I looked through The Hoya’s archives to revisit the concerns of students last year at this time. In February 2000, the campus was reeling from the vandalism of the Jewish Student Association’s Menorah, racist and homophobic graffiti and the death of David Shick. It was very easy to remember the anguish, frustration and pain present throughout the Georgetown community, which prompted Tawan Davis and me to throw our hats into the ring and run for GUSA president and vice president. This year, thankfully, we have not experienced any tragedies of the same magnitude and, as a result, there are fewer clear obstacles (or opportunities) for those who will run in the Feb. 26 election.

The current state of Georgetown University is one of transition, and the tasks of next year’s executives will be marked by signs of that transition. The most obvious transition will be the appointment of the new university president, who will set the tone for the entire university and most likely have a direct impact on several spheres affecting student life. The new GUSA executives must be assertive in welcoming the new university president, and making sure he or she is aware of and responsive to the concerns of Georgetown students.

The theme of transition continues with the Student Association itself. As students vote for their new president and vice president in a couple of weeks, they will also have the opportunity to vote on whether or not the entire existing student government structure should be scrapped and replaced with the proposal offered as “the Yard.” Whether or not the Yard proposal passes, many student leaders have expressed concerns with the current structure of student activities, particularly in relation to funding allocations and process. Given Vice President for Student Affairs Juan C. Gonzalez’s willingness to discuss different options, now may be the time to revamp the process of student advocacy and governance at Georgetown.

However, the new student executives must be careful not to get carried away with questions of structure and, in doing so, ignore the needs of students. One of the areas where great care must be exercised is in the implementation of the new Student Activities Endowment and the increased funds that will come with it. It is important that all student groups, from the oldest, such as Mask & Bauble and the Philodemic Society, to the newest, including the newly recognized club sports teams, benefit from the added funds. The efforts of groups such as Georgetown Program Board, the Lecture Fund and Hoya Blue, which serve the entire student body, should especially be recognized and encouraged. Those organizations hold the keys to greater community spirit at GU.

Community is a word that gets thrown around a great deal in administrative, faculty and student groups at Georgetown – usually bemoaning its elusiveness. Last year, in the midst of tragedies, the university community was able to rally in support of those who had been hurt. This year, we have escaped most of the turmoil that rocked the campus in early 2000, but we have not totally healed from what happened last year.

The major tragedy of this year, in most eyes, was the cancellation of the Block Party, which, though its true merits may be debated, was one of a few successful attempts at fostering community at Georgetown.

This year, students can rally around the men’s basketball team which has returned to the national scene. Hopefully, the team can bring unity at Georgetown to a new level as it creates its own history on the basketball court.

Events such as Georgetown Day can also help establish more community spirit, but direct outreach is necessary to unite all of us under Georgetown’s blue and gray. The incoming executives must be ready and willing to reach out to students, faculty, alumni, neighbors and administrators. They must be ready to work on both long-term goals and concrete projects that will enhance the lives of everyone at Georgetown and create renewed Hoya pride.

Whatever specific challenges the Student Association executives have to face next year, they will certainly be grounded in a need to build and strengthen a campus-wide pride, reaching out to all Georgetown students and an administration in transition. A love for Georgetown, a desire to help its people and, yes, an ability to think “outside the box” will be necessary qualities for the job. Having seen Hoyas respond to the tasks and questions of the past, I have the greatest confidence that the sons and daughters of Georgetown will rise to the challenges of the coming year.

Jacques Arsenault is a senior in the College and vice president of GUSA.

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