GUSA Roundup: Baby, it’s hot in here

At yesterday’s meeting, the Georgetown University Student Association senate passed six bills, some of which were more important than others and some of which took longer to talk about.

Big Budget, Big Budget

First the outgoing chair of the Finance and Appropriations committee, Colton Malkerson (COL ’13), talked about the finalized budget for next year. This round of allocations reflects the last major increase from SAFE reform, so the distribution of money will probably be a template for future years, according to Malkerson.

For the six advisory boards, Finapp allocated 24 percent of the $960,000 pie to Club Sports, 19 to CSJ ABSO, 16 to SAC, 10 to GPB, six to Media Board, and five to PAAC. They only allocated two percent to GUSA.

Deviating from previous years, Finapp allocated money directly to the Lecture Fund instead of indirectly through SAC. Lecture Fund still has Access to Benefits through SAC, but creating a separate allocation frees up SAC’s funds for other organizations.

Although the increase in funding for most boards was commensurate with the overall funding increase, Club Sports’s allocation decreased by $20,000 compared to last year. According to Finapp member Bridget Power (COL ’12), Club Sports received a mammoth increase at last year’s budget summit, going from $115,000 in 2011 to $250,000 in 2012. This year, Finapp scaled down that increase to make room for other projects.

In other Finapp news, the Senate also allocated another $3500 to the GUSA fund to allow them to finish out the year. According to Malkerson, the current system of funding for the GUSA fund, in which the GUSA fund has to request money from GUSA whenever it needs it, makes it difficult for them to effectively budget.

At that, Speaker Adam Talbot (COL ’12) took a moment to reflect on the changing priorities of the GUSA fund. According to Talbot, the GUSA fund was created two years ago to leverage reform from funding boards, but it has turned into a quasi-funding board itself. Before the senate passed the increase, both Talbot and Malkerson advised an overhaul of how money is given to the GUSA fund so they can budget more easily.

Screw civility

One of the more interesting debates of the evening came from the “Resolution Concerning Civility and Public Discourse” that commended Sandra Fluke and President DeGioia for their civility over the past month while admonishing certain others for their lack of civility, to put it diplomatically. The Student Life Committee (where the bill came from) opted to not follow in the footsteps of the Law Center, which passed a resolution calling for birth control, and instead stuck to the saying that it is good to be civil.

According to the bill’s sponsor and former Student Life Committee Chair Laura Kresse (SFS ’12), “[This bill is] in response to certain members of our georgetown community making certain comments on the interwebs.” However, she declined to name names.

Although no one had a problem with civility, there was some opposition from Cannon “Loose Cannon” Warren (SFS ’14) who took issue with DeGioia’s mandate that “we must respect one another” because it doesn’t fall in line with respecting others’ right to have differing opinions. If you’re having a hard time following this argument, Talbot outlined the problem on the chalkboard. Additionally, Ziad Jawadi (COL ’15) wanted to add a clause to the bill that would say explicitly that the senate is not taking a side on birth control at the moment.

After some debate about civility and about what the bill is actually saying, the bill passed, but Warren voted against it.

“No, I will not be forced into civility,” he said.

Electoral dysfunction

Vice Speaker Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) introduced a bill (that was eventually tabled) to add minor reforms to the election process and put some of the rules of the Election Commission into the senate bylaws. One such reform is adding in alternative punishments for rule violations because disqualification is the only punishment for violation as it stands. Under the proposed legislation, the EC could give candidates warning, keep a public digest of all complaints, or move a candidate to the bottom of the IRV list if they violate election laws.

One of the contentious parts of the bill is a provision for harsher punishment for candidates who campaign before the start of the election season—especially any attempts to recruit club leaders who aren’t close friends. Another sticking point was the provision for reporting web development by non-Georgetown undergrads at market price.

After 25 minutes of back-and-forth, trying to define what constitutes “strong personal connection” and wondering if enforcement was too subjective, and if putting candidates at the bottom of the ballot was really punishment, and doubting whether the election commission would be trustworthy four or five years down the line, and considering that the senate was over legislating, and inquiring as to the proper spelling of “discrete,” a frustrated Laura Kresse exclaimed, “We have spent per 25 minutes talking about our own bylaws but only 15 minutes talking about civility of public discourse!” She continued to say, no wonder no one takes this organization seriously.

Tisa shot back, “This is how we elect the people. That’s why we spend time on this.”

Eventually the bill was tabled because they wanted to hear more from the election commissioners themselves, and it’s not like the bill is time-sensitive.

The real purpose of legislation

The senate also passed a bill introduced by Matt Morris (SFS ’14) from LXR that applauded the university for putting in a temporary air conditioner.

“The air conditioner is off. It’s hot. It sucks,” he said [Editors note: truth]. Morris praised the university for being responsive, but he said, “It shouldn’t take an outcry and a petition to make them take some remedial measures.”

Another senator said that, if the University doesn’t follow through, the senate should definitely do something.

Although the bill doesn’t have any teeth for what GUSA would do if the university fails at making LXR and Nevils marginally livable again, Morris says that senators can direct their constituents to the bill if they have concerns.

To which Talbot added, “Maybe we can use it as a fan.” Which is our Talbotism of the week. Good day.

Edit: fixed the allocation amounts and years, and Cannon’s school.

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