The Georgetown University Roosevelt Institute was reestablished after a two-year hiatus this summer by Asjed Hussain (SFS ’15), current president of Georgetown’s chapter.

Founded in 2009 by Carolina Delgado (SFS ’12), the Georgetown chapter of GURI is part of the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network, a national student think tank focused on policy research and proposal and includes more than 85 chapters nation wide. It was disbanded in 2010 because of a lack of interest. However, it was reestablished over the summer after Hussain heard Delgado speak at an informal Carroll Fellows event where alums spoke to freshmen fellows about their experiences at Georgetown at the end of last year.

“I heard about the incredible things Carolina had done during her time here; however, it seemed that the Institute never really took off before,” he said. “I approached her after her talk and told her that I wanted to take it over, so she provided me contacts with the national organization, which is how we got it all started.”

The national Roosevelt Institute organization is separated into six major parts, called centers, which focus on six areas of policy: economics, education, healthcare, energy and environment, equal justice and defense and diplomacy.

GURI follows the structure established by the national organization: Each center holds meetings once a week at which the approximately 50 members brainstorm solutions to policy situations and learn how to write policy. Policy chairs serve as the teachers after attending a training session in the beginning of September.

Each member then uses these skills to produce a policy piece by the first week of December, that promotes a solution to a specific problem. The pieces are sent to the national organization, and 10 pieces are published in the Institute’s publication, “10 Ideas.”

“These pieces really have promise of creating solutions,” Hussain said. “Beyond having the potential opportunity to be published as an undergraduate, some of these authors meet with members of Congress and heads of government to advocate for their solutions.”

Over the summer, Hussain selected VP Dao (SFS ’15) to serve as vice president of the chapter. Both Dao and Hussain then recruited seven students to serve as chairs during the first week of September.

The two sophomores began advertising GURI at this year’s Student Activities Fair.

According to Hussain, nearly 100 freshmen signed up at the event
“With such a positive response, it certainly furthered my conviction that students were looking for this type of opportunity on campus, given the levels of political activism and international awareness typical of Georgetown students,” he said.

The group also established a Facebook page to advertise the first information session, which, according to Hussain, attracted 30 people.

Policy center meetings began during the last week of September, and each center has held two meetings so far this semester.

“I was really glad to have found out about GURI because I’m planning to get involved with public policy as a career, and given the nature of many Georgetown students feeling the same, I was looking for a group that gave me the opportunity to explore it.” Courtney Kishbaugh (COL ’15), a current member of the economics center, said.

This year, GURI was approved by the Student Activities Commission, and Hussain said he hopes to attain funding from SAC, which would allow him to publish a Georgetown-specific policy journal.

In the meantime, GURI has a blog on Tumblr that provides students who are looking to write shorter policy pieces with a space in which to publish their work.

“This is a unique opportunity for Georgetown students, as we’re taught by many policymakers and policy implementers from whom we gain advanced insight,” Dao said. “We wanted to form a group and forum for students to peel back politicizing and really look for the solutions that politics often muddles over.”

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