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

GUSA: Advise Rather Than Enforce

The aftermath of the campaign and election flurry is the ideal time to consider how the recently passed Georgetown University Student Association funding reforms will actually be implemented. Student organizations form an integral part of the undergraduate experience, especially here at Georgetown, where there is no Greek life endorsed by the university. The chance to compete at the Security Council Simulation at Yale with the International Relations Club or dance at Rangila with the South Asian Society, is what really makes life on the Hilltop rich and unique.

It is natural, then, that the policies and procedures surrounding student programming on campus would be a source of constant debate and discussion. The latest funding changes imposed by GUSA are misguided in their disregard for university policies and irresponsible in their lack of concern for both the short-term and long-term well-being of student organizations.

This is not to say that many of the concerns GUSA sought to address in the reform bill are not legitimate. The advisory board process can be bureaucratic and frustrating. Permanently concentrating power in the hands of a few GUSA senators in an attempt to coerce five very different advisory boards into implementing a set of one-size-fits-all reforms in an incredibly short time frame, however, demonstrates a lack of stewardship on the part of GUSA.

The changes to the club funding process are rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding of the function and history of the advisory boards. The advisory boards are tasked with ensuring the Access to Benefits policy, which enables Georgetown to provide resources to student organizations without officially endorsing or rejecting any of them. After 10 years of litigation between the then-student group Gay People of Georgetown University and the university over the latter’s refusal to recognize the former as a student group, the policy was devised to comply with the federal court ruling. As a result, the terms of the Access to Benefits policy are non-negotiable.

The policy mandates that all advisory boards report to the vice president of student affairs. In this respect, GUSA’s attempt to insert itself between the advisory boards and the vice president – using the leverage of Student Activities Fee funds – is misguided. The internal and external policies of all advisory boards must be independently formulated to fit the Access to Benefits policy, and the other policies and procedures instituted by the vice president for student affairs.

If GUSA were to make receiving Student Activities Fee funds contingent on policy changes that contradict the Access to Benefits policy, the advisory boards would have no choice but to turn down the money. If the budgets of the advisory boards are cut, clubs will be the ones who suffer – which is exactly counter to the stated objectives of this entire exercise by GUSA.

While it is both misguided and counterproductive for GUSA to attempt to coerce the advisory boards into specific, immediate policy changes, I applaud GUSA’s efforts to act as an advocate for student interests and as a watchdog to keep advisory boards honest. The channel of communication opened by the routine presence of liaisons from the Finance and Appropriations Committee has been very helpful in keeping all parties better informed. The information provided by the club survey and summit was also useful, and I am certain it has sparked thoughtful discussions and new initiatives within all the advisory boards.

These actions are a perfect example of what the relationship between the advisory boards and GUSA ought to look like: distinct entities – with differing structures and roles on campus – working collaboratively, not coercively, to improve student life at Georgetown. I encourage the re-elected GUSA Executive team and the members of the GUSA senate to stop wasting everyone’s time in fruitless power struggles and instead commit to the kind of genuine collaboration with the advisory boards that will lead to real improvements in the quality of life for all Georgetown students.

Harrison Holcomb is a junior in the School of Nursing and Health Studies and the vice chair of the Student Activities Commission.

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

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Hoya Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *