GUSA v. Yard

By the

February 8, 2001

Systems of government rise and fall. Empires and kingdoms have given way to socialism and capitalism. Thirty years ago, the former Yard gave way to GUSA, and now a new (unrelated?) Yard wants back in. On the world stage, the system of government people live under intimately affects their lives. This is not the world stage, and student government will not change the course of your life. Student government is not supposed to.
That seems to be one of the most important things to keep in mind in the next month when the showdown battle between the Yard and GUSA heats up.
Student government does have the potential to be a significant factor in making life better for Georgetown students, but the majority of students are lucky to find their sources of self-esteem and pleasure elsewhere. Clubs and jobs and internships and friendships and the occasional class are all integral parts of a student’s college experience.
Whether or not Georgetown has a TV lounge for its students, whether or not clubs are overflowing with cash, whether or not student leaders directly control their club’s budget, life at Georgetown will continue to be pretty good.
But pretty good is not an excuse to keep an ineffective system of government if a better alternative can be found. I maintain that students are being fed two myths about student goverment.
First, we are being told that GUSA is ineffective. Second, we are being told the Yard is a better alternative. Neither is true.
GUSA, like any system of government, is only as good as the people involved in it. And like most people, the people in GUSA are pretty good. When the vast majority of students have given their strong support on an issue, GUSA has proven effective in getting things done. When very little change occurs, it’s often because most students can’t agree on what change is most needed. Limited resources have limited effects.
The Yard movement is composed mainly of students. And like most students, they are pretty good people. The problem is that the Yard is not a pretty good system of government. The ideas behind the Yard deserve significant consideration. But like the Bolshevik revolution proved, nice ideas don’t always translate directly into good government.
Georgetown is a lucky place. The vast majority of administrators care about making this the best place it can be. The vast majority of students in student government care about making this place great. The vast majority of Yard reformists care about making Georgetown a great place as well.
When all these groups work together, students will get a the government they deserve. Unfortunately, the Yard was developed without the help of the administration and without the help of GUSA. The blame does not lie solely with the Yard; the administration and GUSA are not always willing to listen. But at the same time, the lack of cooperation is evident in a highly flawed Yard constitution.
The Yard movement has put the fire under the feet of student government and administrators. Maybe it’s time they all listened to each other and address everyone’s concerns. GUSA with no reform is better than the Yard, but if all three groups work together maybe we’ll find a better alternative.

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