SAFE referendum passes by overwhelming margin

Student activities fees are moving on up. Yesterday, GUSA’s Student Activities Fee Endowment reform passed referendum with 1,703 votes in favor and 743 against.

The reform will increase the student activities fee to $62.50 per semester during the 2011-2012 academic year, then to $75 per semester the following academic year. After that, the fee will increase indefinitely at the standard rate of inflation. The whole of the fee will be allocated to student activities, unlike the current policy which allocates half to activities and half to an endowment.

After online polls closed at midnight, Greg Laverriere, chairman of GUSA’s Finance and Appropriations Committee, celebrated the results in a press release.

The results tonight will affect Georgetown students for decades to come,” he said. “Clubs and organizations on this campus are the big winners tonight.”

Colton Malkerson, vice chairman of the FinApp Committee, echoed Laverriere’s statements.

It’s a tall order asking students to increase their own fees to benefit student life, but in this referendum the student body stepped up and did what was right,” he said. “The passage of this referendum puts even more responsibility on GUSA and expectations are high, but I’m confident we will prove ourselves and deliver.”

13 Comments on “SAFE referendum passes by overwhelming margin

  1. For those keeping score at home, that works out to just under a 70-30% split.

    I’m not wild about the one-sided nature of the campaign, the gamesmanship that accompanied crossing the 2000 vote threshold (and I’ll note that yes votes were not sufficient by themselves on that one), or the extremely short-sighted nature of the reform. But I can’t deny that this is a rather clear mandate from the student body. Congratulations GUSA.

    Now how long do we have to wait until some future GUSA senator, looking for something to do, thinks “hey, wouldn’t it be a great idea to create a student activity fee endowment?” Given that GUSA has done a 180 on this issue in less than a decade, I imagine our children may very well be putting money towards an actually sustainable budgeting process.

  2. I don’t think the campaign was one-sided. The editorial boards of the Hoya and the Voice came out against the proposal (although the Voice’s was couched in so much face-saving, qualified language I’m sure they can claim to have supported it later on), along with some op-eds in the Hoya. There was robust debate on the Vox blog (as I’m sure you can attest to). The fact that the anti-reformers didn’t knock door-to-door or table in Leavey is certainly no knock against GUSA. Their main downfall was in thinking that GUSA was so unpopular that it would never get 2000 votes, and therefore encouraged people simply not to vote — having them taken aback when it comfortably passed the margin by some 500 votes.

    But, in any case, I still take exception to the fact that it’s a short-sighted reform. A sustainable endowment would eliminate the need for a fee – that’s correct. But the required fee would only be the equivalent of $150, since it’s pegged to inflation. If the fee were something ridiculous like $1,000/year, then I would see your point — but $150 just isn’t that much, especially for the huge benefits it brings (and the very small percentage of total tuition — about three tenths of one percent of tuition, room and board). Yes, in 30 years from now, if inflation is 3%, the fee might be ~$360, but that would be in comparison to a future tuition of $126,000 — it’s still the same amount. And had the fee been kept at $100, with $50 going into the endowment a year, we’ve already seen how by the time the endowment matured it would return about 30% less money, in real dollars, than we get now — an amount that is already inadequate.

    So, in general, would not having to pay $150/year be nice? Certainly. But is it worth making students pay an extra $150 per year for thirty years? Doubtful.

  3. And it passes with less than a quarter of the student body’s support!


    The bigger story here is why the overwhelming majority of Georgetown students simply don’t care enough to vote. Is it apathy towards GUSA specifically? Hectic workloads? Rich kids who could care less about $150?

  4. @YAY! — one thought I have regarding why students don’t vote is that the vast majority of the senior class, and a handful of the junior (plus those who are abroad) live off-campus and don’t see nearly as much of the door-to-door leaflets and tabling that freshmen and sophomores see. The only reason why I knew anything about this issue is because I keep up with Vox, but I know that most of my off-campus friends don’t, and as a result, they know very little about what’s happening in student life issues/GUSA/etc. I call them out for being apathetic, but the fact is that being physically separated from campus makes you mentally separated too. So, while I still think there should have been far more than just ~ 2,500 votes cast, if you take out one-quarter of the student body (seniors) and maybe half the junior class, you’re getting closer to that number.

  5. Georgetown clubs get too much money as it is. As treasurer of my club i was approved for $1400 next semester. thats ridiculous. we don’t need near that much money.

    I am willing to put money on our supposed better concerts and \additional georgetown day like events\ get even crappier.

  6. @Yay!

    The other factor to consider, in addition to off campus’s comments, is the number of students studying abroad. While the turnout certainly wasn’t all that impressive, when you take out people studying abroad, etc. you get a fairly high (although still non-majority) number.

    Personally, the size of the turnout, combined with the overwhelming margin, makes me think it’s fairly unlikely that the number of people intentionally not voting to prevent it from crossing the threshold would probably not have been enough to push the “no” side over the top, which was my biggest concern. I feel fairly confident saying that this vote really does reflect the will of the majority of most Georgetown students.

  7. @off campus: This also has next to no effect on the senior class. I graduated in May and quite frankly am only keeping up with this issue because I’m still trying to figure out why some people care so much.

  8. @want less money: your club gets too much money? then why did you request so much from SAC? that hurts other clubs by not having money that they actually need. this is more what needs to be fixed with the system

  9. We asked for significantly less than we received under the system that is about to be implemented next semester. The bulk system clearly is not accurate enough despite apt descriptions of events.

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