Last week’s Georgetown University Student Association executive election generated an intense race, culminating in record voter turnout and a strong mandate for the winning ticket.

Now that the dust has settled and Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) and Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13) are president- and vice president-elect, the campus community can take a step back and learn some lessons from the election. The sheer number of tickets and high voter turnout show that GUSA’sinfluence is growing, but with this greater power comes higher expectations for the incoming administration.

At first, the number of candidates seemed overwhelming and indistinguishable in this year’s election. But the seven tickets made for a particularly competitive race in which candidates were forced to develop sophisticated platforms in order to differentiate themselves.

While some voters may have grown tired of the incessant campaigning, intensity brought out the best in both the candidates and voters. Last week’s elections generated meaningful dialogue in the context of both formal candidate debates and student discussion across campus. Come the actual voting period over Wednesday, Feb. 22 and Thursday, Feb. 23, a record 3,697 ballots were cast.

But should GUSA fail to deliver tangible results in the next year, it runs the risk of disenchanting students for years to come. The expectation will be for Gustafson and Kohnert-Yount to deliver on their social justice-driven campaign and enthusiastic attitude from day one. Larger ideas in their campaign, like an undergraduate research symposium and a more comprehensive administrative office of sustainability, will require collaboration and a sustained focus on those goals. The two will also have to maintain a commitment to the initiatives of their predecessors. Gustafson’s experience as a founder of the Social Innovation and Public Service fund, for example, should be an asset in implementing Student Activities Fee Endowment reform.

The new administration will be most effective if it works enthusiastically to implement not only its own proposals but also those of the other candidates. The field of losing tickets contains several potential game-changers in GUSA, and the winners should take advantage of the wealth of talent and ideas their opposition represented.

Gustafson and Kohnert-Yount were ultimately successful because the student body supported their platform and approach to their campaign and appreciated the experience they bring to the table. Still, with six other tickets to choose from, a majority of voters gave their first-place votes to other pairings, meaning that the new president and vice president have many students left to win over.

An increased number of competitive tickets and record high-electoral participation are indicators that this year, students really think GUSA can change life on the Hilltop for the better. Now, it’s up to Gustafson and Kohnert-Yount to follow through.

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