GUSA hosted its first fall roundtable on Sept. 18 to allow students the opportunity to communicate directly with administrators. Students could question administrators at all seven round tables, labelled mental health, dining, student engagement, diversity and inclusion, student safety, residential living, and Title IX.
Administrators present included Title IX Coordinator Samantha Berner, chief of the Georgetown University Police Department Jay Gruber, Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson, and Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity Rosemary Kilkenny, among others.
Alandro Valdez, Interhall Council vice president of advocacy, said his priority at the event was to resume working relationships with the Office of Residential Living following staff transitions.
“It’s valuable to see them in person because sometimes we only have email communication because our schedules don’t fit with theirs, and it’s hard to get across sometimes the urgency of the ask that we’re presenting,” Valdez said.
Valdez asked Residential Living administrators about creating a more efficient system for submitting work requests that impact entire buildings, for example, a broken accessibility button.
Director of Residential Services Bill Huff offered to arrange a meeting to discuss the issue further.
“But there is part of being in a community where you have a responsibility to alert a system when something is broken,” Huff said. “When something in a community space is broken, I can either take no initiative and walk by it, or I can say I’m a vested member of this community, and I’m going to tell the management company to fix this.”
GUSA President Norman Francis Jr. (COL ’20) questioned recently appointed Title IX Coordinator Samantha Berner on the status of the vacant Title IX Investigator position.
Berner reported that she is reviewing applications to fill the position.
“It’s certainly a priority of my office to make sure that we’re finding someone to serve full-time as the Title IX investigator, but I also feel confident in the resources that we have in place now that we can still meet the needs of the community and provide the support that we need to for any complaints that are filed,” Berner said.
While the search continues, Berner said that investigators within the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action or an external investigator will help handle sexual misconduct cases.
Francis Jr. believes the event benefited those community members who attended. “It was an intimate showing,” Francis Jr. said. “I think for the folks that came here, I think they were able to get something out of it. I hope that the next one, we’re able to try to get even more people here.”
When asked about the value of getting students and administrators in the same room together, Francis Jr. responded, “I think it’s really important to have people be able to put the face to the name, and so if they want to, administrators can highlight their work, but also they can be held more accountable.”