On Sunday at 4:00 p.m., the Senate of the Georgetown University Student Association assembled for its weekly meeting. During the executive briefing, GUSA President Mike Meaney (SFS’12) updated that the Student Bill of Rights is being formally codified as part of a larger push to reform the Student Code of Conduct. The Student Bill of Rights is among several provisional recommendations, and will better articulate already-existing student rights that are stated ambiguously in the current Code of Conduct. The Executives are in the process of drafting the language of the Code of Conduct reform, and are trying to get as much input as possible in the coming weeks.
Additionally, Meaney remarked on the SafeRides Initiative that was launched this past weekend. GUSA Vice President Greg Laverriere (COL’12) and Secretary of Information and Technology Michael Crouch (MSB’13) drove the SafeRides van on Friday evening.
The Executive Department Establishment Act and the Senate District Reconciliation Act, both of which the Senate passed last Sunday, are still being considered. With a couple of days remaining before the bills are automatically enacted, the Executive board is deliberating over the constitutionality of certain aspects. When questioned about a veto, Meaney answered, “all of them are certainly still on the table.”
Following the introductory briefings, Vice Chair of the Endowment Commission Colton Malkerson (COL’13) conducted supplementary briefing on the Student Activities Fee and Endowment Reform.
To begin, Malkerson addressed the major problems that SAFE Reform was meant to deal with, including inefficient funding structure and lack of available money for student life. SAFE Reform tackled these issues by enacting Funding Board reform and increasing the Student Activities Fee. Currently, the discussion rests on endowment allocation.
To attend to the major flaws of the Funding Board, which previously allocated funding, the Senate amended the by-laws to establish FinApp—the committee is responsible for the funding process, and the Senate will deliberate over the committee’s final budget. Malkerson noted that under the new system, elected representatives hold total authority, thereby largely removing the issue of conflicting interests of diverse advisory board lacking in expertise. Additionally, the budget writing process will become more efficient with weekly FinApp meetings.
While admitting that there was a fair share of controversy in changing the by-laws, reforming the Funding Board, and taking votes away from other advisory boards, Malkerson proudly stated that the process has been successful, and that the current advisory boards feel confident that “GUSA has been able to be a neutral, impartial, and understanding decider.”
With regard to the Student Activities Fee Endowment, which currently sits at 3.5 million dollars, the Endowment Commission made several recommendations, some of which are currently being pursued by FinApp. Last year, four working groups were established to pursue the projects put forth by the commission. Of the four, placing solar panels on University-owned townhouses, a proposal requested by Georgetown Energy, is ready for a referendum, while the Healy Pub proposal has encountered strong resistance from University administrators. As the prospect of reaching a consensus on Healy Pub is highly unlikely, the committee is moving towards instead directing its funds to two alternative proposals, such as the New South Student Center and the Social Innovation and Public Service Fund.
FinApp will collaborate with Georgetown Energy, the New South Student Center and the SIPS Fund in developing their proposals and preparing them for referendum. Down the road, the referendum must be passed by the Senate, and ultimately the student body.
Next, members from Visions for Sustainable Georgetown presented that there will be a three-hour workshop, hosted by a community of environmentally-alert students from GUSA, the Meditation House, and Georgetown Energy, tonight at 6:00 p.m. in McShain Lounge. The ultimate goal of the event is to urge the University to increase its commitment to creating a sustainable future.
Following a series of briefings, the Senate embarked on legislative business for the day. The Act to Allocate Discretionary Funds for Senate Committees was brought to the floor. Under the Act, the Student Life Committee can procure $250 from the General Fund for “discretionary purposes.” A majority approval of the Student Life Committee must be reached in order to use the discretionary funds, and each Senate Committee cannot spend beyond $250. The Act was passed with majority vote.
The Senate also voted on the GUSA Fund weekly funding package. Two major items in the package this week were the Visions for a Sustainable Georgetown workshop, an event anchored by GUSA Sustainability, EcoAction, and Center for the Environment, and a sponsorship of a student group traveling to Kenya to film a documentary. The package was passed unanimously.
Edit 12:38: spelling. Goddamn. Is that all of them?