On Tuesday, elections for GUSA’s Student Activities and Fee Endowment referendum began, as campaigners sent e-mails to students reminding them to vote and representatives went door-to-door informing students about the projects. The referendum includes three proposals: The creation of the Social Innovation & Public Service Fund, the installation of solar panels on certain University-owned townhouses, and the creation of the New South Student Center.
Initially, students were disappointed when the administration nixed consideration of the construction of a pub in the basement of Healy Hall. However, GUSA members fought for the inclusion of a pub as part of the NSSC. On Monday, Christopher Augostini, the University’s Chief Operating Officer, acknowledged in writing that the University will not receive the allocation unless their plans meet specific conditions.
“The NSSC Allocation will be used for the purposes set forth herein provided that the NSSC final plan includes…a restaurant and bar intended to serve beer, wine and liquor,” the agreement read. “[And] the University will attempt in good faith to obtain a license from the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration of the District of Columbia.”
GUSA Finance and Appropriations Committee Chair Colton Malkerson (COL ’13) was pleased with this statement and what it means for the NSSC’s plans. “It was important that the students got the agreement down in writing,” he said. “As we have learned from the past, agreements with the University are more likely to be kept when written down and signed. This was a good opportunity to get the University on the record regarding the pub while we had a great deal of leverage, that being more than two million dollars.”
Leaders hope that, with a pub, a terrace, and the renovation of the first floor, the NSSC will become a new center of social life on the campus. It will greatly increase the amount of student space available, as, according to the proposal available to students before they voted, the center will add 2,780 square feet of study and lounge space to the University.
“Student space has been such a pressing issue” GUSA Vice President Greg Laverierre (COL ’12) said. “This is something that’ll definitely be another spot where students can meet with professors, with administrators, and with other students.”
Voting on all three referenda is still taking place. Students are able to vote through their e-mail or utilize the voting booths at Leo’s.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the GUSA Twitter account reported 2,224 votes for SIPS, 2,220 votes on solar panels, and 2,249 votes on New South. Laverriere said he was “cautiously optimistic” that all three proposals would pass.
In an email to the Voice, Malkerson said, “I’m very confident all three proposals will pass by a wide margin…the large voter turnout reflects this.”
Voting continues until 11:59 pm on Thursday, and results will be announced soon after.