Members of the university administration and the Georgetown University Student Association have collaborated to create the Student Employee Experience Committee, a group of students and administrators who will investigate the experiences of student employees to create a list of recommendations for improvements.
The committee, which will launch in January 2015 and release a report in late September, will consist of 14 to 18 members — including seven to eight selected students and about 10 administrators from different campus offices that work with student employees.
The creation of the SEEC stems from recent reports of concerns from student workers, which include allegations of sexual assault, mistreatment and negligence. The GUSA senate passed a bill Nov. 16 calling for the administration to investigate all claims of resident assistant mistreatment, and Tuesday a group of RAs presented a bill to the administration that calls for reform of the RA working experience to create more protection and transparency.
“We’ve been made aware of a set of concerns that students have raised and want to make sure that we are taking a thoughtful, institutional look at these issues and the status of all sorts of student employees at Georgetown,” Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson said. “So, we are excited to be partnering with GUSA and with student leaders as administrators to do a thorough and comprehensive look at this set of issues.”
The committee will conduct one-on-one interviews, focus groups, surveys and other techniques to conduct a full investigation of the student worker experience on campus. According to Olson, the SEEC can guarantee anonymity and job security for student workers with whom they speak.
“We want to listen to and make sure we understand student experiences. We certainly want to learn about positive experiences as well, but of course we’re interested in looking at where there are areas that we might improve on, create more coherence, clarify or strengthen things where they need to be strengthened,” Olson said. “We’re committing to doing this in a way that’s transparent, in a way that is as comprehensive as we can be and a way that’s focused on solutions.”
Students on the SEEC will include members from GUSA and represent various groups of student workers. Office of the Student Worker Advocate Founding Director Julia Hubbell (COL ’15) started OSWA as part of GUSA in November to address the concerns of student workers. Hubbell said that the SEEC will create a necessary connection between students and administrators to bring about change.
“We [OSWA] spent a semester really engaging with students, talking to them and really hearing about their day-to-day experiences,” Hubbell said. “A lot of the time, when problems would come up, we had very little executive power or ability to change the experience or to work with the student. Obviously, that has to come to the university. What we’re really excited about is how the university is taking this seriously and is working with us and has formed a committee so quickly to help take these problems on.”
In the months before the SEEC releases its report, GUSA President Trevor Tezel (SFS ’15) said that GUSA and the administration will work to enact certain changes more quickly.
“This in no way indicates that this is the only step that’s being taken to ensure that there’s the best employment experience for students,” Tezel said. “As the committee is working, through GUSA and through OSWA and other means, we’re going to continue to identify along the way the things that we can be doing right now in order to address, specifically, communications issues, clarification on student-worker rights and all that works on going in addition to the report and recommendations that will be released by this committee.”
Olson said that through the SEEC and rolling reforms, Georgetown can provide a more supportive and positive student-worker experience.
“What we want and what we, certainly, have always wanted — we just need to renew our vows and take a fresh look at,” Olson said, “is for the experience of being a student employee and worker here at Georgetown is one that involves a sense of support, a sense of clarity about the role, an opportunity for learning and developing new skills and capabilities, a sense of feeling at home, feeling welcomed, feeling supported and respected in the work environment and a place that’s a positive part of the overall experience of being a Georgetown student.”