Georgetown University Student Association

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Georgetown University Student Association
Abbreviation GUSA
Formation 1984
Membership
6,675 undergraduate students
President
Juan Martinez[1]
Vice President
(Vacant)
Website www.gustudentassociation.org

The Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA) is the undergraduate student government of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The GUSA bylaws state that the organization's mission is "to (i) empower Hoyas by giving them control over resources, (ii) improve the student quality of life, (iii) safeguard Hoya rights, (iv) involve Hoyas in the governance of the University, and (v) ensure that the University conducts itself in an ethical and responsible manner."[2]

History[edit]

Georgetown University Athletic Association: 1874 to 1920[edit]

The earliest form of student government at Georgetown was the Georgetown University Athletic Association, which formed in 1874 in order to coordinate athletics amongst the students of Georgetown College. The Athletic Association was relatively informal in its structure and duties until 1889, when students drafted a constitution and began annual elections. Its leadership consisted of three elected students –– the Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer –– as well as the managers of each athletic team and a Jesuit advisor who held the symbolic title of "President." That symbolism was soon relinquished, however, and by 1900 the student leader of the Athletic Association was called its President. The Association's duties were almost entirely athletic in nature; it coordinated schedules for athletic practices and games, managed the sharing of athletic equipment, and raised funds in order to support activities related to athletics and school spirit.[3]

The Athletic Association was also called "The Yard" interchangeably, in likely reference to the College Yard in which athletic games were played. Its annual leaders were thus referred to as the Yard President, Yard Secretary, and Yard Treasurer.

The 3 Student Councils: 1920 to 1969[edit]

In 1920, a College Student Council was formed with representatives from each class year. The Athletic Association continued to exist for the limited purpose of coordinating athletics, but the College Student Council supplanted it as the most important and authoritative elected body of the College and thus assumed the title "The Yard." Unlike the Athletic Association, the Student Council's duties were wide-ranging, including advocacy for student interests and the coordination of social life in the College. Students in the College continued to elect three executives each year –– the Yard President, Yard Secretary, and Yard Treasurer –– who oversaw both the old Athletic Association and the new College Student Council.

In 1940, the students of Georgetown College approved a new constitution for the College Student Council which included representation for the College's most significant student organizations alongside the representatives of each class. Over the next thirty years, the organizations represented on the Council would include the Georgetown College Journal, the Collegiate Club, the Glee Club, The Hoya, the International Relations Club, Mask and Bauble, the Philodemic Society, the Sodality, the Washington Club, and WGTB Radio.[4]

Around the same time that the College Student Council was formed in 1920, the students of the newly-established School of Foreign Service (SFS) founded an SFS Student Council. Like its original College counterpart, the SFS Student Council included representatives from each class year as well as the whole school and took on a variety of responsibilities including advocacy and social life. When the School of Languages and Linguistics was founded in 1949 and the School of Business in 1957, their student bodies were incorporated into the SFS Student Council's representative infrastructure. By the early 1960s, the group was called the "East Campus Student Council" or "Walsh Area Student Council" to reflect the fact that its constituency now included three undergraduate schools but that all three schools were located on Georgetown's "East Campus" (the block between 35th and 36th Streets NW, on which the Walsh Building stands).

At some point in the 1940s or 50s, the students of the Nursing School founded the Nursing School Student Council, which, like its SFS counterpart, included class representatives and school-wide elected officers but not representatives of student organizations. The first women to hold elected office in student government at Georgetown did so on the Nursing School Student Council, since the school was originally open only to women.

Administrative collaboration and social interaction between Georgetown's five separate undergraduate schools began to increase in the 1950s and 60s, and by the mid-60s there was an unprecedented sense of shared community amongst students of the five schools. Students also began to recognize the practical benefits of university-wide collaboration on the issues that affected students in all schools equally. As a result, several attempts were made throughout the 1960s to unify the three disparate student councils. Unification efforts were finally successful in March 1968, when a referendum passed among the constituencies of all three student councils. In December 1968, students from all schools elected 40 delegates to a constitutional convention, which was charged with drafting a structure for the new, unified student government. The convention released its plans within a few months, and the first university-wide student government election was held in May 1969.[5]

Student Government (SG): 1969 to 1984[edit]

Simply called the Student Government (SG), the new unified institution included a President and Vice President elected by the entire student body, and a Senate with 5 students elected from each school and 5 from each class (40 in total).[5]

Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA): 1984 to present[edit]

In 1984, students replaced the SG with the Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA), a new institution that over time came to be loosely based on the tripartite structure of the federal government of the United States. GUSA's executive branch included a President and Vice President, elected annually by the student body. Its legislative branch consisted of a 16-person Assembly, with 4 representatives from each class year––thus eliminating the last vestiges of differentiated representation for the five schools. After 1990, GUSA also had a judicial branch, consisting of a 3-person Constitutional Council empowered to resolve constitutional disputes within the student government.

The GUSA Constitution has been amended three times:

  • In March 1990, students replaced the original GUSA Constitution with a shorter, more streamlined document. They also created a Constitutional Council.[6]
  • In October 2006, students replaced the Assembly with the Senate, a larger body made up of representatives from geographic districts across Georgetown's campus.[7]
  • In February 2018, students voted to maintain the Senate's larger size but return it to a system of representation based on class year, rather than geography.[8]

Structure[edit]

Legislative Branch[edit]

The Legislative Branch is made up of a 29-person Senate which can amend the GUSA bylaws, confirm executive and judicial appointments, and engage in advocacy through mechanisms that include resolutions and ad hoc committees. The Senate is led by a Speaker and Vice Speaker during the academic year, and a Transition Chair and Vice Chair over the summer. The current Transition Chair of the Senate is Josh Sirois (SFS '20) and the current Transition Vice Chair is Juan Martinez (SFS '20).[9]

The Senate also controls the process by which more than $1 million is allocated to student organizations. The process is overseen by the Senate's Finance and Appropriations Committee, which allocates the sum total funds generated by the Student Activities Fee ($164 per student in 2018[10]) each year to five club advisory boards, the Lecture Fund, the Georgetown Programming Board, and other groups.

Executive Branch[edit]

The Executive Branch is made up of a President and Vice President, elected by the undergraduate student body each February, as well as an executive staff whose size and structure is largely up to the discretion of the President and Vice President.[11] Since 2016, the executive staff has included more than 20 "policy teams" on issues from mental health to master planning.[12] Membership on policy teams and other executive staff positions is application-based and open to all undergraduate students.[13]

The President and Vice President also appoint student representatives to a variety of external boards and committees, including the Georgetown University Board of Directors Student Life Committee and the Speech and Expression Committee. All executive staff positions and external board appointments are subject to review and confirmation by the Senate.[14]

Judicial Branch[edit]

The Judicial Branch is made up of a 3-person Constitutional Council, which oversees all internal GUSA disputes and is charged with the stewardship of the GUSA Constitution.

Legacy[edit]

Student government has been involved throughout its history in the establishment, expansion, and improvement of a plethora of student resources and services. This legacy includes the Georgetown University Transportation Shuttles (GUTS) system, which was founded in 1974 and expanded several times since then through the work of student government, and campus dining, whose improvement has been a focus of student government for decades. Other initiatives include:

  • The Georgetown University Lecture Fund, which was founded by Student Government in the 1970s and became an independent organization in 2005[15]
  • The GeorgetownOne Card (GoCard), in whose 2001 creation GUSA played a pivotal role[16]
  • The Collegiate Readership Program, a GUSA initiative which provided students with free copies of major newspapers from 2008 to 2015[17]
  • The Summer Fellows program, which was founded by GUSA in 2009 and now provides free on-campus summer housing to low-income students under the auspices of the Georgetown Scholarship Program (GSP)[18]
  • The Student Advocacy Office (SAO), which was founded by GUSA in 2012 and continues to provide assistance to students navigating the university's disciplinary systems[19]

Perhaps the most famous service established by student government is Students of Georgetown, Inc., also known as "The Corp," which was founded by SG President Roger Cochetti and Vice President Nancy Kent in October 1971. Until the early 1990s, the board of The Corp remained under the control of student government and the activities of the two organizations were closely linked. Today, The Corp operates seven businesses on Georgetown's campus and is considered the largest student-run nonprofit corporation in the world.[20][better source needed]

In addition to improving student resources and services, student government at Georgetown has long played a central role in the allocation of resources to student activities. This has been the case since at least the 1970s, but a notable change occurred in 2001 when a GUSA-led effort successfully established a "Student Activities Fee" to be collected from all students as part of undergraduate tuition, and disbursed to all student organizations by GUSA itself. Today, GUSA allocates more than $1 million per year to eight advisory boards, which in turn allocate their funds to over 250 student organizations.[21]

Student government has traditionally remained focused on student life, but at times the organization has also contributed its voice to political debates on campus and around the country. In 1997, for example, GUSA vocally supported the controversial addition of crucifixes to university classrooms.[22] And in 2011, GUSA President Mike Meaney organized a group letter from more than 100 student body presidents to President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner urging a bipartisan compromise on the national debt ceiling.[23]

Notable Alumni[edit]

U.S. President Bill Clinton ran for the presidency of the East Campus Student Council in spring 1967 (his junior year), but lost to Terrence Modglin. This flyer advertised his candidacy.

Many notable individuals in business, politics, religion, and the arts began their careers in Georgetown's student government, including:

  • Condé M. Nast (C 1894), Secretary of The Yard in 1892-93 and founder of the Condé Nast publishing empire
  • Matthew R. Denver (C 1891), Vice President of The Yard in 1891-92 and a member of Congress from Ohio
  • James P. B. Duffy (C 1901), President of The Yard in 1900-01 and a member of Congress from New York
  • Philip A. Hart (C 1934), President of The Yard in 1933-34 and a Senator from Michigan
  • George H. Guilfoyle (C 1935), President of The Yard in 1934-35 and a Roman Catholic Bishop
  • Richard J. McCooey (C 1952), President of The Yard in 1951-52 and founder of Georgetown restaurants 1789, The Tombs, and F. Scott's
  • Joseph R. Baczko (F 1967), Treasurer of the East Campus Student Council in 1965-66, President of Blockbuster Entertainment, and founder and President of Toys "R" Us
  • Frank A. Keating (C 1966), President of The Yard in 1965-66 and Governor of Oklahoma
  • William J. Clinton (F 1968), freshman class president in 1964-65, sophomore class president in 1965-66, and President of the United States
  • William Doyle (C 1972), freshman representative to The Yard in 1968-69 and Chair of the Georgetown University Board of Directors
  • Jack W. Leslie (F 1976), President of the Student Government in 1974-75 and Chairman of Weber Shandwick and the U.S. African Development Foundation
  • David L. Goldwyn (C 1981), President of the Student Government in 1980-81, Assistant Secretary of Energy from 1999-2001, and National Security Deputy to the US Ambassador to the United Nations from 1997-98
  • S. Fitzgerald Haney (F 1990), President of GUSA in 1989-90 and Ambassador to Costa Rica
  • Stephanie H. Sandlin (C 1993), Chair of the GUSA Assembly in 1992-93, a member of Congress from South Dakota, and President of Augustana University
  • Richard R. Heitzmann (B 1994), President of GUSA in 1993-94 and co-founder of venture capital firm FirstMark Capital
  • John P. Cronan (C 1998), President of GUSA in 1997-99 and Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice's Criminal Division in 2018
  • John Glennon (C 1999), President of GUSA in 1998-99 and Headmaster of Georgetown Preparatory School

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.thehoya.com/resignations-rock-gusa-aaron-bennett-naba-rahman-sahil-nair/
  2. ^ "GUSA Bylaws". Georgetown University Student Association. 
  3. ^ Curran, Robert Emmett (2010). A History of Georgetown University. Georgetown University Press. ISBN 978-1589016910. 
  4. ^ "Preliminary Sketch of New Georgetown Constitution". The Hoya. November 20, 1946. 
  5. ^ a b Durkin, Joseph (1990). Swift Potomac's Lovely Daughter: Two Centuries at Georgetown through Students' Eyes. Georgetown University Press. pp. 203–214. ISBN 0-87840-501-1. 
  6. ^ Stewart, Mike (March 23, 2006). "Fixing what's broken". The Georgetown Voice. Retrieved 2008-03-10. 
  7. ^ Murchison, Twister (November 14, 2006). "Fall Brings Winds of Change for GUSA". The Hoya. Retrieved 2008-03-10. [permanent dead link]
  8. ^ Ash, Elizabeth (February 27, 2018). "GUSA Senate Confirms Election Results". The Hoya. 
  9. ^ "Senate". Georgetown University Student Association. Retrieved 2017-11-26. 
  10. ^ "Undergraduate". studentaccounts.georgetown.edu. Retrieved 2018-07-25. 
  11. ^ "Georgetown University Student Association: About". Georgetown University. 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-10. 
  12. ^ "Cabinet". Georgetown University Student Association. Retrieved 2017-11-26. 
  13. ^ "Georgetown University Student Association: External Boards". Georgetown University. 2008. Archived from the original on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2008-03-10. 
  14. ^ "Georgetown University Student Association: Constitution". Georgetown University. 2007. Archived from the original on 2010-06-29. Retrieved 2008-03-10. 
  15. ^ Santulli, Stephen (February 25, 2005). "GUSA Assembly Grants Lecture Fund Liberation". The Hoya. 
  16. ^ Keller, Caroline (September 28, 2001). "STUDENT LIFE GU One Card Planned To Start Next Semester". The Hoya. Retrieved 2008-04-22. [permanent dead link]
  17. ^ McLennon, Maddie (February 9, 2010). "Readership Program Back, Snow Poses No Obstacle". The Hoya. 
  18. ^ Talbot, Adam (February 10, 2011). "New Candidates Must Build on Past GUSA Successes". The Hoya. 
  19. ^ "Student Advocacy Office". Georgetown University Student Association. 
  20. ^ "The Corp". Wikipedia. 
  21. ^ "Student Activities Budget Report, Fiscal Year 18". Georgetown University Student Association. March 2018. 
  22. ^ Hansen, Ronald J. (November 21, 1997). "Georgetown debate angers D.C. cardinal: Hickey chides university on crucifixes". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  23. ^ 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. 

External links[edit]