For SAO, Less Is More

The Student Advocacy Office is an invaluable resource for students who face charges of Student Code of Conduct violations.

Offering focused help for those trying to understand the Student Code of Conduct as well for those facing sanctions, this office stands out among Georgetown-University-Student-Association-related organizations mainly for its ability to provide tangible benefits to students.

Its future as an organization with a narrowly focused mandate, however, is at jeopardy because of the GUSA executive proposal to restructure the SAO.
The recent restructuring plan for the SAO seeks to expand the organization’s jurisdiction by adding two additional offices and making the SAO’s duties three-pronged.

While the addition of an Office of the Free Speech Advocate or an Office of the Intellectual Health Advocate, for example, may seem benign, the restructuring would only add to the already intricate bureaucratic frame that encompasses student outreach within the GUSA executive branch.

While the GUSA executives’ desire to increase student advocacy in issues like free speech, student workers’ rights and intellectual health on campus is commendable, the amalgamation of these separate issues into one may prove not only to be redundant but also detrimental to the effectiveness of the SAO.

There already exist separate institutions like Counseling and Psychiatric Services and the Free Speech and Expression Committee that possess the experience required to address their own issues. These organizations are more prepared and have better institutional processes in place to perform the same tasks the re-imagined SAO seeks to target.

Even so, it remains to be seen how the expanded SAO would be structured so as to take full advantage of each new office, without compromising the effectiveness of their work. If this were done well, the new-and-improved SAO would be poised to be a powerful arm for GUSA student outreach. However, to be successful, the new offices need to uphold the focus and mission of the original SAO, because if they do not, under-informed students will continue to be abused by an unyielding bureaucracy.

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One Comment

  1. “These organizations are more prepared and have better institutional processes in place to perform the same tasks the re-imagined SAO seeks to target.”

    There most certainly should be a place within the student association for advocacy of free speech and mental health. CAPS is not performing as well as it should be, this is well-known. There have been several instances of free speech violations by the University in recent times. Students should feel like there are other STUDENTS on campus that they can go to when they feel like CAPS is not providing the services they need, or that their free speech has been suppressed or violated. The format of SAO, with confidential office hours, is an excellent opportunity for students to speak directly with peers that they know will advocate for their needs to the administration, instead of feeling like they have to fight the administration on these issues by themselves.

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