GUSA Executive to require demographic data

December 9, 2019

The GUSA Senate passed a resolution at its Dec. 8 meeting to require applicants for positions in the GUSA Executive to submit anonymous demographic data.

According Sen. Leo Teixeira (COL ’21), who sponsored the bill along with Speaker Juan Martinez Guevara (SFS ’20) and Sen. Eric Lipka (COL ’23), many of the upwards of 60 positions in the GUSA Executive do not require Senate confirmation. Only two, the president and vice president, are directly elected by the student body.

The newly passed bill requires that future applicants to executive positions fill out an anonymous form detailing their “race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, physical/mental ability, and religious affiliation.” The form will also ask for their family’s socioeconomic status and whether the student is a first-generation college student, descendant of the Georgetown 272, international student, non-citizen resident of the US, or member of a variety of other groups. 

Currently, candidates for GUSA positions optionally submit answers to these same demographic questions when filling out a candidacy form. The Election Commission is then tasked with presenting the results to the Senate, in which commissioners compare the demographics of all candidates, elected senators, and the Georgetown student body. 

Under the new legislation, the Executive Access and Wellness Chair will give a similar presentation to GUSA each year, comparing the demographics of applicants to the executive, subsequent appointees, and the student body. 

Martinez Guevara explained in an interview the rationale for requiring applicants to submit this information. “I think it’s extremely important that GUSA has this information, because it would allow us to be able to know who is in the room when big decisions that pertain to campus life are made,” he said. “If we are not holding ourselves to be a representative body of that student body, then we cannot legitimately claim to be speaking for everyone on campus.”

Sen. Daniella Sanchez (COL ’22) criticized the legislation, stating that it would lead future presidents and vice presidents to tokenize of members of minority groups, which she could see leading to issues. “This incentivizes the next executive to start setting quotas,” she said. 

Sen. Alexandra Mucher (COL ’22) disagreed, suggesting that the demographic data would work  in favor of a more diverse GUSA. “I think if you look around you, no one is trying to hard to make the demographics look good. It’s not really something that we need a report necessarily to tell us,” she said. “But then having the statistics to show other people, I think, helps ground the argument.”

The bill passed with 22 votes in favor and six votes in opposition.

In addition to the demographic data bill, the Senate passed a bill to establish a student advisory committee focusing on content warnings in syllabi. The new committee will investigate ways to work with staff, students, and outside groups to implement these warnings. 

The Senate also passed a resolution supporting the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative, and confirmed the appointment of Alisa Colon (COL ’23) to the Ethics and Oversight Committee.

The Senate will next meet on Jan. 12, 2020, at 5 pm in Healy 106, marking its first meeting in the new decade. The Senate unanimously voted to subpoena the members of the Election Commission, requiring them to attend this meeting and present on the current demographic data of Senate candidates and elected senators. The Commission has repeatedly failed to arrive to Senate meetings in previous weeks to present this information.

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

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