When the university makes major decisions regarding student life — from the closing of Kehoe Field to capital projects affecting students — the proposals are discussed by Director of Virgin Hotels Alberto Beeck (SFS ’91), Chair of the Board of Regents Laurie Hodges Lapeyre (MSB ’83) and two student delegates appointed by the Georgetown University Student Association.
The two representatives, Sara Castigilia (COL ’18) and Connor Maytnier (COL ’17), serve two-year terms on the working group on student affairs of the 40-person board of directors. In addition, GUSA appoints four students to sit on the Georgetown University Alumni Association board of governors for one-year terms beginning in the spring after a new GUSA executive is elected.
These students are selected through an application and interview process overseen by the GUSA president, vice president and chief of staff. Hunter Estes (SFS ’19), Anthony Fadil (MSB ’17), Ben Germano (SFS ’16) and Nicole Lam (COL ’18) currently serve on the board of governors.
According to Castigilia, the two representatives serve as a liaison between GUSA and the board of directors.
“We use our time to bring up student concerns and let them know which issues are most pressing to the student body,” Castigilia wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We work very closely with [GUSA President] Enushe [Khan (MSB ’17)] and [GUSA Vice President] Chris [Fisk (COL ’17)] to make sure that the issues GUSA sees as important are brought to the table. It has been a wonderful opportunity thus far, and the board is a very receptive group of individuals who work hard to make our community better.”
The board of directors oversees major decisions for the university, including the approval of the university’s budget and the initiatives charged by university President John J. DeGioia.
The board of governors — the elected leadership of the GUAA — directs alumni engagement. Student representatives of this group focus on voicing student priorities, including goals for fundraising and connecting with alumni.
Despite the amount of influence held by student representatives on the board of directors and the GUAA board of governors, their presence and function remain relatively unknown by the general student body and even members of GUSA.
“I really don’t know what the boards are,” Catriona Kendall (SFS ’20), a member of GUSA’s Free Speech Policy Team, said.
“All I really know is that GUSA has a board of some sort. I don’t know if that’s related to the Executive though,” Cynthia Sun (SFS ’20), a member of GUSA’s Mental Health Policy Team, said.
Khan said the student board representative positions also provide another route to university leadership on campus, allowing more voices to be heard during their meetings.
“We have a lot of different leaders on our campus, and it’s also about creating different leadership opportunities to do that. So, you don’t have to be GUSA president to be at a board of directors meeting. There are other opportunities to be very much engaged in senior decision-making processes,” Khan said.
At the last meeting, students focused on finding a short-term solution to the closure of Kehoe Field, which affected over 700 club athletes due to lack of adequate field space. Representatives also discussed the option of Georgetown University Transportation Shuttle weekend transportation and the concerns students have about a lack of transparency regarding tuition.
Khan said the meeting allowed students and administrators an opportunity to discuss solutions.
“The tuition conversation went very well, and along with what we’ve been doing in our conversations with the provost we have good news on that front,” Khan said. “The Kehoe field will now be discussed again at the winter meeting and the conversation on GUTS is something that we are continuing to talk to the university on.”
Khan said the reason for an application-based process is due to the seriousness and depth of these roles.
“It’s more so for continuity,” Khan said. “The directors are really listening to what the students are saying because they believe, and sort of trust that these are students that truly are representing student interests, and are students who know enough about the university and are making recommendations based on actual institutional knowledge and background information.”
The GUSA president sits on the board of directors during its plenary session, when various university community members are invited to attend.
Khan said having influence with the board of directors is important to making progress on initiatives.
“There is no more important body on this campus than the university’s board of directors. They are the ultimate decision-makers,” Khan said.
The student representatives to the GUAA board of governors meet with the rest of GUSA regularly to discuss projects to connect student and alumni. As much of the philanthropy directed toward Georgetown comes from alumni, student priorities regarding funding are discussed thoroughly before being communicated to the board of governors.
Estes said the board is made up of alumni dedicated to improving life at Georgetown.
“The alumni network is one of the greatest aspects of Georgetown. These alumni have blazed trails in career-fields that much of the students hope to follow,” Estes wrote in an email to The Hoya. It is my goal as a representative to find new and unique ways to bring alumni and students together through mentorship opportunities and new communication techniques of the like that hasn’t been seen before at Georgetown.”
Khan said although students are represented at high levels of administration, she said it is important to ensure students’ concerns are understood by the board.
“While it’s great that we have students in the room presenting, I still have concerns about gaps in student representation on the board overall and I think we’ve seen with conversations on tuition that that’s something a lot of students have expressed concerns about,” Khan said.