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

Students to Sit on BOD Committees

By Tim Sullivan Hoya Staff Writer

After a long campaign by student groups, the Georgetown University Board of Directors yesterday accepted a student proposal to allow student and faculty participation in board policies. “This represents a huge step forward and represents a change in the mindset of the board of directors,” said Ryan Erlich (SFS ’01), who led a presentation about the proposal on Wednesday.

“The sense of the board is that there is a definite need to build mechanisms to improve communication between students and the board,” Erlich said. The board made commitments to allow both undergraduate students as well as faculty members to participate in the committee work of the board.

On Wednesday, Erlich, GUSA Chief of Staff Keavney Klein (NUR ’02) and representatives Marty LaFalce (COL ’03) and Missy Foy (COL ’03) met with the board’s university relation’s committee to propose the initiative for student involvement. “I felt all of the students did a very good job in their research and enthusiasm,” Vice President for Communications Dan Porterfield said. “The proposal was well-prepared, mature and interesting.”

Erlich said that the board’s commitment will be finalized at their February meeting, which he said is extremely quick for such a major initiative. “Now our responsibility is to come up with a proper selection process,” LaFalce said.

Under the proposal, members of various on campus organizations such as the Georgetown Program Board, GUSA, Volunteer and Public Safety and the Student Activities Commission will select which students will participate as committee members.

The proposal, which was originally submitted to the board at their May meeting and amended for Wednesday, will result in students participating in various committees for terms of one and two years. Erlich speculated that students will be invited to participate on the university relations committee, academic committees and the main campus committee. In addition, he said, a law student will sit on the Law Center committee and a medical student will sit on the Medical Center committee.

Erlich, Klein and LaFalce emphasized that the decision to include student input will benefit not only students but the board as well.

“This is the first opportunity at any level for the board to hear regular updates for discussion from students,” Erlich said. “Students will get to help plan the agenda,” he added.

Klein said that the board’s decision will allow student issues to be given more consideration in the future.

“Current issues on campus can become the agenda for the board,” she said. “Committees are the engine of the board,” Erlich said.

The representatives said that the decision by the board is a definite victory, and an “infinite improvement” over the previous arrangement, when students had no input into the board’s deliberations.

The decision comes after a long battle to increase communication between students and the administration, which was largely based on a perception that there was a disconnect between the two groups. Last year, GUSA conducted research which showed that a low percentage of students felt that the administration adequately represented their needs and that more than 90 percent of students felt that having student input on the board would improve the situation.

A group of students, including Erlich and Aaron Polkey (COL ’02), made a pitch last May to a board committee but were asked to make some changes to their plan before it could be reported to the full board. This time around, their presentation struck a chord with the board members. Porterfield said that the board members were impressed by not only the board of directors proposal but also a presentation made by leaders of New Student Orientation. Erlich, Klein and LaFalce echoed the sentiment that other student presentations helped their cause. They also said that newly appointed board member and Jesuit rector Brian O. McDermott, S.J., was very supportive of their cause.

“He is a tremendous addition to the university community,” Erlich said.

Erlich, Klein and LaFalce added that the plan was only possible because of the work of students like Polkey, Catie Sheehan (COL ’01) and Will Schlickermaier (SFS ’01). However, Klein said that she thought Erlich’s presentation to the board was a crucial factor in persuading them to accept the proposal.

“Ryan’s proposal was phenomenal,” Klein said.

Porterfield said that University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., was very supportive of the board’s decision and had spoken on behalf of the student’s cause during deliberations. “Fr. O’Donovan always speaks up on behalf of Georgetown students,” Porterfield said.

More to Discover