The Advisory Board for Affordability and Access, established this fall to evaluate resources for low-income and first-generation students, will meet for the first time today.
A joint effort between the Georgetown University Student Association, the Georgetown Scholarship Program, the Division of Student Affairs and the Office of Student Financial Services, the advisory board consists of students, faculty and administrators.
The advisory board will also develop policy recommendations to further include low-income students on campus.
Director of the Center for Social Justice Andria Wisler and GSP Student Board President Jason Low (COL ’17) will co-chair the board.
According to GSP Director Melissa “Missy” Foy (COL ’03), the advisory board will be an additional partner for the GSP program’s mission to facilitate inclusivity.
“GSP is so fortunate to feel real support on campus, but it’s sometimes difficult to enact widespread change because, like any other non-profit with thin resources, we sometimes work in silos,” Foy wrote in an email to The Hoya. “In GSP, we’re always trying to identify supportive partners on campus, and this brings many of those people together in one room.”
GUSA Vice President Chris Fisk (COL ’17) said the board was designed to be a long-term structure to critically examine the experiences of the low-income and first-generation community on campus.
“Our administration has made socio-economic inclusivity one of our top priorities, which is pretty uncommon for GUSA,” Fisk said. “And this is just one of the concrete ways we’re seeking to make work on this topic a campus-wide conversation for years to come.”
Apart from giving students a platform to express their concerns and experiences, the board, which was developed over the summer, will examine possible barriers to low-income students, including laundry costs, internship transportation, textbook prices and commencement expenses.
Georgetown estimates textbooks cost students, on average, $1200 per year, while the costs of internships have come to the fore of conversation in recent years. Government agencies and nonprofit organizations are not required to pay their interns.
Low said the board will work to address these concerns.
“We have a formalized opportunity to have conversations that critically examine the experiences of low-income and first-generation students and create specific process, structural and policy recommendations that ensures Georgetown is more welcoming and more inclusive for all students,” Low said.
GUSA President Enushe Khan (MSB ’17) said while addressing students’ concerns about their socio-economic status is a priority for the GUSA executive, the topic will require years of focused attention to be properly addressed.
“We recognize that this is an ongoing conversation,” Khan said. “Ultimately it comes down to conversation with financial aid and multiple parties across campus. We just wanted to show that even after our administration, this continues to be a conversation.”
Foy said the board will also continue the work that GUSA and the GSP Student Board have been doing to create a more inclusive campus community.
This fall, Counseling and Psychiatric Services began offering free services for GSP students. In July, GSP streamlined the online grant submission process in an effort to make the process easier for scholars.
“This new board builds on their progress by walking through a student’s entire experience ensure that the university provides at least the opportunity to have the same high quality of experience,” Foy wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Fisk said while the university has made efforts to mitigate socio-economic obstacles, the university must still strive to create a more welcoming and supportive community for low-income and first-generation students.
“Working to level the playing field on the Hilltop is not just beneficial for GSP students like myself, but, really, for everyone at Georgetown,” Fisk said.
Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson and Dean of Student Financial Services Patricia McWade did not reply to a request for comment as of 2:30 a.m. Tuesday.
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