The Georgetown University Student Association Senate unanimously voted to establish a committee in charge of fundraising for cosponsored events with the Black Leadership Forum.
The resolution, titled the Georgetown Advocating For Activist Support Act, was passed Nov. 23 and seeks to create a committee that will increase the amount of money allocated by GUSA for advocacy. The committee will be created in collaboration with the BLF, a coalition of multiple campus organizations including the Black Student Alliance, the Black House and the African Society of Georgetown.
By increasing fundraising for BLF events, the act aims to further the individual missions of all BLF-affiliated groups and to create a formal relationship between GUSA and the BLF. Senators praised the act for its attempts to establish more inclusion and support for the Black community on campus.
“It’s monumental, and I think that this should inspire all of us to continue to push for a more progressive legislation for things that will make Georgetown a safer, more inclusive, a more representative space where all students can be comfortable,” GUSA Senate Vice Speaker Melanie Cruz-Morales (COL ’22) said at the Nov. 23 meeting.
In the process of crafting the legislation, Black student activists said GUSA has historically underfunded advocacy efforts, according to the resolution.
“As has been expressed by Black student organizers throughout the meetings for this legislation, students advocating for the protection of their civil rights and racial equality on Georgetown’s Campus believe that finances allocated by GUSA for advocacy consistently fall short of what is needed,” the resolution reads.
The idea for the G.A.A.S. Act originated over the summer while protests against police violence inflicted on Black citizens were at their height, according to the bill. Funds will be raised by multiple sources, including graduate donations, a capital campaign and university departments.
The committee, which will have at least one GUSA representative, will be composed of a majority of Black students and organizers. Committee members will manage funds and decide the eligibility of each cosponsored event proposed by the BLF. According to the act, the committee will also explore community partnerships with student organizations like the Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union, The Corp, the Social Innovation and Public Service Fund.
The BLF hopes that, with access to more funds, it will also be able to provide scholarships for first-years, help students with the costs of books and supplies and, in the future, host conferences and field trips, as well as launch a BLF website that will be a resource for all Black students on campus, according to AbdulRahman Gabriel (COL ’22), a BLF co-facilitator who endorsed the legislation.
“The fund is a great step because it is GUSA’s commitment to directly supporting the Black community on campus, and that is the allyship that is necessary,” Gabriel wrote in an email to The Hoya. “It provides for a set and reliable means of support as Black orgs on campus should not be struggling to fundraise in order to host events or give back to the community.”
GUSA Speaker of the Senate Leo Teixeira (COL ’21), who helped introduce the G.A.A.S. Act, said it was a prudent plan to expand the reach of BLF events and programs.
“This is something that has been very well thought out, very well considered, and I think this is an incredible example of seeing something that needs to be done and putting in a tremendous amount of work to fully pull for something that is an incredible solution to a problem on campus,” Teixiera said at the Nov. 23 meeting.
GUSA Senator Kariel Bennett (COL ’23) also praised the resolution by calling it a crucial step in GUSA’s mission to further connect with Black student organizations on campus.
“As a member of the Black community and someone who has a dance team under BLF, this resolution is monumental,” Bennett said at the Nov. 23 meeting. “You guys are amazing for even considering writing something so extensive.”
The bill’s original intent was to more broadly support the Black student body at Georgetown, according to Gabriel.
“The G.A.A.S. Act was initially a bill that also focused on supporting Black students on campus, but many Black leaders on campus, as well as the BLF, felt that it lacked resourceful support,” Gabriel wrote. “It was done in the hopes of finding an impactful solution to advancing Black voices and purposes as well as supporting the Black community in a productive manner. The G.A.A.S. Act is essentially meant to support activism on campus in any way possible.”