As a famous breeding ground for future politicians, lawyers, and activists, Georgetown isn’t exactly the most welcoming place for the artistically inclined. You’re far more likely to come across the next Secretary of State than the next Tina Fey.
Creative types shouldn’t feel like they need to slink away to have solitary sob sessions while listening to Fiona Apple, however. Despite the university’s pre-professional bent, there are still a number of activities and organizations for the dreamy thespians, comedians, musicians, dancers, filmmakers, artists, and writers among you. Just don’t be surprised if the phrase “social justice” somehow creeps into a brainstorming session for the next experimental play.
Any discussion about arts on campus has to begin with the theater program, which was recently ranked the second best outside of New York. One of the only universities in the nation with a Theater & Performance Studies major for undergrads, Georgetown has made a name for itself by taking an interdisciplinary approach to teaching drama and taking on an excellent faculty to do so.
Outside of the department, student-run organizations include Mask & Bauble, the country’s oldest running collegiate troupe. Its 161st season was particularly noteworthy, featuring productions beyond the garden variety Shakespeare like the Tony-award-winning Spring Awakening and The History Boys.
Jack Appelbaum (COL ’14) has been elected chair of the Student Activities Commission for the spring and fall semesters of 2012. Appelbaum has served on the commission for the previous two semesters, as well as participated in the Student Activities Endowment Commission and is representing SAC for the new Student Group Union.
Here’s Appelbaum’s statement:
I appreciate the support of SAC student groups and am excited to continue working on their behalf. I think SAC has an enormous opportunity next semester to better cater to the larger concerns of our student groups. Hopefully we can make the event approval process more efficient so SAC can focus on other issues at our weekly meetings. I want to improve communication between commissioners and their student groups so the commissioners can be looked to as advisers and supporters of programming rather than an obstacle to overcome in the approval process. By using the authority SAC and its decisions have, we can make progress on helping student groups create the strongest possible programming on campus.
On Wednesday night, the Student Activities Commission held a roundtable to present preliminary ideas for their new funding guidelines, which they have entitled the “Comprehensive Budget System.” This system, which may debut as early as next semester, takes pieces from the two previous sets of funding guidelines (event-by-event and programming arc) and ties them together in a package that resembles the U.S. tax code.
Under the proposed system (nothing permanent has been written about it yet— these are still ideas), SAC’s fiscal pie would be divided into four slices: The comprehensive budget, an ad-hoc fund, a travel fund, and SAC reserves/ operational expenses.
The comprehensive budget would be determined during a budget summit during the previous semester, and would assign bulk allocations based on group-determined descriptions of events. This process is similar to that of the programming arc, except that the event types would be eliminated in favor of straight attendance-and-cost values. Because there are no standardized event types, each budget would have to be approved by an appraisal of each line item. The allocation would be lump-sum, so groups would have the ability to move funds around from event to event as they saw fit. Here’s an outline of the approval process:
On Wednesday, October 19th, voting will open for the first ever contested election for chair of the Student Activities Commission. The three candidates for 2012 SAC chair are Jack Appelbaum (COL ’14), Dalvin Butler (COL ’13), and Carlos DelaTorre (COL ’13). In their applications each candidate explains their qualifications and visions for the future of SAC.
A common theme among the three commissioners’ statements is a call for transparency and enhanced student input in SAC decisions.
Butler, a two semester commissioner, stands out among the other candidates by being the only commissioner to start his statement with a smattering of poetry.
“’I Have Always Believed In Action’
For far too long, student groups have been told to:
Wait for a better funding system
Wait for student organization friendly funding guidelines
Wait for better communication relations
Wait for all our needs to be met
“We need immediate action! Action that prides itself on the interest of student organizationsin order to create much needed change at SAC.”
– Dalvin Butler, Jr”
Butler’s priorities include the comprehensive budget system, an Ad-Hoc policy, increased transparency, and a method for addressing the needs of both small and large student groups. In particular, Butler emphasizes change.
When asked how he differs from his opponents, Butler said, “Their policy focuses on the status quo and mine is more transformative and urges for change.” Dalvin’s full application can be viewed here [PDF].
During his lecture on Friday afternoon, filmmaker and author Michael Moore demonstrated an acute sense of his audience and location. Not only did he acknowledge that Georgetown has been or will be host to such conservative figureheads as Karl Rove and Ann Coulter, but he drew a political parallel that would make Hoyas from any corner of the political spectrum crack a smile. When discussing the voting patterns of young people, he explained why so few 18- to 25-year-olds bothered to vote in the 2010 midterm elections.
“[Obama]’s been playing it like Georgetown football,” he said. The crowd erupted with laughter, whoops, and applause.
That kind of situational awareness was a big part of what made Moore’s presentation, entitled “Here Comes Trouble: An Evening with Michael Moore,” so engaging. During the lecture, which was sponsored with its share of public chagrin by the Georgetown Lecture Fund, Georgetown Program Board, and the Student Activities Commission, Moore was equal parts cynically joking and unsettling serious as he discussed public policy, Christian values, and America’s financial and social woes. He structured the entire evening with such a smooth narrative arc and call to action for young people to repair the nation that it reminded the crowd why he has an Oscar lying around somewhere in his house.
Since he is, of course, the maker of such politically-minded, left-bent films as Farenheit 9/11 and Sicko, Moore spent a good deal of the speech addressing the what he believed to be the flaws and hypocrisies inherent in America’s version of “21st Century capitalism.” He launched into this by bringing up the recent Occupy Wall Street campaign, and expanded into the mortgage crisis, job crisis, and other financial woes by summing up the problem with a single, unifying source.
SAC advisor and Deputy Director of Student Programs Bill McCoy will be leaving Georgetown in August, according to an announcement from the University’s Center for Student Programs.
In a phone call, McCoy confirmed to Vox that he would be leaving Georgetown for a position at Bucknell university. His departure was announced along with several other changes to CSP staff, including the hiring of Lauren Gagliardi as the center’s new Programs Coordinator.
McCoy’s departure concludes a somewhat tumultuous year for the Student Activities Commission, with a number of student organizations under the SAC umbrella protesting the manner in which events must be approved by the organization. Under the current guidelines, all events hosted by SAC groups – even those which require no funding from the University – must be submitted in a semester-long programming arc and individually approved.
After dozens ofstudent groups signed two open letters to the Commission protesting the guidelines and the clubs’ lack of input in the approval process, SAC adopted several changes to its constitution creating an appeals process for rejected programming arcs and a mechanism to waive funding guidelines on an individual basis. The Commission also held several town hall meetings with club leaders, who used the opportunity to voice frustrations over perceived inequities in the funding process.
Just like last year, Vox is helping you get on top of “news you can use” with an excessively comprehensive review of last year’s important news stories. You’ve already heard of foolish things former freshman have done. Now, we cover the other on-campus issues that made headlines; Healy Pub, Uribe, and unions come after the jump.
Cash rules everything around me
The Georgetown University Student Association is your undergraduate student government.
Between a president, vice president, cabinet, and 25-member Senate (elected at-large and from dorms), the student association funds initiatives such as Summer Fellows, subsidized LSAT courses, free newspapers, and weekend GUTS busses.
Last night, the Student Activities Commission approved changes to its funding guidelines that will allow for groups to petition the commission for amendments to its programming arc throughout the semester.
Under the old rules, clubs were bound by the outlines of events that they submitted to SAC before the beginning of each semester. Even events that required no club funds were disallowed if they had not been previously outlined in the programming arc. This rule prompted widespread criticism, including two openletters from SAC groups.
The new funding guidelines (included below) allow groups to submit programming arc modifications during the third meeting of each month. Groups will then be required to outline and justify their programming for the remainder of the semester.
This morning, GUSA’s Finance and Appropriations Committee released its student activities budget for the 2012 fiscal year. Clubs requested more than $1.6 million in funding and received $800,000, as per the plan established in last semester’s Student Activities Fee Endowment reform.
“Although we had more money to give out this year, we were faced with much larger funding requests than last year,” the report reads. “Student organizations realized that SAFE Reform meant more money was available, and they responded by requesting more money to meet the needs of their groups.”
The highlights of the budget include $14,000 for the oft-underfunded College Readership Program, which was suspended last semester, as well as $150,000 for the Center for Social Justice’s Advisory Board for Student Organizations. According to the report, Fin App allocated the money to restore CSJ ABSO’s reserves, expand ABSO groups, sponsor Alternative Spring Break trips, and purchase vans. $12,500 was allocated to CollegiateLink Software, a student organization management tool.
Despite not receiving its total request of $125,500, the Student Activities Commission saw its funding increase by the largest magnitude from the previous fiscal year — it received $90,000, more than triple the amount it received in 2011. (Earlier this week, SAC voted use its reserve money to cover a potential budget shortfall in the event that GUSA reduced its funding.) The report explained that the money will cover approximately 85 percent of funding requests — if the numbers include outside funding sources.
“Because of the very large requests from advisory boards this year, unfortunately we were not able to give anyone their full request. We are confident, however, that this drastic increase in SAC’s allocation will allow it to fund clubs at a much higher rate than past years,” the report reads.
The Advisory Board for Club Sports received $250,000, the largest share allocated from the budget. The money will be used to subsidize club sports teams and fees.
Groups that requested funding now have a week to appeal their amount of allocated fund. Then, Fin App will vote on the budget. If it passes out of the committee, the GUSA Senate will vote on the budget no sooner than a week later.
[Editor's Note: Due to an error in the FinApp report, an earlier version of this post reported that SAC requested $225,500, not $125,500 — the actual amount requested.]