GUSA Senate election features low turnout, calls to improve GUSA’s transparency

October 3, 2018

The GUSA Election Commission announced the results of the election for seven freshmen GUSA Senate seats, four at-large senators, and three junior Senate seats on their Twitter page in the early hours of Oct. 1.

According to the Election Commission, voter turnout was 20.9 percent. In comparison, April’s senate elections saw 23 percent turnout, and turnout for the fall elections last year was 30 percent.

The election came less than a month after the resignation of GUSA President Sahil Nair (SFS ’19), Vice President Naba Rahman (SFS ’19), and much of the senior staff.

Newly elected Senator Alec Camhi (COL ’20) wrote in an email to the Voice that he was concerned about GUSA’s standing in student’s minds because of this. “What was already an unsteady relationship with the student body was rocked by the controversies and resignations at the beginning of the year,” Camhi wrote. “I think students want new leadership and a change of culture in GUSA.”

When explaining what compelled her to vote in the election, Madeleine Gibbons-Shapiro (COL ’21) referred to the recent upheaval in GUSA. “It’s always important to vote,” Gibbons-Shapiro said. “Especially with everything that’s been going on in GUSA recently, it’s important that we as students do what is in our power to put the right people in GUSA.”

However, many students do not look to GUSA as the administrative body it is described as. When asked why she did not vote, Gabriela Rodriguez (COL ’20) said that she felt detached from the going-ons of GUSA.

“I’m not involved in GUSA, I don’t feel their presenceif that makes sense. I know who they are,” Rodriguez said. “I just don’t feel inclined to vote because I feel kind of disconnected from them.”

Newly elected senator Logan Arkema (COL ’20), wrote in an email to the Voice that he had not planned on being a candidate, but decided that he would be able to bring about more change to the university from within GUSA.

“I do not think that GUSA is the only way to have an impact at Georgetown, nor do I think it is the best way.” Arkema wrote. Despite this, he believes being a GUSA senator is the best way for him to make sure there is at least one voice in the Senate that cares about the issues he thinks matter, which includes his work with the Georgetown Solidarity Committee, which advocates for workers’ rights on campus

The alleged circumstances under which the GUSA executive was vacated has led to conversations about the importance of providing resources for survivors of sexual assault on campus.

Part of the reason that Matthew Buckwald (COL ’20) ran in the election was the way that the GUSA Senate handled the departure of the executive cabinet. On the evening of Nair’s resignation, senators held an emergency public session, after having a closed-door meeting with former Chief of Staff Aaron Bennett (COL ’19).

During the emergency session, the senators passed a resolution demanding that the executive cabinet resign permanently amid rumors they knew of allegations made against the former GUSA president.

“It was disappointing to see that GUSA has not prioritized survivors and has rather chosen to engage with political theatrics at the expense of students,” Buckwald wrote in an email to the Voice. “Moving forward, I hope to provide a more intersectional approach to the conversation of sexual assault on campus.”

Arkema shared similar beliefs about what GUSA could do in the future to better handle the matter of sexual assault on campus. “I believe that movement on this issue (as with every issue) should be lead by those who are directly affected by it,” he wrote. “I will be doing everything I can to support and be in solidarity with them.”

Karan Chauhan (SFS ’22), one of the seven new freshmen senators, wrote to the Voice about what he hoped some future steps for GUSA to become more inclusive might be. He pointed to the complete absence of female senators elected to represent the freshman class as a demonstration of a community not represented well-enough in GUSA.

“It is especially disheartening to see that not a single one of the seven senators elected to represent the class of 2022 yesterday was female,” Chauhan wrote. “We must encourage participation of all genders, ethnicities, nationalities, and social backgrounds in order to be truly representative.”


Senators elected for the Class of 2022:
1) Karan Chauhan
2) Tommy Teravainen
3) Jamyson Smith
4) Julio Salmeron-Perla
5) Aidan Burke
6) Connor Brennan
7) Leo John Arnett

Senators elected to at-large seats:
1) Hayley Grande
2) Winston Ardoin
3) Dante Esqueda
4) Zaki Thabet

Senators elected for the Class of 2020:
1) Alec Camhi
2) Matt Buckwald
3) Logan Arkema

Inès de Miranda
Inès graduated from Georgetown in May 2020. During her time at the Voice, she served as chair of the Editorial Board and wrote for most sections.

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