Over 200 clubs and activities shape our Georgetown community and enrich our Georgetown experience. Whether in Red Square, Gaston Hall, Yates Field House or on Healy Lawn student organizations enable us to live the Jesuit values of educating the whole person, pursuing social justice and celebrating our diversity. We owe it to ourselves and to one another to respect, embrace and pursue our unique gifts, insights and passions as we embody the value of cura personalis.
However, a lack of collaboration and bureaucratic constraints make it difficult for student groups to fully realize this vision of spirited student life. We need a forum to bring student groups together to speak with one voice about how we can work together to make student life easier and more vibrant for all Georgetown students.
A diverse group of student leaders representing student organizations from the Student Activities Commission, Center for Social Justice, Advisory Board for Club Sports, Performing Arts Advisory Council, the Media Board, The Corp, Georgetown University Student Association and other organizations have come together to develop the Student Group Union. The SGU will advocate for undergraduate student organizations and provide for greater communication and cooperation among groups, serving as a liaison between organizations and the university administration. Already, approximately 50 groups have signed on, and each day more join us.
The SGU executive committee — elected by all SGU organizations — will take up any and every issue raised by participating groups. From SAC funding guidelines to Yates reservations, the SGU will work with relevant advisory boards and administrators to institute needed reforms. One such reform the SGUwill undertake is practice times for club sports. Initial research by the Student Life Report 2011 Committee has revealed that club sports teams are often squeezed out of space and resources by both varsity sports and intramural games. Moving forward, the SGU executive committee will collaborate with the Center for Student Programs, Yates, ABCS and club sports organization leaders to better accommodate club sports teams.
The executive committee will also facilitate increased collaboration among groups to help develop more innovative, inclusive and cross-cultural events and programs. For example, the SGU can promote cooperation among a variety of CSJ and Campus Ministry groups to take up the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Challenge. By inviting students from different religious and non-religious groups on campus to tackle community challenges together, the SGU could join Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and CSJ student groups to build a Habitat for Humanity house, launch a new program inD.C. public schools or help our impoverished neighbors in other parts of the District.
By aggregating and voicing the concerns of all student groups, the SGU will have an unprecedented effect on Georgetown. Just as GUSA represents the issues of the average student, the SGU will advocate on behalf of the average student group. A common Chinese saying, “One chopstick breaks easily, but a bundle is impossible to break,” teaches that unity is strength. Such cooperation is necessary for the further growth and betterment of a community. In that light, the SGU will foster collaboration among seemingly different groups, both through existing structures like 25 Days of Service and through the development of new and innovative events. By serving as a platform for communication and cooperation, the SGU will allow student group leaders to exchange event ideas and accumulate institutional knowledge, sharing best practices and learning from each other’s successes and failures.
Eitan Paul and Shuo Yan Tan are seniors in the School of Foreign Service. Eitan is co-chair of the SGUsteering committee and former Chair of the International Relations Club. Shuo is chair of the Student Life Report 2011 Committee and a student governor on the Georgetown Alumni Board of Governors.