The Georgetown University Student Association senate voted to certify the results of Friday’s GUSA executive election Sunday night, officially confirming Enushe Khan (MSB ’17), former speaker of the GUSA senate, and Chris Fisk (COL ’17), former GUSA deputy chief of staff, as president and vice president.
Khan and Fisk, the only formal candidates in GUSA’s first-ever one-ticket executive race, were elected Friday night with 57.9 percent of the vote. The comedic ticket of Wisemiller’s Hot Chick and Chicken Madness sandwiches, interpreted by Anirudha Vaddadi (SFS ’16), came in second with 878, or 35.6 percent, of write-in votes in the final round. The write-in ticket of Reed Howard (SFS ’17) and Courtney Maduike (SFS ’17) placed third with 440 votes in the first round and 454 in the second, while Maddy Moore (SFS ’17) and Scott Lowder (COL ’17) placed fourth with 58 votes.
Khan is the first Muslim, international student and female of color to be president of GUSA. Fisk is the second member of the Georgetown Scholarship Program to be vice president, following Adam Ramadan (SFS ’14), who was elected as vice president with Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) in 2013.
Voter turnout was 33 percent of the student body — 2,388 students — markedly lower than the 3,637 votes in 2015 and the record 3,733 votes in 2013.
Two senators abstained and all others voted in favor of certification. Khan recused herself from leadership of the meeting.
Khan said she is excited to enact her and Fisk’s campaign platforms now that campaigning is over.
“Now we can get to work,” Khan said. “The anxiety comes from having to talk about things but not being able to do them. I personally don’t like talking about things; I just like rolling up my sleeves, getting to work.”
Fisk said he and Khan started work immediately.
“Sunday night after the certification, the to-do list came out and it was getting the ball rolling,” Fisk said. “It’s just go, go, go as much as we can and get to work as fast as we can, which is a lot more comforting than the past two weeks.”
The public meeting addressed plans for GUSA’s restructuring and the new D.C. policing bill, both priorities for Khan’s administration, before focusing on whether the procedural issues cited by the GUSA Election Commission in delaying release of election results Thursday night were valid enough to justify disputing the results and holding a new election.
The Election Commission delayed release of the election results for 15 hours on the grounds it believed the Constitutional Council had made a procedural error in ordering it to place five write-in slots on the ballot, following a petition by candidates Howard and Maduike on Wednesday.
Howard and Maduike previously appealed to be formally added to the ballot on Feb. 16, a request denied by both the Election Commission and Constitutional Council on the grounds it would be a break in typical election procedure.
Students must attend one of two information sessions and sign a form certifying that they understand election rules by a certain date in order to be included on the ballot, though this process is not explicitly stated in GUSA bylaws.
GUSA bylaws indicate the power to regulate and certify elections is at the discretion of the senate, meaning it is the only body able to create election rules. The bylaws do not contain procedure for write-in candidates.
GUSA Election Commissioner Alden Fletcher (SFS ’17) said the Election Commission was uncomfortable with a change in election procedure.
“There was a desire to make the race more democratic by instituting this change, and from our perspective that represented an evaluation of what was the desirable features of the race, and we were uncomfortable with being forced to make that change, especially at such a late hour in the proceedings,” Fletcher said.
GUSA Constitutional Council Chief Justice Josh Shinbrot (COL ’16) said it was within the Constitutional Council’s purview to make such a decision, and emphasized it was a unique situation and not universally applicable.
“Ultimately what you have is a situation in which the bylaws don’t provide guidance for what to do, and you have a constitution that sets up a democratic system, a candidate raises a legitimate question, and the Constitutional Council has its interpretive authority,” Shinbrot said. “At the end of the day the fundamental question is whether or not procedure was followed, and procedure was followed to the T.”
No conclusion was officially reached regarding the existence of a procedural error.
Chair of the Intellectual Life Committee Eric Henshall (COL ’16), who represents off-campus residents, argued that whether a procedural error had occurred was irrelevant to the legitimacy of the election results.
“The people spoke, the Constitutional Council’s decision made it easier for write-in candidates to win, it disadvantaged Senator Khan and Chris Fisk, and they still won,” Henshall said.
Maduike wrote in an email to The Hoya that election bylaw reform is needed, citing the over 1,223 write-in votes cast Friday.
“We drew attention to inherent unfairness in the write-in policy and successfully petitioned to add more write-in options to the ballot,” Maduike wrote. “We demonstrated that students do want a choice and that they speak up via write-in candidates when given the opportunity. We came together as a group to offer the student body a voice that is rational, reliable and present, and we look forward to protecting that voice in further discussion.”
Howard and Maduike were not present at Sunday’s meeting.
Former Vice Speaker and current Speaker of the Senate Theo Montgomery (SFS ’18), who moderated the meeting, said a discussion concerning revision in bylaws would be forthcoming.
“I think this is a really productive discussion and a discussion we should have at another date,” Montgomery said. “It will take time to put together bylaws changes that accurately clarify this process, keep it democratic, and make it clear.”
Khan said she looks forward to working more with the senate as it passes new bylaws.
“Hopefully with the new bylaw reforms that will passing, that will be brought to the floor by Chairman Henshall, this will mean that we will be working closely together for the rest of the year,” Khan said.
After the certification of her election, Khan addressed the senate, thanking it for its debate and resigning her position as speaker.
“I just wanted to say thank you so much for holding this debate and also just for this entire year,” Khan said. “This is a really great group of people, it’s been such an honor serving as your speaker. At this point, I would like to officially resign from the speakership role.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article listed Chris Fisk (COL ’17) as the first member of the Georgetown Scholarship Program to be elected vice president of GUSA. Fisk is the second GSP member to be elected to the role, following Adam Ramadan (SFS ’14) in 2013.
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