At last night’s meeting, the Georgetown University Student Association Senate and Executive met to vote on the bill that describes the proposed changes to the Student Code of Conduct evidentiary standard. The bill passed unanimously, with all 12 members voting in its favor.
In the Senate’s last meeting before elections on September 27, the main topic of discussion was the recommendation for the change in the Student Code of Conduct that has been in the works since the spring, officially passed on April 26. Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson made clear that he would postpone his decision until the end of September, or when the audit of the Office of Student Affairs is complete. The office is being reviewed by one university that has implemented the “clear and convincing” evidentiary standard, and one that has not.
GUSA expected this resolution to be implemented over five months ago and is, therefore, taking further action. Senate Transition Chair Nate Tisa (SFS’14) said in his opening statement the “view, early on, as members of the executive as well as members of the committee, is that this is not acceptable to us.” Steps have been taken to remedy the situation and educate the student body on the benefits of this new standard.
When the floor opened for debate, many senators spoke in favor of the bill, stressing both the difficulty and the importance of its implementation. GUSA Senator Samuel Greco (SFS’15) mentioned the “common effort” this referendum will require. “It’s going to take all of us going through dorms, knocking on doors and getting the word out. But I think that its essential for the betterment of the student body and for the end of this real disservice that the ‘more likely than not’ standard is,” he said.
GUSA Senator Jay Factor (COL’14), also strongly in favor of the bill, expressed a critical concern about the non-binding nature of this referendum. “Students might think that this referendum is actually going to change it,” he said. But if this endeavor is not successful, “this could make students cynical towards GUSA.”
Others believed that the referendum will only add to the visible pressure GUSA is putting to pass the resolution. “If this fails to achieve our goal, there will be a lot of disappoint. We need to let them know we have done literally everything we can: we’ve gone to countless meetings, done open letters and a referendum. This is the utmost we can do and we’re going to make this clear,” Tisa said.
Even if the referendum meets the 2,000 vote threshold with a majority of votes in the affirmative, there is still the possibility Dr. Olson will not approve. He responded to the open letter sent and signed by various student leaders on September 5 with a mere “Thank you for sharing.” But GUSA is intent on seeing that this measure is a success.
GUSA President Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) added that the referendum will remind Olson that GUSA is still paying attention. “Leaders who had known about this process for a while wanted to reaffirm to him that we know he hasn’t made a decision yet and he needs to without further delay.”
Gustafson and GUSA Vice President Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13) are collecting testimonials from students about their experience with the Office of Student Affairs and the current Code of Conduct. Testimonials will be used to further rally support from the student body.
The vote on the referendum, which will occur at the same time as the GUSA Senate election, is meant to demonstrate to the Office of Student Affairs and Dr. Olson that there is immense student support behind this measure. After the meeting came to a close, Tisa said the changes to the Code of Conduct would make it more enjoyable to live under “instead of being this malevolent presence. It becomes what it’s supposed to be: what we can all live by and be protected by.”
A question and answer session with Dr. Olson and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Jeanne Lord will be held on the 5th floor of Leavey on Tuesday.
New GUSA Blingee brought to you by Voxy Gurl. Xoxo.