Endowment commission closes in on consensus
Tuesday night, the Endowment Commission met to decide the fate of the $3.4 million Student Activities Fee Endowment. Coming off a closed executive session on Sunday, the commission weighed in on the main ideas left on the table.
All the commissioners present selected Georgetown Energy’s $170
million thousand proposal to install solar panels on 43 townhouses as a primary recommendation. The money saved from solar energy use would feed into the GUSA fund.
As for Healy Pub, the commission attempted to balance its desire to give the proposal a vote of confidence, while still funding other requests.
“There’s a general feeling among the commissioners that the pub should be pursued,” said Colton Malkerson (COL ’12), chairman of the GUSA Finance and Appropriations Committee. “Its such an interesting idea that can check off all of the different boxes we have for student space.”
The main dilemma surrounding the Healy space was how much money to grant to the proposal. Also, Todd Olson, University vice president for student affairs, opposes seeking outside fundraising for this or any proposal on the grounds that it detracts from the University’s own efforts.
Then, the commission heard a proposal from the library for $400,000 to dismantle 22 shelving units on the second floor and fill the space with modular furniture. The money would also add non-fluorescent lights, clear dry-erase boards, flat screen TVs, projectors, and 150 new seats to the area outside Midnight Mug.
“We really want to expand some of our spaces and resources to students,” University Librarian Artemis Kirk, the main advocate of the proposal, said. “I have often joked that you use the library from 9-5, and I mean 9pm to 5am.”
The space could be operational Fall 2012. Proponents of the project cited the immediate and desired need for space, while others asserted that the university should be paying for capital improvement such as these. The commission did not vote in or table this idea, but it did appear on most commissioners’ primary recommendations.
Meanwhile, commissioners did not include the Georgetown University Social Innovation and Public Service fund in its primary recommendations over concerns that the money would only be available to the select group of students that applied for and received funding. What’s more, SIPS’s managers planned to spend down the endowment to fund projects until outside donations could make the fund sustainable. Malkerson objected that it would not be appropriate to use a failed endowment to fund a similar proposal.
New South Student Center was also absent from most commissioners’ primary recommendations. Considering that the student center is present in the University’s 2010 Campus Plan, many commissioners thought it was unnecessary to give it funding. But the commission retained the student center as a fallback proposal in case the Healy pub couldn’t go forward.
In contrast, funding for murals was flatly rejected because it failed to attain the desired scope of the endowment.