All three proposals for the allocation of the $3.4 million Student Activities Fee Endowment cleared their last hurdle when they passed a referendum by the student body last week, but the implementation process for each is just beginning.
Last week’s referendum was the final step in a reform of the Student Activities Fee that began last spring. The implementation of the individual plans now rests on the shoulders of the students on the respective steering committees, which are being managed by the working groups for each proposal and the Georgetown University Student Association.
Just before the referendum, GUSA members signed a binding agreement with the administration regarding the implementation of each proposal. According to GUSA President Mike Meaney (SFS ’12), the document guarantees that students’ money will be used appropriately by the university, which controls the funds for the time being.
“In terms of the short term, having [the university] sign [the agreement letter] ensures that no funny business can happen,” Meaney said.
The document, signed Jan. 23, dictates that the Social Innovation and Public Service Fund, granted $1.25 million, will be established by Jan. 1, 2013. However, the leaders of SIPS are currently working to recruit three additional members to its 10-student steering committee by Feb. 14. Students will be able to apply to join through GUSA. The group intends to have the fund up and running by fall 2012, according to GUSA senator Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13), who helped spearhead the proposal.
“The 13 of us will … work out a lot of kinks and then turn [SIPS] over to the [governing board],” she said.
The steering committee plans to hold a launch event for the fund in April.
“There’s obviously a lot of work to be done … but I don’t foresee any challenges being big enough [not] to overcome in the next three, four months,” Gustafson said.
Members of Georgetown Energy, which was allocated $250,000 to install solar panels on about 43 university townhouses, are talking with University Facilities and Student Housing about when construction can begin.
The university has agreed to install solar panels on seven to nine townhouses on 37th Street as the first round of the project. The allocated money not used will be placed in the Green Revolving Loan Fund, housed in the SIPS Fund, and can be used for future sustainability initiatives.
An agreement on the start date for the project and the number of townhouses included must be reached by April 3, according to the agreement signed with the university.
Although Solar City, a residential and commercial solar provider, helped develop the proposal, Georgetown Energy has not yet chosen a company with which to partner in the project. The group hopes to choose a vendor by mid- to late February.
The solar panel installation plan must be approved by the Old Georgetown Board before the project can begin. Dave Nulsen (SFS ’12), Georgetown Energy’s project leader for the solar panel installations, is optimistic about winning their approval.
“The Old Georgetown Board are good people,” he said. “They just want to make sure Georgetown maintains its integrity.”
“I imagine that [the installation] will take place over the summer, [because] it’s not that difficult,” Meaney, who is also on Georgetown Energy’s advisory committee, said.
Leaders of the New South Student Center proposal are meeting with University Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Christopher Augostini and members of the university’s Investment Office to determine when to cash out the $2.04 million of endowment money that the project was allocated. The timeline depends on the strength of the financial market, according to Meaney.
Meaney expects construction on the student center, which will be financed primarily by the university, to begin in summer 2013. The project can begin only after the university has raised enough money to complete its portion of the renovations.
The proposal will use SAFE money to augment the university’s plan for the space, adding an outdoor terrace and additional study and lounge space to the existing design.
Through the agreement document, GUSA retains the right to approve revision to the plans for NSSCenhancements. The administration has also agreed to build a restaurant and bar that will serve alcoholic beverages and to allow GUSA to choose the names for the areas of the NSSC on which SAFE money is spent.
Meaney is optimistic that the implementation of the approved proposals will go smoothly.
“Because the process itself was so thorough … I actually don’t think any of the initial roadblocks we foresee will stall up [the plans],” he said.