GUSA debates upcoming Executive transition and mask mandates

February 24, 2022

GUSA is well known for a variety of things: trying to reform itself (unsuccessfully), a culture of professionalism, and, most recently, elections marred by accusations of misappropriation and campaign law violations. 

But as the newly elected GUSA Executive team begins their transition, the Senate passed legislation to amend outdated bylaws and debated repealing mask mandates during their meeting on Feb. 20. 

The incoming Executive of Kole Wolfe (SFS ’24) and Zeke Ume-Ukeje (COL ’24) have started meeting with Nile Blass (COL ’22), the outgoing GUSA president. Blass has repeatedly expressed reservations about the duo, which were reiterated at the meeting. 

“My biggest concern at this point in time is the experience level,” Blass said of the first transition meeting held the prior week. “Putting aside whatever concerns I have about the objective or the practical concerns about the job, the first meeting was them not really having a clue.”

She noted their lack of communication with affinity groups on campus, chief of staff, or platform beyond Instagram as points of concern, but stressed her desire to aid their transition. “At this point, if they fail, it hurts communities, so I’m disinterested in seeing them fail,” Blass said. 

Blass was not alone in her reservations. With questions about the legitimacy of the recent election circulating, Sen. Dominic Gordon (SFS ’24), chair of the Ethics and Oversight Committee, announced the start of an investigation into the allegations against the incoming Executive. The duo have been accused of using alcohol to gain votes and violating campaign spending laws, which they have denied

The investigative body will submit a report at the next GUSA meeting with their findings. 

Gordon also introduced a resolution to amend outdated bylaws to redefine the role of the chief of staff, the constitutional committee, and end the mandatory advisor meetings that, according to Gordon, have never taken place. 

“These are bylaws that have been long overdue,” Gordon said, “This is mostly cleanup.”

The resolution passed unanimously with no abstentions.

Senators also debated a resolution to make mask-wearing at Yates Field House optional, modeling a recent ordinance from Mayor Muriel Bowser that will lift indoor mask mandates on March 1. 

Sen. John DiPierri (SFS ’25), who introduced the resolution, noted that he has had difficulty exercising at Yates as an asthmatic wearing KN95 masks, although there is evidence indicating that masks do not impact oxygenation. 

DiPierri stressed that the resolution would bring the university model into alignment with steps taken by the District. “Our population is much younger, much more adept to exercise, and with the vaccinations as well, I think it’s a clear indicator that this would be a solution,” he said. 

Several senators expressed concern about the legislation, noting that the university has had to send COVID-positive students to a hotel off-campus due to overflow.  

“I don’t know if now is the right time,” Sen. Bayla Huff (COL ’25) said. “I’d love to not wear a mask when I’m working out, but I want the numbers to go down.”

The resolution failed in a vote of seven to 14, with one abstention. 

The Senate will convene for its next meeting on Feb. 27. 

Nora Scully
Nora was the fall 2023 editor-in-chief. She enjoys cats and dogs of all types and loves using her D.C. Library card.

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