GUSA re-establishes GUPD student oversight board

November 11, 2020

The GUSA Senate passed a resolution to establish a student advisory committee to oversee the Georgetown University Police Department (GUPD) at their meeting on Nov. 8. 

The committee would oversee GUPD activities by maintaining an anonymous reporting form for individuals to file complaints against GUPD, publishing semesterly reports that summarize major concerns related to GUPD conduct, and recommending policy changes to university administration. A similar resolution was passed at a meeting over the summer, and the existing bill reflects changes requested by Georgetown United Against Police Aggression (GUAPA).

Eight students would sit on the committee. The chair would be a representative from GUAPA, a student-run organization dedicated to responding to incidents of police violence and bias on campus, and the vice-chair would be appointed from the Senate. The GUSA Executive would appoint two members, one of whom would be from the Sexual Assault and Student Safety Policy Coalition. The remaining four members would be from the student body, with the Black Leadership Forum, the Latinx Leadership Forum, and the Asian-Pacific Islander Leadership Forum each appointing one representative and the fourth representative being appointed by the other members from the student body.

The resolution passed at the November meeting was almost identical to the one passed at the summer meeting. The only change the Voice identified was the addition of a clause clarifying that members of the committee represent the interests of specific communities on campus rather than their organizations.

Sen. Leo Teixeira (COL ’21) introduced the bill, emphasizing the committee’s inclusion of multiple student organizations. “This is a committee made up of people from different organizations who have a stake in these matters, and they’re the ones leading it,” he said. “We are taking our platform and lending it to these other communities and empowering them to participate in this advocacy and this activism.”

Sen. Olivia Kleier (SFS ‘22) also spoke in favor of the bill by arguing for the importance of transparency in GUPD’s activities. “Black people are disproportionately affected and arrested at higher rates than white people,” she said. “It’s really important we publish reports and we’re very transparent, because if the university isn’t going to do that, as student we can take agency.”

No senators spoke in opposition to the resolution. It passed unanimously with no abstentions.

The Senate also passed an act to amend the GUSA bylaws to institutionalize the Department of Student Activism. The department, established in 2018 by the Martinez-Chick administration, is a body within the GUSA Executive designed to facilitate student activism. It promotes activist causes through its newsletter, public GroupMe group, and events such as the student activism summit.

While successive administrations since Martinez and Chick have supported the department, the resolution explains, the bylaws do not list it as an official part of the Executive. This leaves the department open to potential termination by future administrations.

The act changes the bylaws to require that the office of the GUSA President appoint two co-directors for the department and adds rules governing the department under the Executive, effectively guaranteeing its continued existence. The act gives substantial room for the co-directors to determine how the department will operate, arguing that the department should be autonomous from the rest of GUSA to allow it to effectively empower students.

Sen. Rowlie Flores (COL ’22) spoke in favor of the bill, arguing the department has done important work, citing a student activism summit in November 2019. “The summit not only helped Georgetown as a community in general, but it also brought in a lot of high schoolers from the D.C. area,” he said. “They really learned a lot. This act will make that permanent and create change not only in our school, but our greater D.C. community.”

No senators spoke in opposition to the bill. The bill passed unanimously with no abstentions.

Finally, the Senate confirmed two positions. Neval Mulaomerovic (SFS ‘24) was confirmed as the Senate’s executive officer, the person who takes meeting and attendance notes, and Sheila Cruz-Morales (COL ‘22) was appointed to the Senate seat left vacant by former Sen. Jordan Brown’s (COL ‘22) resignation.

The Senate will hold their next meeting on Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. EST over Zoom.

Ethan Greer
Ethan is an assistant news editor for the Voice and a sophomore in the College. In his free time he enjoys eating copious amounts of Chipotle.

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