Georgetown University Student Association Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates Reed Howard (SFS ’17) and Courtney Maduike (SFS ’17) hope to provide an alternative ticket to candidates Enushe Khan (MSB ’17) and Chris Fisk (COL ’17) by presenting themselves as a partnership focused on concentrated, pragmatic solutions.
The pair entered the executive election on Monday and hosted an informal town hall the same day. On Tuesday, the ticket cross-endorsed the Hot Chick-Chicken Madness ticket and hosted a campaign rally in the Intercultural Center galleria.
The two write-in candidates appealed a decision on Sunday by the GUSA Election Commission to not include their names on the ballot to the Constitutional Council on the grounds that the GUSA Constitution bylaws do not empower the Election Commission to require attendance at interest sessions.
In a response Tuesday, the Constitutional Council granted that the bylaws do not explicitly empower the Election Commission to create new rules, but did uphold the commission’s decision not to include their names on the ballot. The candidates plan to continue their run as a write-in ticket to the ballot Thursday.
Originally from Virginia Beach, Va., Howard, the oldest of four siblings, attributes his commitment to leadership to the impact his father and his public elementary school played in his upbringing.
“My father was a teacher, and he was actually a teacher in the same elementary school where I went to school,” Howard said. “Growing up, my dad always worked multiple jobs to support our family, and I think that’s something that really shaped who I was.”
The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, Maduike hails from the West coast. Growing up in Los Angeles, Calif., Maduike was not aware of what Georgetown or the School of Foreign Service were and expected to remain in California after she completed high school.
After applying early to Stanford and receiving a rejection, Maduike considered applying to Georgetown as a Hail Mary.
“I actually submitted Georgetown the day before it was due,” Maduike said. “My mom thought it wasn’t going to get there on time, she thought I ruined everything. People would ask me where I applied, and I would list things, and I was like ‘I’m missing one.’ I blocked [Georgetown] out of my mind.”
To her and her mother’s surprise, the small envelope that arrived shortly before Easter informed Maduike she had been accepted. Maduike said her mother consistently taught her that she should not allow herself to be trampled over by others.
“I have very strong women in my family who are very vocal and will be very upfront and blunt about how they feel,” Maduike said. “A lot of who I am today is because of my family, and my mom and my culture and my background, and having to advocate for myself and fight for myself.”
Both candidates’ backgrounds strongly influenced the organizations they joined once at Georgetown. Drawn toward the realm of service and leadership, Howard is a leader in Chi Alpha, the student-run ministry, previously served as a GUSA deputy chief of staff and works as a New Student Orientation coordinator. Howard is also one of two advisory neighborhood commissioners for district 2E, representing students in campus planning negotiations.
Maduike is a sister of Delta Phi Epsilon Professional Foreign Service Sorority, leads tours for Blue and Gray and serves on the board of GU Women of Color. She is also a director of the Georgetown African Business Conference. A self-described GUSA outsider, her only experience with GUSA was serving as a ‘What’s A Hoya’ coordinator during her sophomore year.
The two candidates said they were initially uneasy about launching a GUSA bid and began discussing the possibility of running early last semester.
“I initially did not want to be associated, for all the reasons most students do not want to be associated with GUSA and I didn’t want to be a part of GUSA executive campaign chaos,” Maduike said. “What initially prompted me to get involved was the student activism that has been going on on this campus in the past year. I feel that is how GUSA should look like.”
Maduike said another factor that discouraged her from running was the chaos of past GUSA campaign seasons and the potential fallout from challenging a unified GUSA ticket.
“I definitely was not interested in the messy and dirty politics that come as a result of various power grabs or students trying to make themselves feel important,” Maduike said. “From the potential of me entering the race, there was already messy politics that happened, that I personally thought was unjustified because the prospect of my actions of wanting to serve this community shouldn’t cause an uproar if it is coming from a genuine place.”
Howard said he and Maduike were discouraged by some GUSA members from entering the race last semester.
“We were treated pretty brutally when we decided we wanted to get into the race last semester and it was straining on relationships. That was hard to see,” Howard said. “We had already been thinking about it and we ultimately decided that it wasn’t the right decision at the time.”
However, following the news that GUSA presidential candidate Enushe Khan had personal obligations which might interfere with GUSA responsibilities over the summer, Howard said he and Maduike began to reconsider their decision not to run.
“To hear that the only other ticket running was going to have a president who wasn’t going to be on campus in the summer, which is an incredibly important time for the next campus plan, to me, was disrespectful to Georgetown students and was a huge disregard for the responsibilities of the GUSA presidency,” Howard said. “I couldn’t justify standing on the sidelines and letting it happen without giving students a choice in the election.”
Maduike said having more than one ticket will not necessarily divide GUSA or the student body.
“The current state of GUSA is not representative of the entire student body, and thinking that you are dividing the student body because you are not presenting one single option for the students and saying we are all unified and united, I think, is ill-conceived,” Maduike said. “It does not reflect the reality of what is going on at Georgetown.”
The Howard-Maduike platform, which fits onto one page, is centered around three plans: college affordability, race issues on the Hilltop and the campus plan. Their platform stands in contrast to the 23 issue Khan-Fisk platform, which includes sections on free speech, workers’ rights, sexual assault policy and sustainability.
According to Maduike, the simple approach is meant to ensure pragmatic solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing Georgetown.
“Often times, GUSA candidates promise a series of buzz words and fluff, upwards of 300 proposals about how they are going to propose changes on campus just to say that they talked about it in their platform,” Maduike said. “These are our individual passions and the strengths we bring.”
Among the specific proposals that constitute the college affordability plank, Howard-Maduike argue that university transparency must become a bigger concern. Specifically, they propose holding the university accountable for how tuition money is spent and whether money is being spent in ways that actually benefit students, such as by reforming Student Health Services, Counseling and Psychiatric Services, and Yates Field House.
“What I think that looks like is asking whether our tuition dollars are going to help fund things on the med campus or are going to help subsidize costs of other parts of the university that aren’t going directly to our students’ costs,” Howard said. “How much of our budget is going to support things like CAPS, renovating Yates? How much are our resources going to the places that improve the students’ experience on campus?”
Howard said he hopes that even if full transparency isn’t possible immediately, he and Maduike can start the conversation for a long term process.
“I know people crave immediate results, but I think that in order to get to the point where there is true transparency, it might not happen within our GUSA administration, but we can get the ball rolling,” he said.
Among their goals for advancing racial issues on campus, Maduike emphasized the potential benefits of advocating for intersectional mental health resources, specifically reforming the way Counseling and Psychiatric Services approaches and serves minority groups.
“Intersectional mental health issues is what it means for a black student to be at a predominantly white institution, something we have to live through and is an emotional degradation on our experience at Georgetown,” Maduike said. “That is something that black students are thinking about constantly and there isn’t a platform apart from talking amongst ourselves.”
Maduike stressed that intersectional mental health resources affect multiple groups that span across race, socioeconomics, legal status, and gender.
The third major plank of the Howard-Maduike platform, campus plan negotiations, features a proposal to create a new Georgetown Community Partnership group dedicated to on-campus improvements
Howard said this new group would bring students, administrators and neighbors together to discuss changes which need to be made on campus in order to improve student life and attract students to on-campus living.
“We would work together in the consensus model which is the GCP, to say things like ‘listen, you need to create a student life corridor running through the heart of campus which would have shops like Chipotle, more spaces for students to study, student club spaces, because that would increase retention of students on campus,’” Howard said.
The campaign also hopes to reform off campus conduct notations by adjusting the charge from “disorderly conduct” to “noise violation.”
“If you are applying to work in the federal government, which many Georgetown students are, if you are planning to go to law school, if you are applying for intelligence agencies, and they see a disorderly conduct violation, your application is going to be thrown out immediately,” Howard said. “It is crazy to say that just because you have a couple people over and you are having fun in your backyard, you can get something which should be noise violation because it is a noise problem, not a disorderly conduct problem, and you’re not getting into graduate school or a job.”
Maduike said while their platform does address as many issues as the Khan-Fisk platform, they hope that by concentrating on advocacy, pragmatic results can be achieved.
“Our rationale behind what GUSA should look like is an advocacy body to be the voice of the student body,” Maduike said. “This system is skewed in favor of people who are already GUSA insiders who already understand the system. If GUSA insiders are trying to be the ones to reform GUSA and there are not fresh perspectives on a ticket leading that conversation, how are we actually going to shift the culture of GUSA?”
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