Election season for GUSA Executives begins

February 10, 2017

On Feb. 9, the official campaigning season for this year’s GUSA executive elections began. The four tickets vying for GUSA presidential and vice presidential seats respectively are John Matthews (COL ’18) and Nick Matz (COL ‘18), Garet Williams (COL ‘18) and Habon Ali (SFS ‘18), Kamar Mack (COL ’19) and Jessica Andino (COL ‘18), and Garrett Williams (MSB ‘18) and Halle Hagan (SFS ‘19).

Following the official midnight start of the two-week campaign, candidates launched websites, posted flyers, and announced platforms throughout the day.

The Mack-Andino ticket, launched their campaign, “A Fresh GUSA,” in Red Square right at midnight and continued later in the day by handing out pins and stickers at Leo’s.

“It’s all about getting input from different communities, different organizations—and really making sure that GUSA represents all Georgetown students,” Mack said.

According to Mack, their platform centers around three central concepts: affordability, student health, and entrepreneurship. Mack plans to host three policy forums with the student body over the course of the campaign, each focusing on a separate concept.

Mack said their campaign emphasizes GUSA’s relationship with other student groups on campus. Andino has advocated for immigrant rights throughout her time at Georgetown, which, she said, led to her involvement in GUSA as chair of the Undocumented Student Inclusivity Team. She hopes to use this experience as a model for cooperation between GUSA and student advocacy groups.

Williams and Ali highlighted a similar community element to their campaign. Running under the slogan “Time for You,” Williams sees the pair’s campaign as means of engaging a larger portion of the Georgetown community in GUSA.

Our campaign within itself is driven by grassroots, by people who are both inside and outside of GUSA and that’s the kind of atmosphere we want to bring to GUSA itself,” Ali said.

Their platform focuses on four tenets: resources, inclusivity, transparency, and “you.” Williams describes their campaign as very unstructured. Ali hopes that their campaign’s lack of an official campaign manager will make the campaign more accessible to students and more of a team-based process.

Both Williams and Ali have experience in GUSA. Williams is deputy chief of staff for the Khan-Fisk administration, and Ali is a GUSA senator.

Matthews and his running mate Matz have no previous experience with GUSA. In an email to the Voice, Matz described this as an advantage.

According to the Matthews-Matz campaign, this lack of involvement in GUSA will allow the pair to maintain an objective view of GUSA’s challenges, as well as the university’s. “Our platform is simple—we plan on mitigating the rising cost of attendance at Georgetown,” Matz wrote.

A ten-point plan published on their website outlines various reforms to increase affordability at Georgetown. It includes restructuring the Epicurean and Company’s business model and ending the university’s three-year housing requirement, among other suggestions.

Matz and Matthews described their experience as a team as important to their campaign. “We work well together. We have been teammates, roommates, and study-buddies since freshman fall,” Matz said.

Several factors differentiate this election season from more recent ones. During the 2016 executive election, only one ticket was officially included on the ballot–current executives Enushe Khan (MSB ‘17) and Chris Fisk (COL ‘17).

Additionally, door-to-door campaigning has been restricted to the hours of 6 to 10 p.m., with the exception of election day, which will be Feb. 23. Another new policy allows candidates to petition to join the ballot before Saturday, if they collect 100 signatures.

Garrett Williams (MSB ‘18) and Halle Hagan (SFS ‘19) took advantage of this rule, launching a campaign with the tagline “Time for a Fresh GUSA for You”– a combination of the slogans of the Williams-Ali and Mack-Anindo campaigns. They successfully obtained the 100 signatures needed by 10:35pm on Thursday and have been officially approved by the Election Commission to be on the ballot.  

“We provide a tailor made GUSA to satisfy your outdoors calling. Garrett & Halle are the adventure you’ve been longing for. Come with us on a journey and become one with the mountain,” Williams and Hagan’s website reads.

For the first time, only one polling station will be present on Election Day, supervised by the nonpartisan Election Commission. Last year, the GUSA executive election results were delayed by the Election Commission over issues with counting the write-in ballot votes. This new arrangement also comes after a contested referendum last December, where opposition to the question of whether to restructure GUSA  accused the affirmative campaign of attempting to sway the election with biased polling stations, leading to the eventual invalidation of the results of the referendum by GUSA’s Constitutional Council.

“No candidate can create their own polling station,” Grady Willard, chair of the GUSA Election Commission, wrote in an email to the Voice.

The vice-presidential debate will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 15, and the presidential debate on Monday, Feb. 20. Votes will be cast three days later, on Thursday, Feb. 23, after two weeks of campaigning.

Margaret Gach contributed reporting.


Katya Schwenk
Katya is a contributing editor for the Voice. She studies government, creative writing, and Arabic, and is very passionate about news and mountains.


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