Three potential tickets attended mandatory information sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday to participate in this year’s Georgetown University Student Association executive election.
Eleven eligible students, excluding campus media, attended the Wednesday meeting, including Habon Ali (SFS ’18), Jessica Andino (COL ’18), Alan Chen (COL ’18), Kamar Mack (COL ’19), Richie Mullaney (COL ’18), Brian Philipps (SFS ’18), Josh Sirois (SFS ’20), Garet Williams (MSB ’18) and Megan Yeager (COL ’19).
Sources close to the candidates confirm the likely presidential and vice presidential pairings of Chen and Philipps, Mack and Andino, and Williams and Ali.
Two of these pairings include current members of GUSA. Williams serves as a deputy chief of staff, while Ali is a senator for the East Campus district. Mack serves as the Secretary of Local Educational Affairs on the Federal and D.C. Relations Committee, and Andino is the GUSA undocumented student inclusivity policy team chair.
Last year’s campaign saw one official ticket, consisting of GUSA President Enushe Khan (MSB ’17) and GUSA Vice President Chris Fisk (COL ’17). The Wisemiller’s Hot Chick and Chicken Madness sandwiches and Reed Howard (SFS ’17) and Courtney Maduike (SFS ’17) ran write-in campaigns against the pair.
This year’s official campaign period begins Feb. 9. Candidates are allowed to campaign all day, Feb. 29.
At Tuesday’s session, Fisk said the candidates in attendance should make sure they are approaching the GUSA executive positions with the right intentions. Khan, Fisk and Assistant Dean for Student Engagement Erika Cohen-Derr addressed students at both information sessions.
“If you’re considering doing this, make sure it’s for the right reasons, because this is going to be a grueling year,” Fisk said. “You will regret doing it for the wrong reasons, if you jump into that, because it’s a lot of work. If you’re looking for popularity… on the contrary, you’re going to get criticized a lot.”
Khan said candidates should be prepared for what can be underappreciated work.
“It really helps students in really impactful ways,” Khan said. “There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes things GUSA does, so when students approach you and say ‘I’m having x issue, I need help,’ and it’s the things you don’t see in public that I think GUSA is most important for, so just really be ready.”
According to Cohen-Derr, who serves as GUSA’s faculty advisor, the executive positions are one of the most challenging and important leadership positions on campus.
“This is the most substantive — one of the most substantive — leadership roles you can have,” Cohen-Derr said. “It’s time-consuming. It’s demanding. It’s a lot behind the scenes. And you should aspire to do this for the best possible reasons. I hope your campaigns are conducted in that spirit.”
This election season will also allow impartial election polling stations. According to GUSA Election Commission Chair Alden Fletcher (SFS ’17), these new policies minimize bias and electioneering in campaigns.
“There will be — new this year — an election polling station,” Fletcher said. The purpose of this station is to encourage maximum voting participation by the student body.
The policies come after GUSA’s club funding reform referendum on Dec. 1 raised concerns of electioneering, after six members of the Vote No campaign alleged GUSA sought to garner votes at polling stations, among other complaints. On Jan. 20, the GUSA Constitutional Council ruled the referendum results to be invalid, citing GUSA’s inability to provide students with timely notice of the proposal of a referendum.
On Tuesday, the GUSA senate passed a bill introducing independent voting stations and clarifying that GUSA bylaws concerning elections apply to referendum campaigns.
As with previous years, campaigns are allowed to “dorm storm” and knock on doors only outside of quiet hours, except for on election day when tickets can campaign all day.
The debates for vice presidential and presidential candidates will be held in room 101 of the Intercultural Center on Feb. 15 and in the Healey Family Student Center Great Room on Feb. 20.
Williams said his campaign is structured differently from past GUSA executive campaigns.
“We actually changed the way we campaign,” Williams said. “We’ve gone for a very non-hierarchical structure and organized it. So there’s not one centralized campaign manager, per se. Instead, we have been organized in terms of teams.”
Mack said his platform will likely focus on diversity and inclusivity on campus.
“A lot of the issues we want to tackle are urgent. We want to be the ticket that unifies the campus,” Mack said. “I think the political climate in the U.S. is very divisive. We want to sort of use GUSA as a platform to build community at Georgetown.”
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