On Monday, Feb. 15, the field for the GUSA Executive election widened, as Reed Howard (SFS ‘17) and Courtney Maduike (SFS ‘17) announced their write-in candidacy during one of the night’s two simultaneous town halls.
At the Town Hall sponsored by the Election Commission, Enushe Khan (MSB ‘17), Chris Fisk (COL ‘17), and Anirudha Vaddadi (SFS ‘16) (translating for two sandwiches from Wisemiller’s Deli) articulated their tickets’ vision for the future of GUSA. The Howard/Maduike Town Hall, held in the Former Jesuit Residence (FJR) and not sponsored by the GUSA Election Commission, marked the public launch of their campaign.
The official Town Hall was open to all four campaigns that submitted budgets, with time divided between candidates on the ballot and the three write-in campaigns. Both Khan/Fisk and Chick/Madness ticket chose to participate in the forum. A different satirical campaign dropped out before the event began, according to Election Commission Vice Chair Grady Willard (SFS ‘18).
While Howard and Maduike were eligible to participate in the latter portion of the Town Hall, they instead chose to hold a separate event, which they publicized when they announced their write-in candidacy in a Facebook event on Monday evening.
In an email to the Voice, Howard and Maduike explained their decision to have the simultaneous Town Hall, stating that “While we appreciate the Election Commission’s offer to accommodate us during the second part of the town hall with the two joke campaigns, our campaign is as legitimate as the other ticket [Khan/Fisk]. We believe we deserve equal time and attention. “
As of Monday night, Khan/Fisk is to be the only ticket appearing on Thursday’s ballot, along with a referendum on course registration. However, Howard and Maduike, who requested to be added to the ballot and were denied by the Election Commission, have taken their appeal to the Constitutional Council.
“The only way you can go to the Constitutional Council is if we have misinterpreted a bylaw, not if they don’t like a decision that we made,” said Willard. “The Constitutional Council will first consider [if] we [misapplied] the bylaws. If we did, then they will figure out what needs to be done.”
“Once the [campaign] season is open, you can’t decide to be put on the ballot, that was our official statement,” said Willard, “we’ll see what the Constitutional Council says.”
During the Town Hall sponsored by the Election Commission, held in the HFSC, Khan and Fisk outlined their top three priorities from their platform: negotiating the new campus plan and ensuring that there will be no construction on new dorms until the existing ones are renovated, securing a dining program reflective of Georgetown students’ interests, and promoting socio-economic inclusivity in campus activities.
“I feel so passionately that GUSA should be taking a stronger role to make Georgetown a more inclusive place,” Fisk said.
The two candidates also expressed the desire to involve more students in student government.
“GUSA continues to fail in bringing underrepresented students to the organization,” said Khan. “What GUSA focuses on depends on who GUSA is.”
Khan and Fisk pointed to their plan to create 22 policy teams aimed at reducing conflict and redundancy between GUSA’s Senate and Executive branches.
“It’s important to recognize that [within] GUSA, inefficiency is driven by the two separate bodies not working collaboratively,” Khan said.
During the Town Hall held in the Former Jesuit Residence, moderated by former GUSA Executive candidates Chris Wadibia (COL ‘16) and Sara Margolis (COL ‘16), Howard and Maduike explained their decision to begin a GUSA bid so late in the campaign season.
“Despite the supposed apathy towards GUSA, students want a choice and an opportunity for discussion,” Maduike said.
The two candidates then outlined the focus of their campaign: addressing the needs of students from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds, ensuring racial justice on campus, and securing a favorable campus plan for the student body.
“There needs to be cultural sensitivity on this campus about issues of race,” Maduike said.
“We realize that we are not experts on every issue on campus,” said Howard. “We want to empower the activists working on these issues.”
Speaking through their translator, Vaddadi, Hot Chick and Chicken Madness echoed the priorities highlighted on their campaign Facebook event. “The last election really showed the separation between GUSA and the rest of the student population,” he said. “At the end of the day, what the student body president and vice president have to do is be someone who can represent the entire population and be inclusive and respect everyone regardless of what kind of sandwich they want to have.”
About 50 people attended the official GUSA Town Hall, many of whom were affiliated with the Khan/Fisk campaign. About 30 people attended the Howard/Maduike Town Hall.
Additional Reporting by Margaret Gach, Kevin Huggard, Liz Teitz, and Isaiah Seibert