After being officially sworn in at Monday night’s GUSA senate meeting as the new GUSA President and Vice President, Pat Dowd (SFS ‘09) and James Kelly (COL ‘09) laid out an ambitious timeline for accomplishing their three major initiatives: a “GUSA Summer Fellows” program, a take-your-professors-to-lunch program and a modification of the alcohol policy.
“There are some people who have a less than stellar impression of GUSA and I think they’re going to be impressed,” Dowd said. “We think GUSA’s cool. It’s going places.”
On Monday, the Senate certified the results of the the February 26 – 27 run-off election, won by Dowd and Kelly. The run-off was the result of the Senate’s vote not to certify the results of the original election on, which was won by D.W. Cartier (COL ‘09) and Andrew Rugg (COL ‘09), on the recommendation of Election Commissioner Maura Cassidy (COL ‘08), with the original consent of all candidates.
Dowd and Kelly’s first proposed project is the Summer Fellows program, which would provide free summer housing for students who want to take unpaid internships but could not afford to do so without paid housing. The pair wants to start accepting applications in three weeks and have the program in place for this summer.
Dowd said that they have not yet talked to any administrators about implementing the program, but he intends to work with deans, the Office of Housing and Conference Services, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the Intellectual Life Report Review Committee of the Main Campus Executive Faculty. Dowd and Kelly are not sure where the funding for the program will come from, but some administrators like Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson and Erika Cohen-Derr, Director for Student Programs, think Dowd’s idea shows promise.
“I’m enthused about [the Summer Fellows program], I think it’s a great idea,” Olson said. He added, however, “I think that timetable may be a challenge.”
Karen Frank, Vice President for Facilities and Student Housing, declined to comment on the viability of a Summer Fellows program, since she had not yet received a proposal.
Dowd and Kelly are also hoping to change two aspects of the alcohol policy by the end of the year: increasing the keg limit from one to two in certain residences and allowing same day registration for Friday night parties. Dowd said the Alcohol Policy working group, of which he is a member, will make recommendations at the end of the year; he expects the changes to come into effect at the beginning of next year.
Over the summer, Dowd and Kelly want to lay the foundation for their “take your professors to lunch” program. The program would encourage students to take their professors to Leo’s by providing vouchers that would get the professors in for free.
Former President Ben Shaw (COL ‘08), said that he expects Dowd and Kelly will have to spend their first few weeks familiarizing themselves with Georgetown’s administration and the demands of their job.
“I remember from my transition, I was struck by the overwhelming hugeness of the task,” Shaw said.
Shaw, who gave his final Executive Report at the GUSA meeting on Monday, said he’d met with Dowd and Kelly to give them advice about some of the things they could expect and tell them about the nature of the job, adding that many of the major issues during his tenure—the alcohol policy, the Jena Six protest, the bias-related incident in the fall—came “sort of out of nowhere.”
Dowd and Kelly said they knew they had been labeled the “Joe Hoya” candidates, but they did not think the characterization was totally accurate and that they intended to listen to the concerns of all students.
“The ‘Joe Hoya’ label is a little overplayed,” Kelly said, pointing to his choice of footwear for Monday’s inauguration. The neon green Adidas, he said, were not a typical “Joe Hoya” choice.
Ellie Gunderson, NAACP President, said that the “Joe Hoya” stereotype, coupled with the controversy over and misunderstanding of the run-off election, might present a challenge for Dowd and Kelly.
“We had two very strong African-American candidates,” Gunderson said, in reference to Kyle Williams (COL ‘09), who placed second in the run-off.
“In reality it is going to be harder for them to reach out to the minority community because of that.”
Shaw left office with two of his campaign promises improving campus-wide wireless and extending add/drop—yet to be accomplished. Dowd said that neither issue will be a primary for himself and Kelly.