Yesterday’s lively and long meeting of the Georgetown University Student Association Senate saw the passage of one bill for financial aid for GUSA elections and the tabling of another that said something about ebooks.
If at first you don’t succeed, try again next week
Ziad Jawadi (COL ’15) and Daniel “DJ LaMagnz” LaMagna (COL ’13) introduced a bill that would urge the university to discuss using electronic textbooks at Georgetown (fun fact: the bill’s title is 96 words long). The impetus for the bill came from Jawadi’s classroom experience: he saved almost $200 on a textbook by renting a digital version from Amazon, but his professor would not allow him to bring his iPad to class. So Jawadi and LaMagna wanted the senate to ask the university to look at its policies about electronic textbooks. At least, that’s how the senators explained it; the bill, on the other hand, said this:
[GUSA] Urges the Georgetown University Administration to begin formally planning how the University will utilize technological innovations to make course materials more cost-efficient, accessible and engaging for students and faculty by the beginning of the 2012-2013 academic year.
As a whole, the senate was confused by what the bill would actually do. As Vice Speaker Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) put it, “I don’t know what it does… I don’t understand what is being proposed here, neither will the university, nor the media, nor the students.”
Other senators expressed their confusion too. For instance Robert Shepard (COL ’15) said, “I don’t really see the point in this,” and Zach Singer (SFS ’15) asked, “Who is James O’Donnell?” Even the parliamentarian thought they should reword the bill.
So they did. Jawadi and LaMagna took the toothless bill off the table but promised to give it some dental work and come back next week.
Funding more diverse GUSA races
The senate also passed a resolution to establish a financial aid fund for qualifying students running for GUSA senate (“qualifying” as determined by the Office of Student Financial Services). The idea for the bill came from last fall’s redistricting, during which GUSA increased the size of the districts along with the caps on campaign finance. During that debate, Singer mentioned that GUSA should fund candidates who otherwise could not afford to run, and so two months later, the idea was hashed out with all the appropriate bureaucracies on campus and ended up on the floor of the GUSA senate.
According to the bill’s cosponsor Ben Weiss (COL ’15), “Essentially the purpose of this bill is to make the availability of running for this senate equal among all students at Georgetown.” He admitted that, yes, a student doesn’t have to spend money on a campaign to win, but he wants all students to have that option. Here’s some highlights of the bill:
- If a student applies for money, the student’s name will be sent to the Office of Student Financial Services, who will determine who qualifies for aid and then will give the election commission back a list of names, ranked in order of need (because the yearly allocation is capped at $1000).
- The campaign expenses would be under all the rules that apply to other candidates.
- A student receiving aid must get at least 10% of the vote or else return the money.
Obviously, the last part was the most contentious. The purpose of the 10% clause was make sure only serious candidates applied for money, and Weiss and Singer cited that only nine of 84 candidates in the past few years failed to amass 10% of the vote in their district.
Matt Morris (SFS ’14) took two issues with this point. First, he said, since GUSA redistricted to increase competition, isn’t the 9/84 figure not applicable? Second, he said, ”The amount of votes you get is not a proxy for how serious you are.”
After some debate, the bill passed as a one -year pilot program with the 10% clause included.
And for the GUSAphiles out there, this week’s Talbot-ism is, “Let the senators restrain their facial expressions.”