Housing selection points for rising sophomores will be tied to attendance at a series of forums on diversity and sexual assault beginning this year.
The new initiative, called What’s a Hoya?, was launched by the Georgetown University Student Association with assistance from the Office of Residential Services and will take effect for fall 2014 housing selections in March.
Under past policy, rising sophomores receive two housing selection points, rising juniors receive four points and rising seniors who lived off campus in fall 2013 receive three points if they apply for eligibility. Following the new initiative, rising sophomores still receive two points, but will gain one-tenth of an additional housing point for every forum that they attend. With three forums offered, the maximum number of points for rising sophomores will be 2.3 and the minimum will remain two.
The selection points of students in groups of two, three or four for housing selection will be averaged. Higher point averages will give groups an earlier selection time to choose their preferred housing.
The university will offer four sessions of each module, including two weekend sessions, to help accommodate student schedules.
“We are excited to partner with GUSA to make this initiative launch successful, and in giving incentives to students based on their attendance to these important forums, we hope to see a large turnout, and a positive change on our campus,” Executive Director for Residential Services Patrick Killilee said.
GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS’14) and Vice President Adam Ramadan (SFS ’14) first approached the Office of Residential Services early in the semester to discuss the program.
“We had this idea back in July to find a way to incentivize increased engagement in all aspects of student life here at Georgetown, and when we approached the administration with our plans, they were very supportive,” Tisa said.
Administrators determined that the initiative would be a valuable tool to educate on key areas such as sexual violence and diversity, and to raise awareness for campus resources.
The first training forum, focusing on mentorship, will take place Nov. 20 and feature a keynote speech from Vice President for Mission and Ministry Fr. Kevin O’Brien, S.J. The session will also feature a student leadership panel and a host of faculty experts, along with alumni representing Hoya Gateway. Registration for the event will open Monday on HoyaLink. The three other sessions for the module are scheduled for Nov. 24, Nov. 25 and Dec. 6.
The second forum, on student health, is set for January, and the final forum, about community and diversity, is scheduled for February. In addition to attending the forum, students are expected to fill out a survey afterward.
A new GUSA committee will coordinate the sessions’ programming.
“Our job is to provide the framework, and the audience for these faculty experts,” What’s a Hoya? Coordinator and GUSA Deputy Chief of Staff Chandini Jha (COL ’16) said. “Their job is the content, which will include everything from the prevalence of sexual assault on campus to establishing positive neighborhood relations to getting in touch with professors or tutors.”
Last year, Jha and other students pushed to add comprehensive, mandatory sexual assault training to New Student Orientation, but because of the tight NSO schedule, there was only an optional discussion at orientation.
“This idea is separate and addresses sexual violence as one of several cultural problems that we face here,” Jha said. “We’ve engaged in talks with experts from the administration, and we are letting them guide us on the most appropriate way to address this sensitive topic.”
The architects of the program saw housing as the appropriate avenue for these forums because of its effects on every student.
“Housing points was the perfect way to go, because it is the one thing that is in demand for every rising sophomore and it doesn’t cost the university money to slightly revise their selection system,”Tisa said.
GUSA and administrators, however, decided to limit the program to underclassmen.
“The decision was made that under no circumstances should a rising sophomore have more housing selection points than a rising junior, because we wanted to respect the older undergraduates,” Killileesaid.
What’s a Hoya? Coordinator Dan Silkman (COL ’15) expressed optimism at the expected reaction from the Class of 2017 to the new housing selection points system and the training forums.
“We talked it over with GUSA’s 15-member freshman outreach committee, and they all sounded excited for the initiative to begin,” Silkman said. “These forums will benefit each student’s Georgetown experience, and we expect a great turnout.”
However, after GUSA announced the Housing Passport Initative yesterday, reactions from the Class of 2017 were varied.
“I think that for proactive students with time of their hands, this is a great program,” Jack Rosenberg (SFS ’17) said. “But for those of us who have a packed extracurricular schedule, it puts us at an unfair disadvantage for housing points. I’d be in favor of a return to the old system where all freshmen were at least on level footing for housing selection.”
Tiffany Lam (NHS ’17) said that the initiative was good, but unnecessary.
“I think that it doesn’t hurt to be taught about health resources, sexual assault and good neighborhood conduct, but it’s a bit redundant,” Lam said. “At least this system will take away the feeling of total randomness from housing selection.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to the housing initiative by an earlier name. It is called What’s a Hoya?, not the GUSA Housing Passport Initiative. Due to an editing error, the article also incorrectly reported that the student health forum would take place in February, while the community and diversity forum would take place in January. The community and diversity forum will be in February, and the student health forum will be in January. The quotation, “Housing points was the perfect way to go,” was additionally misattributed to GUSA Vice President Adam Ramadan. It was said by GUSA President Nate Tisa.