New GUSA senators were sworn in at a ceremony Sunday afternoon.
New GUSA senators were sworn in at a ceremony Sunday afternoon.

The seventh session of the GUSA senate, inaugurated Sunday afternoon, includes a record number of female members.

Nine female senators were elected, an increase from the five women who held seats last year.

“It’s an important change we’ve been fighting for,” said Sheila Walsh (COL ’14), Georgetown University Student Association senator for the townhouses district. The voter turnout rate also increased this year, with approximately 34 percent of the student body — 2,631 undergraduates — casting ballots, an overall increase from last year’s 25 percent rate.

Election Commissioner Ethan Chess (COL ’14) attributed part of the high turnout to the evidentiary standard referendum that was held concurrent with the senate election but commended the new senators for winning their seats in a record-setting year.

“[They] were elected [in] the most democratic and competitive senate session,” Chess said.

Overall, 66 students competed for 27 spots in the senate. Ten senators of the seventh session also held seats last year. Though some of the races were highly competitive — 18 freshmen vied for one of three positions to represent Darnall and Harbin Halls — four were uncontested.

Only one candidate ran for the two Henle Village spots, and a special election for the vacant position will be held in the future, according to GUSA Senate Transition Chair Nate Tisa (SFS ’14).

The GUSA senate redefined its districts last fall, creating three additional off-campus seats — increasing off-campus representation from two seats to five — and reducing the number of at-large seats from six to four.

The modification aimed to address the underrepresentation of off-campus students. In previous years, only three senators represented more than 500 off-campus students each, which is almost twice the number of constituents compared to the average on-campus representative.

However, the election results showed that the at-large race was more hotly contested than the off-campus race, with 2,028 votes cast in the at-large race and only 157 votes cast in the off-campus race.

Tisa explained that off-campus students were less aware of the deadlines for candidacy declaration. Only three candidates ran for five open spots in this race.

Tisa acknowledged this low turnout and emphasized that it is a challenge GUSA still needs to address.

“The proportion [of votes] makes sense. It’s just the challenge we have to deal with,” Tisa said. “How do we challenge these people and bring them in?”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Sheila Walsh (COL ’14) represented the Copley District. She is actually is the senator for the townhouses. The corrected version was posted at 2:51 p.m. on Oct. 2.  

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