The GUSA Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling for the university to make its COVID-19 community guidelines more consolidated, transparent, and equitable at their meeting held Feb. 7.
The resolution provides a list of demands for how guidelines should be reformed, including expanding access to outdoor social spaces, reinstating an appeals process for disciplinary action less severe than suspension and expulsion, and urging the Office of Student Conduct to standardize consequences for rules violations. The legislation also condemned “students that recklessly participate in risky behaviors putting the entire Georgetown and D.C. community at risk.”
The call for updated guidelines comes after an uptick of COVID-19 cases in and around Georgetown’s campus. After over 100 cases were reported in the Georgetown community in the first week of February, hybrid courses and other services were forced online until Feb. 15.
Sen. Bella Fassett (SFS ’24) spoke on why she felt the increase of students on campus and in the neighborhood demanded a different approach to public health and safety. “I started to feel unsafe in the dining hall with there being around three times as many people on campus,” she said. “There are a lot of things that can be done to make it a safer space.”
A significant portion of the resolution is dedicated to recommending changes for how Leo O’Donovan Dining Hall should operate during the ongoing pandemic. Some of the suggestions include distributing KN95 masks for Leo’s workers, extending operating hours, and enforcing occupancy limits in the building.
The Senate also discussed updates regarding ongoing financial aid issues, as well as the administration’s distribution of funds allocated by the CARES Act. Speaker Melanie Cruz-Morales (COL ’22) said she felt optimistic about GUSA’s ability to work with the Office of Student Financial Services over the long term, having met with administration officials after the GUSA body released a statement of condemnation in their previous meeting, following reports of aid reduction over the previous semester.
Cruz-Morales reported that 3 million dollars from the CARES Act will be allocated to qualifying undergraduate students, and another 3 million dollars will be allocated for graduate students. There is currently no timeline for when those funds will be made available by the university.
In addition to financial aid, Cruz-Morales gave updates regarding the university’s response to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. GUSA previously called for sanctions against any Georgetown student or staffer found to have participated in the attack, but the university has not announced any policy changes. After she and fellow senators met with administrators, Cruz-Morales said she remained hopeful for a university response on this front too, although no concrete commitments to sanctions have been made.
“It would be a very important moment for Georgetown, being the most prestigious university in D.C., for them to take this step,” she said.
The next GUSA Senate meeting will be held Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. via Zoom.