Fact Checkers: Singer and Silkman attempt to fight for students’ rights
In this fourth and final installment of the GUSA Fact Checkers series, Vox trains its worldly eye on the last pair of executive candidates, Zach Singer (SFS ’15) and Dan Silkman (COL ’15). Their platform is divided into three buzzword-laden categories–Collaboration, Pluralism, and Vision–selections from which Vox will promptly look into.
At the time of publication, Zach and Dan had not responded to Vox‘s requests for comment.
Policy Point: “Make What’s A Hoya? a collaborative partnership” by enabling “student groups student groups to introduce additional programming options.”
Vox says: Cool. Handing the mic to student groups in What’s A Hoya? would certainly serve to balance out the administrative perspectives already made present in the freshman program. Indeed, this plan strikes Vox as pretty common-sense. Thomas and Jimmy have offered up a similar proposal.
Policy Point: “Make Hoyalink a more efficient tool for student leaders” to facilitate the discussion of “issues of shared concern.”
Vox says: While well-intentioned, this particular proposal’s greatest weakness might be Hoyalink itself: as an organizational tool, the student programming platform falls well short of Facebook and Google Docs in terms of its intuitiveness and reach. Vox applauds Zach and Dan’s ulterior desire to encourage greater communication between student groups, but Hoyalink’s flaws necessitate more concrete ideas for improvement. Of note, however, is their related proposal for a “centralized event calendar,” which, if the barriers to its implementation are able to be overcome, would eliminate the potential for awkward scheduling conflicts.
Policy Point: “Support unrecognized groups” by furnishing them with “the GUSA Fund’s access to benefits.”
Vox says: Zach and Dan promise tantalizing benefits for unrecognized student groups: the right to table at SAC Fair, the right to book space on campus, and rights of use for university vehicles. Considering the Georgetown’s ideological opposition to such groups (which include fraternities, sororities, and, more contentiously, H*yas For Choice), this move would provide much-need assistance to student groups without forcing the University’s hand as to the question of sanctioning them. Georgetown already tacitly permits unrecognized rooms to reserve room space on campus, meaning this move isn’t as radical as it initially seems. Several presidential candidates at Sunday’s debate, however, said that proposals such as this one, despite offering temporary amelioration, do not constitute long-term solutions to this thorny issue.
Policy Point: “Grant ROTC priority pre-registration” so as to allow them “to balance their class schedules with their heavy workload.”
Vox says: The relationship between Georgetown and the ROTC program dates back to the First World War, and is notable for its relative stability and longevity. To be sure, the Hoya Battalion is a point of pride for the administration and the community, but Vox questions the wisdom of throwing the sometimes-disputed program into the GUSA political fray when the voluntary program already has its own University department.
Policy Point: “Eliminate financial barriers to pre-registration” to prevent students from being “shut out of classes… because their families are unable to pay the tuition check on time.”
Vox says: This proposal will surely put GUSA’s advocacy skills to the test, but, notwithstanding concerns about its workability, Vox thinks this is a fantastic idea. With the cost of tuition rising faster than ever, the University’s expectation that each student drop a mean $22,140 at the start of each semester has become increasingly unreasonable. Georgetown’s current policy is inimical to the sacrosanct right to education; Vox understands that Georgetown has financial obligations and timetables of its own, but Zach and Dan’s proposal, if implemented properly, should translate to more breathing room, and not less tuition revenue.
Policy Point: “Increase access for disability and create a Disability Cultural Center” in order to “to further dialogue and support for those who identify as disabled.”
Vox says: Of all the minority groups at Georgetown, the disabled are among the least visible and understood, though the efforts of Lydia Brown, the student activist and force behind #BDGU, have helped bring this group’s struggles into the limelight. Vox commends Zach and Dan’s impulse to build off the foundations laid by Brown and others and bring the momentum into GUSA’s spotlight.
Policy Point: “Fight sexual assault on campus” by “adding a sexual assault component to New Student Orientation”and calling “for peer educators to visit freshman floors for a shortened training and discussion program.”
Vox says: This proposal speaks to an urgent need on college campuses, and is commendable for its proactivity. That Zach and Dan intended on specifically including Georgetown’s Sexual Assault Peer Educators (SAPE) in the freshman floor program will keep the relevant, existing (and likely the most qualified) student groups involved in this portion of GUSA programming. Vox hopes Zach and Dan can overcame the barriers to implementing sexual assault education workshops in NSO; last year, when Dan was an NSO Coordinator, the optional “sexual assault ice cream social” proved disappointing.
Policy Point: “Continue GUSA’s current efforts on Free Speech” by furthering “Nate and Adam’s work on free speech to ensure that all Georgetown students are able to respectfully express their opinions.”
Vox says: The brouhaha stirred by H*yas For Choice’s removal from Healy Circle at the hands of GUPD recently speaks to the relevance of scrutinizing Georgetown’s Free Speech policies, but Vox thinks Zach and Dan need to do better than affirming support for the important steps taken by Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) and Adam Ramadan (SFS ’14) in the abstract.
Policy Point: “Write a student campus plan” so as to give voice to “what students want their campus to become in the long term.”
Vox says: Vox, like GUSA, has gripes with the 2010 Campus Plan. But will student-authored alternative really hold water? Campus planning is an enormous undertaking that requires the services of architects, economists, and lobbyists, to name a few. GUSA certainly cannot harness that kind of manpower, and might be best served by confining itself to advocacy, not administration.
Policy Point: “Stand against a third year housing requirement” so students can continue to “pursue less expensive off-campus housing options.”
Vox says: As with previous proposals, this promise, while borne of noble intentions, is not likely to come to fruition. Vox wants to post up in a Prospect Street townhouse as much as the rest of Georgetown student body, but the University has firm plans to bring 385 additional beds (and bodies) back on campus by fall of 2015, with an ultimate goal of housing 90 percent of students on campus by 2025. These changes are part and parcel of the 2010 Campus Plan, which the University is legally required to adhere to.
Photo courtesy Zach Singer