Competition, debate for $3.4 million heat up

April 14, 2011

As the Student Activities Fee Endowment Commission nears its Apr. 26 voting deadline, commission members are faced with a difficult task: choosing between proposals to allocate $3.4 million suggested by their peers.

The commission’s final recommendations to the Georgetown University Student Association Finance and Appropriations Committee will fall into three tiers. Up to five proposals will be labeled as primary recommendations, which will be strongly recommended to FinApp.

According to FinApp representative Colton Malkerton (COL ‘13), GUSA senators will study the proposals this summer, then put the most feasible proposals up to a student referendum in the fall.

If the senators deem a proposal impractical, they will then look to the commission’s secondary recommendations—valid, but not exemplary proposals.

The third tier of recommendations will outline the commission’s recommendations for guiding themes, such as student space and service. It will also include proposals that are valid but not appropriate given the amount of money available.

At a meeting Tuesday night, Fitz Lufkin (COL ‘11), representative for the Healy Pub proposal, informed the commission that according to Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson, renovating the 10,000-square-foot Healy basement would cost a maximum of $400 per square foot of space.

“Hypothetically, we could have a space four times the size of the Tombs for $2 million,” he said, adding that the other $1.4 million would be needed for items like furniture and a liquor license. “We could almost pay for the entire thing with this request … which would make it more feasible.”

Also vying for the endowment funds was Taylor Price (MSB ‘10), who helped draft last year’s Report on Student Space at Georgetown. Price proposed that the entire endowment go toward expediting the New South Student Center, which is included in the University’s 2010-2020 Campus Plan. Although $3.4 million would only fund 17 to 34 percent of the project, Price argued that the endowment money would accelerate the project and better involve students.

“Once it is fully funded, it will only take two years from the design phase to students walking in the door,” he said.

Although both proposals request all $3.4 million, Endowment Commission Chair Andrew Curtis (MSB ‘11) wrote in an email that the commission is likely to recommend five proposals.

At Tuesday’s meeting, however, Malkerson reminded the commission the number of recommendations remains flexible.

“I will admit that five is a slightly arbitrary number,” he said.

Of the major proposals not requesting the whole fund, only Georgetown Energy, which proposed to install solar panels on University-owned townhouses, was present at Tuesday’s meeting to clarify tax and sponsor issues.

Other proposals include the Georgetown University Social Innovation and Public Service endowment and a suggestion by Jesse Colligan (SFS ‘14) to paint murals on the concrete retaining walls lining Canal Road and the Yates Fieldhouse.

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