GUSA wraps up the first theme of What’s a Hoya? program

On Friday, GUSA concluded its ‘Women and Men for Others’ program, the first of three themes in its What’s a Hoya? program. The program rewards freshmen with housing points for showing up to educational seminars that are intended to be an extension of New Student Orientation. A total of 596 freshmen registered to attend, representing around 38.18% of the class of 2017, and 490 showed up for one of the four sessions.

Each 90-minute session contained an introduction by GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14), a keynote by Father Kevin O’ Brien S.J. (COL ’88), a faculty panel of deans and professors from all four Georgetown schools, and a panel of student leaders from a broad spectrum of student groups. Speakers generally discussed the importance of academic, career, and life mentorship at Georgetown from professors, deans, and upperclassmen.

According to What’s a Hoya? coordinator Dan Silkman (COL ’15), as of Dec. 8, 303 attendants have completed a GUSA post-survey, which asks attendants about what they have learned about mentorship from What’s a Hoya?. Attendants who fail to complete the survey will not receive the housing boost. The deadline to complete the survey is Dec. 13.

Tisa said that he had read a few post-survey responses and was satisfied with how freshmen perspectives on mentorship have changed. “I think one of the most common questions we got was, ‘Is mentorship a real thing? Do people actually do this on campus?’ I think a lot more people, because of the session, now actually see that [as] something that can help them,” he said.

Although a majority of freshmen did not participate in What’s a Hoya?, Tisa said that he was satisfied by the number of people who registered and attended the program. “Getting even that much of one class in the room for any given thing, that’s still a very, very high number … for a volunteer program,” he said. “You can anticipate … a flake rate of 50 to 60 percent, so [the disparity between people registering is people attending] is not too bad.”

The next What’s a Hoya? theme in January, Cura Personalis, will include discussion about sexual assault. GUSA is working on an opt-out mechanism with administrators that could allow attendants uncomfortable with sexual assault discussions to still participate.

Vox attended the very first session of What’s a Hoya? on Nov. 20 and observed that few attendants asked questions to the faculty and student panels. “We had a lot more questions the subsequent sessions, we also did a better job giving moderators backup questions,” What’s a Hoya? coordinator Megan Murday (SFS ‘ 15) said. “Since [the Nov. 20 session] started later, I think students were just a little less engaged at the point than subsequent [sessions].”

GUSA hopes to make future sessions more interactive. It is currently exploring the possibility of incorporating text-polling, which was used during New Student Orientation this August and allows students to text responses to survey questions from their phones.

In a Nov. 20 interview with Vox, Tisa emphasized that the discussions in What’s a Hoya? should be a continuous dialogue. “It’s meant to be kind of like NSO, but stretched out longer.” he said. “The problem is, [NSO is] such an intense period of time. The point of this program is kind of a booster shot.”

When asked about whether freshman came for the housing points or an extended NSO experience, Tisa said that some students could be curious about the discussions in What’s a Hoya?, but may not be inclined to voluntarily attend the event without incentives. “You can’t just make things mandatory,” he said. “These are crucial topics and this is the most we can do, I think, to encourage conversation.”

Photo: Kenneth Lee/Georgetown Voice

3 Comments on “GUSA wraps up the first theme of What’s a Hoya? program

  1. Who are the freshmen we’re letting in who don’t know that “mentorship is a thing”?

    Also, wait a fucking second. What’s the point of using housing points to encourage students to go to these if they can just opt out of the discussions that might make them feel uncomfortable? Am I missing something? Or did GUSA just declaw their first progressive program in years?

  2. Stills, the opt out for the next session is for survivors of sexual assault. The word “uncomfortable” doesn’t quite capture what we meant. Sexual assault a traumatic experience and group discussions can be triggering – preserving choice is the point of the session, and we’re doing that by offering an alternative, private session designed with the Women’s Center. The topic is an uncomfortable one meant to challenge everyone who goes, but not to the detriment of survivors.

    Damian, check out the website here!

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