Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

BSA Members Boycott Corp Stores

SARAH LIPKIN/THE HOYA Gavin Laughlin (COL ’14) works at MUG, boycotted by some in BSA.
Gavin Laughlin (COL ’14) works at MUG, boycotted by some in BSA.

The Corp Philanthropy Committee denied a grant request from the Black Student Alliance last week, upsetting many members of the group and prompting a boycott of Students of Georgetown Inc. locations among some.

“I know me and my 10 people are not going to The Corp,”BSA Vice President Shauntell Pinckney (COL ’15), who is on the planning committee, said. “That’s not going to make a big change, but at least I know I’m not supporting something that doesn’t believe in me, and I don’t believe in it.”

However, other members of the BSA Planning Committee are not participating in the boycott.

“I have friends that work for The Corp, so I don’t necessarily know if it’s The Corp itself or if it’s just that branch of The Corp that deals with the allocation of funds, so I don’t want to react toward the entire organization,”BSA Planning Committee member Khadijah Davis (NHS ’15) said. “I think that if she is offended by the way that she was treated, there’s nothing wrong with boycotting.”

Because of cuts to the BSA’s budget, the organization sought $3,000 from Corp Philanthropy for the group’s April Visions of Excellence Ball, which honors graduating seniors who have contributed to Georgetown through service, academics, arts, leadership or athletics. The Corp denied the grant request on the grounds that the nature of the event was not actively in line with the Corp motto of “students serving students.”

“While the event does celebrate the work of students on campus, the nature of the event itself is not something that the committee felt aligned best with The Corp’s mission of students serving students. Funding for the event was also denied last year for the same reason,” Corp Philanthropy Committee Chair Jessica Lawson (SFS ’14) wrote in an email to Pinckney.

Although the BSA Visions of Excellence Ball celebrates the work of students on the part of the community, according to Lawson, the lack of active service does not qualify it for a grant.

“It’s a celebration of students serving students, which is awesome and amazing, but the event wasn’t the actual students being on the ground, serving students,” Lawson told The Hoya.

She added that the committee usually funds between $250 and $300, a tenth of BSA’s request.

The Corp stated that there were other reasons for the denial of the request, such as the high ticket price for the event and that the funds were going to a formal.

“We also, a lot of times, don’t like to fund events that have ticket prices, especially ones that are high because for us that kind of promotes an ‘in’ and an ‘out.’ Not inclusiveness, exclusiveness,” Lawson said.

This is the third consecutive year the Corp Philanthropy Committee has denied a request for funds for the BSA Visions of Excellence Ball, which is the BSA’s largest community event. The BSA amasses most of the funding through donations.

“It’s the BSA’s biggest annual effort to give back to our membership and other students who are a part of the campus community, regardless of race, religious background, sexual orientation, school. There’s nothing there that suggests that anyone is excluded — it’s people who have given back to the minority student community, and there’s nothing about Georgetown that suggests that minority students aren’t students,” BSA President Erika Nedwell (COL ’14) said. “When they suggest that it doesn’t align with the ‘students serving students,’ it’s not only offensive, but false.”

Although not all BSA members are boycotting The Corp, some BSA members feel The Corp could interact with other organizations more frequently.

“We just wish they would kind of reciprocate that, and we don’t necessarily feel that they’ve done that in the past years, whether it be the people that they hire, the things that they choose to fund, what they show to be their interests; it doesn’t seem to align with the greater campus community. It seems to be very exclusive, which is not only disappointing, but disheartening, because we are students too,” Nedwell said.

Some BSA members also thought The Corp should improve its process of denying grant requests.

“I think the other thing that they need to do is provide feedback because suggesting that whatever the proposal was that something submitted didn’t align with The Corp’s mission statement– I don’t think that’s enough explanation. In what way does that not align with it?” Nedwell said.

Incoming Corp CEO Sam Rodman (MSB ’15) recognized mistakes made in handling the BSA request.

“To be honest, we were a little more curt than we probably could have been in the email. So that final communication and then the way we evaluated it would be the two things that I’d point to that we can improve on in the future,” Rodman said.

The Corp also has plans to change its grant process in order to make it more interactive.

“We would like to find a way to either come up with a more expanded form, work with the people to design their pitches so that they know exactly what we are looking for, bring them in to talk to us or to have some sort of interview process,” Rodman said.

Although this event helped form a clearer plan of how The Corp will reform the grant approval process, the group already had plans to restructure Corp Philanthropy.

“The BSA issue happened to come up at a time when we were still deciding on the best way to make these improvements, so it was crucial in helping us clarify which direction to take philanthropy over the span of this year,”Rodman said.

This fiscal year, The Corp provided funding for Young Leaders in Education About Diversity, Preparing for Excellence, Business Undergraduates Invested in Leadership Development and Relay for Life. In the past, The Corp has not funded formal gatherings.

Pinckney, however, thought misconceptions about the ball could have been a factor in the grant denial.

“The Visions of Excellence Ball, because so many people have an idea that it’s exclusive and only black people are allowed to go, they would only think that we are limiting our people who can come to the event. So they won’t necessarily fund it because they have this mindset that we are closed off from the rest of the community at Georgetown, which isn’t the case at all,” Pinckney said.

The majority of students honored at the ball are black, though two students who were not black were included among award recipients last year.

“Sometimes people need to step out of their comfort zone to actually do something else that is big and different,” Pinckney said.

The denial of the grant request additionally caused BSA members to contemplate the inclusivity of The Corp.

“I don’t think that they feel that they discriminate against the BSA. I just think that whatever their inclusion criteria are, they aren’t necessarily as inclusive as they could be. I think there are a lot of different students who could be represented in The Corp that aren’t necessarily working in Vittles orUG or any of the other Corp business,” Nedwell said.

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