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

Feiman-Sims: It’s Time for a Change

As members of both campus groups that receive money from funding boards and the national tea party, we’ve felt let down by the fiscal irresponsibility of our student government. We have carefully followed Georgetown University Student Association’s finances over the past year — the creation of the GUSA Fund and the recent Student Activities Fee and Endowment “reform” — and some words that come to mind are disappointment, disenchantment and distress. We believe the time is now for GUSA to reign in reckless behavior and unchecked spending.

When the GUSA Fund was introduced last year, senators promised that it would offer students a welcome alternative to making frustrating proposals in front of seemingly dense funding boards like the Student Activities Commission. According to the GUSA Finance and Appropriations Committee, clubs and student organizations will “face less bureaucracy and receive more funding for their activities.” The GUSA Fund was promised to be run transparently and intelligently.

But the GUSA Fund has proven in need of major reform. This semester the GUSA Fund allocated over its $15,000 budget, which led to a deficit that required the GUSA Senate to bail out the newly created fund. We understand that the GUSA Fund needs to be flexible, but GUSA has to be careful about being too blase about overspending. Moreover, the GUSA Fund allocated hundreds of dollars for an event that they cannot confirm will even occur: a speaking engagement for Maya Angelou. The chairman of the GUSA Fund announced at one of the last Senate meetings that he believes the club might have been mistaken and spent the funds on something else, but he was not sure.

Regarding the Student Activities Fee Endowment, GUSA wants to decide how to spend $3.4 million before April 25. As we’ve noted throughout the campaign, that is just pure insanity. We need a well-thought out process that is careful and deliberate, not rushed and spent hastily. Otherwise, we could end up with a $3.4 million golden Jesuit golf cart.

Two weeks ago, The Hoya reported that 13 members of a 15-person committee represent a “diverse array of organizations” including The Corp, Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union, the Student Activities Commission, Club Sports, the Center for Social Justice, Georgetown Program Board, the Media Board, the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access, the GUSA executive committee and the GUSA Senate. But do these representatives adequately account for the truly diverse array of over 90 student groups that GUSA funds?

Instead, GUSA’s money will go to the same groups, to host the same events, year after year. We are interested in seeing more money go to student groups that are not traditionally funded or represented on campus, provided they have an idea that unites the community. Georgetown students, campus clubs and the community deserve better. Current students and recently graduated alumni have been loading their money into this account for years and years. We shouldn’t decide how to spend this money in the matter of a few months. This process should be longer to give architects, innovators, alumni, students, professors and members of the larger community adequate time to study the question and consider the best options.

Yet, as we learned this week, the other end of the spectrum isn’t that great either. SAC’s behavior toward clubs seeking a bigger role in crafting funding policy has been disrespectful and indicative of the fact that, as an institution, SAC is built to care more about protecting procedure than it is about advancing student life. This problem can’t be solved with housekeeping around the edges or a “formal opportunity” to complain about SAC, called for by the recent letter signed by our opponents. At the heart of this issue is Georgetown’s Access to Benefits system, which has not been addressed enough in this campaign, a policy, which treats students like children. If elected, our administration pledges a comprehensive review of the Access to Benefits policy, including investigating the funding mechanisms at other universities. With our findings we will report back to GUSA and will propose meaningful changes, where clubs will be presumed innocent, not guilty. This will make forming a club and planning an event exponentially easier, and will give SAC commissioners a lot more free time — truly a win-win.

It’s time to bring new voices and new ideas to GUSA. We need to bring sanity back to student finances, encourage diversity, and strengthen the Georgetown community. Both GUSA and SAC clearly need more oversight, a calculator, and a change in leadership.

Jed Feiman is a junior in the College and is running for GUSA president. Henry Sims is also a junior in the College and is running for GUSA vice president.

To send a letter to the editor on a recent campus issue or Hoya story or a viewpoint on any topic, contact [email protected]. Letters should not exceed 300 words, and viewpoints should be between 600 to 800 words.

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