The policy platform proposed by Georgetown University Student Association executive candidates Garet Williams (COL ’18) and Habon Ali (SFS ’18) focuses on efforts to expand diversity, transparency and mental health.
According to Williams, his and Ali’s campaign focuses on four themes crucial to any Georgetown student’s experience: “Resources, transparency, inclusivity and you.”
Williams stressed the importance of accessibility of resources to all Georgetown students. Williams said he wants to enable and encourage students to take initiative and find ways to create their own change through the framework of GUSA.
The pair has policy designed to increase available resources for students in 15 areas, from academic affairs to unrecognized student groups.
Williams/Ali advocate the continuation of the Sexual Assault and Misconduct Climate Survey every two years, alongside advocating ensuring the recommendations of the Sexual Assault and Misconduct Task Force are acted upon.
H*yas for Choice recently gave three out of the four GUSA tickets grades based on how each candidate’s platform complements HFC’s policy goals. Williams and Ali scored the highest out of the three tickets rated, with an A- grade.
Williams and Ali scored best in the student health center services and Affordable Care Act changes section of the questionnaire. HFC’s executive board wrote that Williams and Ali’s focus on sexually transmitted infections and advocacy for students to maintain access to contraception in light of the Affordable Care Act repeal are what separated them from other candidates.
“We were particularly enthused by their demonstrated understanding of issues at the Student Health Center and support of university funding for free and anonymous STI screening,” the HFC executive board wrote on their blog. “Additionally, their research on the implications of ACA repeal and commitment to pressuring Georgetown University to maintaining current health care standards was evident in their platform and in their response to our questions.”
Another health-related focus of the Williams-Ali campaign is the cultural and ethnic disparity in treatment from the Counseling and Psychiatric Services at Georgetown. The campaign is looking to introduce institutionalized cultural competency training for health staff.
“One issue that — coming from a different background —is that CAPS has not had the capacity to be able to be there for students of different minority groups. I’ve had multiple conversations with the Asian community and the Muslim community and the Latinx community about when it comes to mental health,” Ali said.
Ali said in the vice presidential debate Wednesday evening that the ticket’s mental health strategy centers around prevention. The ticket also plans to advocate to decrease appointment wait times at CAPS and the Student Health Center.
Project Lighthouse President Ben Johnson (NHS ’17) expressed concern over the clarity of Williams and Ali’s mental health policy.
“One thing they said was that they wanted to advocate for increased responsiveness at CAPS, and we really don’t have any idea of what that means or what it looks like,” Johnson said. “I’m sure there is an anecdotal story somewhere, someone calling CAPS and not having the phone picked up or something like that, but do you send them a strong word down the ladder about like ‘are you diverting GUSA funds to hire more receptionists’, like I really don’t understand what that means.”
At the most basic level, the pair hopes to improve infrastructure available for students at Georgetown. Williams and Ali plan to advocate for better technological infrastructure – the campus WiFi infrastructure, the Georgetown smartphone application and the Livesafe application all need revision according to the pair.
Williams and Ali are also interested in affording students the opportunities to take internships for course credits. Students of the McDonough School of Business are already able to take internships for credit, but Williams and Ali want to extend this eligibility to students in the three other undergraduate schools.
Transparency is essential to ensuring GUSA can effectively serve the student body, according to Ali.
“We focused on it specifically because the more we engage with the student body, we realize, the less the student body knows about us,” Ali said of transparency. “And that’s a problem, right? If this is a student association that not only respects and is supposed to be there for the student body, we need to allow that transparency to exist, not just in terms of GUSA, but across campus.”
In keeping with the objective of transparency, Williams wants to continue the town hall structure currently in place and advocate for full tuition transparency, especially in consideration of Georgetown’s annual tuition increases.
Both Williams and Ali praised the internal diversity survey recently performed by Students of Georgetown, Inc. They expressed hope that other clubs, like Blue & Gray and Lecture Fund, perform similar surveys and publish the results for maximum transparency.
“GUSA should be doing the same thing. And we should be publishing these reports regularly, so that the student body can say, ‘You know what, let’s hold you accountable to this. You said you were going to make yourself more diverse,” Williams said.
Williams said the pair plans to increase inclusivity on campus by advocating for students of all identities.
“With these types of issues, there are a number of people who advocate on campus, making sure that we, as GUSA, can support that, instead of working in redundancy to that,” Williams said.
Williams also stressed the campaign goal of making Georgetown a more accessible place for students with disabilities, including advocating for improved sensitivity training for professors and affirming support for the Disability Studies Minor.
About 320 members of the Georgetown community had signed a petition calling for the university to launch a disabilities studies minor as of Oct. 27.
The campaign is also looking to increase racial and cultural inclusivity, alongside support for students without documentation. The pair wants to explore the viability of courses in Latinx studies, Native American studies and South Asian Studies, and push for the creation of a design space for students without documentation on campus.
The pair also wants to hire a full-time advisor for students without documentation. The university hired a part-time advisor for students without documentation in November, after student advocacy group UndocuHoyas launched a petition calling for administrators to hire a full-time coordinator for students without documentation.
Ali explained the importance of their campaign’s slogan in the way they would govern should they win GUSA.
“GUSA needs to stop being about itself, and it needs to actually focus on the people,” Ali said. “Now, what we’re doing is that, by saying “it’s time for you”—it’s time for each individual student on campus and changing it from the structure of governance to a student association.”
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