GUSA Senate Passes Resolutions to Improve Club Culture, Recognize Indigenous People’s Day

Published October 15, 2019

The GUSA Senate passed resolutions to promote a healthier club culture in light of recent allegations of sexual harassment, and to encourage Georgetown to recognize Indigenous People’s Day at their Oct. 14 meeting.

Sen. Eric Bazail Eimil (SFS ’23) introduced legislation to address recent allegations that Kuran Malhotra (MSB ’20), in his role as Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union CEO and Hilltop Microfinance Initiative CFO, used his position to commit sexual misconduct and create a toxic workplace culture. The legislation urged both clubs to investigate the allegations and improve sexual harassment training and anonymous reporting resources. 

Debate centered around whether or not the resolution itself would be effective, and if victims would be comfortable with the resolution, as well as the credibility of the allegations. 

Some senators advocated putting off the bill to a later week to allow time to consult campus experts on sexual assault. Sen. Alexandra Mucher (COL ’22) opposed this suggestion. “Yes, I understand everyone’s willingness to want to support survivors, and that’s definitely a very noble sentiment. But also speaking as a survivor, you need to name things when it happens,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a radical act or anything that really challenges other survivors if someone were to say, ‘sexual assault is bad, we should take steps to prevent it.’”

Sen. Sam Dubke (SFS ’21) said that he did not trust the Senate to handle matters of sexual misconduct appropriately. “Some of the worst instances of GUSA history in the past three years have been when we have got involved in issues of sexual misconduct that we didn’t entirely understand,” he said. “These are issues that are going to be dealt with at a much higher level than we will ever operate at, and should be dealt with at a much higher level.”

Sen. Zach Volpe (SFS ’23) suggested removing language describing the allegations as “credible,” replacing this with “according to the Hoya,” so as to avoid making a judgement about the credibility of the anonymous allegations against Malhotra reported by the paper. Sen. Peter Lee Hamilton (COL ’20) suggested this change would be advisable to minimize the risk of a libel lawsuit. No amendment was introduced. 

The resolution passed unanimously with two abstentions. 

Sen. Eric Lipka (COL ’23) introduced a resolution for the university to recognize the second Monday in October as Indigenous People’s Day. The resolution was based on a Native American Student Council petition calling for a broader recognition of indigenous rights on campus that was submitted to the university last year. 

Logan Arkema (COL ’20), who was serving as a proxy during the meeting, brought up that a similar resolution had passed a few years ago, leading to the mid-semester holiday being renamed from Columbus Day. D.C. last week recognized the day as Indigenous People’s Day, declaring it a district holiday. 

Sen. Leo Rassieur (COL ’23) described the resolution as common-sense. “I don’t think it’s controversial to say that Indigenous peoples deserve some kind of recognition or respect,” he said. 

The resolution passed unanimously with two abstentions. 

The Senate also elected Hamilton as a member of the Finance and Appropriations committee to fill the vacancy.

Policy and Advocacy Chair Leo Arnett (SFS ’22) and Vice-chair Daniella Sanchez (SFS ’22) presented a proposed list of Senate Policy Chairs. Senators were assigned to one of 24 policy coalitions based on their interest. Policy coalitions range from issues of residential living, to race and culture, to free speech. The Senate unanimously confirmed this proposed list of policy chairs.

Lucy Sonsalla (SFS ’23) was confirmed as the executive officer of the Senate. Sonsalla will be tasked with much of the administrative work of the Senate. 

Hannah Laibinis (SFS ’23) was also confirmed as an election commissioner. As part of the Election Commission, she will be responsible to oversee and ensure fairness in all GUSA elections. 

Laibinis suggested that educating students about the voting process would help increase turnout. “I think a lot of people didn’t know that you didn’t have to rank every single candidate,” she said, suggesting that this limited turnout. 

Committees and policy coalitions will begin meeting in the coming weeks. The Senate will meet next on Oct. 20 at 5 p.m. in Healy 106.


This article has been updated to accurately reflect Malhotra’s position in HMFI.

Annemarie Cuccia
Annemarie is the Voice's editor in chief and a senior in the SFS who has been described as "well acquainted with vegetables." She's probably the first Oklahoman you've met and takes that responsibility far too seriously.

Ryan Remmel
Ryan Remmel was an assistant news editor for the Voice.

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