A committee at Georgetown’s Center for Social Justice, which has been without a director since 2010, is currently in search for a new permanent director.
The Center is also missing a business officer, a research director, and a director of student leadership and special programs.
Since founder and director Kathleen Maas Weigert left Georgetown for Loyola University of Chicago two years ago, the undersized staff has been forced to take on extra responsibilities.
“Staff members have to take on multiple jobs,” said Jessica Chaffkin (COL ’13), member of Prison Outreach and the After School Kids program. “Although they’re really willing to do that, it’d be awesome if they had more staff members to get everything that they needed done.”
D.C. Reads Director Nathaniel Roloff agreed, saying that many of the program directors have had to take on additional administrative roles.
“I also do a lot of collaborative work. I support a lot of different processes here, from student hiring to other student group advisory functions, along with other administrative minutiae,” Roloff said.
The formation of the Executive Director search committee consisting of faculty, staff, and student representatives is the first step in alleviating the staffing problems. GUSA Vice President Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13), a member of the search committee, says she has seen the benefits that the CSJ provides for Georgetown, and hopes that finding a new director will allow the CSJ to expand.
“In the past few years the CSJ has just been maintaining its operations, which is really important,” Kohnert-Yount said. “But I hope that soon it will have the time and space to reflect and think strategically about where it will expand, and how it can really grow and progress [to] even better serve Georgetown and the D.C. community.”
In addition to staffing problems, many believe that there are other improvements to be made as well. “Space is very limited within the CSJ,” said Stephanie Frenel (SFS’12), a D.C. Schools Project coordinator. “There is a shortage of resources; specifically vans that are in pretty bad shape.”
Coordinators also say the CSJ has not been able to make as many partnerships on campus as it anticipated in recent years, making it more difficult to fund projects.
“We need to have more administrative support so that we can gain access to more grants,” Kristina Solum, Program Director for the D.C. Schools Project, said.
There is no timeline for hiring a new director or any other new staff as of yet. But students and staff involved with the Center say they hope to see a new director hired soon, so that the CSJ can more effectively provide students with an opportunity to do social justice work around D.C.
“I’m excited for when the center returns to its full capacity, because we are prime to engage the high quality program in a way that we have never had an opportunity to do so before,” Roloff said. “Once we are at full staff, the Center will be in a position to do some improvement in the way that serve our communities and the students that work here.”
Additional reporting by Ambika Tripathi