“Serious and sustained discourse” is at the core of Georgetown University’s academic mission. Yet, for unrecognized and underfunded student groups, the barriers to participating in Georgetown’s campus dialogue are simply too high.
To host events with compelling speakers—speakers who often challenge the ideas of established campus voices—student groups often face a mountain of fees: security, room reservations, chair rentals, technology support and more. The costs quickly add up, easily totaling hundreds of dollars for a single, one-hour event.
For unrecognized clubs, they must front these costs out of pocket. For clubs without a budget like the Lecture Fund’s, these costs are prohibitive.
In order to uphold its commitment to open dialogue, Georgetown must reform its event policies.
One of the highest costs that student groups face is security, a cost that is required for especially controversial speaker events. Currently, the Georgetown University Police Department charges student groups for event security with rates ranging from $49.75 to $83 per hour. Additionally, GUPD requires a four-hour minimum per officer for any scheduled event. This means that for every officer, student groups can expect to pay at least $200.
And while the value of security is indeed high, the cost is less than deserving.
Rooms reservations, too, stand in the way of facilitating important conversations on campus. For some campus spaces including Copley Formal Lounge, students are charged $50 per hour. Like GUPD, Georgetown Event Management Services (GEMS) sets minimum reservation charges, unnecessarily adding to the cost of student events.
On top of these costs, there are other barriers that prevent unrecognized clubs from even hosting events. Clubs cannot reserve rooms unless they are recognized by the University. If groups are unable to co-sponsor an event with a recognized club, their contribution to Georgetown’s campus conversation is over before it begins.
At the same time, the process for becoming an official student group has only become more difficult. This semester, the Council of Advisory Boards approved only 11 of the 34 student groups that applied for university recognition.
While small clubs at Georgetown struggle to cover fixed costs, others receive thousands of dollars for loosely defined line items like “member development.”
GUSA has failed to take decisive action to enhance access to University resources for underrepresented clubs and to fight onerous costs like GUPD’s security fees. To create a campus dialogue that is more diverse, more constructive and more deeply representative of this university’s values, Georgetown must lower the barriers that stand in the way.