As Georgetown enters a new year, it faces a broad set of complicated challenges and opportunities. I believe as students, we have the desire and potential to affect great change on this campus. I want to enumerate some of the areas where students can make progress this upcoming school year with the hope of providing a launching pad for all the new students on this campus who want to make a difference, but might not know exactly where to begin.
We are empowered to address cultural and diversity issues on this Hilltop. The diversity requirement passed; now we need to ensure its smooth implementation.
In addition to our curriculum, we need a more diverse faculty. Culture and diversity problems extend to student life as well. Student groups have a stunning lack of diversity; now more than ever, we need inclusive leadership. Groups should use Leaders in Education About Diversity and the Center for Multicultural Equity & Access resources to host diversity trainings for their membership, especially regarding the recruitment and hiring processes.
We should note that cultural groups have special funding needs and codify this understanding in funding boards. SafeRides and the Center for Social Justice need to add a disability accessible van and we should consider a Disability Cultural Center. We should also support Casa Latina. Incoming transgender and gender-nonconforming students should be able to enter Campus Housing Roomate Matching System as their identified gender and club sports teams should follow the NCAA policy on transgender athletes.
We are empowered to lead the conversation on master planning and neighborhood relations. Highlights include: renovate residence halls on campus (starting with Henle and Village A), establish a regular schedule for hall renovations, oppose any increased on-campus housing requirements, protect the right for seniors to live off campus, institutionalize TurboVote, increase alumni awareness of master planning, encourage students membership in Burleith Citizens Association and Citizens Association of Georgetown and increase student involvement in Georgetown Community Partnership working groups.
We are empowered to tackle socioeconomic diversity. Georgetown should freeze tuition and be more transparent in tuition allocation. We should consider tuition deferments. We need to endow and expand the Georgetown Scholarship Program and offer more scholarships for middle class students. We should allow pre-registration without a receipt of full semester tuition and expand the Georgetown Summer Fellowship Program.
Let’s continue the Committee on Class, Equity and Access, advocate for RAs on financial aid and permit college credit for certain internships. Student organizations ought to provide financial assistance options for members (i.e. International Relations Club gives aid for conference travel). We should also address the real cost of college attendance, including book expenses, travel costs, laundry and printing.
We are empowered to improve student group funding by reducing costs of Gaston and ICC Auditorium, negotiating a billing deadline when charges to student group accounts for university services are void, raising the student activities fee to $200 through a referendum and implementing the Student Activities Capital Campaign.
We are empowered to improve Residential Living by utilizing InterHall as advocates, continuing Adopt-A-Hall, expanding CHARMS (especially to sophomores, transfers and study abroad), establishing a landlord fair and opening housing eligibility for senior year at the end of sophomore year. We should ensure fourth-year housing eligibility and the right for seniors to live off campus.
We are empowered to improve food and auxiliary services. Aramark’s contract is ending, so students can explore new service providers. Let’s increase meal plan options, implement the Fall 2014 Hoya Court meal swipe exchange, support O’Donovan Hall’s workers’ rights and discuss mail consolidation efforts.
We are empowered to make conduct reforms. We need to expand clear and convincing evidentiary standard to off-campus violations, eliminate all fines from the sanctioning guide and explore a restorative justice sanctioning model.
We are empowered to fight sexual assault and dating violence by supporting the addition of sexual assault language for all syllabi, increasing awareness about who are mandatory reporters on campus and expanding participation in Sexual Assault Peer Education workshops.
We are empowered to enhance academic and intellectual life on campus. We should allow languages to be taken pass/fail, permit double majoring across schools and bring critical reforms to the study abroad office. We should also include an option for deans to make transcript notes, which indicate reasons that influenced grades during certain semesters.
Other areas for change include advocating for tabling as an expression of speech, including “immigration status” in the non-discriminatory Affirmative Action Equal Opportunity statement, commissioning student artists and pushing for more space for the arts on campus and ensuring Georgetown adheres to and expands its sustainability goals.
We also need to continue talking about mental health, reforming Counseling & Psychiatric Services, offering more free CAPS appointments and establishing a Mental Health Peer Educators program. We should convert the sixth floor of Reiss into club office space, expand student workers’ rights, consider a smoking ban across campus, better assist student entrepreneurs, consistently fund the club sports athletic trainer, add a second academic advisor for student athletes, create an accountability tracker for facility requests, install broadcast TVs across campus to advertise student events and dispel the misconception that groups will be penalized for co-sponsoring events with unrecognized groups.
By raising awareness about these topics, I hope my fellow Hoyas will find an issue that resonates with them and pick up the banner to move this university forward. One person cannot enact the change we need, we must go far and we must go together. This is a call for all hands on deck.
Reed Howard is a junior in the School of Foreign Service. He is an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and a GUSA deputy chief of staff.