Enushe Khan (MSB ’17) and Chris Fisk (COL ’17) discussed their plans to address dining, campus planning, mental health and sexual assault at their swearing-in ceremony for Georgetown University Student Association president and vice president in Healy Hall on Saturday.
Khan and Fisk replace former GUSA President Joe Luther (COL ’16) and Vice President Connor Rohan (COL ’16).
Rohan said Khan and Fisk are leading GUSA at a critical time.
“They’re entering in a critical position, in a critical year,” Rohan said during the swearing-in ceremony. “With campus planning coming up, this is probably going to be the most substantial and important year that student advocacy has experienced in God knows how long.”
Khan and Fisk have appointed seven deputy chiefs of staff and 19 policy team chairs who will work with senate co-chairs and policy team advocates to develop policy. Over 100 students applied for a position.
Last year’s executive had eight deputy chiefs of staff and 21 cabinet secretaries, with 123 students applying for a position in the executive cabinet and staff.
GUSA Chief of Staff Alex Bobroske (SFS ’17) said applicants seemed enthusiastic to play a role in developing student voice with GUSA’s new structure, where the senate and executive will work together in policy teams to develop policy.
“Something that came up a lot in applications, one of the questions we asked, was about with this restructuring happening what they thought GUSA should do and it could do to be more inclusive of campus and what ideas the applicants had,” Bobroske said in an interview with The Hoya. “There’s just an overwhelming enthusiasm for how restructuring gives so many more student voices to be in the room and actually participate.”
Khan said campus planning — specifically, campus maintenance — is in a particularly important phase.
“This is an important, pressing phase that we’re in, and deferred maintenance and housing renovations are something that we just really need to start pushing the university back on. We need to ensure that that is a priority for our students and that that happens,” Khan said during the swearing-in ceremony.
According to Khan, while the recent hiring of new Counseling and Psychiatric Services staff is positive news, more has to be done.
“The recent news of the addition of the new psychologists and new case worker in CAPS, that’s great, and I know I really commend everyone who’s put so much of their time into that,” Khan said. “But it’s important to keep that momentum going. There’s still a lot we need to do to improve the resources that we have on this campus.”
According to Fisk, the administration also plans to push for the creation of an LGBTQ living-learning community and the continued enforcement of the memorandum of understanding for sexual assault policy, to which they hope to add further points.
Fisk said it is time GUSA plays a more active role in the conversation about racial inclusivity on campus.
“So we commend DeGioia for the efforts he’s made to make race and racial injustice a larger conversation at Georgetown, but there’s much more to be had in that conversation and it’s about time GUSA steps up to play a more active role in that process so that we can have a more productive advocacy role this coming year with that,” Fisk said.
Fisk said GUSA wants to further increase dialogue about socio-economic inclusivity as well.
“I think that this should be a place that no matter how much money you have in your pocket, or whether your parents went to college or not, you should be able to be a Hoya to the best extent of your abilities, and I think that GUSA as an advocacy body should really want to make sure that is the fact and that is the case for every student here,” Fisk said.
According to Rohan, the university will face several challenges in the coming year, including issues related to club sports, facilities, maintenance and a lack of funding for an athletic trainer.
Rohan said administrators often try to find ways to avoid addressing student concerns.
“We have administrators trying to hide behind walls of, ‘This is all very complicated and you can’t understand,’” Rohan said.
Luther said he believes his and Rohan’s tenure has been a success, especially in the areas of mental health, sexual assault and campus planning.
According to Luther, it is GUSA’s job to advocate for students as much as possible to a bureaucratic administration.
“Bureaucracies exist to protect themselves,” Luther said. “And so no matter how friendly and how exasperated and frustrated they might seem trying to make your demands come true, ultimately it’s in their best interests to keep students an arm’s length away. So that’s what we have to do here, is to make sure that the student voice is being pushed through as far as it can be.”
Luther said GUSA has the ability to improve students’ lives, but that it needs to focus on what students care about to be effective.
“We’ve all been impacted in a lot of great ways by people I’ve never met, and we are all impacting people that we’re never going to meet in a lot of good ways,” Luther said. “But we need to make sure if it’s going to be successful, student’s need to be behind it, and they’re not going to be behind it if all they hear about is all the petty squabbling that goes on when we get into the minor nuances of the bylaws.”
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