The working groups charged with hammering out the four proposals slated to spend the $3.4 million Student Activities Fee Endowment fund are edging closer to completing their proposals, according to the groups.

At the end of last year, four working groups were tasked with creating a detailed plan for the two primary and two back-up proposals the SAFE Commission voted to endorse for use of the money.

One of the primary proposals, which aims to install solar panels on 43 university owned townhouses, is almost ready to implement.

Advocates recently met with representatives of the Office of Housing and Facilities and the university’s Sustainability Office to iron out the details of the initiative. The group also solicited proposals from local solar power firms with the aim of selecting a final candidate for the project later in the fall.

“It certainly seems like that proposal is going to become a reality, which we’re really excited about,” said Colton Malkerson (COL ’13), chairman of the Georgetown University Students Association’s Finance and Appropriations Committee, which is charged with overseeing the working groups.

The initiative could be put to a student referendum as early as the second week of November, allowing the group to begin preparations in time to install the panels at the beginning of summer if the proposal passes.

The initiative will save the university about $235,000 in electricity bills over 20 years by providing 20 to 25 percent of necessary electricity for townhouses where they are installed at cheaper rates, according to estimates by the working group. The group plans to return this money to students through a fund directed by GUSA.

“This is a pretty sure bet for students for 20 years,” working group head David Nulsen (SFS ’12) said.

If passed, the project would become the largest student-funded solar initiative in the world.

Despite disapproval voiced two weeks  ago by Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia concerning the Healy Pub proposal, which was selected as a primary proposal to receive the bulk of the fund’s $3.4 million, members of its working group said they have revised their plan and are preparing for a meeting with university officials.

“Though the administration has signaled in the past that they have serious concerns regarding the proposal, they have agreed to respect the process and hear a full presentation of the proposal on its merits,” members wrote in their latest update.

Malkerson said that group expects to meet with DeGioia within the next few weeks. While he remains hopeful about the upcoming meeting, Malkerson said that the administration’s opposition is a factor to consider for the working groups.

“It’s only responsible to think more seriously about other proposals,” he said.

The New South Student Center, a major renovation to the basement of New South, is one of the proposals that would receive funding if either of the primary proposals falls through. Administrators have cited the project — which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014 — as a priority over the Healy Pub.

“The process will continue to play out, and if I get a chance to restate my case I’ll be excited to do so,” said NSSC working group head Taylor Price (MSB ’10), adding that students will benefit from whichever proposal is implemented.

While the NSSC will be completed regardless of whether it receives a portion of the endowment funds, proponents argued that additional funding would allow students to better shape the space to their needs. In his latest update, Price wrote that he has begun work on a list of specific ways that NSSC plans could be improved with the addition of SAFE funds.

“This is a proactive measure, but an important one to start working on now,” Price wrote.

The last of the four working groups, focused on the Social Innovation and Public Service Fund, proposed ways that the fund could be managed, as well as partnerships with the Center for Social Justice, Hoya Challenge and the Office of Student Affairs to help allocate the money to a set number of projects each year.

Nick Troiano (COL ’11), leader of the SIPS working group, said that the group felt that the university community already had a framework to support social entrepreneurship.

“It’s just the funding that simply isn’t there to scale,” he said.

Working group members also began meetings with the Office of Advancement to help allay concerns that the university would be opposed to a student organization fundraising.

“We’ve had great progress on productive conversations with people in the Office of Advancement,” Troiano said. “We think that there’s going to be an appetite among alumni to give back in that way.”

He added that after some calculations, the working group has also realized that the fund could also be sustainable until 2031 without any further fundraising.

“It’s not make or break for us,” he said.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *