Undergraduate students will vote on a campuswide referendum to abolish the Georgetown University Student Association senate and replace it with a new elected assembly Dec. 1, after the senate voted 21-6 last night in support of the proposal.

GUSA Senate Speaker Richie Mullaney (COL ’18) presented the final version of the restructuring plan to 27 gathered senators and four representatives from the Council of Advisory Boards, the Advisory Board on Club Sports, the Campus Ministry Student Forum and the Lecture Fund.

The final plan would establish a new assembly comprising student advisory board delegates and four student representatives elected based on class year. The proposed assembly would determine student organization funding, a role currently administered by the Finance and Appropriations Committee, known as Fin/App, within the senate.

The responsibility over policy-related issues will shift to policy teams created following GUSA President Enushe Khan (MSB ’17) and Vice President Chris Fisk’s (COL ’17) election consisting of leaders and members appointed by the GUSA executive and senate.

The referendum will present students with “yes” and “no” responses on a ballot.
Fin/App Chair Owen Hayes (COL ’18) said the final proposal will cement the role of advisory boards in the appropriations process.

“What it does to change the constitution enshrines the advisory boards and major groups that receive funding in the funding process,” Hayes said. “That is put in the constitution and because of the threshold to change the constitution, that is going to be very hard to reverse and those groups need to be part of the process, so the fact that they can’t be cut out easily going forward is a very important step.”

Senator Saad Bashir (COL ’19), who voted against the plan, said the new assembly would reduce opportunities for new students to participate in student government.

“GUSA senate was actually a great way for me to get involved with campus as a freshman, but as it is constantly being changed, I don’t see the new assembly providing new students the same opportunities that I was able to have and use,” Bashir said.

Senator Jasmin Ouseph (SFS ’19), who also voted against the proposal, said the final draft of the constitution will be too dense for students to understand, since even some senators could not understand the text.

“The constitution is dense material and I know senators who couldn’t even fully and appropriately understand the nuances of it all so I don’t know how informed the student body’s vote actually will be,” Ouseph wrote in an email to The Hoya.

The senate voted to hold a campuswide referendum for students to express support or opposition to a smoke-free campus, which will also be held Dec. 1. Ouseph said holding the smoke-free referendum on the same day will likely improve turnout and benefit supporters of the restructuring.
Senator Ben Baldwin (SFS ’19), who supported the proposal, said the final version is a compromise between competing concerns.

“I believe that this plan represents the best compromise between the current system of club funding and the issues that countless advisory boards and student organizations have raised against it,” Baldwin wrote in an email to The Hoya. “This plan institutionalizes collaboration between objective, elected representatives from the student body and the institutional experts leading advisory boards and student organizations.”

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