Last year, I had the pleasure of serving under the Joe Luther (COL ’16) and Connor Rohan (COL ’16) administration. As one of six deputy chiefs of staff, I had a portfolio that included “What’s a Hoya?,” mental health and arts. Before that I was in the senate, representing Village A and serving on the Intellectual Life Committee and the Intellectual Health Subcommittee.
In the span of a year and a half, the Georgetown University Student Association became a life-consuming endeavor, and I thrived under it. I enjoyed changing my profile picture every two weeks with a new logo, flyering across campus and talking about my new initiatives. I joined GUSA and continued with GUSA because I truly believed I was making Georgetown a better place for myself and the future generation.
I sent in my resignation letter to Luther and Rohan in October of last year. While I used my internship and coursework as an excuse, it was only partly true. I was frustrated with what I saw GUSA had become and no longer made it a priority.
Student government, at its core, is desperately needed on any college campus. Anyone who says differently is misinformed and misguided. Students need some type of representation while at college. Their interests can only be fully articulated to administrators when a student representative is in the room to speak about it. Thus, it largely matters who that student representative is and how he carries himself.
I worked on the Abbey McNaughton (COL ’16) and Will Simons (COL ’16) campaign last year and was disappointed along with the rest of the team when the ticket lost. But like the general student body, I was optimistic — albeit hesitantly — for a new type of administration and a new type of GUSA. The present shows that this is far from the case. Luther and Rohan have not created a new GUSA but rather have perpetuated an older version. GUSA still fails to connect with the student body, does not communicate its purpose and is without a grand strategy of goals and achievable objectives.
GUSA has lost its meaning and purpose. And with the introduction of a winning parody ticket last year, GUSA lost its legitimacy. Apparent from the plethora of opinion editorials and Facebook posts, the executive race this year is no longer about best representing Georgetown. The race has devolved into a fight of personalities and personal choices rather than a productive discourse over policy and vision. The introduction of a viable satirical ticket last year created a situation in which people are now afraid of creating another Luther and Rohan, allowing another student president and vice president to be chosen out of apathy rather than policy.
I quit GUSA because I became frustrated with the system in front of me. I became exasperated with the student administration that has no direction and little incentive to better Georgetown. And in turn, I was utterly disgusted with the rhetoric surrounding the executive election. Student government, in whatever form, has the potential to do so much good for students. But the decision of choosing the best representative was not a decision for the student body to make. It was a battle of egos hidden in the GUSA office, Leavey Center fourth floor and beyond. GUSA is broken, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. If the student body truly wishes to have the change that was promised this year and last, we, elected officials and the general body alike, must all come together and find a long-term and sustainable solution that does not revolve around electing a Wisemiller’s chicken sandwich.
Annie Aleman is a senior in the School of Foreign Service.
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