Aside from beating their competitor, Wisemiller’s sandwich Chicken Madness, by 287 votes, Georgetown University Student Association President Enushe Khan (MSB ’17) and Vice President Chris Fisk’s (COL ’17) election was marked by their platform of bridging the divide between GUSA and students and making progress on the campus plan, dining, mental health, sexual assault and low-income advocacy.
Since then, Khan and Fisk, who gave themselves an A-minus for their performance thus far, have worked with the university to secure the campus plan, renew Georgetown’s 10-year dining contract with Aramark and implement a series of reforms to mental health, sexual assault and low-income policies.
Midway through their term, the two shared their reflections on the past half year and their upcoming plans in an interview with The Hoya on Tuesday.
A Plan for the Next 20 Years
The university filed a finalized version of the 2017-2036 Campus Plan on Sept. 1, concluding months of deliberation between GUSA, the university and representatives from the Georgetown neighborhood.
The final plan prioritizes upperclassman housing renovations, allows the renovation and construction of academic spaces and permits the reconstruction of both Kehoe Field and Yates Field House.
The campus plan was the first to include the Georgetown Community Partnership, which consists of university administrators, neighborhood representatives and students, following a lengthy legal battle between the university and neighbors over the 2010 Campus Plan.
The negotiation represented a significant victory for students and GUSA, according to Khan, who is also on GCP.
“When you look at what happened in 2010, in which students essentially got screwed, that is essentially what has led to a lot of the big issues that we’ve experienced since 2010, in terms of deferred maintenance and lack of quality housing on campus, third-year housing requirement,” Khan said.
However, Khan said GUSA plans to address issues neglected by the campus plan, including noise violations and transportation policy. The university has agreed to launch a pilot weekend Georgetown University Transportation Shuttle service next semester with service from noon to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, according to Khan.
“It’s really working with the university to get certain things done, because quite frankly when you work with the neighbors, things aren’t going to move forward unless you agree. It’s a consensus-driven process,” Khan said.
Reforming Georgetown Dining
The university announced Tuesday that Aramark will continue to serve as the university’s dining contractor for the next 10 years following a long bid process.
The contract includes a renovation of O’Donovan Hall to include a food court for meal exchanges on the top floor and a healthier buffet option on the bottom floor, in addition to expanded meal exchange options across campus and new meal plans.
Khan said GUSA played a significant role in the new dining contract.
“Both Aramark and Sodexo said they have never seen a student body so involved in the dining process. We essentially shaped what came out of the new Aramark contract,” Khan said.
Continuing Conversations on Mental Health
Policy surrounding mental health has largely fallen into the hands of the Mental Health Advisory Board, a board consisting of students and administrators who address mental health issues on campus.
The board, on which GUSA Mental Health Policy Team Chair Sylvia Levy (SFS ’18) sits, has worked to increase accessibility to mental health services this semester.
Fisk said GUSA will build on this work by asking university administrators to address issues stemming from higher demand for mental health resources, including longer wait times for CAPS appointments.
“Before you had a price problem and a stigma problem, and now these things are being changed little by little because of the conversation on mental health on this campus, but it’s led to secondary byproducts of that,” Fisk said.
Project Lighthouse, an initiative that connects students with peer trained in talking to students and guiding them to appropriate mental health resources, Executive Director Ben Johnson (NHS ’17) said GUSA’s role on the mental health advisory board needs to be focused on listening to and advocating for students.
“GUSA needs to be the ear itself to collect the noise,” Johnson said.
Becoming a Survivor-Centric Campus
Khan and Fisk began their roles with sexual assault at the forefront of campus conversation, after former GUSA President Joe Luther (COL ’16) and Vice President Connor Rohan’s (COL ’16) administration signed a memorandum of understanding with the university to hire a full-time Title IX coordinator, conduct a sexual misconduct climate survey and introduce mandatory bystander training.
University President John J. DeGioia established the Sexual Assault and Misconduct Task Force this summer after the university released the Sexual Assault and Misconduct Climate Survey results in June. Khan sits on the steering committee of the task force. There is also a GUSA representative on each subcommittee.
GUSA worked with the university to introduce a series of policies to support survivors of sexual assault last semester, including a semester of free counseling services at CAPS for survivors.
Khan said GUSA plays a vital role in crafting policy through the subcommittees.
“The students on the task force, particularly on the steering committee, we meet every two weeks and essentially say these are the policies that we want through the different subcommittees and we’re going to get them through,” Khan said.
Low Income Advocacy
Another centerpiece of Khan and Fisk’s campaign was developing policy and holding conversations on low-income advocacy.
This fall, GUSA established the Advisory Board for Affordability and Access, consisting of students, administrators and students to evaluate current resources and suggest policies to support low-income students.
Discussions surrounding low-income issues were lacking before the group was established, according to Fisk.
“It’s not necessarily that the whole university wasn’t discussing it before. It’s that we were discussing it in an inefficient way,” Fisk said.
GUSA also secured university funding to provide housing for students who do not have a stable home to return to over winter breaks. GUSA is now looking to introduce policies to address costs incurred upon all Georgetown students, including printing and laundry costs, textbook prices and graduation costs.
Engaging the Student Body
This fall’s GUSA senate election, which had a 24 percent turnout rate, saw perennial satirical candidate Wisemiller’s Chicken Madness sandwich win its first GUSA election.
Khan said GUSA has sought to engage students in GUSA, as it now totals around 400 members through various structural reforms.
Khan and Fisk restructured the executive branch to develop policy teams with co-chairs from the executive and senate branches to which all students could apply.
The senate is also considering a proposal to abolish the senate and establish a new assembly focused on club funding, which would consist of representatives from club advisory boards and elected student representatives. If approved by the senate, a studentwide referendum on the proposal would occur Dec. 1.
“Historically there has been a disconnect between the student body and GUSA, and we tried to address this by just having more people in GUSA and letting the student body sort of be GUSA and recognize that we are not necessarily a checks-and-balances student government. … We are simply a student union,” Khan said.
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