Features

Meet the issues: GUSA Executive candidates’ platforms explained

February 16, 2012


Dining Services

Given the student body’s generally unfavorable opinion of the Leo’s dining experience, it is no surprise that some candidates have very practical suggestions for how to improve dining at Georgetown. Last year, Dining Services hosted a number of roundtables, and students’ criticism tended to focus on a lackluster array of options in Grab ‘n Go and during late-night dining hours. These are very practical proposals, similar to the ones in past GUSA campaigns, including Menaey/Laverriere. Gustafson and Kohnert-Yount focus on incorporating healthier, more vegetarian friendly options at late-night to accommodate the busy students who are restricted to late-night Leo’s dining. They have a dual agenda for Grab ‘n Go: expand options at existing locations and bring a station to East Campus.

Malkerson and Cleary would also like to see an East Campus Grab ‘n Go station, and they call for Grab ‘n Go containers students can fill with selections from the main dining hall. Although they also call for improved late-night options and later hours, they uniquely call for more seating upstairs at Leo’s, with pre-made signs “indicating availability to share,” like the ones at Saxby’s.

Besides improvements in late night options, Tisa and Walsh’s contribution to the dining conversation is overhauling the meal plan structure to make flex dollars more versatile. They propose a new meal plan option that would enable students “to use some meal swipes to purchase a set value of food from the Corp or other local businesses.” Delaney and Appau’s plan is more of the same, with the exception of allowing one “guest swipe” per week on weekly meal plans, similar to the way Block Meal Plans are set up.

Student Space

Addressing the dearth of student space on campus was a focal point of GUSA’s recently passed SAFE Referendum. During the fall, Malkerson was chair of the GUSA Finance and Appropriations Committee, which oversaw the working group in charge of lobbying the administration for the construction of Healy Pub. Malkerson and Cleary’s agenda for “Enhancing Student Space” heavily features the New South Student Center, a component of the University’s Capital Campaign that also received significant funding from SAFE. “GUSA must ensure transparency and student participation in further planning and development of NSSC,” their platform reads. They support the development of a Corp Market, which “would be similar to a combination of Vital Vittles and Uncommon Grounds.” Their platform also includes plans to ensure that the pub included in the NSSC plans will indeed be student run: “We will fight attempts to give control of the pub to Aramark or any other outside company. To this end, we will partner with the Corp in efforts to make the NSSC Pub student-run as was once envisioned for Healy Pub.” Malkerson and Cleary also call for student input in the Leavey Center redesign, with particular emphasis on MSB-style breakout rooms and a center with club operating resources, like printers.

Sax and Crouch echo Malkerson and Cleary in their endorsement of the University’s long-term student space plans. But they add that, in the meantime, “standing tables in ICC galleria would provide students the ability to work on their laptops before or after classes for a few minutes.” To the same end, additional seating on Harbin Patio would “allow students to use the area as outdoor space for socializing and studying.”

In addition to holding the University accountable to its NSSC plans and pushing for student input in the Leavey Center redesign, Gustafson and Kohnert-Yount’s platform includes plans to consolidate the University’s cumbersome space-booking procedures. They also include an extensive plan for sustainability, including the creation of an administrative Office of Sustainability, which they feel is “not only crucial but necessary, in order to ensure that the conversation about sustainability is going on at higher levels throughout the University.” They also call for a GUSA representative to sit on the Food Committee and for the University to install light sensors in common rooms to cut down on wasteful energy use. They also plan to “make sure that trash rooms in dorms are well equipped with recycling bins for all types of recycling,” presumably to avoid the common hodge-podge of recycling and trash that most trash rooms deal with.

As for Morris and Weber, the student space component of their platform mentions revamping the student space booking system and supplementing On Campus Activities Facilities costs with GUSA funds while working to reduce reservation rates.

Student Advocacy

Almost every platform includes proposals for how students can better interact with the administration. In the case of Sax and Crouch, this means acting “as a bridge between students and the administration,” as they claim that “GUSA’s strong relationship with the administration is… underutilized [sic].” Malkerson and Cleary articulate a way to involve student voices in the administration’s decision-making process, as a way to boost transparency. “We would push to expand GUSA external board appointments and gain student representation on…Provost governance committees,” their platform reads.

In addition to pledging to “fight for a fairer Student Code of Conduct,” Gustafson and Kohnert-Yount prop up the newly created Student Advocacy Office. This office was established last fall, after making an appearance in the platform of Ace Factor and James Pickens, who spearheaded the initiative after an unsuccessful bid for the executive last spring. Gustafson and Kohnert-Yount say that “the SAO is being underused because not many students know about it,” and they call for short and long-term marketing campaigns to raise awareness. An SAO awareness push also makes an appearance in the campaign of Morris and Weber, who cite the office as “a prime example of what GUSA can do to improve student life on campus by giving you a voice.”

The SAO’s goal is to help students navigate student code of conduct issues, an area that plays prominently in Malkerson and Cleary’s platform. Their proposal, which also touches on increased awareness of the Student Advocacy Office, calls for broader reforms: establishing a “reasonable deadline” for notice of disciplinary decisions, implementing a longer and more transparent appeals process, and increasing the burden of proof for the University, to name a few.

Both Tisa/Walsh and Sax/Crouch call for similar reforms in their platforms, with each calling for the addition of a Bill of Student Rights. Thought it never made it past the GUSA Senate when it was last proposed in the fall, the Bill of Student Rights was intended as an addendum to the Student Code of Conduct.

Academics

Gustafson and Kohnert-Yount’s platform is primarily concerned with the relative lack of undergraduate student research at Georgetown. The pair calls for “improv[ing] the outreach and scope of existing research opportunities,” like the Georgetown Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program and the Georgetown Office of Fellowships, Awards, and Research. They also plan to establish an undergraduate research symposium in the vein of the Carroll Round and the Walsh Exchange.

Tisa and Walsh hone in on the cumbersome registration process: “We intend to work with UIS to make MyAccess more user-friendly, as was done with the MyDegreeAudit.” They also propose a one-credit peer mentoring program, through which “experience[d] students can provide crucial advice on classes, majors, and programs.” Morris and Weber’s platform says they “would like to support and encourage the creation of an undergraduate research center with the hope that we could strengthen this academic aspect of life at Georgetown.”

Malkerson and Cleary plan to reform the Inter-School Academic Council. By strengthening its relationship with ISAC, “GUSA can help ISAC coordinate initiatives, educate the students on academic issues, communicate with senior administrators, and solicit student feedback.” The initiatives that they hope to push through this relationship include the expansion of minors and courses students can take in different schools, standardization of course levels, and “creation of a transparent and organized website for course evaluations.”

Diversity Initiatives

In fall of 2010, GUSA passed a resolution spearheaded by Josh Mogil (SFS ‘11) calling for a discussion about implementing gender-neutral housing. Since then, very little work has been done on the issue within student view.

Under the heading “Community + Diversity,” Gustafson and Kohnert-Yount outline their plans for making the housing process more LGBTQ-friendly, with the focus on the gender-neutral housing initiative. “Many instances have been reported of LGBTQ students being ostracized or abused by roommates who are not accepting of the LGBTQ identity,” their platform reads. “For the safety and well-being of LGBTQ students, it is important that GUSA continues to advance the conversation on gender-neutral housing.” They also include plans for an “LGBTQ-friendly checkbox on CHARMS and the Rainbow House on Magis Row.” In the interest of promoting diversity in general, they plan to promote and reach out to pre-existing programs like the Center for Multicultural Equity & Access, Hoya Saxa Weekend, the Community Scholars Program, and the President’s Scholarship. Their platform also indicates plans to make bias-related incident reporting more widely accessible.

Gustafson and Kohnert-Yount’s platform gives passing mention to the 2009 Diversity Initiative task force, and call for its findings to be featured prominently on the website. Similarly, Malkerson and Cleary say that they will “push to refocus efforts on promoting diversity on campus” by encouraging the University to revisit the Diversity Working Group’s report, which was released in 2010.

Like some of the other platforms, Tisa and Walsh note that GUSA as a body is not terribly diverse. “Despite improvements,” their platform reads, “GUSA continues to underrepresent racial and sexual minorities and suffers from an evident male gender-bias.” However, their platform explains how, as a cabinet, they will “represent identities that have not held these offices for a very long time, if ever.” As such, they claim diversity as a priority. Their initiatives range from a unity fair—similar to SAC fair but with a focus on diversity, cultural, and linguistic student groups—to “LGBT-friendly housing and Charms options.”

Internal GUSA Reform

During the last election, Factor and Pickens said that the outgoing Angert/Kluger administration had “been largely successful in giving credibility to GUSA as an institution.” Possibly with an eye to continuing this trend, internal reform is a hot-button issue during this campaign.

Malkerson and Cleary’s platform explains that GUSA has steadily improved over the past five years: “Through SAFE Reform and expanded outreach efforts, GUSA has greater authority and visibility on campus,” it reads. Though they don’t propose to overhaul GUSA, their platform includes an extensive list of tweaks. They plan to develop a smaller executive, assigning specific campaign promises to individual staffers. “In addition, the President and Vice President will take on specific initiatives as our own, rather than serving primarily as administrators.” In addition to collaborating with existing organizations like the Corp and the 1634 Society, they also plan to bring in external consultants. They also include plans for a “Campaign Promise Tracker,” which will show progress on campaign promises against a timeline for completion.

Gustafson and Kohnert-Yount focus on making “GUSA more representative of the diversity of the student body by reaching out to underrepresented student groups and encouraging their members to apply or run for positions in the GUSA senate and executive.” They will require every member of their administration to go through CMEA and the LGBTQ Center’s diversity training.

Sax and Crouch’s platform alludes to the need for GUSA to “engage in community outreach through small, one-time partnerships with student groups.” They propose a GUSA Partners Fund that would “enable GUSA to form stronger ties with other organizations while providing monetary support.”

Editor’s note: The Dining Services section of this article has been updated.



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Comments 5

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    Why do you ignore two entire tickets’ platforms in a feature supposedly about the GUSA candidates?

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    I suspect because their platforms do not address all of the issues present in this piece.

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    This article confuses me greatly. I understand that the Voice has decided who to endorse but at the same time it would have been useful to have information regarding all of the tickets running. It is hard to imagine that one of the most diverse tickets does not have something to say about diversity, etc. Perhaps the article could have been named more appropriately.

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    Tisa-Walsh also have LGBTQ advocacy in their platform, and as the only openly gay presidential candidate in the race I’m surprised Tisa didn’t get more of a shout out.

    The Code of Conduct Student Bill of Rights didn’t fail in the senate, it was just presented. There was never a vote. You also don’t shout out to Morris-Weber at all here even though SAO is a huge part of their platform.

    LaMagna-Starks is generally ignored?

    As I understand it Tisa-Walsh focus a great deal of their platform on “internal GUSA reform” and I’m surprised no mention is made here.

    All in all this could have been done better.