Validating the Voter Mandate

On Thursday, the Georgetown University Student Association senate election saw Chicken Madness, a chicken sandwich at Wisemiller’s Grocery and Deli, win an off-campus seat in the student body’s most directly representative organ of government. The sandwich won in a district where two registered candidates were vying for four seats. After the votes were received, it became clear the sandwich, a write-in candidate, won the seat alongside three other people, one of which was another write-in.

Yet following the election’s conclusion, Election Commissioner Grady Willard (SFS ‘18) recommended that rather than seat the sandwich, a fifth-place candidate should take the position instead. On Monday, the GUSA senate voted in a majority to bar Chicken Madness from occupying the seat to which it was elected.

Such a decision from the senate is a mistake. The GUSA senate election is supposed to represent democratic ideals, and it is wrong for the Chicken Madness sandwich to lose the senate seat into which it was voted.

As an institution that is meant to uphold democratic principles, GUSA officials should faithfully execute the will of off-campus voters and seat every candidate that won the necessary votes. In a GUSA election season marked by low turnout, 9 percent of off-campus students actually voted and voiced their support for a nonspeaking sandwich. Their decision should be respected, not tampered with. In a democratic system, there should be respect for what a plurality decides.

Our community would do well to notice a parallel between the results of this GUSA election to national politics. This past week, both the Senate and the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Justice Against Sponsors of  Terrorism Act, which allows 9/11 victims’ families to sue the country of Saudi Arabia. Such a decision directly challenged the stance of President Barack Obama, who originally exercised his presidential veto power to stop the passing of the bill before it was overridden.

There is still widespread empathy for the victims of those attacks, yet in the wake of the bill’s approval, Congress is experiencing a form of buyer’s remorse as the international ramifications of this statute come to light. Namely, it would also possibly allow foreign governments and citizens to sue American civilians and the government.

Congress blames the White House for failing to enumerate the implications of the bill and is calling for a change to its language. While the bill does outweigh the Chicken Madness victory in both precedent and historical significance, Congress is engaging in a much more extreme form of revisionist history, throwing blame post hoc in an attempt to revise the implications of its actions, rather than accept the future it chose.

In June, British voters voted in a referendum to leave the European Union with buyer’s remorse soon to follow. Media both in Britain and abroad aired interviews where dazzled Brexit voters called their votes “protest votes” and subsequently revealed how little they actually knew about the EU. Many wished out loud for a second referendum, a vote to fix their first.

The right to vote is a right sandwiched between the responsibility of the voter to be informed and the duty of a government to faithfully fulfill that mandate. Congress cannot wish away the 9/11 victims bill, just as GUSA should not force off-campus students to be represented by someone other than Chicken Madness, the candidate that rightfully won their votes.

With so few students participating in the vote, there is a clear disengagement and disinterest in student government, especially among seniors. The temporary success of Chicken Madness is proof of this and thus both GUSA and those students who either voted or chose to refrain from voting should live with their decision.

Students at Georgetown should be encouraged to give their voice to an elected body that serves to benefit and represent them. Yet if they choose to simply elect an inanimate sandwich, then they should live with the outcome of their vote, and the organization should respect the wishes of the voters. Such is the nature of democracy at its most basic level.


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  1. This editorial is a good example of media manipulation. After Brexit, because it shocked all the journalists who voted against it, the media started saying those who voted for Brexit regretted it and claimed they were not admitting they didn’t know really know what they were voting for and wished for a do over.

    Now immediately after the 9/11 lawsuit veto override, journalists are saying Congress is doing the same thing, though the press keeps blaming Republicans even though the vote was 97-to-1 in the Senate and 348-to-77 in the House, meaning most Dems supported it as well.

    If Trump (PBUH) gets elected, then I guarantee you the day after we’ll see a ton news stories from alleged Trump voters saying they regret it, and will be treated to such stories for the rest of his term.

    Of course, none of what the journalists say will be real, but a projection of their own fantasies and biases.

  2. Wait, really? says:

    Wait, are you all serious?

  3. Sam Seaborn says:

    Hoya Ed Board, are you offering to buy the GUSA senate sandwiches every Sunday? Does this obligation extend to committee meetings? Lmk and maybe I’ll run next time.

    Travesty of an article that will only make GUSA even more likely to ignore your opinions in the future.

  4. this might the stupidest thing i’ve ever read, barring TGA

  5. Jawad Pullin says:

    Last I checked Britain didn’t vote a chicken sandwich into parliament. There is legitimacy to populist anger that fueled Brexit and the passing of the Saudi 9/11 bill; Remainers and the Obama Administration don’t have a monopoly on the prudence of foreign policy with regards to both cases.

    However, a chicken sandwich cannot represent what a plurality decides in the actual day-to-day of government as it is, and I can’t believe this has to even be emphasized to college educated individuals, an inanimate object.

  6. Concerned Hoya says:

    “A candidate shall be defined as any undergraduate student who offers themselves or is offered by others for an elected office in Student Association…” -section 13.20 of the GUSA Bylaws

    Case closed. Chicken madness is not enrolled as an undergraduate student. Did the members of the editorial board do ANY homework before writing this?

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