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.