Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies (SCS) students voted in favor of completing the transition toward fully incorporating the school into the university’s student government bodies.
The Georgetown University Graduate Student Government held the referendum from Nov. 15 to Nov. 22, which received a total of 491 votes from 16.4% of the student body, of which 89.2% of students voted in favor of the referendum. The executive board will ask the senate to recognize this result at a Dec. 3 meeting. This will complete the transitional period of incorporating the SCS into the senate that began three months ago when 46 senate positions were first offered to SCS students.
Students in the SCS are enthusiastic to join the GradGov bodies, according to Sam Hymes (MBA ’23, MPS ’23), GradGov’s director of communications.
“SCS students are dedicated and hard working who deserve a voice,” Hymes wrote in an email to The Hoya. “GradGov has been very positive about adding members of SCS. More than half of my Communications Committee are SCS students and have worked tremendously hard for GradGov and their respective programs.”
The referendum, which only included the question of whether students wanted to pay the $18 graduate student activities fee to join GradGov and participate in all the organization’s affairs, including attending all events, running for executive positions and joining committees in the bodies’ senate, was open to current SCS students for voting from Nov. 15 to Nov. 22.
Since not many SCS students were familiar with GradGov before this semester, it took a lot of work to promote this vote across the school, according to Kelly Otter, dean of the SCS.
“Close coordination was necessary not only because of the tight timeline of the referendum vote, but also because for many SCS students the mission and purpose of GradGov was still relatively new,” Otter wrote in an email to The Hoya. “To that end, the GradGov leadership team worked closely with the SCS Dean’s Office, Marketing, and Academic Operations departments to push out appropriate messaging in school-wide emails, programmatic newsletters, TV screens on campus, and on social media.”
The passage of the referendum represented a turning point for the SCS, according to Jonah Klempner (LAW ’22, GRD ’22), president of GradGov.
“This was a huge inflection point for how the administration is going to view the School of Continuing Studies as for what the students there are looking for and what Georgetown owes to them,” Klempner said in an interview with The Hoya. “If these students are coming here not just for a credential but for an experience then Georgetown needs to deliver, and the School of Continuing Studies administration themselves has been doing a really good job creating that community.”
SCS students have shown excitement throughout the election process about involvement in GradGov, according to Otter.
“SCS students are excited about opportunities to engage with the larger GU community, and GradGov provides a great infrastructure for this,” Otter wrote. “The GradGov leadership and inaugural group of SCS Senators were tremendous champions of the effort to make SCS an official part of the organization. Their drive and dedication was a vital part of the success of the initiative, something we are very grateful for!”
The SCS students demonstrated through their votes that they expect more than just coursework from their student experience, according to Klempner.
“They showed that in this referendum that they are here to be students, not just here to get this credential,” Klempner said. “They’re here for the graduate student community. They’re here for the student experience and Georgetown, after you know we had one out of seven of them come out and vote affirmatively. There was nothing else on the ballot. There’s no other reason for a student to vote besides this because nobody was running.”
There was no prior representation of the SCS in any graduate student bodies before this semester, according to Klempner.
“Before this, the School of Continuing Studies didn’t have any representation at all,” Klempner said. “They didn’t really have a voice in the administration. In almost every conversation I was in for years people were like talking about them without them being there and making decisions for them without them being there. It was very odd.”
This referendum highlights GradGov’s continued efforts to improve students’ experiences and the Georgetown community, according to Hymes.
“GradGov has been determined to make a strong impact in the community,” Hymes wrote. “We have already done many impactful things to help enhance the student experience at Georgetown. It’s only the beginning and we are far from done.”