GUSA’s image and the Student Activities Commission’s future were major subjects of debate as the senate elected its new leadership Wednesday night.

Two-time vice speaker Reggie Greer (COL ’09) was elected speaker after defeating four-time senator Brian Wood (COL ’09) by a vote of 24 to six.

At the beginning of the meeting, senators questioned both candidates about their plans for the senate.

“I’ve been very frustrated with GUSA these last two years,” Greer said. “We haven’t always been the most proactive body; that’s why I think it’s really important to up the ante this year and be a more open body.”

Wood told the senators that he hopes they will begin to wield their authority as the student legislature more effectively to increase the student association’s role on campus.

“As senators we can work in one of two ways, with the powers we were given, or with the powers we have as representatives of the student body,” he said. “We need to make sure we capitalize on that power.”

Greer said he hopes GUSA’s public image will improve as the body becomes more transparent and visible to the university community.

“We need to get administrators to know who you are so they are receptive to what you are talking to them about,” Greer said. “We really need to be proactive.”

While the senate has been criticized in recent years for primarily following the lead of GUSA’s executive branch, both candidates said the senate will be operating much more independently this year.

“We’re going to have a different agenda than the executive,” Wood said. “They’re going to be doing some great things there, but we’re not just going to be following along.”

One of the senate’s major initiatives this year is to reform the code of student conduct, a project that it began last year.

“Every student is subject to it, and a lot of students don’t read it, and some of it is vague and almost laughable,” Wood said.

After the speaker election, Wood was elected vice speaker after running unopposed.

Two-time senator Matt Wagner (COL ’11) also defeated first-time senator Nick Troiano (COL ’11) to become chair of the Finance and Appropriations Committee in a nearly unanimous vote.

Wagner said club funding and the role of the Student Activities Commission need to be addressed this year.

According to GUSA’s Constitution, “The senate shall have the plenary power to appropriate all student association funds, including the aggregate funds from the student activities fee, among the agencies, funding boards, organizations and initiatives it deems fit.”

“I think it’s clear to everyone this year is SAC,” Wagner said. “SAC is a subordinate group of GUSA, and they seem to have forgotten that.”

“SAC has the most arbitrary and ridiculous rules,” he said. “You can’t have seven boxes of pizza; you can only have six.”

Wagner said that the GUSA Constitution mandates that the senate work with SAC as it is, and said the commission cannot and should not be eliminated.

“I think students trust SAC, not to do things efficiently or to do things fairly, but I think they trust that there will be money for important programs,” Wagner said.

He said he hopes to convene a meeting twice a semester of club heads to discuss funding and their views of SAC.

“A focus this year, and finance is going to be a big part of this, is changing the perception of GUSA as not just another student government, but the student government of Georgetown,” Wagner said.

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