The GUSA senate voted unanimously Sunday to send a proposal on how to spend the $3.4 million Student Activities Fee Endowment to a student body-wide referendum.
The proposal, which was finalized by the senate’s Finance and Appropriations Committee last week, allocates funds from to finance the Social Innovation and Public Service Fund, a Georgetown Energy initiative and the New South Student Center renovation effort.
Fin/App allocated $1.25 million to the SIPS Fund, $250,000 to Georgetown Energy’s initiative to install solar panels on the roofs of university townhouses and $1.6 million to the construction of an outdoor terrace on the south side of the New South Student Center.
Students will vote on the three proposals from Jan. 24 to Jan. 26. Each item must receive at least 2,000 votes, a majority being for the proposal, for it to pass. Proposals receiving less than 2,000 student votes, either for or against, will not be considered ratified by the referendum.
According to Senate Speaker Adam Talbot (COL’12), the three proposals will be voted upon separately.
“Each proposal [is] created and worded in a way that will not affect each other if any of them fails to pass,” he said.
Talbot added that the passing of the proposals is a momentous step for GUSA.
“We have an enviable responsibility to allocate 3.5 million dollars of student money,” he said. “The proposal will be the largest student investment in solar energy in the country. It will show that Georgetown believes strongly in service and entrepreneurship, and that we are doing something for student space on campus that will last the next 20 or 30 years.”
GUSA President Michael Meaney (SFS ’12) also spoke in favor of the proposals.
“[This] is a process that has been happening for a decade since the Student Activities Fee Endowment was created,” he said. “I emphatically and unequivocally endorse the final proposal.”
Some senators expressed concerns, however, about feasibility, particularly for the New South Student Center proposal. The plan was allocated just over $2 million of the $2.4 million requested by its proponents.
Fin/App Chair Colton Malkerson (COL ’13) said that although each proposal asked for more money than was allocated, the earnings from interest rates and fundraising efforts can fill the gaps.
GUSA senator Clara Gustafason (SFS ’13), one of the backers of the SIPS fund, said she didn’t think the fund’s operation would be severely affected, although the proposal received only $1.25 million of the requested $1.5 million.
“Under the worst case scenarios with no fundraising at all, the SIPS fund will still last until 2028, but I am tentatively optimistic about fundraising [efforts],” she said.
Tyler Eldridge (COL ’13) and Evan Abrams (SFS ’12) dropped their claim that Georgetown Energy has plagiarized their idea for a revolving sustainability loan fund.
According to Malkerson, all of the proposals should have long-term benefits on the Hilltop.
“Every proposal is phenomenal and will impact the community in very positive ways,” he said. “The bill we see before us today keeps the interest of students in mind and will be the best allocation of student money.”