In a meeting closed to the public Sunday, April 17, the GUSA Endowment Commission apparently decided that the Healy Pub and the Georgetown Social Innovation and Public Service Fund cannot coexist — even though there is enough money in the Student Activities Fee Endowment to bring both ideas to fruition.
The Hoya (April 20, 2011 The Hoya, “SAFE Endowment Committee Backs Healy Pub, Georgetown Energy Proposals,” Online Exclusive) reported that some Commission members believed “SIPS would not benefit enough students.” Yet the Commission’s own bylaws state: “Money spent from the Endowment must go to projects/programs that either affect or are open to the entire student body” (emphasis added).
It’s a plain fact that the SIPS Fund, which any student or recent alumni can apply to for funds, meets this criterion. And many dozens of students each year will be supported. In addition, some of the SIPS activities will be campus-wide, such as volunteer days and an annual innovation forum and lecture series.
But this argument misses the bigger picture. The point of the SIPS Fund isn’t just about maximizing the direct benefit to Georgetown students — it’s about investing in the most innovative students and ideas to maximize the positive impact we can collectively make in our community and world. It’s about realizing the very mission of Georgetown University and empowering students to lead and serve others.
Frankly, the belabored point that “all students paid fees into the endowment, so all students should benefit” is overly simplistic, myopic and self-serving. If President Kennedy thought the same of our tax dollars, the Peace Corps wouldn’t exist today ─ and we’d all be worse off for it.
How the student body allocates the endowment money will be a demonstration of our priorities and of our values. The SIPS Fund would allocate more than $100,000 annually to support student social entrepreneurship, alternative spring breaks, service initiatives, research projects and much more. The SIPS Fund provides an opportunity for Georgetown to look forward, to expand our activities beyond the front gates, to lead by example and to give back by investing in our own potential.
By contrast, if it ever clears the administrative obstacles in its way, Healy Pub promises to do just the opposite ─ to revive what once was, to reinforce the Hilltop bubble, to emulate what exists at other schools like Harvard and to spend an enormous amount of money to make our own lives marginally better.
Should student space be a priority? Yes. That’s why we’re excited to see progress on the 30,000 square foot student space project planned for New South, being paid for by the university. If students desire even more space and want to be picky about what building it is in, fine. But such superfluousness should not come at the expense of a proposal, like the SIPS Fund, which serves an unmet need on campus and can truly distinguish our university ─— not to mention, give back to our community.
And it truly is an unmet need on campus. There are ample avenues on campus for idea generation and nurturing, but there is a dearth of places that students can go to get actual funding for their ideas. We have testimonials from many of those innovative students and we have heard of many more (see the letters of support in our proposal at sipsfund.com).
The good news is that the Commission has not made its final vote. If you believe empowering students to bring water to sub-Saharan Africa is just as, or more, important than bringing beer to Healy Hall — please show your support on Tuesday, April 26 at 8:00 p.m. in the Leavey Club Room on the third floor.
Clara Gustafson is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service and current GUSA senator. Nick Troiano is a junior in the College and former FinApp Chair.
To send a letter to the editor on a recent campus issue or Hoya story or a viewpoint on any topic, contact [email protected] Letters should not exceed 300 words, and viewpoints should be between 600 to 800 words.