A new university policy gives the Georgetown University Police Department sole discretion over security costs. This policy will prove detrimental to groups that shoulder the financial burden of these events, to students whose Student Activity Fee is unduly allocated to these costs and to the community that will be potentially deprived of speakers.
On April 2, the Georgetown University Student Association senate unanimously approved a bill expressing concerns about the GUPD policy, which requires officers for events that exceed 200 attendees or any other event they deem to require extra security. Student groups are expected to finance the security detail from their own club funds but have little choice as to how much money they spend.
Under the current policy, events that expect attendance exceeding 200 people are automatically assigned a minimum of two GUPD officers and are charged for a minimum of four hours of service per officer. This $50 hourly cost per officer amounts to a total minimum of $400 for a single event, which while accounting for nearly one-third of the average budget allocated to groups by the Student Activities Commission, may only be one of several costs in organizing an event.
The GUSA senate is correct – these new GUPD policies place an exorbitant burden on student and administrative groups whose programming is contingent upon limited resources from the university. This system could potentially dissuade student groups from organizing large or high-profile events, depriving the university of occasions crucial to encouraging vigorous campus discourse. Moreover, it perpetuates resource inequality among student groups, as the most financially strapped organizations seeking to grow from highly attended events are prevented from doing so.
As indicated by SAC Chair Ricardo Mondolfi (SFS ’19), the policy also reveals the university unduly dipping into the student activities fee, which ostensibly should be directed toward students. This money, which is extracted from each student’s tuition bill, should be funneled into students’ activities rather than university salaries.
Much of the problem stems from the fact that the university does not pay for GUPD to provide security at individual groups’ events, and groups must pay for the security themselves. But even if the university cannot shoulder the entire expense of security costs, it should at least partially subsidize the cost of GUPD as the responsibility falls on the university to keep its campus secure and students safe. Otherwise, the costs of organizing these events will prove prohibitively expensive for most groups.
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