GUSA President Norman Francis Jr. (COL ’20) sat down with the Voice to evaluate the performance of the GUSA Executive at the midway point of his tenure. Due to scheduling conflicts, GUSA Vice President Aleida Olvera (COL ’20) was unable to be interviewed for this article.
Francis emphasized the duo’s focus on implementing their campaign promises of TRAP: Transparency, Reform, Accessibility, and Progress, in addition to addressing prevalent student needs on campus.
In the pursuit of transparency, the Francis-Olvera administration has moved to start a GUSA library which allows for internal notes of all meetings to be made available to the public. Additionally, they have increased the amount and visibility of suggestion forms and office hours.
The current administration decided early on to move their office hours from the GUSA office to more populated areas such as the second floor of Lauinger Library or the HFSC in order to meet a variety of student needs. “Sometimes they are asking questions like, ‘hey I want a pencil sharpener on Lau 3,’” Francis said. “Sometimes folks want to know about the GU 272 referendum, or they have complaints about mold or laundry machines, and try to pick it up and connect them with different people who are working on those initiatives.”
Francis believes that the only way that proper change can occur at Georgetown is through reforming GUSA and ensuring that it is held accountable. “GUSA kinda needs a lot of reforms,” he said. “Last year, there was no diversity training and we made sure that was definitely a thing for our administration as well as mandatory Hoyas bystander training because unfortunately GUSA has a bad track record.”
The two executives understand the importance that comes with working with policy teams and the senate in order to ensure policy measures can occur. Francis acknowledges working with individuals such as those on the senate is not always easy, but he feels as though he and Olvera have done a good job. “I feel like every year it’s a struggle sometimes, and we hit our rough pages, but I feel like we’ve had a decent relationship,” he said.
Moving forward, the current administrations knows they need to maintain good ties in order for their initiatives to endure after they leave office. “Progress is making sure that there is enough institutional memory in making sure that projects we started will continue and the work that we’ve done is well documented,” Francis said.
Also in the name of progress, the executive has tried to work with various student organizations and activists so work can continue once they are out of office. One example of working with student leaders is Francis and Olvera’s support of former GUSA Vice President Kenna Chick (SFS ’20) and the declining student health stipend. GUSA has tried to put in the groundwork in order for the next administration to complete the endowment process. “We’ve been trying to make sure it’s institutionalized,” Francis said.
Recently, Francis and Olvera supported the Hoyas for Immigrant Rights walk out and voiced their support to all Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients who attend the university. “We want Georgetown to be a place where they can feel safe and welcome,” Francis said.
One of Francis and Olvera’s key platforms when they were first elected centered on the GU 272 movement. “We support the GU 272 referendum,” Francis said. “We want this to happen, long story short.”
To this end, Francis has partnered with student leaders in order to make progress with the administration. However, he has been disappointed with the university’s choice to sideline student organizations, and would like to students get more of a voice during his term.
“I don’t know why students can’t be incorporated into things that matter,” Francis said. “I’m starting to wonder what’s the point? Are these just symbolic gestures or are we actually given the path to change and right now it’s not looking like that.”
The next GUSA executive election will take place in February. For more information, contact the GUSA Election Commission.