Candidates for the 2015 Georgetown University Student Association executive election have submitted their proposed administrative budgets for the upcoming year.
Presidential candidate Joe Luther (COL ’16) and his running mate Connor Rohan (COL ’16) requested between $78,410 and $79,909 in university funding, the most of any ticket. This was followed by Tim Rosenberger (COL ’16) and Reno Varghese (SFS ’16), who asked for $46,250, Abbey McNaughton (COL ’16) and Will Simons (COL ’16), whose budget called for $44,150, and Chris Wadibia (COL ’16) and Meredith Cheney (COL ’16), who requested $42,200. Sara Margolis (COL ’16) and Ryan Shymansky (COL ’16) asked for the least amount of money, requesting only $29,000.
Last year, the current executive pair of Trevor Tezel (SFS ’15) and Omika Jikaria (SFS ’15) called for $44,800 in their proposed budget. The pair received around $22,000 from the GUSA Finance and Appropriations Committee, less than half of their proposed budget, according to Tezel.
The budget form, sent to candidates by FinApp Chair Robert Shepherd (MSB ’15), asked candidates to fill in their budget requests and agree to FinApp’s 2010 6-Point Reform Plan, which prevents excessive spending.
Luther and Rohan, whose budget is almost entirely satirical, said that if elected, they will work with Shepherd to craft legitimate funding allocations. Their current budget, which calls for $25,000 for a “town crier” and $12,000 for a “Kehoe Field Injuries Pension Fund,” makes it the largest budget requested in the group.
The GUSA Fund occupies the largest non-mandatory allocation on most of the proposals, and serves as a separate, GUSA-owned fund that can be used at the executives’ discretion. The GUSA Fund can provide money for recognized and unrecognized student groups, as well as individuals.
Wadibia requested $22,000 for the fund, the most of any campaign. Luther called for $20,500, while Margolis asked for $20,200. McNaughton allotted only $15,000 to the fund, the lowest of the campaigns. The Rosenberger budget submitted to The Hoya did not specify an amount for the GUSA Fund.
Luther, Margolis and McNaughton all chose to allocate $1,500 toward the Georgetown University Farmers Market. Rosenberger asked for $2,000 and Wadibia requested $2,500.
The McNaughton proposal calls for $1,500 for a sexual assault awareness campaign, while Wadibia requested $1,000. Rosenberger’s budget asked for $1,000 and Margolis requested $500 to support the “I Am Ready” sexual assault prevention initiative.
The campaigns also included an amount designated as “executive discretionary,” which serves as last resort funds for use by the president and vice president.
McNaughton requested $3,500 in this category, more than any other campaign. Wadibia asked for $3,000, while Rosenberger and Luther each called for $2,000. Margolis requested $1,500, the lowest amount.
A major difference between the five campaigns is the amount that each allocated for the GUSA senate.
Rosenberger’s executive budget called for $30,000 in the senate general fund. McNaughton asked for $29,550 while Margolis’ budget requested $27,000. The Luther and Wadibia budgets did not include an amount for the senate general.
Both McNaughton and Rosenberger requested $1,300 for the Senate administrative fund, while Luther proposed “$1,000, plus this spearmint candy that I found in my pocket.” Margolis allocated only $800, and Wadibia’s budget included $1,200 for “senate discretionary” funding.
One notable difference in the Rosenberger budget is its $6,000 for the What’s a Hoya? program, since the pair plans to bolster the program and increase its reach to sophomores and transfers if elected. McNaughton and Wadibia asked for only $2,000 for this program, while Luther and Margolis did not specify.
“We really want to use the executive budget to expand upon programs that exist, but they should be better in scope and impact,” Rosenberger said. “What’s a Hoya? should have its budget increased, more executive support and be expanded to include transfers and sophomores.”
What’s a Hoya? coordinator Megan Murday (SFS ’15) said that additional funding would benefit the program.
“With an increased budget, that would help us upgrade the quality of the venues we use,” she said. “We don’t have a very large operating budget at all.”
Wadibia and Cheney’s budget most notably allocates $10,000 toward the Collegiate Readership program, an initiative that allows Georgetown students to read newspapers and other publications. McNaughton’s budget requested $9,800 for a print and online New York Times subscription, while the remainder of the campaigns did not address this program.
The print Collegiate Readership Program, which provided copies of USA Today, The Washington Post and The New York Times, was cut by the current GUSA executive team in March to preserve its budget by suggestion of FinApp. Currently, GUSA provides students with online subscriptions to the New York Times, a service that began in September.
Beyond the numbers, each campaign’s budget proposal included answers to a series of questions regarding GUSA and its impact on the student body.
Luther and Rohan humorously described the difference between the executive campaign season and the rest of the GUSA year.
“GUSA is like the life of a butterfly in reverse,” they wrote in their budget proposal. “For a short while during campaign season, GUSA is highly visible … following executive elections, the butterfly retreats into its cocoon and blends into Georgetown’s natural surroundings.”
The Margolis-Shymansky ticket proposal described GUSA as an advocacy body that can use its budget for good.
“GUSA serves as an advocate for the entire undergraduate student body,” Margolis and Shymansky wrote. “It is a direct link to the university administration … while it may not be possible to quantify the reach and influence of GUSA, we can safely say that it directly improves student life on campus.”
McNaughton said she hopes to make GUSA more efficient and productive.
“GUSA should always look for ways to better engage the student body and effectively manage productive relationships with administrators so that policies can be passed that are in the student body’s interest,” the McNaughton-Simons proposal read.
The Rosenberger-Varghese proposal spoke similarly about GUSA and its impact.
“It connects students with administrators and has the ability to advocate for student interests during university decision making processes,” Varghese wrote. “In addition, its finances can help start new student initiatives that achieve social, academic and community related ends.”
While the Wadibia-Cheney budget information submitted to The Hoya did not contain written responses, Wadibia said that changing the nature of GUSA is an important part of his mission, and that his budget partially makes this possible.
“We want to make GUSA something that is admirable, adored within students’ eyes because it makes relevant, practical decisions,” Wadibia said.