GUSA Debate Tweet Fuels Controversy
Executive's Role in Campaign Questioned
Published: Monday, February 18, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 01:02
A tweet from the official Georgetown University Student Association Twitter account fueled controversy during tonight’s GUSA debate regarding the GUSA executive’s support for the Appelbaum and Cleary ticket.
After the presidential candidates responded to a question of which ticket they would support second to their own, the official GUSA account tweeted, “We’re honored to have the support of Shavonnia and Joe who say they’d put as #2 on their ballot! #GUSAssociation [sic].”
The tweet, which was deleted minutes later, was seen by some as a reflection of a gray area between individual members' support for Jack Appelbaum (COL ’14) and Maggie Cleary (COL ’14) and the institution’s as a whole. The tweet was written by Mike Madoff (SFS ’13), who is communications director for the GUSA executive and a campaign staffer for Appelbaum and Cleary.
Madoff was tweeting from both the GUSA account and the Appelbaum and Cleary campaign account during the debate and said the tweet in question was not done intentionally. The GUSA account later tweeted, “We apologize for the earlier technical issue.”
Current GUSA President Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) and Vice President Vail Kohnert-Yount have been vocal supporters of the Appelbaum and Cleary ticket, as has their chief of staff, Jake Sticka (SFS ’13), who is managing the ticket’s campaign.
“I think it’s unfortunate,” Sticka said of the tweet after the debate. While he noted that 13 members of the executive have come out in support of Appelbaum and Cleary, he added, “I don’t think it’s fair to say that GUSA as an institution has taken a side in this election.”
Other GUSA candidates saw it differently, including Spencer Walsh (MSB ’14), who said the tweet is reflective of the relationship between the executive and the Appelbaum ticket.
“Jack and Maggie are obviously great candidates, but the executive has been pushed to support a ticket, and I think that is inappropriate,” Walsh said, citing Sticka’s involvement in GUSA and the campaign. “If that tweet doesn’t show the connection between the two, I really don’t know what does.”
Adam Ramadan (SFS ’14), who is running for vice president alongside GUSA senate Speaker Nate Tisa (SFS ’14), confronted Sticka after the debate about the appropriateness of the tweet. His running mate said he shared this concern.
“As senate speaker who has access to GUSA’s Twitter, Facebook and Hoyalink accounts, I have never once used them for our campaign,” Tisa said. Although Tisa said he did not believe the tweet was intentional, he added, “I think there was a reason why Mike and Greg did not endorse a candidate last year,” a reference the previous GUSA president and vice president, respectively.
Ethan Chess (SFS ’14), chair of the GUSA election committee and moderator of the debate, explained that GUSA rules prohibit a candidate from using university resources for their campaign. He would not comment on whether a sanction would be issued if a formal complaint were raised.