is available for clubs here compared to other schools. time to step it up gtown!

  3. For everyone who doesn’t feel that they know enough about SAFE Reform:

    -Here’s the official report put out on the referendum by the GUSA FinApp Committee
    http://www.box.net/gusa#gusa/1/57205720/549636308/1

    -Here’s an OpEd in The Voice in favor of SAFE Reform written by a couple of losers:
    http://georgetownvoice.com/2010/12/01/safeguarding-student-life-vote-yes-on-fee-reforms/

    -Here’s some lively debate on the Referendum on the Facebook Event’s Wall
    http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=145356738846885

    Vote Yes, please!

  4. First off, everyone should vote regardless of your opinion. What is this with telling people not to vote, the Sharron Angle campaign? Please.

    I’m voting for this referendum because I’m sick of paying out of pocket for EVERYTHING. Its a fifty dollar increase, its literally less than half of one percent of my total tuition, which apparently is being hoarded somewhere else because the university is clearly not giving enough to student activities.

    I’m on financial aid; I understand and respect the fact that no one likes to think that the university is getting more of their money. Two problems with that initial impression, however:

    1 – Lets be honest here, you’re not going to notice the fifty dollar increase. No Georgetown student is paying their tuition annually with cash out of their own pocket, and if they are I certainly hope the fifty dollars isn’t going to break the bank. Its your / your parents money, granted, but read the following –

    What you ARE going to notice is not having to drop 25 or 40 dollars for a campus concert ticket, 20 bucks for a taxi home from the basketball games when the GUTS buses decide not to show up at Dupont, and not owing your academic, performing arts, or sports club fifty bucks in dues because you don’t get enough money from your funding boards.

    2 – This money IS NOT GOING TO THE UNIVERSITY. Its going to students. Yes I recognize that some of you dislike GUSA, the body that will be allocating the money to many other funding boards, but guess what- if you don’t like the way its being run, next year you can run for office yourself or vote in all new senators in for all I care. The point is that STUDENTS will be in charge of allocating this money FOREVER. No university red tape, no fears of having funding pulled next time theres a recession or some kind of financial mismanagement.

  5. FYI all Vox readers:
    Only one of captcha words is necessary, the other can be pretty much anything offensive or vulgar you want to enter. The trick is to figure out which word is necessary. Usually, words with punctuation, numbers, weird fonts, and capitalization are filler words.

    Once enough people start messing with reCaptcha, the system starts messing up. Since reCaptcha is used to translate print books to digital text, these digital books will now contain a lot more obscenity.

    tl;dr = post “fuck”, ruin kindle

  6. Re: Vote Yes

    “What you ARE going to notice is not having to drop 25 or 40 dollars for a campus concert ticket, 20 bucks for a taxi home from the basketball games when the GUTS buses decide not to show up at Dupont, and not owing your academic, performing arts, or sports club fifty bucks in dues because you don’t get enough money from your funding boards.”

    Come on…there’s no way the increase in SAF can obtain all of those benefits. Furthermore, even if we don’t notice the $50 increase on our bill, we’re still paying it. Under the current system, I can choose to go to a concert or I can choose not to go. Likewise, I can choose to pay dues to clubs that I want to join and not have to pay to subsidize clubs I don’t want to join. Under the new system, I have to pay that money for a promise of benefits that the institutions have been unable to effectively articulate.


    Re: Vote No

    If you do disagree with the bill, the best thing to do is not vote. The current Facebook group mobilizing support for this event has a grand total of 467 “yes” responses. Considering the turnout for a typical GUSA senate election reaches nowhere near 2,000 people and there is more candidate mobilization during those elections, I see no way that this referendum comes close to having 2,000 votes.

  7. @Abstain

    I would urge you not to underestimate what this new influx of cash could pay for. The amount of money allocated from student activities every year will effectively triple, going from ~$330,000 every year to over $1,000,000. That’s not just going towards pizzas.

    Furthermore, It would be a real shame for people to sit out this major campus debate. Regardless of where you stand, vote.

  8. Whose to say that in 5 years, due payments will not be reinstated if the bill passes?

    Georgetown is already expensive. We shouldn’t have to pay more if we don’t want to.

  9. Abstention is not a healthy way to handle the issue. Send GUSA the message that their idea is shortsighted and not a smart one. The initiative should fail straight up, and it will if everyone who opposes it votes. I know I will.

  10. Please sir, can I have some more funding?

    This notion of pay to play is all well and good, but not everyone can afford to drop cash in the short term for clubs. Regardless, if you go to more than two pay events per year you’ll be dropping more than 50 dollars guaranteed.

    Need I drop the term Inflation? Has no one considered that the 100$ SAF hasn’t been adjusted since 2001…

  11. “Come on…there’s no way the increase in SAF can obtain all of those benefits. Furthermore, even if we don’t notice the $50 increase on our bill, we’re still paying it. Under the current system, I can choose to go to a concert or I can choose not to go. Likewise, I can choose to pay dues to clubs that I want to join and not have to pay to subsidize clubs I don’t want to join. Under the new system, I have to pay that money for a promise of benefits that the institutions have been unable to effectively articulate.”

    The Weekend GUTS Bus Expansion cost, if I recall correctly, about $15-20,000 a year — or about .95% of the total amount available for student life. Adding in just service to, say, the Verizon Center during games would be far less. I’m not saying it’s necessarily the best use of the funds (I dislike subsidizing things the University should already be paying for), but the point is it wouldn’t come anywhere close to breaking the bank. And bringing in big-name performers (Kanye, Lady Gaga, name your pick) cost around $100-300k for performances — which are partially subsidized by ticket sales and partially subsidized by GPB. So you can either increase the quality of the performance without compromising ticket cost, or decrease ticket costs by a higher budget, or — which is likely — decrease ticket costs by higher quality artists which bring in much higher attendance rates. The bottom line is the extra money is, again, not going to break the bank of the fee (e.g., if we allocated them an extra $50k or $100k, that’s still only 5-10% of the fee).

    As to your second point, the current student activities fee is a fee. People are acting like groups have to pay for 100% of what they do and pass along club dues accordingly. That’s eminently not the case. Your money already helps to subsidize clubs and events, whether you attend or not. If we went to a purely pay-to-play model, smaller clubs — regardless of their importance — would have to raise significantly larger sums than larger clubs, scale back what they do, only recruit well-off people able to pay or fold under. Numbers would be the only thing that matter. Most of the theatre and music troupes would probably be cut.

    Even if you barely participate in student life on campus, the fee still affects you. A vibrant student life is a strong recruiting tool. If we had no money for the arts, perhaps future Bradley Coopers or Mike Birbligias would come elsewhere. If we had no money for our storied debating societies or political groups, perhaps future Antonin Scalias or Bill Clinton’s would go elsewhere. If a prospective student is considering going here or to Duke, Princeton, Stanford, Northwestern (all with similarly-sized populations but with student activities fee pools in the $1-2 million dollar range), would the fact that Duke has 15 different service groups, 22 political groups, 39 club sports teams, 15 recreational sports teams, and 22 news, magazine, media or journal publications sway them over Georgetown? It just might. And a higher quality Georgetown student body translates down the road into higher rankings and a higher quality degree — probably worth more than the $50/year extra SAFE Reform is asking.

  12. And one last point – Georgetown WILL raise your tuition during your time here. You can take that to the bank. Over the past five years, they’ve raised tuition over $6,000, not to mention room and board increases. How much of that $6,000 went into student life? $0.

    This reform costs an extra $25 next year, and $50 the year after. And you will see a 300% increase in student funds. Vote yes, vote no, vote to your heart’s content, but don’t think by voting no you’ll prevent having to pay more during your time here. By voting no, you’ll just prevent getting any benefit from the increase.

  13. I will be surprised if any student group sees a dime of this money. It’s all going to end up in SAC’s tight little fist and buying Maryland plates for the GUTS buses the neighbors don’t want on their streets.

    BTW: Anyone who says that \future Antonin Scalias or Bill Clinton’s would go elsewhere,\ because of this reform is deluding themselves. Thankfully, Georgetown’s reputation as a school is not based on the small cadre of GUSA egoists and the lifeless idiots who help them campaign.

    Does anyone know who I have to file papers with to get a referendum on whether or not to abolish GUSA?

  14. +2 Paladin Armor for you, good sir! Nothing says \I oppose egotism\ like posting about it anonymously on an online blog.

  15. That comment was win.

    By the way, the very large banner in Red Square promoting SAFE — who paid for that? If student funds were used to pay for that, can I get student funds to obtain an anti-SAFE banner or a pro-abstaining banner?

  16. @Jacob,

    Future great potential Hoyas may go elsewhere if they see that other Universities care about student life. Bigger concerts, more vibrant clubs, and better speakers (who aren’t diplomats) are certainly attractive to prospective students. More money for student activities has the potential to do all these things.

    Furthermore, I don’t disagree with you about the need for further reform. The Access to Benefits policy is the single largest inhibitor to student life on this campus. But lack of funding is the second largest, and SAFE Reform will address it.

    And just for the record, the number of votes to change GUSA’s constitution (which is how one would ‘abolish’ it) has a lower threshold than this referendum.

  17. Why should students even be voting on this? If the fee were raised by the university next year, no one would be up in arms about it like they aren’t when the school raises the tuition by $1000.

  18. How about GUSA runs an election a little bit better than a failed African country, and then I vote to give it more of my money?

    I am abstaining from this because I will not be part of the 2000 votes this thing needs to have a shot at happening.

    An abstention on this thing – deleting the email and not voting at all – is leaps and bounds smarter than clicking “no.”

  19. @ @Jacob,

    If you got an organized group together, I imagine the GUSA fund would at least give you a fair hearing. I personally would support it, and I am a SAFE Reform supporter, though not on the Fund.

  20. Members of GUSA all pitched in to buy the banners and flyers, actually.

  21. Just like they pitched in to buy the campus free cupcakes the day before a presidential election campaign started.

    Come on guys, GUSA loves you.

  22. “Members of GUSA all pitched in to buy the banners and flyers, actually.
    Quoted for Truth. Im not necessarily a supporter but you guys were willing to spend money on getting the word out, I feel like that deserved some props.

    Also, @Abstaining is smarter, etc – I’d like to point out that the numbers for GUSA elections are actually better than the numbers for national midterm elections for our in group in the United States of America. Failed African country, indeed. Regardless, who is to blame for not voting? That’d be you. Sorry, candidates can only do so much.

  23. I don’t understand the line of reasoning that goes ‘GUSA is a broken organization, I’m not going to support anything they do.” I see it in this thread and I have heard it in a number of SAFE conversations that I’ve had in the last week and I still don’t understand it.

    Does GUSA always operate in the manner that I would like it to? No. Do I think they could a lot more to improve student life on this campus? Absolutely. But these frustrations don’t justify blanket opposition to what GUSA attempts. Besides being good policy, SAFE and the funding board reforms before it are steps in the right direction to changing the self-fulfilling ‘they don’t do anything’ mentality.

    “Strategically” not voting at all certainly doesn’t help us toward that goal nor does it respect the process.

  24. “Strategically” choosing not to vote is the smart way to go about it for those who don’t want it to pass.

    GUSA got about 3K votes for president last year. they got just over 1K for senate this year.

    Banking on them not getting over 2K this year is smart if you are shooting for the automatic fail, especially if those who have been regular voters choose not to vote.

    Duh.

  25. @JS: “’Strategically’ not voting at all certainly doesn’t help us toward that goal nor does it respect the process”

    Why should we respect a process that is flawed in itself, in order to help pass a flawed piece of legislation that we oppose?

    The problem with the SAFE reform is that it links the increase in the student activities fee with the effective elimination of the endowment. I support increasing the student activities fee for all the benefits everyone has mentioned above. However ending the contribution toward the endowment is extremely shortsighted and ensures that students will have to continue paying more money for less services in the future.

    If we assume the endowment grows at 5% annually (which is extremely conservative, given that it is based off of the Georgetown endowment which has outperformed S&P consistently), and that 300,000 is contributed annually, it will take 15 years for the endowment to reach the magic $10 million mark. While that might seem like a ways off, it would be much better to continue building an independent endowment that might *gasp* give the students at this university a bit more say in student life.

    I am not voting in this referendum, because I don’t want SAFE reform to pass. I would, however, vote for a bill that increases the fee without foolishly eliminating future contributions to the endowment.

  26. @ Tiny Tim,
    Don’t worry. Someday, you’ll grow up to be big and strong like me.

  27. \If we assume the endowment grows at 5% annually (which is extremely conservative, given that it is based off of the Georgetown endowment which has outperformed S&P consistently), and that 300,000 is contributed annually, it will take 15 years for the endowment to reach the magic $10 million mark. While that might seem like a ways off, it would be much better to continue building an independent endowment that might *gasp* give the students at this university a bit more say in student life.\

    As others have pointed out, though, $10m = 5% drawdown of $500,000. $500,000 in 2025 or 2030 dollars.

    Currently, the student activities fee puts out $350,000. I don’t think there’s any question that this amount is inadequate. The long term average inflation rate from 1913-2007 was 3.42% ( link ). $350,000 at 3.42% inflation over 15 years is ~$580,000. 20 years is ~$686,000.

    So even if we hit the mythical $10m in 15 or 20 years, the money we will have is going to be worth even less than it is now — anywhere from 15% to 27% less. Put in current money, that’s the equivalent of the SAF today putting out $297,500 to $255,500.

    If $350,000 in 2010 is inadequate, how will (the equivalent of) $255,000 be better in the future?

  28. Since The Hoya disabled their comments, I’ll post my response to their editorial here:

    Unfortunately, The Hoya Editorial Board is too shortsighted, because they fail to understand the biggest problem with the original idea of the student activities endowment – annual inflation.

    If they actually knew about the issue at hand, they would realize that once the endowment reaches the necessary amount (by their uneducated guess, 15 years), the interest earned would decrease in real value every year because of inflation. This would create the exact same problem that we have now – an unsustainable cycle of underfunded student groups.

    Hypothetically, once the endowment were to reach the necessary level (let’s say that the interest earned is $500,000 annually), we would stop contributing to it and the interest earned would remain stagnant (at $500,000) regardless of the inflation rate. If we allocated the same amount to student groups every year, the value of that allocation will reduce in real value every year. This is the exact same problem that we have now.

    SAFE Reform is NOT shortsighted because it actually takes into account the annual inflation rate by increasing the fee that 2-3% every year. This allows student groups to be allocated the same amount of money in real value.

    Also, if you think students can simply walk up to the administration of Georgetown and demand $3 million, you’re delusional.

  29. You’re merely furthering the problem, though. If you have a principled state on the matter, vote. Not doing so is undemocratic. More, it is cowardly.

  30. No, the system is undemocratic. Allowing a “majority” consisting of 1001 students to force all 6500 of us to pay more money is undemocratic. they should require at least a majority vote among a majority of students.

  31. Right, because US elections only count if 50% of people vote. No one is forcing 1001 students to force 6500 to pay more; it’s not like the other 4499 students were prevented from voting. Democracy is showing up.

    The election is easily-accessible online, widely-advertised, and open for three days. If 5499 students are against the proposal, they can very, very easily take two seconds out of their day to vote against it. I have no sympathy for people who don’t vote and then complain about the results. They have only themselves to blame.

  32. Let me get this straight, I’m confused.

    Scenarios:

    If 1500 people vote yes, 0 no, everyone else abstains = it doesn’t get passed.

    If 1500 people vote yes, 501 no, everyone else abstains = it does get passed??

  33. what does it mean to “vote” or “not vote”? What is “abstain”?

  34. Go back to 4chan. You’re probably Andrew Chen and co., constantly trolling on Vox.

    Sincerely,
    Christopher Poole

  35. Pingback: Vox Populi » The Final SAFE Proposals: Part I

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