Four students were sworn as Georgetown University Student Association senators Feb. 26, following the Feb. 23 GUSA senate election.
Sarah Griffin (SFS ’18) will represent East Campus for the remainder of the school year while Chloe Phillips (SFS ’17) and Nick Zeffiro (SFS ’18) will represent South Campus. Samantha Granville (COL ’17) won the off-campus senate seat.
The four enter the senate on the back of the Feb. 23 GUSA election commission announcement that the Dec. 1 referendum to replace the senate with a new, elected assembly focused on club funding would have passed. The GUSA Constitutional Council invalidated the referendum due to GUSA not providing the student body two weeks’ notice of the referendum.
Senate speaker Richie Mullaney (COL ’18) said the senate will look for ways to maximize its impact this semester in light of the referendum results’ invalidation.
“Given that the Senate is here to stay, the focus will now be on how to bolster the Senate’s influence in policymaking. As a body, the Senate’s policymaking power is mostly ceremonial and it’s currently difficult for individual Senators to navigate the bureaucracy in order to make an actual impact,” Mullaney wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We’ll be exploring ways for the Senate as an institution to be an integral part of decision making. Nothing is off the table.”
Mullaney said the senate’s priority for the rest of the semester will be following up on last semester’s referendum.
“The most pertinent task before the Senate is to draft and pass the student activities budget of nearly $1 million,” Mullaney wrote. “After the club funding referendum and the exec election, I think it’s clear that we need to critically evaluate this process and look at ways to make it more transparent.”
Having previously served as a senator and a deputy chief of staff under GUSA President Enushe Khan (MSB ’17) and Vice President Chris Fisk (COL ’17), Granville said she is excited to be involved as the senate undergoes a period of transition.
“The senate is going through an identity reformation right now,” Granville said. “If you’re a senator taking on a larger policy role in the future and you’re a big supporter of club advocacy in the senate, that’s certainly not going to happen in my term, but it’s a conversation that can help get the ball rolling.”
Despite being a senior, Granville said she ran for the senate to continue work started during the Khan-Fisk administration.
“I’m excited to continue the projects that Enushe and Chris have been working on in the past year to make sure that those get finished strongly,” Granville said. “I’ve recently joined the election reform task force, so it’s a group of us from the exec, from the senate, both administrations and the election commission trying to re-evaluate the best way to run elections so that we don’t have the same problems that we saw the last time with the Constitutional Council back in [December].”
Griffin, a former Hoya staff writer, said she looks forward to addressing workers’ rights and promoting inclusivity across campus.
“There are few key areas I am concerned about promoting at Georgetown, such as workers’ rights: both student workers and staff workers,” Griffin said. “I am also concerned about promoting access to mental and sexual health resources on campus, promoting resources for the arts and generally promoting inclusivity.”
Mullaney said he is optimistic about the rest of the senate’s term and the opportunity to work with GUSA President-elect Kamar Mack (COL ’19) and Vice President-elect Jessica Andino (COL ’18).
“I expect that we’ll see stronger collaboration between the Executive and the Senate moving forward. I look forward to working with Kamar and Jessica to see this through,” Mullaney wrote. “We have four wonderful new Senators who will offer a much needed new perspective. I can tell they’re thrilled to get to work and are serious about their jobs.”
Hoya Staff Writer Yasmine Salam contributed reporting.
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