Prefrosh Preview: On-campus news you can use

Just like last year, Vox is helping you get on top of “news you can use” with an excessively comprehensive review of last year’s important news stories. You’ve already heard of foolish things former freshman have done. Now, we cover the other on-campus issues that made headlines; Healy Pub, Uribe, and unions come after the jump.

Cash rules everything around me

The Georgetown University Student Association is your undergraduate student government.

Between a president, vice president, cabinet, and 25-member Senate (elected at-large and from dorms), the student association funds initiatives such as Summer Fellows, subsidized LSAT courses, free newspapers, and weekend GUTS busses.

Despite cleaning up its act in recent years, GUSA is also a source of endless entertainment: botched electionsinterpersonal bickeringtoothless resolutions, and campaign silliness.

Most importantly, though, GUSA allocates the student activities fee that students pay every semester.

Under the old funding structure, six advisory boards—Georgetown Program Board, Center for Social Justice Advisory Board, Club Sports Board, Performing Arts Advisory Council, Media Board, and the Student Activities Commission—met with members of GUSA to reach a consensus about how to split up the money.

Students have long been frustrated with the advisory boards (mainly SAC) over their bureaucratic processes and lack of accountable. GUSA responded by creating the GUSA Fund as a way for groups to circumvent their oppressive advisory boards.

The advisory boards became the underlings of GUSA after a 2010 reform. GUSA also pressed for advisory board reforms such as lump sum funding (an ultimately unpopular move for which key groups subsequently blamed SAC).

Appreciation to Kara Brandeisky and the WuTang clan for help with this section.

Keeping the money SAFE

On the heels of this success, GUSA set out to reform the student activities fee endowment.

Traditionally, students paid a $50 student activities fee every semester, half of which went into a student activities fee endowment to help future students; the other half, into club funding for the year. GUSA hoped was the endowment would reach about $10 million by 2011 and they could then fund student activities with the interest alone.

The University was supposed to contribute $3 million to the effort, a promise they failed to keep. This oversight in conjunction with a poor economy meant that the endowment only had $1.9 $3.4 million when GUSA senators rediscovered SAFE in fall 2009.

Last fall, GUSA proposed a referendum to stop payments to the endowment and spend down the $1.9 $3.4 million million. In keeping with its tradition of dubiously combining referendum questions (like this[PDF]), GUSA’s funding reallocation proposal was tied to a mandatory student activities fee increase. Despite our editorial board’s misgivings, the measure passed with considerable support.

In February, GUSA announced the commission that would dole out the $1.9 $3.4 million released from the old SAFE fund.

The broad-based commission of representatives from the advisory boards, CMEA, the Corp, GUASFCU, and other community members held town halls and hearings for proposals as diverse as solar panels and space in the library.

The most storied proposal was the revival of Healy Pub. Last fall, Vox readers deemed its closing the “Worst idea Georgetown ever had.” The commission ultimately endorsed this proposal as well as the idea to place solar panels on all the University-owned townhouses.

Over the summer, proponents of these proposals as well as other secondary recommendations (e.g. help fund New South Student Center) have been instructed to meet with administrators and study the feasibility of their ideas.

Adiós Uribe… y Aznar también

In the spring of 2010, President John DeGioia invited former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe to guest lecture at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service during the 2010-2011 school year.

Uribe, whose quit the Colombian presidency after failing to amend the constitution to allow him to run for a third term, elicited a rash of controversy over of his eight-year effort to take out drug-trafficking left-wing guerillas such as FARC and ELN. Human rights activists accused him of trampling on opposition and other misdeeds.

Students, professors, and guest speakers harshly criticized Uribe’s appointment. Uribe had a chance to tell his side of the story in a Voice interview, but otherwise kept a low profile for the rest of the year. The former president departed at the end of the school year.

Among the few organizations that Uribe chose to associate with while at Georgetown was the Latin American Board, chaired by former Spanish President José María Aznar. The board, which answers only to the University president, offers a leadership program that supports similar law-and-order and neoliberal policies promoted by Uribe.

Counterpoint magazine published a profile of the board in March [Editor’s Note: Cole Stangler is also a Voice staff writer]. Aznar left the University at the end of the school year after a four-year tenure.

Solidarity forever, the union marches on

After a year of secret negotiations, employees at Georgetown’s Aramark-run Leo O’Donnovan dining hall announced their intent to unionize on February 17. Employees cited arbitrary reductions of hours, racial segregation, and unaffordable health insurance as reasons for forming their own UNITE HERE! local.

A committee of about 20 workers as well as student supports from Georgetown Solidarity Committee, NAACP, and GU College Democrats helped union organizers in their efforts. Federal officials certified the union in March.

When I find myself in times of trouble…

Civil unrest in Egypt and natural disaster in Japan prompted the Office of International Programs to recall students on study-abroad trips in those respective countries.

3 Comments on “Prefrosh Preview: On-campus news you can use

  1. I don’t think we’re going to have weekend GUTS buses anymore, since GUSA ran out of money to pay for it.

  2. Just a note to everyone, the endowment was reported as having $1.9 million in 2009. Now it is said to have $3.4 million. We’ve never received an explanation as to cause of this discrepancy.

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