A referendum on a proposal that could potentially replace GUSA as Georgetown’s student government will appear on the ballot later this month as the result of a petition signed by more than 20 percent of the undergraduate student body.

The proposal, called the Yard Student Association, would replace GUSA and the Student Activities Commission with what its supporters say will be a more efficient and student-centered funding structure.

“The university acts as if the money they allot for student activities is their money,” Yard Student Association spokesman Matt Brennan (SFS ’03) said. “The Yard will put the money back in the hands of students . the remaining funds will be distributed for student use in the least bureaucratic means possible.”

According to Brennan, the petition received more than 1,700 signatures and, pending certification, the referendum will appear on the Feb. 26 ballot along with the GUSA executive candidates.

According to the Yard’s constitution, the Yard seeks to “secure for all students and student constituencies the greatest participation in the educational, cultural and religious resources of the university.”

At the heart of the Yard proposal is its funding plan, which centers around an overarching Funding Board that incorporates elements of proposed reforms by GUSA Advisor for Internal Affairs Eric Rivers (COL ’02) and representatives Marty LaFalce (COL ’03) and Catie Sheehan (COL ’01). The Funding Board would be a ten-member board comprised of the Yard executives, as well as representatives from the Yard’s Allocation Committee, the Georgetown Program Board, the Performing Arts Advisory Council, the Volunteer and Public Safety Board, the Media Board and the Club Sports Advisory Board.

One additional provision provides for a situation where the Funding Board is unable to come to consensus about allocation decisions. If the Funding Board cannot come to a decision about student funding, the proposal calls for per capita distribution of funds based on each individual student’s involvement and interests. According to the Yard Constitution, after Yard Day in early September, each student would allocate his or her per capita portion of the student activities budget.

Opponents of the proposal say that the Yard would not offer the best representation for students.

“I don’t think it’s in favor of small clubs,” said GUSA Chief of Staff Keavney Klein (NUR ’02). She also said that the funding scheme proposed by the Yard could be inefficient. “Their funding protocol is a little off,” she said.

Under the proposed Yard Constitution, the GUSA Assembly and Executives would be replaced by three bodies, the Yard Commons, the Yard Council and the Convocation.

The Yard Commons would be comprised of the representatives of “all student constituencies,” according to the Yard constitution. Only “credentialed student organizations” would have the right to vote, while all representatives would have the ability to enter motions. Organizations would become credentialed by presenting a letter of endorsement from either a university administrator or tenured faculty member, or be approved by the Credentials Committee. The Commons would have “plenary authority to resolve all matters which are not otherwise delegated herein to the Yard Council or Officers of the Yard,” and would meet once a month.

The Yard Council would be an 18 member body comprised of the Yard president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer, the presidents of each class committee, the presidents of each academic council, a representative of all dormitories and residential communities and nine representatives from the Yard Commons.

If the proposal is approved, the Yard president and vice president would be the candidates with the highest vote totals that had also signed the Yard petition. The secretary and treasurer would be elected in a school-wide election when the GUSA representatives for next year would have been selected, as will the presidents of each class committee.

Under the Yard’s constitution, the Council would have authority over “any matter of business in the interests of the student body or the university,” and exclusive authority over funding, office space and other resources to student groups.

The Convocation would be a body where all students could present concerns and initiatives and would meet at least once a semester and be led by the Yard president.

The Yard proposal would also create six standing committees, the Constitution and Rules Committee, the Allocations Committee, the New Resources Committee, the Information Committee, the Fiscal Control Committee and the Credentials Committee.

Supporters say that the Yard proposal would eliminate waste within the student funding system by channeling funds to clubs based on actual student involvement rather than just the numbers of students registered for the club.

“Each club will need to do more than sign students up at the SAC fair, they will have to demonstrate their value to campus culture to new and old students,” said Yard Steering Committee member Jack Ternan (COL ’04).

According to the GUSA constitution, in order for the referendum to pass, it would need to receive approval from one-fourth of the undergraduate students, provided that that one-fourth constitutes a majority of the votes cast in the election.

The Yard would replace the Georgetown University Student Association, which has been the student government at Georgetown since 1984. The original Yard, which existed from the late 1870s until the late 1960s, only represented Georgetown College students. Yard organizers say that the new incarnation of the Yard bears little resemblance to the original version.

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