Angert-Kluger: Two Terms Later
Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Updated: Thursday, January 27, 2011 02:01
After nearly two years at the helm of the Georgetown University Student Association, President Calen Angert (MSB '11) and Vice President Jason Kluger (MSB '11) will leave office this spring with a mixed legacy.
Although Angert and Kluger pushed through several big initiatives during their first term, the executive has carried out fewer projects recently.
Leading off with successful implementations of an LSAT familiarization course, student SafeRides drivers, the GUSA Summer Fellows program and added Career Center features in their first term, the pair focused on overhauling the entire student-group funding process in the spring of 2010. They created the GUSA Fund and a new funding allocation system — and were hailed as some of the more noteworthy agents of change in recent GUSA history.
As they entered their second term, Angert and Kluger said last week that they came armed with institutional knowledge as well as a close friendship that fosters a team dynamic. Their most significant achievement this term has been the passing of Student Activities Fee Reform in December, which will allocate the entirety of the fee to student groups after a gradual hike from the current rate of $100 to $150 over two years.
"[Angert and Kluger] attended many [Finance and Appropriations Committee] meetings, and I reached out to them multiple times to discuss the plans and their thoughts. … Their support of SAFE Reform was crucial," said GUSA Fin/App Chair Greg Laverriere (COL '12).
Yet some students have questioned Angert and Kluger's intensity of focus on GUSA this year.
Though quick to commend the team for serving as seniors, Josh Mogil (SFS '11), a three-term GUSA senator and runner-up in the 2009 presidential race against Angert-Kluger, said they have scaled back on time commitment this term.
In their first year, Mogil said, either Angert or Kluger would attend every GUSA Senate meeting to discuss questions and policies. Now, they typically designate representatives to carry out the task.
"I'm hopeful that they have something up their sleeve to end this semester with a bang, as this semester has been lackluster," Mogil said.
Nevertheless, Angert and Kluger have gained respect from many members of the campus community during their two-year tenure, especially for their early accomplishments.
"Calen Angert and Jason Kluger have been effective and innovative leaders in GUSA, and for our entire student body. I am particularly impressed with their work in providing new opportunities for other students to grow and prosper — through initiatives such as the GUSA Summer Fellows Program and the partnership with our Career Education Center to help students prepare for the LSAT and for Law School," said Todd Olson, vice president for student affairs.
GUSA Deputy Chief of Staff Mike Meaney (SFS '12) agreed, also highlighting results from the team's first run.
"Their most notable achievement would be the GUSA Fund. I think that was a necessary achievement that opened up funding to students in a more transparent and fair way," he said.
Melissa Bell (COL '11), recipient of a GUSA Summer Fellowship, said she was thankful for the work the two had put into that particular program, which grants students with financial need free housing during summer internships.
"Because of the GUSA Summer Fellows program I was able to have an internship with the Department of Justice and was able to focus on my career goals. GUSA really helped with that," she said.
This year's campaign promises — easing student access to Zipcars, altering the Student Code of Conduct, revamping the GUSA Fellows program and pushing for a clear improvement in safety — have not been addressed as clearly as goals pursued in the team's first term.
On an institutional level, GUSA has sought to boost transparency with the launch of a new website following administrative delays. The site features bios, contact information and a new blog, along with other features — but the Web platform and its new room reservation program have yet to be widely publicized to the student body.
"I've vaguely heard of GUSA but I'm not familiar with what it does," Erica Eshman (COL '14) said. "They could advertise a little more. Students just don't see them. I don't feel like I have a good sense of what it is or what they do."
Angert admitted that technology and outreach were areas where they could improve.
"One of our biggest shortcomings is letting students know what we have done and when we've done it, I think that would have been a huge help," he said.
For Mogil, Angert and Kluger's annual stipend of $1,200 from the university is another cause for concern.
Erika Cohen-Derr, director of the Center for Student Programs, explained the pay rate: "Their salary is at the level of a basic stipend based on the philosophy that a student shouldn't have to choose between holding a paying part-time job and serving in the role of GUSA president or [vice president]. The funding does not come from Student Activities Fee," Cohen-Derr said.
Mogil had a different take on the matter.
"They essentially are employees of the university. … That [brings into question] their independence," he said.
Mogil suggested that the funding emerge from GUSA's designated budget. This would allow for a salary to compensate for the time commitment, but the change would also ensure that the money does not create the illusion of a conflict of interest, according to Mogil.
Despite any criticism of this year's initiatives, past electoral opponents and supporters alike said that GUSA's reputation has improved after Angert and Kluger's terms.