claraAs banners are painted, flyers printed and dorms canvassed in anticipation of this year’s Georgetown University Student Association elections, I am reminded of what an honor it has been for Vail and I to serve you as the vice president and president of GUSA. With your help, we have made tremendous progress in the last year, from tackling big projects like reforms to the Code of Student Conduct and the implementation of Student Activities Fee Endowment Reform to realizing smaller ideas like improvements to recycling and  student access to residence halls.

As we prepare to pass on the torch, we hope that the winners of this race will continue this progress. All of those who are running have demonstrated their commitment to making Georgetown a better place. However, we believe that one ticket has the experience, vision and spirit of service that make them the best candidates for the job.

Vail and I are endorsing Jack Appelbaum (COL ’14) and Maggie Cleary (COL ’14) for GUSA president and vice president.

Jack has been a campus leader, increasing opportunities for students to innovate and thrive. Members of the Student Activities Commission have known for years that the funding system and event approval process were cumbersome and harming student programming and innovation. When Jack joined SAC, he didn’t accept the status quo. Instead, he led the charge as part of a team of commissioners to make the funding system more effective and responsive to student needs and to streamline the event approval process to make it quicker and simpler for student groups.

That passion for making student life better made Jack a clear choice to work with GUSA on the 2012 Student Life Report, a comprehensive document that examined nearly every aspect of student life on the Hilltop and made over 60 recommendations for improvement.

Maggie, too, has been an effective campus leader. When GUSA needed someone to build relationships with and to solicit ideas and feedback from students and student groups, Maggie stepped up as the GUSA director of executive outreach. She worked tirelessly to grow the student body’s involvement and input in decisions about student life on the Hilltop. She brings the vital experience of having been the head of a student group herself, having served as chair of the Georgetown University College Republicans.

Additionally, Vail and I are particularly thrilled that Maggie is helping to organize Georgetown’s first “Elect Her” conference in April 2013 to encourage and train more college women to run for student government.

Jack and Maggie share the same approach Vail and I have to improving student life. They take a look at the values we hold dear — community, justice, fairness, student input and student autonomy — and then see if we are living up to those values.

We see that approach not only in what Jack and Maggie have accomplished thus far on the Hilltop but also in their platform.

I hope Vail and I have helped to bring Georgetown more in line with those values, but Jack and Maggie know there’s still more work to be done.

For a fairer Georgetown, Jack and Maggie propose to expand the “clear and convincing” standard of evidence to off-campus incidents, accelerate the timeline for making conduct decisions and require cases to be thrown out if they are not decided in a determined time frame and work to ensure that minor conduct mistakes from freshman year are expunged in light of good behavior later on.

For a more just Georgetown, Jack and Maggie also propose to make the Justice and Peace Studies program a major, to connect the business school and Center for Social Justice with programs geared towards social entrepreneurship and to provide additional support for just employment policies.

For a more student-friendly Georgetown, Jack and Maggie propose comprehensive funding reform to further expand freedom for student groups to put on more innovative programming, to increase access to space on campus for students and student groups and to create a web app that operates as a marketplace for Georgetown students to buy and sell event tickets, books and other goods easily and in one place.

And for a safer Georgetown, Jack and Maggie propose adding more blue safety lights in West Georgetown, Burleith and on campus, improving the bias incident reporting system, ensuring that those found guilty undergo bias education and increasing resources to educate and protect against rape and sexual assault while providing more resources and support for survivors.

Jack and Maggie have demonstrated their commitment to serving the Georgetown community through the countless hours they’ve already logged to make our campus a better place. In our experience, we have found that leadership requires a spirit of service, and by this measure Jack and Maggie represent leadership at its best.

Vote Jack and Maggie for Georgetown Feb. 21.

Clara Gustafson is a senior in the School of Foreign Service. She is president of the Georgetown University Student Association.

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