On Sunday Georgetown University Student Association passed a resolution that condemned the [interruptions by protesters at the Jan. 21 speech delivered by Gen. David Petraeus](https://www.thehoya.com/news/protests-disrupt-petraeus-speech/), commander of the U.S. Central Command.
The resolution spurred heated debate in the body, which passed many bills unanimously last semester; the Petraeus resolution passed with 13 senators voting in favor and five against.
Sen. Colton Malkerson (COL ’13), who sponsored the bill, said that he proposed the resolution after his constituents on floors two through five in Harbin Hall expressed disapproval of the protesters.
“This resolution is not stating an opinion on the debate. It is not siding with the expression or opinions that Petraeus said, but just recognizing the breach of policy and the manner that the protesters chose to express their opinion,” Malkerson said in his presentation of the bill.
The resolution condemned the actions of the protesters and affirmed the senate’s belief that those who interrupted the speech violated university policy regarding the speaker’s right to free speech and the audience’s right to hear the speaker.
Those opposed cited the danger of setting a precedent for GUSA responses of approval or disapproval to events on campus.
“While all GUSA senators support Gen. Petraeus and our troops, I did not believe the resolution was appropriate. I believe there would have been a more appropriate way for students to handle the situation, but I do not want to create precedent where the GUSA Senate passes a resolution for every time students violate the [Student] Code of Conduct, especially when it concerns free speech,” said Sen. Greg Laverriere (COL ’12), who voted against the resolution.
Some senators referenced the resolution passed in November condemning the string of bias-related incidents that occurred last semester and said that if the senate passed this resolution, it would be expected to pass a resolution reacting to every controversial event on campus.
“I feel like we’re falling into a precedent here,” said Sen. Adam Mortillaro (COL ’12).
Finance and Appropriations Committee Chair Nick Troiano (COL ’11) said that this incident was different because it could tarnish Georgetown’s reputation in the long run.
“It was an assault on the entire university because it will affect future speakers and curtails free speech,” Troiano said.
In addition to the resolution passed in response to the protests of Petraeus’ visit, the senate also passed an act that allocated $250 to a club sports dodgeball tournament, a sum that will pay for pizza and a prize for the winner.
Some senators had trouble reconciling the positive publicity GUSA could gain from sponsoring the tournament with the principle of having student organizations dip into their excess reserve accounts.
Troiano was opposed to the bill and said that GUSA should not have to use its general fund to pay for a club sports event.
“Since they have such a large allocation and so much in the reserve accounts, why can’t they pay for this?” Troiano asked.
Senator George Roche (COL ’10), who sponsored the act, said that sponsoring the tournament would be a good public relations move for GUSA, especially during this period of high exposure before the senate votes on the new funding reform bill recently passed by the Finance and Appropriations Committee on Jan. 18 and by the Ways and Means Committee on Sunday.
“While we are trying to make other organizations increase their spending and lower their reserves, we should also increase our own spending,” Roche said. “We want to increase the funding of GUSA on campus in the period of public comment for the new [funding] bill.”
The dodgeball tournament bill passed with 17 senators in favor and three senators voting against it.
At the end of the meeting, GUSA President Calen Angert (MSB ’11) introduced the new GUSA logo.
alkerson presented the bill to reform the funding process before the senate votes on the bill in two weeks. If passed, the bill will make the Georgetown Program Board and the student advisory boards in charge of funding in five sectors of student life – the Student Activities Commission, the Center for Social Justice, Club Sports, the Media Board and the Performing Arts Council – accountable to GUSA.
Speaker of the Senate Adam Talbot (COL ’12) said that he plans to organize a town hall meeting to discuss the implications of the proposed new funding process and he encourages senators to meet with their constituents to discuss the issue.
“I think it’s very important we take the community’s temperature on this before we move forward,” Talbot said.”