The Georgetown University Student Association aims to make progress toward campus life affordability and student access to university resources this summer.
After managing a campaign centered on affordability and entrepreneurship, GUSA President Kamar Mack (COL ’19) and Vice President Jessica Andino (COL ’18) will seek new options to increase affordability over the summer.
Both Mack and Andino will be on campus, meeting with the administration in hopes of delivering on their campaign promises by the time school reopens in the fall.
“We are trying to propose to high level administrators funding opportunities for students with unpaid internships. It’s something we’ve noticed is very important for a student’s experience in D.C.,” Andino said. “Sometimes it’s very hard for students to afford an unpaid internship. Right now we are still working on putting the proposal together but it could offer a grant for students who have to spend money on transportation or other expenses that come with an unpaid internship.”
Mack said he and Andino are committed to making ordinary life at Georgetown more affordable for students, by reaching out to local businesses located along Georgetown University Transportation Shuttle routes with the goal of negotiating deals that decrease the financial burden of daily tasks such as getting a haircut or buying groceries.
“We are meeting with businesses in the Georgetown area and along the GUTS routes to set up partnerships so students can get discounts,” Mack said. “By the fall, we want to have a website set up with all these partnerships. Some of these will include restaurants, barbershops and grocery stores.”
Andino said she and Mack are also working to ensure Georgetown’s Office of Planning and Facilities Management and Office of Residential Living provide feminine hygiene products for students.
“Another project I’ve been working on with the women’s advocacy committee from College Democrats is we’ve been working with facilities and residential living to install feminine hygiene metal receptacles in all the stalls,” Andino said. “The plan for the summer is that they will be installed before the fall semester begins. The priority will be installing them in all women’s bathrooms first and then in all-gender bathrooms and even putting them in men’s bathrooms.”
Mack said he also wants Georgetown to increase the availability of resources for students looking to expand their education beyond the classroom, particularly around entrepreneurship. Already, McDonough School of Business entrepreneurship group Startup Hoyas has worked with the university to administer 1239 37th Street NW, known as the Yellow House, as a residential hub for students interested in starting their own businesses.
“The second piece that’s part of our broad goal over the summer is expanding access to student resources for individuals and student startups,” Mack said. “For the fall, we have already locked down with StartupHoyas the concept of doing peer to peer sessions in the Yellow House, next door to the Red House [1237 37th Street, N.W.,]. Students who are interested in startups can come to these peer-to-peer sessions and hear about the work that student startups are doing out on campus.”
Over the past few years, one of the main roles of the GUSA president has been engaging with university administrators on campus planning. Last summer, former GUSA President Enushe Khan (MSB ’17) and Chris Fisk (COL ’17) led negotiations with the Georgetown Community Partnership, a coalition of students, administrators and neighbors, to create the 2017-2036 Campus Plan, which laid out residential and neighborhood growth agreements between the university and the Georgetown, Burleith and Foxhall communities.
Mack said he intends to continue these efforts to ensure that preserving the wellbeing of the student body is at the forefront of all decisions.
“Our administration is going to be working very hard to protect student rights. This has a lot of master planning focus and has a lot to do with community relations,” Mack said. “At the beginning of 2018, MedStar is going to start construction on the medical and surgical pavilion. Whenever there are issues of construction, the biggest things that affect students are the noise, the dust and accessibility to pathways. As far as the MedStar construction, GUSA is going to be working very hard to make sure that there are noise mitigation strategies in place and to make sure that students can still go on their daily commute with particular attention to accessibility.”
Mack said he hopes to be able to meet with members of the university such as Residential Living as they make decisions about potential policy changes for the upcoming school year. One policy in particular Mack said he wants to address is last year’s new “no-warning” policy for first-year students who receive a noise complaint.
“ResLife said one of the biggest parent concerns they got every year had to do with noise in first-year residence halls. In order to combat that, their response was to institute a no-warning policy for noise. Their thought process was that if they were harder on noise in the fall, then noise would go down in the spring,” Mack said. “This happened from last August to this past spring. This policy is unfair to students because there’s no frame of reference in a dorm room. The other piece is it also sets up an adversarial relationship with the RAs.”
Over the summer, both Mack and Andino will help oversee the changes to the Leavey Center and O’Donovan Hall. Construction has already begun to renovate the Georgetown’s only dining hall and upgrade both the Students of Georgetown, Inc. coffee shop Uncommon Grounds and the bookstore.
“The other thing we will be working on are the Leavey and Leo’s renovations and introducing that to students over the summer, finding ways for new students to learn about the meal plan and for current students to find what their best option is in a meal plan,” Andino said.
Mack and Andino are not the only members of GUSA working this summer. Nina Young (SFS ’19), who leads the policy team on sexual assault and student safety, said her team aims to develop a multimedia resource that will help students learn how to navigate the university’s Title IX reporting process.
“We will be working with the Title IX office and Student Conduct to release a comprehensive and easily accessible multimedia resource on student conduct proceedings, in order to give survivors and others a preemptive look into what the process entails,” Young wrote in an email to The Hoya. “The goal of this project is to make the reporting process easier and less intimidating for survivors, and to consequently make students more likely to report.”