The Georgetown University Student Association is forming a Socioeconomic Working Group, which GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) and Vice President Adam Ramadan (SFS ’14) promised to do during their election campaign in March.
The committee, led by GUSA Secretary of Social Justice Brittney Blakely (COL ’14), is aiming to develop a comprehensive report on the effects of socioeconomic status at Georgetown, similar to the LGBTQ Safety and Security Report created by the last GUSA administration.
“We want to get a group together just to assess the situation because we don’t know everything there is to know,” Tisa said. “It’s something that GUSA has a responsibility and an ability to investigate and use that investigation, use that information that we come out with to make change.”
Potential goals of the committee include better utilizing services already offered to students from low-income families and holding finance advisory sessions at the beginning of each semester. The executives, however, acknowledged that the immediate effects the committee could have on campus life are limited.
“I cannot necessarily change a professor ordering a book that he deems necessary for a class,” Ramadan said. “So I guess we’re already starting to do what I want to see come out of this committee, which is just the awareness on campus.”
For Tisa, Ramadan and Blakely, socioeconomic status is a personal issue, as it is for many students on campus. Tisa is a financial aid recipient, while Ramadan is a member of the Georgetown Scholarship Program and Blakely has worked three jobs since arriving at Georgetown.
“I think in both of our cases, it didn’t limit what we were able to do, but we were certainly conscious of it,” Tisa said of himself and Ramadan. “We certainly saw how, for many students, it’s a big issue. We saw how it can certainly impact the Georgetown experience.”
The committee stemmed from the sentiment that socioeconomic status was often ignored in campus discussions.
“When we talk about diversity at Georgetown, oftentimes it’s diversity of thought or diversity of culture, but socioeconomic diversity also falls into that,” Ramadan said. “Sometimes it gets overlooked.”
Blakely agreed that socioeconomic disparity affects many at Georgetown.
“It’s personal, but it also applies to so many students here,” Blakely said. “There’s a large group of students now who do not have a certain socioeconomic status, and that does present problems.”
She hopes the committee will start a conversation on campus.
“[Socioeconomic status] does impact social life, academic life, personal functioning. [It] affects all of it,” Blakely said. “We just want to begin the dialogue.”