After a long, quiet summer here on campus, we can’t tell you how exciting it has been watching this place come back to life over the last few weeks. As student body president and vice president, we want to take this opportunity to update you on what GUSA has been up to since school began.
In addition to our widely attended Welcome Back Pool Party at Yates, we celebrated the inauguration of another academic year by offering members of the Georgetown community a rare opportunity to enjoy the Washington National Opera’s opening night performance. We ferried several hundred students to Nationals Park, where they were able to lie out under the stars in the grassy outfield and watch “La Traviata,” perhaps the most acclaimed opera of all time, simulcast live from the Kennedy Center. All the more, several lucky Hoyas got to meet the opera’s famous director and legendary tenor, Plácido Domingo.
Back on campus, the student association staff has been devoting its time to a number of important policy initiatives. One of our biggest goals for this year is to grow and endow the GUSA Summer Fellows Program, which for the first time this past summer provided free campus housing for five Georgetown students who could otherwise not have afforded to stay in D.C. We believe in this program, which has the power to make the dream of interning in our nation’s capital a reality for future students, and are grateful to those faculty and administrators who have helped establish it.
GUSA is committed to providing services that benefit all students. Just last week, we attended the annual board of directors meeting, where we were asked to conduct a school-wide survey to determine where students most want to see university funds allocated. In the coming weeks, we will be contacting you to see what your priorities are regarding issues such as student-activity space, wireless capabilities and new academic programs.
That being said, we are pleased to announce that funding has already been extended for this academic year for free newspapers, as well as for weekend GUTS bus services around Washington, D.C. We give special thanks to Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia, the Office of the Provost and the Office of Student Affairs, who have partnered with us to provide these services.
With respect to Georgetown’s alcohol policy, we are pleased to announce that Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson has agreed to implement four of the five changes recommended by the student-faculty working group that GUSA organized last year in response to student concerns. We were impressed by how effectively students and faculty worked together toward these common sense recommendations, and look forward to similar collaboration on other issues in the future.
On the topic of campus safety, GUSA has been vigilant in engaging with the Department of Public Safety and the Student Safety Advisory Board to ensure that student safety concerns are cared for in the best possible way. In order to encourage vigilance among students, GUSA has worked with administrators to initiate the “Bark Up!” safety awareness campaign in residence halls. Nevertheless, we continue to be alarmed by the prevalence of assaults that take place in our community, and are working to promote increased security measures. GUSA has partnered with Health Education Services to inform our community about the seriousness of issues relating to sexual assault in particular, and we strongly encourage you to attend RU Ready, an event designed to raise awareness about sexual assault today, Sept. 23, from 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. in Copley Formal Lounge.
In addition to our signature initiatives, GUSA is sponsoring a number of lectures that cater to student interests.
On Oct. 4, the GUSA Hilltop Auction will be held in Riggs Library, and will present opportunities to bid on dinners with prestigious Georgetown faculty and private White House tours, among other fantastic offerings. Also next week, we will be hosting an event with Energia, Georgetown’s online energy journal, featuring the perspectives of senior experts on developments in global energy markets.
On Oct. 15, in partnership with the College Democrats and the College Republicans, GUSA will host “May the Best Man Win,” our main political event of the fall. Centered on the third and final presidential debate, this event will feature an interactive discussion with distinguished policy experts and will be aired on C-SPAN.
In all that we do, GUSA hopes to find a common ground that promotes unity on our campus. That is why the GUSA Student Commission for Unity has conducted pioneering research into what perceptions unite – and sometimes divide – us as a community. Thanks to this research and to a new subsidiary organization called GUSA Grassroots, GUSA is now more inclusive than ever before.
GUSA Grassroots is a way for future campus leaders to get to know one another and to learn about campus politics early in their college careers, and it’s open to anyone who wants to join. It is both a laboratory for new ideas, and a powerful vehicle for student-generated action at Georgetown.
When it comes to diversity-related issues, GUSA recognizes that it has a special role to play. We are proud to report that, for the first time in GUSA’s history, there is an executive cabinet position for diversity affairs. GUSA’s basic commitment to diversity involves encouraging Hoyas from different walks of life to come together and learn from one another. That is why we have organized and will continue to facilitate open discussions with campus leaders about diversity-related issues, and will build GUSA Grassroots to be a resource for all campus groups.
We are honored to be in a position to serve you and eagerly await your suggestions for how GUSA can help to insure that Georgetown remains a place that we can all take pride in for years to come.
Pat Dowd is a senior in the School of Foreign Service and president of GUSA. James Kelly is a senior in the College and vice president of GUSA.