Georgetown University Student Association

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The Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA) is the student government of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Modeled after the United States federal government, it consists of three branches: legislative, executive and judicial.[1] The current President of GUSA is Enushe Khan (MSB '17) and the current Vice President is Chris Fisk (COL '17).

The current Constitution of the Student Association was adopted in March 1990, replacing the original GUSA Constitution of 1984 which was deemed inadequate for the needs of the student body.[2] It remained unamended until September 2006 (a previous "amendment" was erroneously certified in the mid-1990s; it was later thrown out by the Constitutional Council as violating the Constitution's voter threshold for amendments), when the legislative body, previously known as the "Assembly" and elected at large, was replaced by the Senate with campus-based representative districts.[3]

In 1997, the group supported the addition of crucifixes in university class rooms, and in 2003 supported the use of only fair trade coffee in campus shops.[4][5]


GUSA succeeded in establishing a College Readership Program that provides students with free copies of The Washington Post, The New York Times, and USA Today. GUSA also played a significant role in the creation of the GOCard, or "GeorgetownOne Card," which consolidated the functions of five other cards into one technologically advanced device.[6] In 2006 it also expanded weekend service of the Georgetown University Transportation Shuttle (GUTS), a popular and student-supported mode of transportation used to bring students from campus to the nearest Metro stop, increasing weekend service fivefold.[7] GUSA also proposed and eventually helped create the popular Grab-n-Go dining option, creating a carry-out option for the main student dining hall.[8] GUSA also funded "Georgetown Forever," a controversial spirit movie made to commemorate many Georgetown traditions.[9] Recently, GUSA made use of financial oversight powers granted to it by the 2006 constitutional amendment, auditing the Student Activities Commission, Media Board, and other advisory groups, and controversially turning up more than $800,000 in unspent funds.[10] Since then many of these groups have come under pressure from GUSA and the student body to spend these funds, and some of the advisory boards have announced plans to expand existing programs or invest in new capital projects to benefit the student body as a whole.[11][12][13][14]

In 2011, then GUSA President Mike Meaney organized a group letter to President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner from over 100 different student body presidents in the United States. The letter urged a bipartisan compromise on the debt ceiling debate.[15]

Legislative Branch[edit]

The Legislative Branch consists of the Senate, a body of twenty-eight Senators that controls funds, approves appointments and referendums, and passes resolutions on various topics. The Senate also has the ability to create ad hoc committees, composed of Senators and non-Senators, to advocate for specific issues, such as alcohol policy reform, Code of Conduct reviews, and diversity recommendations.[16] Known for its diverse membership, the Senate has recently enacted far reaching legislation including SAFE Endowment Reform, the coordinated student legal response to a new District noise ordinance, and the beginning of a pilot program that would allow for limited gender-neutral housing. The current Speaker of the Senate is Richie Mullaney (COL '18) and the current Vice Speaker is Cherie Vu (SFS '19).


The GUSA Senate committee structure has gone through a number of permutations since the Senate's establishment in 2006. Currently, the Standing Committee on Finance and Appropriations is the sole body in charge of the allocation of the Student Activities Fee (as of February 2010, with the passage of the Act to Improve Student Activities Funding), which funds student groups, and must approve all GUSA legislation that deals with the appropriations of funds.[citation needed] FinApp, as it is known within the Senate, is the only committee to which Senators must be elected by the full Senate instead of being appointed by the Speaker. The current Chairman of the Finance and Appropriations Committee is Owen Hayes (COL '18).

Executive Branch[edit]

The President and Vice President, elected by the entire undergraduate population each year, oversee an Executive Staff that deals with the day-to-day operations of the Student Association.[1] The President and Vice President also oversee twenty different policy teams, each focused on a different issue ranging from Mental Health to Master Planning.[citation needed] Membership on these policy teams is application-based and open to all undergraduate students.[17] In addition, the Executives appoint student representatives to various External Boards, including the Board of Directors, the Alumni Board of Governors and the Speech and Expression Committee, with the advice and consent of the Senate.[16]

Within the executive branch is the Student Advocacy Office, a semi-independent organization that specializes in matters concerning the student disciplinary process and student rights. It provides confidential advice to students involved in the Georgetown University disciplinary process.

Judicial Branch[edit]

The Judicial Branch consists of the Constitutional Council, which oversees all internal Student Association disputes and is charged with stewardship of the Constitution.[citation needed] It consists of three members.[18] Until the March 1990 Constitution, no body existed that discharged a judicial function.[citation needed] The Constitutional Council was not active until the late 1990s and first part of the 21st century, where students increasingly used it within the scope of its functions.[citation needed]

The Justices currently presiding over the Constitutional Council are Chief Justice Natalie Brown (COL '17), Associate Justice Russell Wirth (COL '19), and Associate Justice Jonathan Lanz (COL '19).

Notable alumni[edit]

Flyer advertising Bill Clinton's candidacy

GUSA is a successor organization and in its most current form was established relatively recently, although its predecessor organizations date back to the 19th Century. The longest forerunner to the GUSA student government was "The Yard". Former Yard Presidents include: former Senator Philip A. Hart; and famed magazine publisher Condé Nast.[citation needed]

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton ran for student body president during his junior year at Georgetown and although he had been president of the Freshman and Sophomore classes, he failed to win election.[19] Former U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) was Chair of the former Assembly (the predecessor body to the GUSA Senate) from 1992-93.[citation needed] Various other GUSA alumni are now elected officials in federal and state office, as well as throughout federal departments and agencies.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "Georgetown University Student Association: About". Georgetown University. 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-10. 
  2. ^ Stewart, Mike (March 23, 2006). "Fixing what's broken". The Georgetown Voice. Retrieved 2008-03-10. 
  3. ^ Murchison, Twister (November 14, 2006). "Fall Brings Winds of Change for GUSA". The Hoya. Retrieved 2008-03-10. [permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Hansen, Ronald J. (November 21, 1997). "Georgetown debate angers D.C. cardinal: Hickey chides university on crucifixes". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  5. ^ "University approves measure supporting Fair Trade coffee". Tea & Coffee Trade Journal. March 20, 2003. Retrieved September 3, 2012 – via HighBeam Research. 
  6. ^ Keller, Caroline (September 28, 2001). "STUDENT LIFE GU One Card Planned To Start Next Semester". The Hoya. Retrieved 2008-04-22. [permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Students Secure Funds for Expanded GUTS". The Hoya. March 28, 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-22. [permanent dead link]
  8. ^ McIntosh, Kerry (September 10, 2004). "Takeout Lunches Introduced". The Hoya. Retrieved 2008-04-22. [permanent dead link]
  9. ^ Santulli, Stephen (November 8, 2005). "GUSA Plans Pride-Boosting Movie". The Hoya. Retrieved 2008-04-22. [permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Cai, Julia (April 3, 2008). "$800,000 in Club Funds Unspent". The Hoya. Archived from the original on 2008-04-09. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  11. ^ Cai, Julia (April 11, 2008). "Club Budgets Tackle Excess Reserves". The Hoya. Archived from the original on 2008-07-06. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  12. ^ Cai, Julia (April 15, 2008). "GUSA Approves Activities Budget". The Hoya. Archived from the original on 2008-05-13. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  13. ^ Cohen, Rachel (April 8, 2008). "SAC's Folly Continues to Confound". The Hoya. Retrieved 2008-04-22. [permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "Dollars Should Bring Change". The Hoya. April 8, 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-04-10. Retrieved 2008-04-22.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  15. ^ Rosenthal, Brian M. (July 21, 2011). "Student body presidents urge political leaders to reach compromise on debt debate". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b "Georgetown University Student Association: Constitution". Georgetown University. 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-10. 
  17. ^ "Georgetown University Student Association: External Boards". Georgetown University. 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-10. 
  18. ^ GUSA Constitution
  19. ^ O'Neill, Paul R.; Paul K. Williams (2003). Georgetown University. Arcadia. p. 110. ISBN 0-7385-1509-4. 

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