The Georgetown University Student Association senate unanimously approved a bill Sunday expressing concerns about new policies requiring student and administrative groups to pay for security at certain events.
GUSA Senator Hunter Estes (SFS ’19), who introduced the bill, said the Georgetown University Police Department decides if an event requires security and how many officers the event sponsors must hire.
According to Estes, GUPD requires officers for events expected to exceed 200 attendees, or any other event it deems to require extra security. Student groups sponsoring events are expected to pay for the GUPD security detail out of club funds.
GUPD charges these groups $50 per hour per officer, according to Estes, and groups must hire at least two officers for a minimum of two hours. These costs, Estes said, can be limiting to many student groups.
“This is obviously a huge burden on student groups,” Estes said. “I’ve heard from [Student Activities Commission] that the very minimum being two officers for two hours, $400, that’s a third of the average budget for SAC’s groups.”
GUPD Chief Jay Gruber said the department has increased security as a response to concerns relating to current events.
“Over the past year GUPD has re-engineered the way we examine security threats for campus events. This is based on world, regional and local events,” Gruber wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We have instituted many more bag checks, no-backpack events and increased security at our larger venues, including Gaston Hall.”
According to Gruber, because GUPD is not paid by the university to provide security at individual groups’ events, the groups must pay for security themselves.
SAC Chair Ricardo Mondolfi (SFS ’19) said he is concerned GUPD’s new event security policy is a back channel for the university to get money back from the Student Activities Fee.
“I am concerned that the university is sort of chipping away at student activities money, which is put in directly by students and is only going to student activities,” Mondolfi said. “So the whole loop is basically how your money, which you pay in your tuition bill, loops back around to your clubs, so in the end it should go back to students. I’m concerned that GUPD is making the money go back to the administration, which is not supposed to happen.”
According to Estes, it is not only student groups that are affected by this new policy. University administrative groups that put on events for students must also adhere to this policy.
“The Catholic Social Thought Initiative obviously doesn’t have a huge range of funds, especially since they’re newer, but they have the same thing. They don’t have any control over what GUPD sends,” Estes said. “That really hurts them because they have to leave this bubble of funding with no clue as to what they’re actually going to be charged.”
According to Estes, GUSA senators have formed a task force in conjunction with club representatives and advisory boards to open communications with GUPD.
Estes said the resolution aims to open communication with GUPD to potentially lower the cost to student groups required to hire GUPD for events. Estes said if student groups are going to be required to pay for security, they should have some say in how much security they require.
“The bill basically thanks GUPD for their service and thanks them for their willingness to provide security for us, but calls that we actually start having a discussion with the student body and the student representatives as to how we can change the policy,” Estes said. “Hopefully so that students can actually be included in the deliberative process as to how much security is actually needed. Because they’re the ones that actually understand what their event is going to be like.”
Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.