Student leaders from the Georgetown University Student Association shared their recent achievements and future initiatives during an inaugural State of the Campus address in Healey Family Student Center on Wednesday evening.

Around 50 students attended the event, held one evening after President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address. The event featured speeches from GUSA President Kamar Mack (COL ’19) and Vice President Jessica Andino (COL ’18), as well as GUSA Senate Speaker Ben Baldwin (SFS ’19) and Vice Speaker Sylvia Levy (SFS ’18). A question-and-answer session followed both speeches.

Aaron Bennett (COL ’19), the press secretary for the GUSA executive, also delivered remarks.

The leaders presented GUSA’s major projects over the past year on a range of issues, including providing greater accessibility to mental health resources, expanding food resources to low-income students and advocating for Georgetown students affected by the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, an Obama-era executive program that provided work authorization and legal protection to about 800,000 immigrants without documentation who came to the United States as children.

SHEEL PATEL FOR THE HOYA
Georgetown University Student Assosciation President, Kamar Mack (COL ’19) and Vice President Jessica Andino (COL ’18) reflect during their State of the Campus address.

GUSA leaders said they hope to enhance current initiatives and push forward on long-term efforts, acknowledging that many projects will take many more years to actualize. Planned future initiatives include the launch of a racial climate survey, expanding access to off-campus mental health services and continuing work with the university board to address the larger issues affecting all students.

Mack and Andino used their addresses to shed light on the achievements of their administration since taking office last March. They focused on three broad categories that guided their policy pursuits: making Georgetown more affordable, expanding accessibility to campus resources for “people from all backgrounds” and advocating for students in “big picture” conversations.

Andino said she was proud of the executive’s efforts to pursue its goals.

“Our administration has never gone a day without asking questions without the pursuit of solutions, and from this we have learned that the labor of student government is precisely that: asking questions,” Andino said.

Mack said all their policies are attempts to instill permanent solutions in the Georgetown community.

“We must ask the right questions and answer them. And we truly wish to enact lasting, meaningful changes,” Mack said.

Last spring, Mack and Andino worked with Robin Morey, vice president of planning and facilities management, to expand access to affordable food through an extended Saturday Georgetown University Transportation Shuttles bus service with stops in Dupont Circle and Trader Joe’s, located on 25th Street.

The GUSA executive’s most significant affordability initiative came in November with the announced launch of a pilot program in collaboration with the Cawley Career Education Center, which granted 17 students a $1,500 stipend for working unpaid internships.

Andino said she hopes the program will grow to capture more students.

“We hope to see this program continue to expand from the 17 students who were awarded this past fall into a sustainable program that supports hundreds of students in a given semester,”Andino said.

Both the GUSA executive and senate have also worked with the university on issues involving sexual and mental health. In October, the senate passed a resolution urging the university to implement some of GUSA’s recommendations and the recommendations of the Sexual Assault Task Force, including increased resources for health and well-being services and improved training for faculty and staff.

Levy voiced the senate’s commitment to promoting improved resources for sexual assault survivors.

“We are committed as a GUSA senate, and the executive as well, to continue to push this work forward and to make sure our campus centers survivors and does not let its community members fall through the cracks,” Levy said.

Baldwin addressed student concerns regarding senate accountability. In an effort to reach more students, the senate has made an archive of legislation and meeting notes available on the GUSA website and plans to hold meet-and-greets with senators along with office hours in common rooms across campus.

“Our journey together as a Georgetown student body is far from finished,” Mack said. “We are confident in the future of GUSA, because we know that Georgetown students will continue to do what they’ve always done — asking the hard questions and doing what’s necessary to create meaningful change.”

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