For Freshmen and Upperclassmen, GUSA Senate Campaigns a Different Game
Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 11:09
The 77 candidates vying for 28 seats in the Georgetown University Student Association senate have employed a variety of campaign methods covering recurring themes, with differences largely depending on whether they are running in a freshman or upperclassman district.
Of the 77 candidates, 36 are competing for six spots in the two freshman districts. For many of these GUSA hopefuls, campaigns are based on quickly gleaned problems or the desire to represent freshman interests, whatever they may be.
“I’ve only been on campus for a month, so honestly I don’t know a lot of issues that are pressing to the student body. But for the freshmen, we go to Leo’s daily, and that’s a problem that I think we encounter almost immediately: There just isn’t a variety and healthy options of food available,” Sandra Waliczek (MSB ’17), a candidate for the New South and Village C West district, said.
Another candidate, Victor Malof (SFS ’17), who is running in the Harbin and Darnall Hall district, said that settling down with a platform of ideas beforehand can prevent representatives from responding effectively to the real needs of their constituents.
“I don’t want to have a set platform and dictate on which issues I think are important. I want my constituents to decide what issues are most pressing to them and then I’ll be their voice and bring these issues to the senate,” he said
Incumbents hoping for another term, however, often campaign on past accomplishments in the senate, with many candidates cross-endorsing each other. Some of these candidates have promoted detailed campaign platforms, while others have relied more on name recognition and campaign tactics unrelated to policy.
At-Large district candidate Megan Murday (SFS ’15), who included a bullet-point summary of her campaign platform on her flyers, voiced concern that other campaign flyers consist primarily of names and photos.
“I do think that keeping voters informed is important. I want them to vote for my platforms and ideas, not just my face and name. The senate election shouldn’t be revolved around just name recognitions or popularity vote. Having just a few bullet points on my flyer helps people connect my ideas with my name when they see it on the ballot,” Murday said.
GUSA senate Speaker and Chair of the Transitional Senate Committee George Spyropoulos (COL ’14), who is running uncontested for re-election in the townhouse district, pointed out the limited effectiveness of flyers, regardless of their educational value.
“Having your platform be informed to students is definitely important, but sadly the truth is that oftentimes when students walk pass the Red Square, they’re just hurrying by and rarely pay attention to what the flyers actually read,” he said.
Spyropoulos, who has received 168 likes on his Facebook campaign page, argued that passing out detailed notes of platforms in person are more effective than flyers, while social media pages can serve as additional channels for candidates to explain platforms in more comprehensively.
Spyropolous has cross-endorsed with candidates Sam Greco (SFS ’15), Abby Cooner (SFS ’16), Benjamin Weiss (COL ’15) and Cannon Warren (SFS ’14), all of whom are running for re-election. He stressed that endorsements served only as testimonies to each other’s previous contribution to the student government.
“The idea behind our cross-endorsements is that having worked side by side, we’ve seen the dedication and hard work each other has put in the senate,” he said. “We’re not trying to be exclusive. We are just confident that the passion for representing student voice is evident in each other’s past service.”
GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) also dismissed any effects cross-endorsements among senators would have on the election outcome.
“Cross-endorsements speak to working relationships between candidates, but don't do much for the average voter,” he said. “Students are looking for candidates who demonstrate dedication, passion and good ideas.”
Generally, campaigns methods have largely centered on blast invitations to Facebook group pages complemented by flyers and door-knocking.
In a questionnaire that The Hoya sent to all students running for Georgetown University Student Association senate seats, many candidates identified the university’s recent consideration of a satellite residence as an important issue they wish to address if elected.
Tisa indicated that the high level of attention that candidates are giving the satellite residence in this year’s election comes as no surprise.