As part of the 2016 Georgetown University Student Association Budget approved by the senate after contentious debate Sunday evening, unrecognized student groups will receive on-campus storage space, club sports will receive funding for a full-time athletic trainer for a year and the Georgetown Program Board will face $14,000 in funding cuts.
The allocation is an approximate $11,250 increase from last year’s allocation, and GUSA President Joe Luther (COL ’16) will act on the budget next week.
The funding of an approximately $2,200 storage cage in Regents Hall for unrecognized student groups was the most contentious item of the more than $1 million budget, raising back-and-forth debate between members of the Finance and Appropriations Committee and GUSA senators in a nearly two-and-a-half hour meeting.
“I knew this [storage space] was something that a lot of senators were passionate about, but the room got a little more heated than I expected it to get,” Finance and Appropriations Committee Chair Robert Shepherd (MSB ’15) said.
Although not on the original budget, an amendment funded the storage space with $600 taken from the executive budget, $500 donated from the stipends of GUSA Executive Officer Ryan Giarusso (SFS ’17) and Deputy Executive Officer Leyla Izquierdo (COL ’18) and a matching $1,100 donation from Students of Georgetown, Inc.
The Corp did not respond to requests for comment regarding their donation.
“We see this as a large step forward for unrecognized groups, and we’re very excited that we can play such a large role in it,” Luther said.
Former GUSA President Trevor Tezel (SFS ’15) and Vice President Omika Jikaria (SFS ’15) originally promised the storage space in November 2014, but it was not included in the proposed budget that went to a vote Sunday.
Eleven members of the public — including members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Phi Epsilon, H*yas for Choice, GU Fossil Free and Cups for Campus — sat in on the meeting to voice their concern about the lack of funding for the storage space, which will measure 10 feet by 10 feet, and be shared by various unrecognized student groups. They participated in a long debate with Fin/App and senators over the storage space, which was dubbed the “Regents Cage.”
H*yas for Choice President Abby Grace (SFS ’16) said that students who are members of unrecognized student groups pay the tuition-included student activities fee, which funds the GUSA Budget, just like members of recognized student groups.
“Especially considering that a large portion of our operating costs are funded by GUSA Fund in incidences like our table being lost over the summer or our banners being misplaced or having to store tens and dozens of boxes of condoms, numbering into the thousands of condoms total in our own person space, it’s just not really feasible for GUSA Fund to keep paying these costs that could be avoided for things that are lost,” Grace said.
Luther and Vice President Connor Rohan (COL ’16), sworn into the executive office Saturday, faced direct and indirect criticism during the meeting for being inexperienced with budgetary matters.
“When [the storage space is] the one thing the executive comments on when they’re talking about the budget, the one issue that people are concerned about, that’s a major problem,” Shepherd said. “So keep that in mind throughout the coming year. Executive, I know you’re not experienced with GUSA. You obviously have a lot more learning to do. So keep that mind.”
Following the meeting, Shepherd clarified his position and said that Luther and Rohan have a lot to offer GUSA through their energy and ideas.
“I think it’s great that [Luther and Rohan] are bringing a lot of experienced people on their team to help them out,” Shepherd said. “So, I’m hoping that as a team they’re going to be really successful.”
The 2016 budget also included a one-time allocation of $53,515 for the salary of the Advisory Board for Club Sports athletic trainer. The Advisory Board for Club Sports previously funded a part-time trainer, Katharine Gray, since March 2014 out of their own budget, but Gray only worked with the seven highest-risk sports teams. These teams — include boxing, men’s hockey, men’s lacrosse, men’s rugby, women’s rugby, men’s soccer and women’s soccer — include over 300 athletes.
With funding from the Fin/App budget, Gray will be able to service the other 24 sports teams, consisting of over 700 additional students. The budget stated that the funds were a one-time allocation meant to hire a trainer, while efforts continue to encourage the university to fund the trainer.
GUSA Vice-Speaker Abbey McNaughton (COL ’16) said during the meeting that GUSA should not have to pay for the club trainer.
“Right now we are debating why we are still paying for the trainer when ABCS, club sports, Fin/App, and GUSA-at-Large had a year to find payment for a university staff member who in no way should be paid by the Fin/App committee and somebody who is important for the safety of students,” McNaughton said.
The decreased budget allocation to GPB — $14,000 short of last year’s allocation — might threaten the group’s programming, such as the spring concert it organizes. But the Fin/App committee expressed optimism that GBP would be able to continue its operations without too much setback.
“The committee believes that with smart leadership, partnerships with other organizations and funding boards, and shrewd planning and negotiation, GPB can continue to provide the low-cost, high-quality programming that it is known for despite these budget cuts,” GPB Fin/App Liaison Peter Cohen (COL ’15) wrote in the budget proposal sent to members of the senate.
“The cuts that we would take this year would really impact us and cripple the programming that we do,” GPB member Thomas De Bow (COL ‘15) said.
The budget did not fund any capital improvement projects, though there were requests for improving spaces such as Poulton Hall and the Walsh Black Box theater. The Performing Arts Advisory Council did see a slight increase in its funding for safety improvements that were considered non-capital safety projects.
“During our initial deliberations, we stuck to our principle that we’re funding activities, and we’re not funding space improvement projects,” Shepherd said. “The university should be funding those.”
The Media Board received $5,000 less than last year, receiving $55,000 overall in the 2016 budget.
“I am delighted at the way the budget worked out,” GUSA Speaker Tyler Bridge (COL ’17) said. “Though democracy today was messy, the right thing happened in the end.”