Candidates in the Georgetown University Student Association executive race Enushe Khan (MSB ’17) and Chris Fisk (COL ’17) clarified their platform and voiced motivations for their candidacy at a GUSA-sponsored town hall event in the Healey Family Student Center great room Monday evening.
GUSA Election Commissioner Alden Fletcher (SFS ’17) moderated the town hall, which took a different format from previous debates, because the Khan-Fisk ticket is currently the only named ticket on the ballot.
As of press time, multiple write-in campaigns have formed, including the campaign of Reed Howard (SFS ’17) and Courtney Maduike (SFS ’17), who held an informal town hall event in the Former Jesuit Residence on Monday night.
The town hall, which allowed Khan and Fisk to provide individual opening and closing statements, included questions from campus media organizations The Hoya, The Voice and The Heckler — GUTV was absent — as well as from students on Twitter using the hashtag #GUSA2016 and members of the audience.
Around 50 students attended the town hall, which was followed by a short question-and-answer session with the write-in candidates. Only the Wisemiller’s Chicken Madness sandwich and its translator, Anirudha Vaddadi (SFS ’16), participated in the write-in question-and-answer session.
Khan, who is originally from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, began her opening statement by discussing her experience getting involved on campus her freshman year.
“I came to campus initially wanting to focus on school and singing. And then I went to Leo’s and things changed,” Khan said. “I am someone who likes finding solutions to the things that dissatisfy me. And as a Muslim student, my big thing was introducing halal into the dining options on campus. I realized that potentially GUSA could be an avenue to make something happen.”
Khan said her roles as GUSA speaker of the senate and senator have led to the realization that the senate as a whole is not fully representative of the student body.
“Issues that we focus on this campus depend on who is in GUSA, and what GUSA focuses on depends on who’s in GUSA,” Khan said. “GUSA as it is right now does not represent the student body, which is why I am focusing on organizing a GUSA that looks like Georgetown.”
Fisk said his involvement in GUSA began with advocating for various unrecognized student groups on campus.
“Even though the administration doesn’t recognize them, we as students recognize them. I feel like it’s important that GUSA play a role in making sure that they have access to benefits,” Fisk said.
Fisk explained how his and Khan’s backgrounds alongside their policies will help make GUSA more inclusive.
“I think we both share appreciation for the variety of perspectives that are on this campus and the importance that they all should have in the role of GUSA as an advocacy group,” Fisk said. “I think that both myself and Enushe come from communities that don’t necessarily find themselves represented very well in the GUSA conversation and are putting stress on issues.”
Khan said campus planning and the new dining contract will be priorities for her administration.
“This year, we are really going through negotiations with campus planning. So that will definitely be a priority area, especially in ensuring that student demands and priorities are put in [the campus plan],” Khan said. “Something else that we’ll be facing this year is the expiration of the Aramark contract. It is important to ensure that the dining program we have is reflective of what students actually want.”
Khan said GUSA should work with unrecognized student groups to help them gain access to funding and other services such as reserving campus facilities for events, adding that Greek life plays an important role in Georgetown’s social atmosphere.
“One thing we have discussed is we can aid in establishment of Greek council, because especially with the email that went out early this year from student affairs in terms of putting down Greek life and saying that it has no essential place on this campus, we mention that a big portion of our students are involved in Greek life and while the university does not recognize it, we as students should recognize that it exists,” Khan said.
Fisk said GUSA can work together with unrecognized groups to support their initiatives.
“There are concrete ways that GUSA can just help. Student groups like H*yas for Choice do not have access to benefits like reserving space. GUSA cannot fund that process, but GUSA can co-sponsor. And I guarantee that if SigEp is having a 5K for sexual assault awareness, GUSA should be co-sponsoring with that,” Fisk said.
Khan said GUSA should open up to allow students a greater voice.
“We have a GUSA that dictates what role we have and what issue they are going focusing on without necessarily having that element of consultation with students or having that seat at the table for students to also bring those issues,” Khan said.
Fisk said he thinks people who are knowledgeable about issues should be involved in advocacy on campus.
“There are a large amount of students who are passionate about these issues, and I think opening it up to a team-based approach — that anyone who is passionate about them and that wants to enter the conversation — is the best way to do that. GUSA’s role is not to monopolize people’s issues,” Fisk said.
Fisk explained that GUSA should better support students on Medicaid when it comes to medical bills.
“I think an important part to explore is that Georgetown University needs to step up for students who are on Medicaid … Georgetown should step up in general if students are below a certain income level to support them in terms of health insurance on campus,” Fisk said.
Khan said there is room for greater freshman involvement in GUSA with the potential restructuring.
“We will have freshmen on each policy team. We want a minimum of one freshman on each team because it’s important that rather than freshmen be left to work on programming exclusively, they also be driving policy changes,” Khan said.
Fisk also stated his support for pre-registration.
“If we don’t have a good time using Wi-Fi already, can you imagine everyone logging in at once to register for classes? That’s my take on it, and I support pre-registration for that reason,” Fisk said.
Through a Twitter question, Khan and Fisk were asked if they considered switching positions on the ticket in light of the fact that Khan will not be on campus this summer. Fisk explained that GUSA is about being a team, rather than just about the president.
“It’s really a misconception that the GUSA executive is one person. You’re electing two people because they try and encompass what you feel is important and take on the issues of the student body, and you’re also electing two people that will assemble a team that will be representative of the student body,” Khan said. “To think that one person being away for a few weeks is detrimental and going to destroy the team is obviously mistaken.”
As a response to a question about the future of the Georgetown Scholarship Program, Fisk said GSP needs further support so it can help more students.
“I think they deserve their own space, because the basement of Healy is too small,” Fisk said. “And I think the main problem with GSP is that its support stops at a certain income level, and if we had more funds … I think GSP’s goal is to cover as many students as possible.”
Before the debate’s conclusion, Khan discussed arts advocacy as an underdiscussed and significant issue to the student body.
Candidates ended the debate with four-minute closing statements to end the hourlong event.
Voting for the GUSA executive race will commence Thursday, Feb. 18.
Hoya Staff Writers Ashwin Puri and Syed Humza Moinuddin contributed reporting.
Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.