The Georgetown University Student Association Senate struck down a proposed student referendum that would have granted students the opportunity to designate Georgetown University a Blue Campus at their weekly meeting Jan. 20.
The Blue Campus label would have functioned as a university pledge to promote environmentally conscious practices focused on ocean preservation. The referendum failed to pass the two-thirds majority threshold required to put forward referenda, with 17 senators voting in favor, seven voting against and four absences. During the same session, the GUSA Senate passed a separate sustainability referendum on which students can vote to support the university’s divestment from fossil fuel companies.
The Blue Campus referendum was introduced to show the administration that students support strong environmental protection, according to Leo Rassieur (COL ’23), the senator who introduced the bill.
“Everything from the way we source our energy to the education modules that incoming freshmen receive to how we deal with consumer waste is addressed by the referendum,” Rassieur wrote in an email to The Hoya. “If the student body at large does not have the opportunity to add their voice to this declaration, then the declaration is meaningless.”
The Blue Campus referendum outlined goals for the university, including a published list of campus energy sources in partnership with the Office of Sustainability by 2021, investments in carbon offset programs by 2025 and continuing efforts to transition all Georgetown University Transportation Shuttles to zero-emission vehicles.
GUSA President Norman Francis (COL ’20) and Vice President Aleida Olvera (COL ’20) expressed support for the Blue Campus initiative in a press release published Oct. 15. The GUSA Senate agreed to establish a Blue Campus working group Nov. 24 to explore the possibility of introducing a Blue Campus referendum.
The broader mission of the Blue Campus referendum was to spread awareness about environmental issues on campus, Rassieur wrote.
“Our ultimate goal is simply to change the way that the student body and the University does things and to make people more conscious about the environment and the oceans,” Rassieur wrote. “For us, the way that we achieve those goals is less important than actually being able to say we did everything we could to preserve the oceans and the world’s environments for future generations.”
The GUSA Senate had a responsibility to support the environmental policies outlined in the Blue Campus referendum, Senator Eric Bazail-Eimil (SFS ’23) said during a debate period at the meeting, according to the meeting minutes.
“I don’t know if you noticed the quote on the wall: ‘Look on to the rock on which you are hewn. We are called upon to support the Earth we live on,’” Bazail-Eimil said. “This is an incredibly well-written objective, and if we can actively pursue change we should.”
The Blue Campus referendum may have lacked the specificity necessary for a two-thirds majority passage, according to Senator Leo John Arnett (SFS ’22), who voted in favor of the bill.
“I think that the Blue Campus was a little bit too general and I think that it was slightly confusing to what the students would be voting on,” Arnett said in an interview with The Hoya. “But when it comes to Georgetown’s administration, especially with referendum, it has to be very specific for the board of directors to really take it seriously because they care most about the money side of things.”
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