The GUSA presidential campaign kicked off this morning at midnight, marking the start of a two-week race. The 24-hour voting period will start on Thursday, February 23, after a presidential debate and weeks of campaigning. There are seven tickets vying for executive positions this year, making the race one of the most closely contested in recent memory.
The candidates running for president and vice president come from a variety of backgrounds, GUSA experiences, and class years. “It’s a lot more crowded—there are a lot more tickets,” Mike Meaney (SFS ’12), current GUSA President, said. “Everyone’s a lot more experienced, so there’s going to be a lot of interesting platforms. People are trying to draw distinctions among themselves in ways we haven’t seen.”
The Nate Tisa (SFS’14)-Sheila Walsh (COL’14) ticket, youngest of the candidates, proposes a three-fold, top-level reform. “It would have been easier for us to endorse an older candidate…but none of the tickets we see right now had a solid philosophy,” Tisa said. “We didn’t agree with the way they went about it….we had strong ideas on our own.”
Walsh and Tisa see their youth as a significant advantage. “We’re younger, we know younger students, and we also have the advantage of longevity,” Tisa said. “The fact that we’ve got a few years left on the Hilltop gives us the momentum to overcome the perennial problems of disunity that have plagued the student body for so long.”
Other candidates emphasize their years of experience with GUSA. Colton Malkerson (COL’13), the current FinApp chair, and Maggie Cleary (COL’14), chair of GU College Republicans, propose a platform covering issues from club funding to sustainability.
“Our ticket is the most experienced, we have the clearest record, our platform is most relevant to students. We don’t have to introduce ourselves to University administrators, we don’t need training. We can start implementing our campaign promises from the first day,” Malkerson said.
Candidates are planning their campaign strategies for the next two weeks. “We plan on knocking on every single door on campus,” Lauren Weber (COL’13) and John Morris (COL’13) wrote an email. “[And] getting the word out through every type of outlet, and engaging the student body on a person-to-person basis as much as possible.”
Murphy Kate Delaney (COL’13) and Michael Appau (COL’13) plan on a similar approach. “We want to emphasize personal interaction,” Delaney said. “Our slogan is, ‘YOUR campaign for Georgetown.’ We want [the students] to feel that they are really are represented by what we’d like to do.”
Daniel LaMagna (COL’13) and Markel Starks (COL’14) also see a need for fewer administrative changes and more detail-oriented ones. “GUSA has done a lot of reform, and now we’d like to focus on practical application,” LaMagna, a GUSA senator, said. He wants to help make University Facilities more efficient, and possibly launch a Georgetown Smartphone App with school news, access to library information, shuttle bus routes courses, and other information.
The Tyler Sax (COL’13)-Michael Crouch (MSB’13) ticket similarly desires a more technical side to the campaign. “We both come from technical backgrounds, and I think that’s key in an organization like GUSA, where you have to reach out to so many people,” Crouch said. “You have to start by engaging them online.”
Sax and Crouch also have a three-part platform, consisting of building ties across many of the student groups on campus, inspiring innovation in the way they interact with the community, and closing the loop.
“The idea is that we don’t have a monopoly of good ideas; we need to pull on the collective ideas of Georgetown. We try to get feedback; we want to learn what is important [to the community] instead of us telling them [what is important],” Crouch said.
The Clara Gustafson (SFS’13)-Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS’13) ticket emphasizes reinvigoration of academic life and strengthening Georgetown’s commitment to its Jesuit values. “These next few weeks may be stressful or awkward, but it’s also a lot of fun. It’s made me realize why I’m excited to hopefully represent Georgetown on a bigger scale and be able to advocate for our students,” Kohnert-Yount said.
Meaney encouraged the general student body to take the elections seriously. “I would encourage the students to not just vote for their friends, not just vote for who is popular, not just vote the most famous name, but actually view it as a choice and see whose platform they like, who has a experience, who has a proven record of execution and leadership, who reaches out to them the most, and who cares about their opinions. Elections matter, elections have consequences. GUSA’s come a long way and it’s not time to go backward.”