Student Life Report town hall pushes for student group autonomy
In a town hall-style meeting on Thursday night, the students behind the forthcoming Student Life Report 2012 fielded questions and led discussions about their findings and recommendations.
As previously reported, the authors of the report found a strong correlation between involvement in on-campus activities and overall student happiness. The report recommends giving student groups greater autonomy, a step that would maximize student efficacy and by extension student satisfaction with their Georgetown experience.
Chair of the Student Life Committee Shuo Yan Tan (SFS ‘12) emphasized that ultimately the achievability of the committee’s suggestions rests on the bodies they concern. The administration needs to step back, Tan said, and provide the right level of protection, support, and advice, while simultaneously trusting students to control their own activities.
Authors of the report visited nine other campuses across the country in an effort to compare Georgetown’s administration of activities with the systems of peer institutions. GUSA vice presidential candidate Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13) echoed Tan’s sentiment, noting that in her research comparing Georgetown with Cornell University, she found that the students in Ithaca were less constrained by bureaucracy, but ultimately less self-motivated as well.
“Georgetown students take so much initiative,” Kohnert-Yount said. “But we’re held back by a lot of hoop-jumping.”
Vice-presidential hopeful Sheila Walsh (COL ’14) addressed the proposed merger of the Georgetown Program Board and What’s After Dark. While each group’s funding is drawn from a different source, Walsh cited the groups’ similar missions in her defense of the report’s recommendation.
Another GUSA hopeful, presidential candidate Tyler Sax (COL ‘13), asked whether the data the Student Activities Commission has collected based on student club requests for money currently constitutes adequately conclusive evidence for commissioners to improve upon it for the coming semester.
SAC Commissioner Jack Appelbaum (COL ’14) replied that while requests for SAC funding have yielded a significant amount of data, acquiring more would certainly prove helpful. He cited SAC’s policy of supporting only a percentage of a club’s activities as an aspect of funding reform that may be modified further, since certain clubs feel its effects more keenly than others.
Tan addressed the lack of a diversity component in the report, saying that while the issue was an important one, the report was ultimately “about the upsides, not the constraints.” Furthermore, Tan continued, the report does not offer a complete list of suggestions.
“We’d be happy if students came up with 60 more recommendations in the next few years,” Tan said.
According to the report’s Editor-in-Chief Matt Hoyt (COL ‘12), the report is scheduled for release within a week.