Eugene Ang/The Hoya GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS '14) was sworn in by predecessor Clara Gustafson (SFS '13) as outgoing Vice President Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS '13) looked on Saturday.
Eugene Ang/The Hoya
GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) was sworn in by predecessor Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) as outgoing Vice President Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13) looked on Saturday.

GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) and Vice President Adam Ramadan (SFS ’14) were sworn into office Saturday afternoon by outgoing GUSA executives Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) and Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13).

Tisa, who is the university’s first openly gay student body president, was sworn in with the book “Taking a Chance on God” by John McNeill, a gay Jesuit priest. He said he chose the book because it redefines Catholicism in a way that affirms LGBTQ Catholics and other groups.

“I thought it had special significance at Georgetown, where our Catholic and Jesuit identity is a strong and crucial part of our heritage that can promote, rather than conflict with, our values of diversity, inclusion and the dignity of all members of our community,” Tisa said.

Tisa also acknowledged the challenges he expects to face as the second openly gay student body president of a Jesuit university.

“We’re going to face a lot of voices from on campus that haven’t been faced before,” Tisa said. “I have absolutely no fear and complete confidence in my team that we can rise to the occasion.”

Tisa outlined his administration’s major initiatives, which include the expansion of free-speech zones, measures to heighten awareness of sexual assault, improvements to workers’ rights, increased access to student space and a push for gender-neutral housing.

One of the first steps Tisa’s administration has taken is to add the position of secretary of D.C. relations to the Georgetown University Student Association to supplement the secretary of neighborhood relations.

“The D.C. relations person will take a wider scope and go out into the city government, keep an eye on what’s going legislatively and advocate for not just Georgetown students, but all college students in the D.C. area,” Tisa said.

Tisa identified the implementation of the final tenets of the 2010 Campus Plan agreement, which mandates that the university house 90 percent of undergraduates on campus by fall 2025, as the largest challenge facing current students in the upcoming year.

“The new campus plan will bring changes for many students,” Tisa said. “I won’t sugarcoat it; especially off-campus life is going to get a lot harder, and we will be right there with you.”

He said the secretary of D.C. relations will help students address the challenge of the campus plan agreement.

“Things like the campus plan, we could have seen it coming from another way if we had someone at that level thinking in those terms,” Tisa said.

Tisa also explained his reasoning behind recruiting former rivals for the GUSA presidency, including Jack Appelbaum (COL ’14), Shavonnia Corbin Johnson (SFS ’14) and Spencer Walsh (MSB ’14), to his executive staff.

“To me, the most remarkable thing about this campaign was not the differences between each of our platforms — though there were some significant ones — but the astoundingly large number of issues on which we all agreed,” Tisa said.

Both Tisa and Ramadan underscored the importance of uniting the students to accomplish their initiatives. Specifically, the duo distinguished two staff positions — director for GUSA outreach, a position included in Gustafson’s cabinet, and director for group outreach, a new position — that will facilitate greater engagement with the student body.

“Clara and Vail did a good job of GUSA outreach, but probably not enough to really touch all of campus,” Tisa said. “GUSA outreach is going to focus more on strategic objectives of top issues at a given time. Group outreach is more of maintaining permanent connection with groups to hear what they want from us.”

Ramadan spoke of his commitment to connect with the student body in alignment with Georgetown’s values.

“We are at a crossroad of our Jesuit identity and who we are as a school,” Ramadan said. “As a campus, we can drift away from tradition and just kind of wander off, or we can really reunite the fire, the passion, the community and service that have defined Georgetown for so long. I am extremely humbled and excited to get started to show how much I love this place in a way I haven’t been able to.”

Tisa commended Gustafson and Kohnert-Yount’s accomplishments over the past year, highlighting reforms to the Code of Student Conduct that raised the evidentiary standard from “more likely than not” to “clear and convincing,” a push for on-campus sustainability, sexual assault risk reduction and increased discussion of diversity.

“We intend to move many of these initiatives forward during our administration and are humbled to accept the torch of executive leadership from their capable hands,” Tisa said.

Gustafson said she was optimistic about her successors’ agenda.

“I’m excited,” Gustafson said. “I think they’ve got a lot of momentum moving forward, and I think they’ll be able to keep it up and carry on a good fight.”

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