Georgetown University Student Association President Norman Francis Jr. (COL ’20) and Vice President Aleida Olvera (COL ’20) are emphasizing approachability and student engagement as they begin their term in the GUSA executive.

The pair were sworn in March 16 following the GUSA senate’s confirmation of the election results Feb. 10. Francis and Olvera were elected Feb. 8 by a margin of 40 votes, narrowly defeating solo candidate Nicki Gray (NHS ’20) in an election that saw the lowest voter turnout in seven years.

Francis and Olvera’s priorities for the semester follow their campaign pillars of diversity, transparency and academic accessibility.

FILE PHOTO: AMBER GILLETTE/THE HOYA | Norman Francis Jr. (COL ’20) and Aleida Olvera (COL ’20) plan to prioritize student outreach and diversity after being inaugurated into the Georgetown University Student Association executive March 16.

The executives said they will increase opportunities for students to engage with GUSA during their term.

That’s one thing that we really want to do is make sure we are as approachable as possible,” Francis said. “So another thing that we want to start implementing is town halls that we’ve seen from other executives, most recently the last elected executives, that was one thing that they wanted to implement and that’s something that we’re looking to as well.”

Francis and Olvera are replacing former GUSA President Juan Martinez (SFS ’20) and former GUSA Vice President Kenna Chick (SFS ’20). The biggest challenge facing the new executives is translating their plan for incorporating student voices into action, Martinez said in his March 14 exit interview with The Hoya.

Francis and Olvera, who ran on a platform of transparency, reform, accessibility and progress, abbreviated as T.R.A.P., hoped to prioritize outreach to student groups and focused on diversity while assembling their senior staff over the past couple of weeks.

“One thing that we really tried to make a thing was trying to reach out to as many student groups as possible,” Francis said. “Also, we tried to message out to different student groups, especially cultural groups, so that they knew that this was an option that they could look into and that they were able to apply.”

The pair hopes to promote diverse candidates to run for the April 11 elections to the GUSA senate during their term, according to Olvera.

“Especially when time for senate elections comes around, we’re going to encourage people to run that probably wouldn’t have ran previously because they see how the majority demographic is represented,” Olvera said. “But with us as executives, we’re really pushing to make sure that we’re as inclusive as possible because we know what it feels like to be alienated in these white spaces.”

As vice president, Olvera plans to collaborate with members of GUSA’s policy teams to prioritize academic accessibility in the pair’s term.

“I want to work very closely with the academic affairs chair to make sure that we’re thinking of everyone’s walk of life and make sure we are building a team that is once again inclusive of as many students as possible,” Olvera said. “So I’m going to be closely monitoring that policy chair because that’s something that’s really close to my heart.”

In response to concerns about a lack of stability and trust in GUSA, the pair plans to focus on connecting with student constituents, according to Francis.

“A big part of trust is also just sort of a lack of knowing someone, so I think that’s what a big push that we want to make this year with our communications team is definitely getting ourselves out there and basically integrating ourselves with the community,” Francis said. “That’s a big thing that we tried to stress during our interviews with our senior staff is basically how well are they going to be able to integrate themselves with students.”

GUSA has experienced instability in recent history with multiple executive resignations. Former GUSA Vice President Naba Rahman (SFS ’19) and 10 other executive cabinet members resigned Sept. 11 as part of a push to remove then-GUSA President Sahil Nair (SFS ’19) from office. Nair officially resigned later that morning.

More recently, vice presidential candidate Sam Appel (COL ’20) stepped down from the executive race and the GUSA senate Jan. 28.

Francis and Olvera hope to hold the university administration to its word by choosing not to stand down on issues students deem important.

“The way I’m going to hold administration accountable is I’m not afraid to make them feel uncomfortable with questions,” Olvera said. “I want them to know this is something we’re thinking about, and if we push them and put pressure on them in this way, even if they don’t feel comfortable with us pushing a certain agenda, we want to make sure that they’re hearing students want this.”

Francis looks forward to getting to know more students and increasing his visibility on campus so he can build trust with the Georgetown community.

“I want folks to feel comfortable reaching out to any aspect of GUSA and feeling like work is going to be done that they can trust,” Francis said. “I realize that we might not be at that place right now, but I want to try to be there by the time that we finish.”

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