Nearly a month after Georgetown University Student Association President Norman Francis Jr. (COL ’20) and Vice President Aleida Olvera (COL ’20) were sworn into office, their efforts have been disappointing. Though the pair have just begun onboarding staff, they should ensure that the current passivity of the administration does not continue for the rest of their term.
The pair campaigned on a platform of T.R.A.P. — transparency, reform, accessibility and progress. Tasked with leading a student body that lost trust in GUSA after a series of senior staff resignations in the fall semester, the pair cannot afford to dawdle in enacting meaningful reform. And yet other than hosting a “Yell at GUSA About Stuff” event last Friday for students to vent their concerns, the pair has not communicated a concrete plan to students that outlines future goals.
Though tabling in Red Square to solicit student feedback is a valuable opportunity for Francis and Olvera to learn from student activists, listening cannot be all that this administration does. To restore trust in GUSA and avoid becoming another lackluster administration, Francis and Olvera should not only continue to collect student feedback, but also understand how bureaucracy can obstruct immediate reform and narrow their policy goals to maximize productivity.
Among the executive candidates, Francis and Olvera offered easily the most substantive platform, detailing over 90 policies that covered about 20 topics. However, as this editorial board pointed out in February, Francis and Olvera lacked an understanding of university processes as GUSA outsiders and did not even remember their own policies, hindering progress of tangible reforms.
Since their victory in the Feb. 8 executive elections, however, Francis and Olvera are still discussing their policy agenda with frustrating ambiguity. The pair asserted that they planned to be approachable and increase student engagement with GUSA in a March 20 interview with The Hoya, but failed to provide any other concrete goals they would be pursuing as executives or mention any they had promised as candidates.
To achieve any progress, Francis and Olvera should narrow their campaign promises to focus on more specific and feasible priorities.
Right now, their policies to move the Counseling and Psychiatric Services facility to the “front of the building” or “advocate for a return to 1 week for Thanksgiving Break” are representative of student opinion, but these changes would require tremendous time and advocacy efforts, potentially wasting the majority of a term.
Instead, Francis and Olvera should focus on more achievable aspects of their policy platform, such as collaborating with the Academic Resource Center to get accomodations for exams that fall during Ramadan or launching a comprehensive discrimination climate survey. These efforts are reforms that should be prioritized not only because they are achievable, but also because they elevate marginalized communities.
Moreover, Francis and Olvera should truly embrace their campaign pillar of transparency and report on what is being accomplished through GUSA emails and social media posts.
By keeping the student body updated on concrete results, Francis and Olvera could begin to rebuild student trust in GUSA.
Though Francis and Olvera have served only a month as GUSA president and vice president, change at Georgetown takes time. To achieve meaningful reform, the executive should start advocacy immediately rather than spending valuable time solely listening to concerns. Feedback is necessary, but it should not be the only tangible accomplishment of the administration.
This executive has thus far done a commendable job of being present: Olvera attended an information session for top-floor Alumni Square residents during the relocation process, both Francis and Olvera tabled in Red Square for their “Yell at GUSA About Stuff” event, and their campaign page posted in support of the April 11 GU272 referendum. But beyond presence, the pair has disappointed with their vague policy platform and failure to achieve critical reforms.
Restoring confidence in GUSA is not an easy task, but Francis and Olvera clearly have the intention to initiate meaningful reform. But to do so effectively, they need to narrow their platform to feasible policies that can be achieved.
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.