Over the last week, my faith in the Georgetown University Student Association was nearly restored. Unlike previous years, GUSA worked with other student groups to organize and produce the numerous prayer sessions, discussion forums and victim assistance activities that testify to the magnanimity of our student body. They even called the Club Union to get the opinions and suggestions of a wider base of students. GUSA, the organization I had rallied against for over a year, finally acted like a student government.

My amazement continued on Tuesday, Sept. 18, when I attended the GUSA assembly meeting. After approving new election bylaws that surprisingly make things better, Trey Street (SFS `01) proposed that the student association actually listen to student concerns! The resolution called for a review of the non-academic departments at Georgetown University by the various GUSA committees responsible for advocating student interests. It set out a timeline for meeting with administrators and deadlines for the committee reports. He suggested holding administrative departments to six “Standards of Excellence.” In short, he wanted GUSA to address the many complaints lodged by students against the “unhelpful and unproductive customer service received from university departments.” As a believer in student leadership, I was proud to see my government standing up to the university at last.

Unfortunately, the bliss of my temporary ignorance was not to last, as it did not take long for the GUSA Assembly to unleash the forces of ridiculous rhetoric to defeat action. First, an Assembly member asked the committee chairmen if it was a good idea. Nevermind that the Assembly should tell the committee heads what the student body wants done. Obviously, the important thing is to discover what the unelected leaders of GUSA officialdom consider wise.

The only thing more frightening than the question was the answer. One chairman announced that he did “not have the resources” to hold the university accountable! How will GUSA accomplish anything if it cannot even conduct an evaluation of the problem? Luckily, in his resolution Trey gave an answer: Consult the clubs. According to another GUSA representative this is unnecessary since “GUSA already represents all students.” Why go to students when the students can come to us?

Another GUSA representative pointed out that the Assembly already has a list of problems that need addressing, thereby suggesting that GUSA should work on the issues it had failed to solve last year rather than identify today’s problems. Perhaps more disturbing was a comment made by a senior class representative that “we should consult the university administration first.” Ask them if they want an audit? Ask them if they want to be accountable to students? No further evidence is needed to demonstrate that GUSA thinks about the administration before it thinks about students.

But unfortunately there is more proof. GUSA decided not to do its job this semester by rejecting the proposal with two in favor, six against, and three abstentions. One of the abstentions came from a co-sponsor of the resolution! Apparently there was some “miscommunication” involved. If GUSA co-sponsors have difficulty communicating, how are they supposed to voice student complaints to the university? Oh wait, they decided not to.

Alas, GUSA even undermined the strength of the Club Union by giving in to cowardice. A member of the Union who suggested placing American flags on the lawn received large support from the audience, but it was to no avail. Dr. Juan Gonzalez feared the flags might make students “uncomfortable,” and like a good lackey, GUSA agreed. Even with the force of the clubs behind them, our GUSA leadership would not defend the wishes of its constituency. Maybe it’s time to think of other options – again.

Jack Ternan is a sophomore in the College and is press spokesman for the Yard campaign.

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