Inside Georgetown: Take a Chill Pill

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I vividly remember sitting in my Calculus class junior year of high school, anxiously awaiting our first tests to come back after being graded. Mr. Davis, the teacher, was a legend at our school. He was plump, with a biting gaze, one arm and a scratchy voice. He was such an institution, and I wanted so badly to impress him and to start off on the right foot. As Mr. Davis shuffled to my desk to return my exam, I could see that there was a 44 scribbled at the top in green ink. Holy. Shit.

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I was completely screwed. My life was over.

I look back on that moment with a strange fondness. It’s a combination of comical and heartwarming, really. In retrospect, the 44 I earned on that test is so inconsequential to my life now, it’s hard to imagine why I was ever so devastated by such a momentary failure. I’d bet every single one of you new Hoyas has an experience in this same vein. Moments, even periods in your life where stressors seemed so intense and final, only to fade away or to morph into a positive later on. I want to communicate to all of you that while your first year at Georgetown will undoubtedly be challenging in many ways, I truly hope that you all are able to keep a healthy sense of perspective.

This isn’t an excuse not to work hard, or an excuse not to try your absolute best, or an excuse not to treat everyone you meet with respect. It’s just a reminder that sometimes our best doesn’t reach the extremely high standard that we set for ourselves as Georgetown students. It doesn’t mean that you should lower your standard — it just means that a brief failure doesn’t need to be an Earth-shattering moment that impedes you from doing your best the next time around.

With that said — take care of your mental health! For me at least, it’s something I’ve had to practice and think about consciously. In my experience, people don’t talk about it as frequently as they should, or they’re nervous to reach out for help. Even if you don’t think it’s an issue for you, your mental health is something that deserves your attention. (Information for Mental Health services at Georgetown can be found here.)

Again, I need to qualify something I’ve said. I’ve been writing about keeping perspective when you have failures or lapses of judgment, and that’s fine. But please don’t interpret that advice to mean that your problems aren’t serious or worth caring about. If you’ll learn anything from Georgetown, it’s how to discern which things are really important and which things are a 44 on a test.

That was super heavy for a summer blog post! Senior year has made me mushy and introspective already, but I wish you all the best of luck. Check out GUSA when you make it to school! We take our responsibility to the student body very seriously, but we’re really just a group of friends who work to make life better for students on campus. People (especially freshmen) can become really competitive and political about it, but I promise that if you don’t win your GUSA Senate election freshman year, your world will not crumble. For pretty much everyone, that’s a 44-on-a-test thing.

thomasThis post was written by Thomas Massad (COL’17), GUSA Deputy Director of Strategic Marketing, majoring in Government and American Musical Culture. Have stories you would like to share with the next freshman class? E-mail us at communications.gusa@gmail.com.

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Inside Georgetown: Learning Lessons

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Besides the clichéd answers (how to pay bills, how to survive on little sleep, and how to make a meal out of random ingredients), there are tangible and profound lessons that I have learned during my time at Georgetown, and none of them academic.

brownhouse1. How to take a stand: I have always considered myself outspoken, blunt even, among a crowd. Yet, I have learned that while speaking up in the classroom can be easy, speaking up outside of the classroom is much, much harder. Telling a group of your peers that you disagree or that you think some wrong should be righted challenges us in ways often lacking in high school. The spirit of the Georgetown community impels us to take a stand, speak our minds, and enact change, and indeed, students are the driving force behind many changes on campus. Recent examples include the initiation of a university-wide diversity requirement and the successful petition to preserve a coveted student housing location, Brown House. Whether it be through student groups such as GUSA or even just a group of friends, your voice does matter at Georgetown, so use it wisely and willingly.

2. How to be a good friend: When you spend 7 hours a day with the same people, more or less recreating the same interactions over and over again, it is not very hard to maintain friendships. In college, by contrast, it takes much more effort and much more thought to keep up relationships. Georgetown may not be a huge university, but with varying schedules, housing, and student groups, in addition to study abroad, friends can easily grow apart. As a result, friendships of convenience do not last very long. The past three years, I have learned to put in the time to preserve relationships, in addition to being open to new connections. Lacking the competitiveness and hostility that occur at some other universities, at Georgetown, you are the one with the power to making lasting and true friendships.

breakingground3. How to lead: Most students admitted to Georgetown have some experience leading their peers. For me, it was holding officer positions in a few groups at my school. Freshman year, I was positive that I had tangible leadership experience, and the résumé to prove it. However, in a school filled with student leaders from all over the world, taking charge looks very different at Georgetown. At Georgetown, people are constantly creating new ideas, institutions, and innovations. Leading does not mean taking over a club and hosting the same, expected events year after year. At Georgetown, leading means changing the status quo, and it is not an uncommon occurrence for students to start businesses, non-profits, and new student groups. This GUSA administration has worked consistently to generate change at Georgetown, including the restructuring of the entire student government and the addition of Greek life representation in GUSA. What will you change when you come to Georgetown?

4. How to throw yourself into tasks with dedication: Despite the huge differences among the student population at Georgetown, including geographic origin, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, ability, and experience, I have noticed a common thread uniting our student community: passion. Georgetown students are insanely passionate about their activities, their careers, their friends, their family, and the world around them. In other words, our student population spends time on things that actually matter to them, not just activities that they believe should be in their repertoire. Though freshman year usually consists of joining a multitude of clubs without actually attending any of their events, my later years at Georgetown have been spent honing in my extracurricular activities and focusing on the issues I find most important, and it has made all the difference.

There is no denying that classes and GPA’s are seriously important in college, especially if you want to go to law school like me, but if you are stressing about not having the perfect 4.0, just remember that some of the most important lessons at Georgetown occur outside of the classroom.

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This post was written by Casey Nolan (COL’17), GUSA Deputy Chief of Staff, majoring in Government and History. Have stories you would like to share with the next freshman class? E-mail us at communications.gusa@gmail.com.

Inside Georgetown: Getting Involved in GUSA

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Hello and Welcome First Year Hoyas!

We’re all so excited to be meeting you in just a few short weeks on the Hilltop! My name is William Morris. I’m going to be a sophomore this coming year and I’m from Dallas, Texas. During my first year at Georgetown I was able to get involved with many great organizations and clubs, including the opportunity to serve as a freshmen GUSA Senator representing the Harbin/Darnall district. Today I‘d like to talk about getting involved with GUSA, the student government for Georgetown, in particular.

In high school, I was very active in our Student Council so I was excited when I learned about GUSA upon arriving at Georgetown. I’m sure many of you have probably participated in student government or held other leadership positions in high school, so GUSA could be a perfect fit for you. And even if you have never done any form of student leadership before, I would still highly recommend GUSA because of the difference we are able to make on campus and the phenomenal people you would get to work with.

All that being said, you may be wondering where to actually get started if you want to be a part of the GUSA team. There are two options/methods of participating in GUSA. GUSA is divided into the executive branch and the senate in a manner somewhat similar to the U.S. Government (but not nearly as complicated). The executive branch works under the GUSA President and is subdivided into various chairs and working groups. The Senate is comprised of individual Senators from every class who can tackle projects independently and also work together to pass legislation. I will note that regardless of which branch you are in we all work together via policy teams. Policy teams are groups of GUSA members along with other Georgetown students who come together to work on specific issue areas like Free Speech or Religious Inclusivity. Each branch has different methods of getting involved. To participate in the Executive branch, you will need to apply to a specific policy team (or as many as you want). A list of the policy teams can be found on the GUSA website. Once the school year starts GUSA will publicize these policy team applications so be on the lookout for when they open and apply for whatever interests you.

wrmcampaignTo join the Senate you need to be elected by your classmates. The actual election usually happens in late September but the process begins much earlier. If you want to be a Senator, don’t miss the informational meeting!! There are usually two meetings in early September that any candidate for the Senate must attend. During this meeting you will learn all of the rules for campaigning (i.e. you must spend less than $75) and you will be able to get your name put on the ballot. About a week before election day campaigning is allowed to begin, which can be a little intimidating as a new student on campus. You will most certainly notice all of the fliers and Facebook posts advocating for one candidate or another. Often these campaign races are very tight, but the good news is that there are seats specifically reserved for freshmen. The elections are based around your dorm’s location. For example, Harbin/Darnall form a freshmen district and have a combined three seats. The other option is to run “At Large” where the whole campus is able to vote for you.
It may seem a little confusing at first, but here’s the gist: If you want to be in the executive branch you need to apply for one or more policy teams. If you want to be in the Senate you need to go to one of the information meetings and then campaign to be elected by your classmates. One thing I will assure you is that GUSA tries hard to be open to everyone. We don’t want to be exclusive because we believe it is important for every student’s voice to be heard. So the important thing for now is to begin thinking about if and how you want to get involved. Don’t worry about the details for now, especially because you all have plenty of other things to prepare before coming to the Hilltop! For now I hope you are all having an excellent summer and I hope to meet many of you come August!

Edit: GUSA also has a judicial branch that you can also become involved in during your time on the Hilltop!

Hoya Saxa, William Morris

williamrmorris3This post was written by William Morris (COL’19), GUSA Senator, currently undecided. Have stories you would like to share with the next freshman class? E-mail us at communications.gusa@gmail.com.

Inside Georgetown: Summer Reading

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Over the course of my first year at Georgetown, I read tons of articles online that summed up my Georgetown experience way more eloquently than I ever could. Think of this as your summer reading assignment, but a lot more fun!

1. “Georgetown is the realization that maybe there is no such thing as belonging. Maybe you never really find that elusive thing called “balance” at all — maybe you just learn to expect highs and lows and find people to help you through them. It’s when you stop planning and fitting, and life becomes unpredictable, and there are no puzzle pieces or schedules or balance. Yet there is somehow, in spite of it or because of it, happiness. Belonging.” Here’s a really beautiful piece that describes the community you’ll find.

2. A campus-wide Sexual Assault and Misconduct Climate Survey was conducted earlier this year, which revealed that there is ample work to be done towards creating a safe, aware environment for all. While the results are unsettling, they are evidence that continued action is necessary.

3. I find it interesting to read about the history of Georgetown and Washington DC, especially since it is so easy to get stuck in the “Georgetown Bubble” and forget about the foundations of our neighborhood and city. A Shared Environment: D.C. and Environmental Justice and Uprooted: The Displacement of Georgetown’s Black Community

4. Soooo much fun! Here’s the Georgetown Bucket List and what seniors will miss about Georgetown.

5. Probably the most important FYI out there – How to Recreate Your Favorite Georgetown Bites at Leo’s, Georgetown’s only dining hall.

tiffanyThis post was written by Tiffany Tao (SFS’19), GUSA Webmaster, majoring in International Politics. Have stories you would like to share with the next freshman class? E-mail us at communications.gusa@gmail.com.