Juan Martinez (SFS ’20), the former GUSA Senate transition chair, was sworn in as the GUSA president on Sept. 16 during a regularly scheduled GUSA senate meeting. Martinez assumed the presidency following the resignations of former president Sahil Nair (SFS ’19) and vice president Naba Rahman (SFS ’19), as prescribed by GUSA’s constitution.
GUSA did not release a statement announcing the new president until it released a “Statement from the New GUSA Executive Regarding the Path Forward” through its Facebook and Twitter pages on Sept 23. As of Sept. 25, GUSA’s website had not yet been updated to reflect the new leadership.
The statement reflected on the events that transpired following Nair’s resignation and looked forward to how GUSA plans to repair its relationship with the student body. “Though GUSA will now be entering a new phase, our mission remains the same: to advocate for and promote the interests of students and the Georgetown community,” the statement read. “This mission, as it always has been, is greater than any individuals who may occupy positions in an administration.”
According to Martinez, no campus media reporters attended the senate meeting which included his swearing in. As a result, he said, the news of his presidency did not spread like it might have.
“I think the fact that there was no campus media allowed for it to be a quiet week,” he said “I think given the heavy atmosphere that was on campus recently, that week of silence was very important to get people to really disconnect and not feel on edge.”
Some students felt the silence kept them in the dark about their new president. Caroline Healey (COL ’20) wrote in an email to the Voice that she first learned that Martinez had become GUSA president when The Hoya reported it five days after the swearing in. Healey wrote that GUSA should have more quickly informed the student body that there was a new president.
“Trust between GUSA and the student body has been eroded and if the Senate had communicated that a new president had been sworn in as soon as it happened this would have helped to rebuild the trust,” Healey wrote. “Delaying the announcement only served to decrease GUSA’s transparency, which isn’t helping with their current PR issues.”
Shortly before Martinez assumed office on Sept. 16, he sent an email to much of GUSA’s staff offering a week off to any staffer who wanted it. Martinez wrote that he would understand if staffers wanted to resign due to the stress the previous weeks’ events had caused.
“I think given the heavy atmosphere that was on campus recently, that week of silence was very important to get people to really disconnect and not feel on edge,” he said.
GUSA Senator Harrison Nugent (SFS ’20) echoed Martinez’s appreciation for the quiet week. Noting that he did not speak for the new president, Nugent wrote to the Voice that Martinez’s personality partly explained the delay between the Martinez’s swearing in and five days later, when The Hoya reported the news.
“Juan doesn’t want the focus to be on his presidency,” Nugent wrote. “I think that speaks to who Juan is as an individual and as a leader—he’s other-oriented and focused on helping the work of student advocates, as are many people working in the Executive and the Senate.”
Even though he offered a week off to GUSA staff, Martinez said his first week as president was busy. He said it allowed GUSA to take the time to consider the statement it ultimately released.
“I know that it wasn’t immediate, but it wasn’t something I was trying to hide from the student body,” Martinez said.