To student observers, the 2017 Georgetown University Student Association presidential election may summon a strong sensation of deja vu. Once again, this election season has seen the introduction of a familiar dichotomy in GUSA presidential politics: the insider versus the outsider.

The prominent tickets include two teams of current GUSA members — Garet Williams (COL ’18) and Habon Ali (SFS ’18) with a staid, polished platform, Kamar Mack (COL ’19) and Jessica Andino (SFS ’18) with a fresh, idealistic vision for Georgetown — vying against a ticket of insurgents, John Matthews (COL ’18) and Nick Matz (COL ’18), who are calling for the dismantlement of a broken system. A fourth ticket, Jenny Franke (COL ’18) and Jack McGuire (COL ’18), has announced its candidacy but abstained from formal campaigning or attending the presidential and vice presidential debates.

Despite charges of insularity and exclusion, GUSA does not need a complete overhaul to better represent the interests of the student body. Instead, the organization needs executives who can carry the mantle of progress with the same competency and dynamism of the Khan-Fisk administration. This editorial board believes Williams and Ali are the two candidates best equipped to do exactly that.

Williams and Ali, by and large, offer the most substantive, well-researched platform of the bunch, with over a hundred points clearly constructed in close consultation with different policy teams. Granted, their platform of “Resources, Inclusivity, Transparency and You,” takes a much more generalist approach than the emphasis on dining reform and master planning expounded by Khan and Fisk, or the two serious issues of sexual assault and mental health promoted by their predecessors in the successful satirical ticket of Joe Luther (COL ’16) and Connor Rohan (COL ’16).

Nevertheless, the Williams-Ali platform remains unrivaled in this election in terms of comprehensiveness and specificity. Take the pair’s platform on racial and cultural inclusivity, a focal point of its campaign. Among their proposals, Wiliams-Ali will work to design a system of internal climate surveys to gauge the status of diversity within campus groups, promote the establishment of Latinx studies, Native American studies and South Asian studies programs based on existing courses, and collaborate with cultural groups to encourage minority students to engage in GUSA leadership.

Their plan encompasses both academic and extracurricular affairs, but most importantly, it is introspective, looking to bolster the representation of minority voices within GUSA itself.

Comparatively, Mack and Andino share the commendable aim to increase inclusivity in GUSA and beyond, but their platform is decidedly sparse, with goals to continue the implementation of existing programs and vague assurances that working with student organizations will foster increased socio-economic diversity and cultural diversity. Matthews and Matz make no mention of inclusivity or diversity issues in their 10-point policy platform, which, in its emphasis on cost-saving measures, would slash rather than expand the size of GUSA.

But even on this front of affordability — selected by all three tickets as the most pressing issue confronting Georgetown in a series of viewpoints in The Hoya — Williams and Ali prevail over their opponents. Their calls to open tuition discussions to students with forums rather than closed administrative meetings, as well as establish an Affordability and Access Residential Hub, represents a realistic goal that can garner increased accountability from university administration in the long run on tuition issues.

Mack and Andino’s plan of cutting costs by promoting a culture of sustainability and entrepreneurship on campus is innovative and new, but it is unclear how the pair plans to spearhead such a shift in the social conscious of the university. The piecemeal approach of the Matthews-Matz ticket, which would scrap the Yates Field House fee, cut Student Neighborhood Assistance Program funding and shrink the size of GUSA saves on some budgetary allocations, but does little to address long-term concerns about the university endowment and mounting cost of tuition.

The disparity between concrete and abstract recurs in all the GUSA platforms — Williams and Ali offer the most substantive fronts on issues of racial and cultural inclusivity, sexual assault and safety and worker affairs; Mack and Andino provide a less concrete but no less ambitious plan and Matthews and Matz stress cutting costs above all else, making the funding of programs contingent on their financial viability.

Make no mistake, Mack and Andino are strong contenders for the presidency and offer the vibrancy and vision GUSA sorely needs. Williams and Ali would be well-served to include them in their administration, particularly for Mack’s enterprising vision of GUSA reform and Andino’s extensive advocacy work on behalf of underrepresented communities. These two tickets could work together to achieve the inclusive GUSA both tickets extolled in their platforms.

Meanwhile, the Matthews-Matz ticket, which advocates for “a smaller, more nimble organization,” and is noticeably silent on issues of accessibility and inclusivity in its platform, represents moving GUSA in another direction — one that is less expansive, less diverse and less inclusive.

The 2017 GUSA presidential election is not so much a referendum on tuition and affordability as it is a referendum on the organization itself. Though the organization is not perfect, its strides in the past year do not demand a massive overhaul, but rather the measured, responsible leadership of a ticket like Williams and Ali.

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4 Comments

  1. The same question as before: Garet and Habon are already in charge of affordability and access through the advisory board. Why have they not already made these improvements?

    The Hoya possessed a double standard. It is unclear how Garet and Habon actually plan to *do* any of the advocacy work they propose. If they could not achieve from the positions of power they current possess, they certainly cannot from the position of President and Vice President.

  2. Was planning on voting for them too until Williams literally said that the Dec. 1 referendum with all the biased polling stations and electioneering was “very likely to indicate where the student body stands” on that issue.

  3. The Real SFS 2016 says:

    It’s pretty simple question for people. Do you want more of the same incompetence, insularity, and inability to address concerns like excessive tuition and fees, or do you want a change candidate.

    The only way to get the latter is Mack or Matthews.

    With Williams/Ali you’re guaranteed a GUSA that calls a campus plan which imposes a three year housing requirement a “successful negotiation,” more botched referendums which waste money, more student money going to placate millionaire neighbors who moved in recently while the university has been around for centuries, and more GUSA defenses for the administration when they increase tuition yet again.

    Say what you will about the other tickets, but unlike calling for more meetings with administrators they have committed to fighting against continued increases in costs to students and have developed specific proposals to put money back in students pockets.

    If you want a lower student loan payment when you graduate or to have an extra $500-$1000 cash back each year then vote for Mack or Matthews. If you want increased costs, the choice is Williams.

  4. Since The Hoya is banned from saying anything negative about JT3, I’ll combine my political commentary with a plea to fire that bum. Much like JT3, Garet and Habon look good on paper. They have the right connections, did their time in previous administrations, and are a safe pick from the establishment and admin to continue things the way they are. What the admin and establishment don’t realize though, is that our basketball team and GUSA are a joke. No one likes them, no one cares about them, and they just continually embarrass us with their continued incompetence and tone deafness. It’s time for time. FIRE JT3 and Vote Mack or Matthews.

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