Early Thursday morning, five campaigns declared their candidacies for the presidency and vice presidency of Georgetown University Student Association. Campaigning will last for two weeks until voting starts on Wednesday, Feb. 20 and the election is called on Thursday, Feb. 21.
The field includes two students who have already run for the GUSA executive last year: Maggie Cleary (COL ‘14) ran for vice president and finished fourth while Nate Tisa (SFS ‘14) ran for President and finished fifth.
All of the candidates have either experience in GUSA or in larger public life at Georgetown. Shavonnia Corbin-Johnson (SFS ’14) is running in the president’s slot and boasts receiving the highest number of votes for a single senator-at-large in the history of GUSA. Her pick for vice president is Joseph Vandegriff (COL ’14), who served as the president of College Democrats in his sophomore year.
Jack Appelbaum (COL ’14), another member of College Democrats, chose to run with Cleary, the former chair of College Republicans. Appelbaum worked in the Student Activity Commission for two years and served as its chair last year. In terms of their GUSA experience, Appelbaum represented SAC on the GUSA Student Activities Fee Endowment Commission, which recommended how $3.4 million should be spent.
Among the other candidates with extensive GUSA experience is Tisa, who has served as the speaker of that body for a year. During his tenure, GUSA passed the resolution authorizing the “clear and convincing” referendum, accomplished the age reduction for student Zipcars, began composting programs in Village B, and pushed for changes to the disciplinary system. His running mate Adam Ramadan (SFS ‘14) has served as a board member of Hoya Blue and has been a Blue and Gray tour guide since his freshman year.
The final ticket with experience in student government is Cannon Warren (SFS ‘14), with Andrew Logerfo (COL ‘14) as vice president. Warren has served as an at-large senator for nearly two years and works as the vice chair of GUSA’s Finance and Appropriations Committee, while Logerfo works as the Corp’s director of accounting.
The last presidential hopefuls market themselves as GUSA outsiders: a leader in Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union, Spencer Walsh (MSB ’14) is running with Robert Silverstein (SFS ’14), a member of College Democrats and the Philodemic Society.
While candidates’ platforms were not fully available when the Voice went to print, most candidates emphasized general themes of student advocacy and promised to reduce red tape and streamline the room reservation process for clubs.
Walsh and Silverstein count SAC and the Office of Campus Activity Facilities among the organizations whose regulations are burdensome for students. “[T]he bulk of our platform is about cutting red tape and empowering the student body,” they wrote in an email to the Voice. “Specifically, we want to devolve more power to student groups and make it easier for them to schedule events and reserve space on campus, chipping away at the bureaucracy that organizations like SAC and OCAF represent.”
The Appelbaum/Cleary ticket lists similar proposals as their priorities but emphasize Appelbaum’s service reducing needless bureaucracy on the Student Life Report Committee. “[I] also spent nearly a year working on the 2012 Student Life Report, a comprehensive document that examined student life and bureaucracy on campus and made over 60 recommendations for improvement,” wrote Appelbaum.
Warren and Logerfo enumerated finding solutions to other popular student gripes among their priorities. “We are dedicated to improving student life on and off campus by addressing the responsiveness of the Facilities Department, sensibilizing the student code of conduct for the benefit of all students, and promoting efforts to reduce the University’s rat population,” Logerfo wrote.
Tisa and Ramadan consider broadening the University’s free-speech policy and sexual assault prevention programs their higher priorities: “Our ticket will be advocating for an amendment to the free speech policy, expanded student space, a rejuvenation of the Center for Social Justice, further addressing of the disciplinary process, and a comprehensive changes to sexual assault prevention,” wrote Zach Singer (SFS ‘15), GUSA Vice Speaker and Tisa/Ramadan campaign manager.
Corbin-Johnson and Vandegriff declined to list concrete proposals as their priorities, opting instead to focus on listening to student proposals “through mobilizing the student base.”
Contenders for the executive office can spend a maximum of $300 on their campaign and must turn in all receipts to the GUSA election commission. While GUSA election season inevitably involves profuse flier distribution and dorm-storming, at least one campaign has promised that it will not be knocking on any doors.
“[O]ur campaign will not consist of any door knocking, since we respect students’ privacy and peace of mind while they are in their dorms or apartments,” Logerfo wrote in an email. “Basically, we do not want to be seen as Georgetown’s version of Jehovah’s Witnesses.”