The votes are in. Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) and Adam Ramadan (SFS ’14) were elected yesterday to the executive of the Georgetown University Student Association. The challenge before them now is to set the gears in motion for making student rights a priority on campus.
A hallmark of the Tisa-Ramadan campaign was their focus on changing Georgetown’s speech policy to accommodate a greater number of free-speech zones. The pair can use their election momentum to act early on this issue. An election produces a mandate, and the university can interpret a Tisa-Ramadanwin in the same spirit that it would a student-body referendum on free speech.
The free speech issue will meet arguably even more resistance than last semester’s “clear and convincing” referendum. There is an added element in the speech debate with the university’s Catholic community, which has traditionally contended unlimited free speech for groups like H*yas for Choice and GU Pride that are considered inconsistent with Catholic values.
Over 30 years after its implementation, however, it is reasonable to consider a re-evaluation of the speech policy. And while it is unlikely that Georgetown will become a completely free-speech campus in one year, Tisa and Ramadan now have an opportunity to take at least one significant step toward that goal. The key will be to present the issue not as a contest of students versus administrators but rather, as they emphasized in their campaign, an interpretation of Jesuit heritage that places higher value on its commitment to open dialogue. Now is the time for tactful groundwork with the administration to build a foundation that both students and administrators will support.
Another project the duo can tackle is the creation of the app for the Code of Student Conduct they pitched in their campaign platform. Less cumbersome than the dense online document and readily available, the app can help insure students are aware of their rights and the consequences they might face for an infraction.
Yesterday’s election showed student interest in expanded rights. Tisa and Ramadan campaigned and won on this platform. Now it’s time to make it happen.