At their meeting last night, the members of the Georgetown University Lecture Fund began to formally consider launching a process to establish their independence from GUSA. A decision by the organization to abolish nominal and restrictive control by the Student Association would be a clear demonstration that a hard-working, well-organized student group can better serve the university and its students once independent of oversight by an inefficient, bureaucratic and overly-political umbrella organization.

For many years the Lecture Fund has worked diligently, and in large part single-handedly, to host the prominent figures who make up the parade of notable speakers and celebrated guest lecturers appearing at campus venues. The students of the Lecture Fund have and will continue to develop and organize their own events and aid other campus organizations, as well as the university itself, as they bring speakers to Georgetown to inform the student body and enhance the undergraduate experience. The Lecture Fund has a clear operation, budget and membership which already functions autonomously and with proven success.

Before last year, the chair of the Lecture Fund was selected by the popularly-elected GUSA Executive Committee as part of the President’s cabinet. Objections by Lecture Fund members and the GUSA Assembly prompted the creation of a new body consisting of the GUSA President, a member of the President’s cabinet, the outgoing Lecture Fund chair and another Lecture Fund delegate who would, as a committee, choose the next Lecture Fund chair. While these changes lessened the influence of the GUSA President and his or her political allies over the management of the Lecture Fund, GUSA’s continued role in the organization upholds the spoils system, prevents the group from meritocratic operation and keeps open the possibility of undue GUSA interference.

GUSA leaders have, in the past, overstepped their bounds, once attempting to circumvent the Lecture Fund’s established application process and appoint a new member without the group’s consideration. Though GUSA’s past involvement may have been largely insignificant, any participation of GUSA executives or their friends in Lecture Fund affairs is counterproductive and unnecessary, and can only hinder the work of the group’s experienced, committed and competitively-selected members.

Debate over a recent proposal for GUSA constitutional reform centers on the role of the student association in the administration and staffing of other student organizations. While GUSA may have historically had a broad role in the direction of various campus organizations, it now lacks the sound management and credibility to reasonably involve itself in the work of successful, self-sustaining groups like the Lecture Fund. And regardless of GUSA’s institutional accomplishments or failures, the student association has a clear and separate purpose, and no place overseeing the work of every club. Organizations like the Georgetown Program Board, which is a university organization independent of GUSA oversight, demonstrate this point.

GUSA is a representative body for students. The Lecture Fund is a pool of money and a group of students who use it to host speakers. GUSA involvement in the Lecture Fund complicates the work of both groups, obstructing the Lecture Fund’s operation and diverting GUSA’s attention from its responsibilities. Independent of one another, the two organizations will each be better able to fulfill their purposes, and each will be able do more to improve life at Georgetown.

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