The GUSA Student Activities Fund Endowment Committee voted to back the Healy Pub and Georgetown Energy solar panel proposals as their primary recommendations at its final meeting Tuesday, following two months of debate.
The plan to install solar panels on 43 university-owned townhouses would receive $170,000, while the remainder of the $3.4 million fund would be spent on the Healy Pub project, according to the committee’s suggestions.
The members also voted on a plan for alternatives in case either of the primary proposals proves to be infeasible. The secondary recommendations back the Social Innovation and Public Service Fund, the New South Student Center proposal, renovations to the second floor of Lauinger Library and an omnibus space fund.
“We’re definitely pleased with what the committee ultimately decided,” Chris Pigott (COL ’12), the leader of the on-campus campaign to bring back the Healy Pub, said. “And I think there are some fantastic proposals that could be funded otherwise. Whatever happens, it will benefit Georgetown.”
Georgetown University Student Association Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee will take the committee’s final report and create a working group for each of the primary and secondary proposals to develop more detailed steps for implementing the proposals. Committee members will also have a professional study conducted to determine the feasibility of constructing a pub in the basement of Healy Hall.
Colton Malkerson (COL ’13), committee vice-chairman and GUSA Fin/App chairman, said that Fin/App would meet Wednesday to review the committee’s recommendations and begin forming the working groups. Each group would likely include the project’s advocates, relevant university administrators, alumni and GUSA members. Current SAFE committee members will also be invited to participate.
University Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson said he is ready to consider the recommended projects.
“I appreciate the thoughtful work of the Endowment Commission. I look forward to working with them in exploring and understanding the feasibility of the ideas they are proposing,” he wrote in an email.
After approval by the GUSA senate, the final proposals will be put to a student body vote in a referendum.
Although members voted unanimously on the final report, some said they wished the committee could have funded more projects.
“I just think we’re not being creative enough,” committee member Jack Applebaum (COL ’14) said during the debate.
According to the final recommendations of the committee, if the solar energy project turns out to be infeasible, the funds allocated to it would go to an omnibus space fund that could provide money for smaller renovation projects.
“As someone who works with space problems on a daily basis, it would make a huge difference to have a few student spaces renovated,” committee member Kathleen McCullough (SFS ’12), who represents the Georgetown Program Board, said.
If the Healy Pub proposal proves infeasible — a genuine possibility, according to some committee members — $1.25 million would go to the SIPS fund and $1.75 million would go to the New South Student Center proposal, which would help finance a planned student space included in the 2010 Campus Plan.
Allocating the remaining money either the Lauinger library renovation or the omnibus space fund would be left up to the Fin/App working groups’ discretion or student referendum.
While committee members said they liked the fact the library project would produce concrete results within the next couple of years, many questioned whether it was an appropriate use of the money.
“I’d like to have children and grandchildren one day,” committee member Matt Morris (SFS ’14) said. “And I don’t want to have to tell them that I gave that much money to Lauinger Library.”
At the beginning of the meeting, Chairman Andrew Curtis (MSB ’11) said that there would be no time allotted for public comment, a decision that some SIPS fund supporters in attendance, as well as some committee members, vehemently disagreed with.
Eventually, Curtis agreed to put the decision to a vote, and the committee voted to let representatives for each proposal in attendance speak briefly one final time.
Proponents of the SIPS fund, the Healy Pub proposal and the New South Student Center spoke in favor of their suggestions.
Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) spoke on behalf of the SIPS fund, countering many of the concerns that committee members raised about the initiative. Gustafson said that the project would not be redundant since the recently established Georgetown Social Entrepreneurship Initiative would not provide funds to students. SIPS advocates were unable to sway the commission, however, as a motion to reconsider the proposal as a primary recommendation failed to pass.
“Although we are disappointed with the outcome and have serious reservations about the process, we are thankful to the commission for their consideration,” SIPS backers Nick Troiano (COL ’12) and Gustafson wrote in a statement after the meeting. “We remain committed to bringing the SIPS Fund to fruition, and look forward to further engaging the student body in our efforts.”
According to Pigott, Healy Pub supporters have already had several meetings with administrators and plan to continue working with them over the summer.
Committee members continued to stress the importance of redefining the proposal to deemphasize the pub aspect in order to facilitate approval by the administration.
“It shouldn’t be us versus the university,” Malkerson said.
Pigott said that, in retrospect, while he would not have altered the proposal, he would have made it clear from the beginning that the plan was not centered on drinking.
“We want to bring back the sense of community,” he said.