As the Georgetown University Student Association’s incoming executives prepare to be sworn in, the incoming administration will have the opportunity to incorporate new projects into GUSA’s advocacy work.
One of GUSA’s most successful recent initiatives is the Hoya Hub, an on-campus food pantry that opened in the Leavey Center in October 2018. In the less two years since its opening, over 400 people have now filled out the form to access Hoya Hub, according to Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Erika Cohen Derr (GRD ’18) in an email to The Hoya.
While the Hoya Hub has been an important step toward eliminating food insecurity on campus, other necessities for life at Georgetown University — such as dorm and school supplies and clothes — can still pose significant financial burdens for students. Since the Hoya Hub has already proven to be a successful method for GUSA to confidentially offer resources year-round to students who need them, this project should be expanded to offer other necessary items.
The next GUSA administration should consider expanding the Hoya Hub to include donated new and gently used clothes, school supplies and dorm supplies year-round.
Students should have periodic opportunities to donate items so those in charge of the project can sort donations and ensure only items in good condition make it to the storage space. Then the items can be available year-round at a confidential and accessible location, modeled after the Hoya Hub’s current pantry.
Nationally, incoming freshmen spend an average of $976 on items like dorm supplies, school supplies and clothing, according to the National Retail Federation. However, not all students have $976 to spend on move-in. Moreover, since most students live in different residences each year, their dorm supply inevitably needs to change, creating new costs throughout their time at Georgetown.
Access to these basic necessities on campus should be an option for all students, not a privilege afforded to those with hundreds of dollars to spend on items they may only use for two semesters.
The project could keep its costs low by collecting donations from students. Lend to a Friend, a GUSA initiative established in December 2018 by Gabby Elliott Brault (SFS ’21), who was GUSA’s socioeconomic inclusivity policy chair, proved a donation-based system is feasible at Georgetown.
The project, which started as a school supply drive, collected gently used school supplies from students and made these items available to students who needed supplies starting in January 2019. By May 2019, Lend to a Friend had expanded to also collect new and gently used dorm supplies as students moved out. These supplies were then made available to students at the start of the fall 2019 semester, according to a post from Elliot Brault in a Facebook group for the class of 2021.
Lend to a Friend has been an important and successful initiative, but students need access to more necessities year-round. As a permanent initiative, the Hoya Hub can already has a year-round platform that can be extended to include donated clothes, school supplies and dorm supplies that students could access.
The university has some resources in place for students with financial need to access school supplies, but these are only offered through specific programs.
“The Center for Multicultural Equity & Access at Georgetown has a phenomenal book loan program, and the Georgetown Scholars Program (GSP) can provide some resources to students in this program, but of course not all GU students are in GSP,” Missy Foy, founding executive director of the Georgetown Scholars Program, wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Financial Aid may be able to financially help with technology expenses, depending on the student’s situation.”
However, school supplies — as well as clothes and dorm supplies — should be accessible to all students who need them year-round, not just students who are affiliated with one of a few particular programs. An expansion of the Hoya Hub could make these items available to all students year-round.
Though the Hoya Hub’s current physical space is limited, GUSA can look into different spaces on campus to potentially house this project. The university helped GUSA find a space for Hoya Hub in 2018; it can and should make space again for this important expansion.
Living at Georgetown is expensive, and students need more than an empty dorm room to make a home on campus. A university is not truly financially accessible until the basic necessities of living are available to all students.
The incoming GUSA administration should consider expanding the Hoya Hub to include other necessary items. Clothes, school supplies and dorm supplies are basic components of college life, and they should be accessible for all of Georgetown’s students.
The Hoya’s editorial board is composed of six students and chaired by the opinion editor. Editorials reflect only the beliefs of a majority of the board and are not representative of The Hoya or any individual member of the board.