As GUSA elections approach, candidates for both the executive and senate will engage in advertising and discussions concerning a number of campus issues. This editorial board has written extensively about what we believe are the most prominent issues facing campus. In the spirit of promoting campus dialogue, we call on GUSA candidates to make the following issues integral parts of their platforms. None of what we list here are specific policy suggestions. Rather, these are the issues we find most important for Georgetown students today, and we urge GUSA candidates to place them at the forefront of their campaigns and debates.
A recent email from Provost Robert Groves announced that tuition will increase 3.5 percent in the 2018-19 academic year. While this is short of the university’s initially announced four percent, this editorial board is concerned with these regular tuition hikes. We’ve written in the past about how Georgetown’s prohibitively high tuition can hurt its ability to attract low-income students. 2018 will be the seventh straight year of tuition increases. This trend is not sustainable, at Georgetown or at other higher education institutions across the country. GUSA is limited in how much of an impact it can have in this area. But we would like to see candidates put forth realistic, achievable goals toward making a Georgetown education more affordable. Making the Hilltop a more welcoming place to low-income students should be a primary focus of any GUSA candidacy, and promoting achievable affordability goals should be one of the organization’s biggest priorities.
GUSA must also take into account the political realities that affect our campus, not the least of which are those affecting undocumented students and those who fall under programs like Temporary Protected Status. Under the administration of Donald Trump, a number of policies have been put into place that threaten the livelihoods of undocumented immigrants across the country. We have written extensively against this trend, and have emphasized the importance that Georgetown plays in protecting undocumented members of the Georgetown community. The next GUSA administration should take this issue seriously, and should advocate for undocumented members of our community where- and whenever possible.
In June 2017, Georgetown announced that it would join a group of universities reaffirming their commitment to the Paris Agreement. In a similar vein, we support the university’s initiatives to become a more sustainable campus through recycling and conservation movements, and we call on GUSA candidates to include sustainability as part of their platforms.
The FinApp budget process is unfair and insufficient for several groups on campus, specifically Media Board, which represents this publication. FinApp cut Media Board’s budget significantly last year, indicating a sense of hostility towards student media. FinApp is independent from the GUSA executive, but a statement of support from the executive goes a long way towards dissuading any doubts concerning the future of student media on campus. Although it is symbolic, such a statement of support would be indicative of a shift in attitude from prominent student leaders.
Over the past few years, joke candidates have been some of the more memorable aspects of the electoral process. These tickets have ranged from the ridiculous, like the “Hot Chick – Chicken Madness” ticket, to the Heckler’s Luther/Rohan ticket that won in 2015. Support for these joke tickets arises from general student apathy towards GUSA as a whole. Oftentimes, unrealistic goals and the organization’s insular and occasionally self-important nature spur this satire on the part of students looking to make a joke out of the organization. As the campus saw with the Luther/Rohan ticket, joke candidacies can have significant impacts. They can also be harmful to issues that deserve the full attention of students. If a joke candidate decides to run, a level of self-awareness is necessary so that students can enjoy the humor while not ignoring tangible issues that GUSA is trying to address. More engagement is a good thing, and joke tickets can be conducive to this goal. However, this humor should not come at the expense of important issues with real-world implications.
It’s easy to assume that every GUSA election will devolve into meaningless posturing that will continue to foster insularity on the part of the organization. But given GUSA’s potential to affect meaningful change, we believe that these elections can mean something. Further apathy on the part of the student body is likely and unfortunate, but candidates still have the responsibility to promote realistic and meaningful priorities in their campaigns. The issues we have laid out here are by no means comprehensive, nor do we believe that we have all the answers. The only solutions come from continued conversation and dialogue to ensure that Georgetown can be an affordable, sustainable, and welcoming place for all.