orgenstern

With over half their term complete, GUSA President Brian orgenstern (COL ’05) and Vice-President Steve de Man (COL ’04) have checked off a number of their platform priorities since their election last March and look to focus on various remaining proposals for the spring semester.

de Man

Employing the slogan, “Bring It Home,” Morgenstern and de Man pledged to end the 24-hour residence hall security “lockdown,” and promote campus-wide events on campus, including the return of Student Bartender Night, two initiatives that have been successful and popular.

Morgenstern and de Man pointed to the ending of the unpopular “lockdown” policy as their administration’s greatest achievement to date.

The student leaders had hoped to end the policy that required students to swipe their GOCards at all buildings and sign-in at guard desks at buildings that they did not live in and only gave them access to their own residence hall, but settled for a policy where students sign-in after 9 p.m.

Previous GUSA President Kaydee Bridges (SFS ’03) and Vice-President Mason Ayer (SFS ’03) had met with university officials throughout the year to change the policy for safety concerns that arose because students’ GOCards could not enter residence halls that they did not live in.

“It showed perfect compromise with the Student Association and the administration in that we didn’t get 100 percent of what we wanted, and neither did they,” de Man said. “But students seem satisfied.”

The administration met with university officials throughout the summer, announcing the changes in early September.

GUSA Representative Octavio Gonzalez (COL ’06) said that orgenstern’s solid relationships with administrators helped broker the compromise.

“Although [the lockdown] wasn’t completely abolished, it was relaxed to the benefit of students. This shows his strong spirit of cooperation,” Gonzalez said.

Morgenstern said he hopes that the reintroduction of Student Bartender Night and the addition of other campus events, which include a revamped Homecoming Weekend, HoyaPalooza, the Safety Net reception and the R U Ready? Program, to create sexual assault awareness, all have the potential to make a strong impact.

“We can’t claim the credit for all of these, but we feel that there was a lot of input from us on those projects,” orgenstern added.

Other major platform proposals have seen less success. orgenstern and other GUSA committee chairs have met throughout the year with university officials to change the weekend GUTS bus hours so that students will have free transportation on Saturday nights. While the proposal has been fruitless so far, GUSA hopes to overcome the financial obstacles that have impeded progress on the issue.

As an alternative, de Man said that GUSA is looking into an effort to make students more aware about the Metrobus system’s G2 line that runs stops at Healy Gates and runs to Dupont Circle for $1.20.

“There are steps that can be taken at little or no cost before we ask the university to spend exorbitant amounts of money,” Morgenstern said.

Their platform also included a proposal to extend the Law Center route to Capitol Hill for students who intern in Congress, a plan that failed, according to Morgenstern, because the university could not afford it.

The ticket also pledged to bring three men’s basketball games to cDonough Gymnasium. While Morgenstern said he would not rule out the idea of bringing one game to campus, the university’s contract with the MCI Center allows games to be played at home only if the center has a conflict.

“It’s going to have to come down to contract negotiations with the MCI Center and the athletic department,” he said. “The athletic department was happy to see that we’re interested in it because they are too.”

Morgenstern and de Man have also worked to change SafeRides to operate one van on a fixed route that runs on Prospect Street .

Part of their platform also included a safety shuttle to ferry students from the university to Burleith and M Street. Morgenstern said he is meeting with administrators to begin soliciting sponsorship of a program from local businesses. One option includes having the van stop outside restaurants, clubs or theaters that help pay for the shuttle.

Morgenstern, who served as chair of GUSA’s Housing and Facilities Advocacy Council last year, said he was pleased to have expanded the mandate of the Housing Advisory Council led by Karen Frank, vice president for facilities and student housing, by adding a faculty-in-residence member to the council.

Morgenstern had hoped to widen the scope of the council to include oversight of all buildings, not just residence halls and to diversify the council’s representation to include more student and faculty members.

GUSA Chair Jack Ternan (COL ’04) said that he felt that orgenstern made too many concessions in expanding the council. “His complete capitulation on his proposed housing and facilities advisory board shocked me,” he said.

GUSA Representative Luis Torres (COL ’05) also pointed to the council as an example of the administration remaining too secretive. Torres said he was disappointed that the council did not seek more student input when determining next year’s housing eligibility process.

“From the outside looking in, they could be a bit more inclusive,” he said. “On the housing process, they could have got more input from students.”

Remaining platform proposals are largely in the works, including a promise to ensure a student pub in the former New South dining hall. Morgenstern said that revenue generating space will likely be included in the new student center and that space would include late night food and beverage service.

An online facebook could be up as early as next semester, but such a program needs to ensure student privacy is protected, orgenstern said. Either the university counsel will provide students with a release form that requires a signature or a decision by the university registrar to include student photos as part of directory information, he said.

Morgenstern said he has also had discussions with Darryl Christmon, the Chief Financial Officer for the main campus, about increasing financial aid and providing more grant aid as opposed to offering student loans.

De Man said he recently hosted a delegation of student government leaders from regional colleges and universities for a summit on increasing student interest in school government. He has also been working on a “Passport,” an informational booklet for freshman that would help familiarize them with finding their way throughout Georgetown and the District.

Gonzalez and Representative Pravin Rajan (SFS ’07) both agreed that Morgenstern has been effective throughout the first half of his term.

“I’ve found him to be very accessible, and pretty helpful,” Rajan said.

GUSA Representative Dan Spector (SFS ’04) said that the results of Morgenstern and de Man’s hard work was evident. “From their position, it can be difficult to maintain a clear vision for success, and, to their credit, they have excelled.”

De Man has kept a lower-profile role, some representatives said.

“While Brian has been doing an incredible amount of hard work, the student body has yet to hear about his vice-president,” Gonzalez said. “Granted, the vice-presidency is a role that demands less, [but for] the proactive leader, it can potentially be used as leverage for advocacy: something we have yet to see.”

Not everyone gave strong reviews to the current executives.

“Have they done anything?” Ternan asked rhetorically. “Other than lockdown and the housing selection I don’t know what else Brian has actually worked on, and both of those projects benefited very little from his input.”

Ternan also blamed Morgenstern for delays in submitting executive appointments in the spring and said he had not been attentive to students’ needs.

“They’ve ignored a lot of the festering problems in the student body (especially money issues) and from what I hear from their committee chairs they do not run a tight ship,” he said. “Also, Brian avoids saying anything of substance at Assembly meetings which means he either has nothing to say or no integrity to say what he thinks.”

Spector disagreed, however, stating that Morgenstern and de Man managed their responsibilities diligently.

“They are approachable, reasonable leaders,” he said, “who are comfortable considering competing opinions on all issues, controversial or not.”

Student opinions on the efforts of the GUSA executives differ. “I think they have done a great job coordinating student activities and making their efforts visible to students,” att Huot ( COL ’05) said.

Rebecca Sandler (SFS ’05) disagreed. “I think they have a very hidden role on campus,” she said. “I haven’t seen either them or the fruits of their labors.”

Torres lauded Morgenstern and de Man for building strong communication avenues with campus media.

“They’ve been done a good job of publicizing a lot of programming events, like Homecoming, which is a strong improvement from my freshman year,” he said.

As a junior, Morgenstern finds himself in a unique position – with elections four months away, some students could see orgenstern running for re-election.

Morgenstern would not elaborate on his aspirations, saying he had not decided on whether or not he would run for reelection.

De Man argued that having a two-term president would be a strong asset.

“It’s a huge advantage, a serious advantage,” he said. “As president, you don’t deal much with budgets, you don’t implement many policies, so a lot of what you do is convincing people that what you’re trying to do is necessary and if you’re in there for longer than a year, you’re able to have good input with administrators.”

Rajan said that he thought a two-term president would also be a strong advantage, but that it should not be a critical factor in voting.

Gonzalez said that despite Morgenstern’s success of building in-roads to university administrators, he cautioned against a two-term president developing “senioritis.”

“By having a two-term president, we risk having an apathetic president [who] may feel that because he’s put in a year’s worth of hard work, he can rest on his laurels his senior year,” Gonzalez said.

For now, however, Morgenstern and de Man say they’ll simply be concentrating on chipping away at the rest of their campaign goals.

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