Though just over a month remains in the school year, Georgetown University Student Association hopes to accomplish several objectives before the semester’s end. The Finance and Appropriations Committee will discuss improvements for its allocation process, the Intellectual Life Committee will host events for iWeek, and the Ways and Means Committee will introduce legislation concerning sexual assault education on campus.
Newly elected Speaker George Spyropoulos (COL ‘14) and Vice Speaker Sam Greco (SFS ‘15) seek to increase the productivity of the senate following the lull during election season.
“My top priority is to bring the senate back on track. We had a very productive first semester, but we just went through a transitional period which inadvertently slowed our progress,” Spyropoulos said. “I believe though there’s still a lot that we can accomplish if we pick up the pace.”
Greco, as Vice Speaker and chair of Ways and Means, intends to facilitate access to resources for the senators and their initiatives. Both Speaker and Vice Speaker stress the importance of cooperation between Senate and Executive.
“In past years, the senate and the Executive had been almost entirely disconnected and I would like to change that. President [Nate] Tisa (SFS ‘14) and I have set up weekly meetings to discuss ways in which our student government branches can cooperate,” Spyropoulos said.
Additionally, FinApp wishes to further fine tune tuition allocation to advisory boards, including the Student Activities Commission, the Advisory Board for Club Sports, and the Performing Arts Advisory Council.
“Student Affairs has a system for allocating tuition dollars every year, and frankly it’s pretty arbitrary. This year SAC received $156,607, whereas Club Sports, which wasn’t created until 2000, received $7,000, which pales in comparison,” said former FinApp Chair Sheila Walsh (COL ‘14). “Engaging in discussion with Dr. Olsen’s office and evaluating tuition allocation, that’s going to be something on FinApp’s short-term agenda.” The funds coming from tuition are separate from student activity fee funds.
FinApp is also responsible for allocating the money from the student activity fee paid yearly by all undergrads with the aim of distributing the funds to programs that broadly affect the student body
A new issue for FinApp to address this year is the precedent set by Campus Ministry, as it applied for the first time to the Budget Summit on behalf of eight student groups as if it were a student advisory board. These groups included the Jewish Students Association and the Muslim Student Association, along with other religious student associations.
At the beginning of the school year, Campus Ministry loosely used the term advisory board to describe itself. GUSA, however, defines this term as a student-led board that elects their members, but Campus Ministry is a part of the Office of Mission and Ministry, and is headed by Father Kevin O’Brien, S.J.—a Jesuit, not a student. While the eight campus ministry groups ultimately received funding from student activity fees, Walsh urges continued dialogue with Campus Ministry to further explore if an actual advisory board model is a feasible and desired option.
“Campus Ministry’s application set off a red flag. We have to be cautious, as we don’t want to allocate directly to a University department,” said Walsh. “Although FinApp allocated to those eight campus ministry groups, by no means are future FinApps obligated to do so.”
The Intellectual Life Committee will end the year by hosting two events for Georgetown’s International Week, April 15-20. The first event, the Global Affairs Essay Competition, kicks off the week’s celebrations and invites the student body to write a 500-word essay on a technological advancement and its effect globally.
“iWeek is a celebration of Georgetown’s unique culture and living globally-minded. Using GUSA as an outlet, this is an opportunity to collaborate with the Office of International Programs, which organizes iWeek,” said Intellectual Life Chair Shweta Wahal (SFS ‘16).
The Subcommittee on the Arts will be arranging the second GUSA event for iWeek, an art gallery in the ICC Galleria. The subcommittee was formed earlier this year in response to the lack of art visibility on campus, which is usually confined to the Walsh Building.
“This gallery was our first project to increase visibility of the arts, and in this case the visual arts, on campus. We look forward to showcasing the artwork of Georgetown students on a central location on campus,” said subcommittee chair Elizabeth Oh (SFS ‘15).
Perhaps most importantly, Sens. Robert Shepherd (MSB ‘15) and Pat Spagnuolo (SFS ‘14) will introduce a bill to the senate floor this Sunday addressing the lack of sexual assault education on campus. The bill will require all GUSA senators to undergo Sexual Assault Peer Education administered by trained professionals. The bill also requests senators who are campus leaders in other organizations to spearhead similar education initiatives.
“The impetus for the bill is the lack of education about sexual assault on campus. It was a major focal point of Nate and Adam [Ramadan]’s (SFS ‘14) campaign, so Rob Shepherd and I wanted to take it up in the senate,” said Spagnuolo. “The process of education has to happen as soon as possible, so the culture of Georgetown can be changed for the better.”