Black students, women, and trans and non-binary individuals are underrepresented in Georgetown’s student Senate, according to an internal demographic survey conducted by GUSA.
The survey, which GUSA senators filled out at their June 14 meeting, asked them to anonymously self-report their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, and socioeconomic status. The results of the survey were presented two weeks later at the Senate’s June 28 meeting and compared to the 2019-2020 Campus Demographic Survey (CDS).
According to the GUSA Senate demographics survey and the CDS, Black students are underrepresented in the Senate compared to the student population while other racial groups are either overrepresented or are roughly equivalent.
The CDS reports that 48.8 percent of Georgetown students identify as white compared to 45.5 percent of senators. 10.4 percent of the student body is Asian, compared to 27.3 percent of the Senate, and 9.5 percent of students identify as Hispanic or Latino compared to 31.8 percent of senators.
Notably, no GUSA senators described themselves as Black, despite Black students constituting 6.3 percent of the student body.
A significant number – 22.7 percent – of senators listed their race as “other,” denoting that they did not describe themselves as Black, White, Native American or Alaskan, Asian, or Pacific Islanders. None of the senators identified as Native American, Native Alaskan, or Pacific Islanders.
The surveys also indicated that cisgender men make up a disproportionate number of GUSA senators compared to the student body. While the CDS reports that only 44 percent of the student body is male, 63.6 percent of the Senate identified as cisgender men. No senators identified as transgender or non-binary.
Some of the differences in demographics between the student body and the Senate may be due to differences between the questions on the CDS and the GUSA survey. For instance, while the GUSA survey asked about race and ethnicity in different questions, the CDS had participants list themselves as either their race and non-Hispanic/Latino or only as Hispanic/Latino.
Other differences included the CDS’ inclusion of international students as their own ethnic category, constituting 15.5 percent of the student body, and GUSA’s inclusion of data on whether senators were cis- or transgender in their response to the question on gender identity.
The GUSA survey asked senators about several additional categories that were not included in the CDS report, such as sexual orientation, religion, and disability.
The majority of senators described themselves as straight, at 54.5 percent. 22.7 percent identified as gay, 9.1 percent as bisexual, and 4.5 percent as pansexual. 9.1 percent did not provide an answer.
Additionally, 50 percent of senators described their religion as Christian. A combined 27.2 percent described themselves as atheists, agnostic, or non-religious, while 9.1 percent described themselves as Muslim; 4.5 percent as Jewish; and 4.5 percent as Hindu.
Most senators did not report having a disability. The 13.6 percent who reported having a disability all listed having a mental illness.
Finally, the survey included data on senators’ socioeconomic status based on their expected family contribution to tuition. 40.9 percent of senators were expected to contribute the full cost of tuition.
Speaker Daniella Sanchez (COL ’22) emphasized in an email to the Voice that since many current senators were appointed for the summer rather than elected, the summer Senate demographics are not necessarily representative of the Senate’s usual makeup.
Senate demographic data from the 2019-2020 school year confirms this. The demographics from the school year indicate that the summer Senate body had a higher percentage of white and Asian students and a much lower percentage of Black students. White students made up 40 percent of the 2019-2020 school year’s Senate, Asian students made up 20 percent, and Black students made up 16 percent.
21 out of 22 Senators filled out the summer demographics form. This meant that all the graphs listed 4.5 percent of Senators as “unknown” for all categories.