FILE PHOTO: ASHLEY CHEN/THE HOYA Student organizations urge the Georgetown University Police Department to reduce security fees for club-hosted events.

Student leaders are continuing to push for the Georgetown University Policy Department to lower security costs for club-organized events on campus.

GUPD unilaterally determines whether an event needs security and how many officers to provide and requires the Student Activities Commission to cover this cost. Security is typically required for high-attendance and high-profile events.

The money for security comes from the fund made up of student activity fees — $80 paid by each student every semester; the Georgetown University Student Association Finance and Appropriations Committee distributes the funds to SAC and other club boards including the Georgetown Program Board and Media Board. SAC allocates to clubs under its purview looking to host events.

SAC Chair Kylie Navarro (COL ’20) and FinApp Vice-Chair Harry Clow (MSB ’19) believe costs could be lower. Both SAC and the FinApp committee have expanded dialogue with the administration on the issue since April.

GUPD’s policy, which requires student clubs to hire security for their events, was first introduced three years ago. Clubs must submit an event security request that allows GUPD to evaluate risk and determine if or how much security is needed. Criteria include whether food or alcohol will be served, if there is a cost to attend, if there will be amplified sound, and who will be speaking and in attendance.

GUPD provides security to events to ensure student safety, according to Georgetown University Chief of Police and Assistant Vice President for Public Safety Jay Gruber.

“Our top priority is the safety and security of our community,” Gruber wrote in an email to The Hoya. “When students organize events with a prominent speaker, serve alcohol, collect cash, or amplify sound, GUPD provides a security presence to ensure the safety of our students and campus community.”

The FinApp committee is talking to the Center for Student Engagement about how to lower the security costs, Clow wrote in an email to The Hoya.

“Most of the work we are doing now is compiling from the individual funding boards the nature of their space and GUPD costs. Our main goal is seeing the trends in spending regarding these two very costly items and seeing what can be done to bring those numbers down,” Clow wrote. “We are dedicated to the idea that student money shouldn’t go to waste with exorbitant costs for venues and security on campus.”

The CSE cooperates with students on this issue to inform them about security costs of events and assist them with funding, according to the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Erika Cohen Derr.

“The Center for Student Engagement shares information about event planning to help groups understand what types of events require security or may require enhanced security and budget effectively for the year,” Cohen Derr wrote in an email to The Hoya. “While event organizers are responsible for the cost of security, no one will be prevented from hosting an event due to the cost of security.”

Still, there has been no change in university or GUPD policy on security costs. SAC has amended its own policies to try to account for unpredictable GUPD security costs, Navarro said.

“While we used to allocate a flat amount of funding to cover GUPD costs, based on what groups thought they would be charged based on previous experience and GUPD’s published funding guidelines, we found that that system of estimation left many groups underfunded when GUPD unilaterally decided events actually needed more security than the groups had requested,” Navarro wrote in an email to The Hoya.

Because clubs cannot always accurately predict the cost of security for their events, SAC commits to covering security costs without knowing their full price, according to Navarro.

The new allocation program requires clubs to submit an invoice to SAC before they receive funds, but Navarro said she believes this process is the most efficient way for SAC to fully cover GUPD security costs for club events.

“In order to avoid situations in which there is a discrepancy between the amount that SAC allocates and the amount that GUPD charges, we’ve moved to a variable funding system, in which we nearly exclusively make motions to allocate GUPD costs in full,” Navarro wrote.

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