The Georgetown University Student Association Senate released a statement criticizing the university’s spring 2021 plan, claiming university officials ignored student input when designing the spring academic calendar.
The statement comes after Georgetown officially announced plans for the upcoming spring semester Nov. 16. In advance of its decision, the administration proposed six different calendar options. The chosen plan, which delays the start of the semester until Jan. 25 and combines spring and Easter breaks, was the least popular option, according to survey data collected by GUSA from 492 students. Administration officials had access to the data.
In the statement titled “The Administration Hears Us, But Refuses to Listen,” GUSA officials say the university was negligent when making decisions and chose to overlook students’ opinions.
“In spite of detailed knowledge of students’ difficulties, the administration has chosen to disregard our well-being,” the statement reads. “This cycle of indifference must not continue in the upcoming semester.”
The plan’s cancellation of three-day weekends in the spring semester and an absence of proper breaks will negatively impact student mental health, according to GUSA Senator Leo Rassieur (COL ’23), who contributed to the statement.
“I think any student could tell you how valuable it is to have just one or two extra catch-up days per month to complete late or long-term assignments and, better yet, take a breather,” Rassieur wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Georgetown has a serious problem of burnout culture, and it doesn’t help that our academic calendar is based around nonstop work.”
The statement demands the university implement a minimum of one break per month for the upcoming semester.
GUSA officials also pushed for more transparency surrounding the demographics of university officials overseeing housing requests for the spring to assess any biases. They cited instances of first-generation, low-income students with unstable living conditions being denied on-campus housing for fall 2020 as a prior failure on the university’s part. Several students who filled out the application noted they felt very uncomfortable with the application questions, saying they had to describe their trauma in detail in order to have their application accepted.
“Last semester’s stability application process was already extremely unethical and traumatizing for students as many were denied housing due to an incomprehensive process,” the statement reads. “Given that the administration is only allowing about 150 new stability applicants on campus for Spring, this will more than likely exacerbate the issue.”
The statement also urged the university to bring transfer students to campus along with seniors for the spring, address on-campus student dining and worker health insurance needs and provide more virtual mental health resources for the student body.
The university administration already faced significant backlash this past semester surrounding its decision to reduce financial aid for off-campus students in July. Administrators revised their decision in August, largely restoring financial aid.
The spring 2021 plan is yet another example of how the university has consistently ignored student feedback when making crucial decisions during this past year, according to Rassieur.
“Without a doubt, Georgetown’s administration turns a blind eye to student input in making decisions,” Rassieur wrote. “This is what we observed when they released the problematic financial aid packages for the fall, when they continually keep us in the dark on the status of our workers — especially Leo’s workers who are keeping us fed during the pandemic — and now with this plan for Spring 2021.”