Georgetown students living on campus are required to leave their dorms within 24 hours after the last final exam is offered. Some students face uncertainty regarding housing arrangements over winter break, stemming from independence or unstable home situations. The Georgetown Scholarship Program, Students of Georgetown, Inc., the Georgetown University Student Association, Alumni Association, Office of the Provost and Office of the President came together this summer to address this gap and help fund a winter house for 10 students through a process that should make us all proud of the Georgetown community.
Corp Social Impact Chair Harrison Williams (COL ’16) took outstanding initiative to recognize need on campus, leading The Corp to commit $4,500 to help fix it. GUSA President Joe Luther (COL ’16) took the initiative to reach out to other organizations, all of which agreed to donate money for the house, in order to engage a wide swath of campus on the issue and fully fund a temporary residence. In response, the Office of the President donated the requested $1,000 and the Office of the Provost doubled the requested donation of $1,000 to give $2,000. When student-driven movements are able to receive full support from the administration, Georgetown succeeds in truly serving its students.
GSP has and will contribute whatever money is necessary, from their necessity fund or by reaching out to more donors, to fund winter housing for independent students. Yet, this year’s model brings together funds and sponsorship from student groups and administrative offices alike, allowing for greater program sustainability. Only 10 students have expressed a need for the house this year, but in the future, this number may rise and the resources necessary to house more students should be available, reusing this model. When more organizations have a stake in ensuring that there is winter housing, it becomes more likely that funding challenges will be resolved since more organizations can contribute to the lacking funds, allowing the program to continue to satisfy student needs from year to year.
While GSP would have continued to finance the cost of winter housing, as they did last year without the help of other organizations, the money to do so would have come at a cost to its other programs. The per diem model of years past came out of GSP’s Necessity Fund, which typically provides funding for students’ everyday needs with money from outside donors. Now that GSP does not have to take $10,000 out of its funding, the money can be put towards providing 100 winter coats, 155 grocery grants or 286 iClickers. Moreover, not all of the students staying in the winter house are in GSP. This fact further proves that the entire campus should care about this issue and be willing to contribute to it.
The university’s positive response to student-led efforts can help to foster further collaborations in the future. Georgetown is lucky to have a large student-run organization such as The Corp that can lead with money and manpower for the causes that need it on campus. Yet, in future years, more organizations, perhaps the Center for Social Justice, should buy into the program in order to increase campus-wide ownership and engagement.
On the administrative side, a long-term winter housing plan could include efforts to acquire a permanent residence or property, similar to a Magis Row house, to avoid the variable and interim process of renting through Airbnb. The fact that every group responded affirmatively when asked to donate to the cause demonstrates the existing commitment that our administration and students have for others. Thus, all campus organizations with the necessary resources should consider supporting a winter house, therefore ensuring that every year, every student has a safe and comfortable place to spend the holidays.
Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.