The GUSA Senate took on a contentious topic of discussion at their meeting on Oct. 3: the existence of the GUSA Senate and the executive.
Following a presentation by members of GUSA’s executive branch, Senators debated a working proposal to abolish the institutions of the Senate and the executive branch entirely. The proposed replacement would be modeled more closely after the current Policy and Advocacy Committee (PAC), one of GUSA’s committees, recognizing that GUSA has no formal authority. Restructuring has been a frequent topic of discussion for both the Senate and the executive over the past year, and if the Senate passes the proposal, it would finally appear as a referendum question on the November student ballot.
Vice President Nicole Sanchez (SFS ‘22), who presented the proposal along with Dakyung Ham (COL ‘22), detailed two issues with the current two-branched structure—redundancy and disconnect.
“There’s a huge disconnect between the executive and the Senate, before this one, and probably in the future if this structure continues to happen,” Sanchez said. “I think if we’re all equal, we’re all doing the same type of work, we should all be in the same type of spaces.”
PAC was formed in 2019 to develop and promote policy changes. According to Sanchez, PAC is ultimately more important to GUSA’s impact than other institutions like the senate or the executive branch.
“The reality is that the real power doesn’t lie in any of these things that I’ve mentioned,” Sanchez said. “It lies in advocacy and policy work. And that’s what we want to center in GUSA, that’s what we want to center our restructuring around.”
PAC, which is made up of subcommittees focused on particular issues, would adapt to have each subcommittee headed by an elected policy chair. The rest of each subcommittee would be unelected, “additional members from the student body who wish to join,” according to the presentation.
To oversee the subcommittees and ensure that everything is running smoothly, the chairs of each subcommittee will also meet together as an Administrative Committee. Ham said that the task of chairing that committee will rotate between members to keep everyone equal and collaboration high.
The presentation was followed by a question and answer period, where senators voiced concerns about the proposal. While some raised questions about the logistical problems of not having one unifying point of contact for student media and the administration, Sanchez said that this lack of a hierarchy was intentional in their design, because the current GUSA has a hierarchical structure that can feel intimidating for some students. The priority of the new approach is approachability and representativeness, according to Sanchez.
Sen. Dominic Gordon (SFS ‘24), who worked on the restructuring project, said that another benefit of the simplified structure will be efficiency.
“I will say that I’ve been in the Senate for a while now. I’ve basically been involved with all three committees, and I can say that, to be frank, there’s something that needs to go,” Gordon said. “There’s a lot of inefficiencies, and I think it really comes down to the fact that there’s a difference between the Senate and the Executive. And I know this is a lot, but I’m just saying from personal experience, something’s got to get done.”
The Senate also unanimously passed a resolution regarding food safety and security that was previously tabled due to concerns about misplaced blame for the recent food-related outbreaks. The resolution demands increased funding for the HoyaHub, further transparency in regards to the status of on-campus dining, and provide proper training about food safety standards and measures, among other things.
They also discussed a statement of solidarity with the Haitian and Haitian American communities, an ongoing inquiry about Flex balances, and distribution of the last round CARES Act funds.
GUSA will reconvene in two weeks, as next weekend Georgetown celebrates its mid-semester holiday and GUSA celebrates Indigenous People’s Day. Their next meeting will be on Oct. 17 in Healy 106 at 6:00 p.m.