Endowment Commission hears proposal for Healy Pub, others

On Tuesday evening, the Endowment Commission met for nearly three hours to consider the largest of the proposals for spending down the $3.4 million Student Activities Fee Endowment. The ideas included placing solar panels on University-owned townhouses, creating an innovation fund for student social enterprise, and reviving the pub in Healy basement.

Georgetown Energy requested $163,399 to place solar panels on 43 university-owned townhouses. The students living in townhouses would continue to pay the standard kilowatt-hour rate as if they were still fully dependent on the grid, but the University would then reimburse the student government for the full savings

After paying SolarCity for the lease of its panels, net savings over the life of the twenty-year lease is $295,457. The total estimated cash transfer to GUSA would be $458,856.

The next request was from the Georgetown University Social Innovation and Public Service (SIPS) Fund. Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) and Nick Troiano (COL ’11) asked for $1.5 million to endow a fund that would give grants to students to start a social enterprise, conduct a community service trip, or pursue a career in public service.

“It’s students and their ideas that we can use to go out there and do good things and make a positive impact,” Troiano said.

The pair modeled the fund after the Obama Administration’s Social Innovation Fund.

SIPS is meant to supplement existing social innovation programs and projects such as Hoya Challenge, Compass Fellows, and Alternative Spring Break. Gustafson and Troiano hope to raise an additional half-million dollars and invest the money as shares of the endowment. The idea would be to spend down 5 to 6 percent of the fund every year while it grows over time.

The last presentation of the evening was for the most well known, and most expensive proposal: the revival of Healy Pub.

The spokesperson for the project, Chris Pigott (COL ’12), began by clarifying what a reincarnated Healy Pub would look like. “I like to call it the Healy Pub misnomer because we don’t want this just to be a place where you can get a beer,” he said.

Instead, the revived Healy Pub would reclaim the Healy basement as a student space, displacing the financial aid, student employment, campus ministry, and employee benefits offices. Healy Pub would be a place for students to meet, socialize, and study.

The Healy Pub proposal requests all $3.4 million and Pigott fully expects the cost of turning the offices into a working restaurant, bar, and study space to overrun that allocation. However, Pigott contends that already-strong alumni support will put the plan over the edge.

He further emphasized that while donor support might be able to cover the costs in light of a partial allocation from the commission, the full amount was needed to buy a vote of confidence from the University.

“If we can finance this at 100 percent […] it would go a long way in reaching out to the administration and showing that this is something that is important to students,” he said.

As for the plan’s profitability, Pigott pointed out that the pub made $100,000 in its last year, despite University pressure to close and the institution of mandatory dry nights.

The group has met with Todd Olson, vice president for student affairs, but they have not received a definitive answer as to whether the University would be willing to allow a bar in Healy or foot the bill for moving its administrative offices.

The commission has until April 24th to finalize their plans. GUSA can alter the proposal in any way before presenting the plan to the students in the form of a referendum. At noon on Saturday, students will have their chance to comment on the proposals at a town hall meeting the Leavey Program Room.

12 Comments on “Endowment Commission hears proposal for Healy Pub, others

  1. “Georgetown Energy requested $163,399 to place solar panels on 43 university-owned townhouses. The students living in townhouses would continue to pay the standard kilowatt-hour rate as if they were still fully dependent on the grid, but the University would then reimburse the student government for the full savings

    After paying SolarCity for the lease of its panels, net savings over the life of the twenty-year lease is $295,457. The total estimated cash transfer to GUSA would be $458,856.”

    I’m confused. We’d pay to install solar panels, but instead of resulting in lower discounts for the students living in the townhouses, Georgetown would instead just pay GUSA? It sounds like zero net savings for either the students or Georgetown, but an extra $22,942.80 for GUSA per year.

    This sounds like a net cost for Georgetown. My understanding is that if you live in a townhouse, you have to pay for utilities — or is that not true? If it is true, GU is now having to pick up a $459k tab over 20 years.

  2. @Student: To be honest, I was actually quite confused by this proposal as well. It would make some sense if the University was in some sort of licensing agreement with Pepco where students paid the University, who in turn pays Pepco. Even then, townhouse students would be subsidizing the solar panels under this plan. Otherwise, you’re exactly right.

  3. @ Student

    Your question is premised on GUSA actually giving a damn about this university or its students. All they care about is pushing their pet projects to build their resumes and dumping our money into them.

  4. To my understanding, the way the Georgetown energy proposal works is as follows: with the endowment fund money, Georgetown would install the solar panels on 43 townhouses. Instead of paying PEPCO for energy for those 43 townhouses, Georgetown would pay Solar City a lower figure per townhouse. So, Georgetown would be saving money on townhouse energy.

    With that said, over the life span of the panels, PEPCOs costs are expected to rise, while solar energy is going to stay the same rate (as the energy costs nothing for the company-only the machinery costs money). Georgetown will be saving more on a year-to-year basis.

    Those savings will then be transferred from Georgetown to the GUSA Fund. Basically, utilities would have to write a check of the savings amount. The savings amount will be easy to track because Solar City tracks energy usage. If the University looks at the PEPCO rate and the Solar City energy usage, it can calculate the difference.

    The students who live in the townhouses will pay their energy usage based on the PEPCO rates. as the Commission has the requirement to benefit all students, and not just a few; in turn, they want to make the savings go into the GUSA Fund to be open to the entirety of the student body and not just the students who live in the townhouses.

  5. Go Nick Troiano! What a great use for student funds.

  6. So for Georgetown Energy’s proposal:

    1. Pay $163, 399 to install solar on townhouses
    2. The townhouses would generate 20% of electricity from solar (free), and generate 80% of electricity from PEPCO (not free). So, we save 20% on electricity bills.
    3. Students in townhouses continue to pay same bill to PEPCO, Georgetown University pays same bill to PEPCO. All of these savings are given back to GUSA, to the tune of $458, 856 over 20 years.

    This way, all students get to benefit. I heard they did a really good job answering questioning during their presentation.

  7. …yeah, wow. Doubt that’ll be the one chosen…

  8. The Solar Panel thing is actually a money maker. Dis-kudos to the Voice for not researching this proposal further if they didn’t understand it.

    Leasing the solar panels to the top of the townhouses costs money. However, over the course of the lease the University will be saving in utility bills for the townhouses while the students living in them continue paying whatever normal housing costs the university imposes. The savings from the solar panels that GUSA invests in would then be transferred to GUSA.

    That is to say, the total amount of money they would be paying MINUS the money they have to pay to Pepco would = the money saved through use of the solar panels. Since GUSA paid for their installation etc it rolls back into GUSA, which can then allocate more money to student group etc.

    One of the questions raised was: why not pay the students living in the townhouse directly? Their answer was simple and I think correct. If Endowment money is spent on the panels you’re giving a very concentrated group of students direct benefit from money that belongs to the student body as a whole. Not a fair idea. If it goes to the allocation process all students can benefit. Maybe it can finance a DECENT SPRING CONCERT

  9. GUSA is a thankless, arduous, and thoroughly scrutinized INSTITUTION and the senators in it donate their time for zero compensation. If you don’t like how its being run, run for office yourself. You won’t, though, because its easier to sit back and criticize them on an anonymous blog than actually work for the betterment of anything.

  10. Looks like there are only 4 GUSA people on the Commission, anyways.

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