Here we are again. Another GUSA election, another set of lackluster candidates. If you’re looking for a progressive GUSA ticket, there isn’t one. So in the absence of better choices—or even any choices proximate to what we think is necessary for GUSA—the Editorial Board of the Voice begrudgingly endorses Camber Vincent (SFS ’24) and Alyssa Hirai (SFS ’24) on the basis of their experience operating the levers of the university.
As a progressive Editorial Board, we strongly believe that a well-qualified GUSA ticket is one committed to uplifting and amplifying the voices of all students and especially students of marginalized identities. None of these options seem meaningfully committed to doing so. With polls opening Thursday night, however, the chance for a progressive ticket in this election has passed. We are disheartened by their glaring failure to engage, much less build meaningful relationships with, affinity groups on campus—a testament to their disconnect with the student body.
In the past, the Editorial Board has written at length about the importance of student activism for crucial causes: implementing reparations for the descendants of the GU272+, promoting workers’ rights, and ensuring housing accessibility—causes that align with our vision for an equitable and anti-racist campus culture. None of the campaigns truly tick these boxes: To reiterate, there is no progressive ticket this year. But we believe that not endorsing anyone is marginally worse than endorsing Vincent/Hirai, who, at the very least, bring a more competent vision and set of experiences to the table.
Camber Vincent and Alyssa Hirai have extensive experience in GUSA, putting them in a stronger position to navigate university bureaucracy compared to the other candidates. As Speaker of the Senate and Senator At-Large respectively, Vincent and Hirai have worked or are working on projects like kickstarting a Metro U-Pass initiative and implicit bias training programs. Both of them are keenly aware of their insider advantage: Vincent said that “it is the simple fact that [they] know what [they] are doing” that most strikingly distinguished their campaign from their opponents. That much might be true, but the Editorial Board still acknowledges that it is a low bar to uphold.
While all three tickets—as is the case every year—made ambitious promises to increase the transparency of GUSA, Vincent/Hirai is the only campaign that presented a tangible strategy—one that is already in the works. By planning the implementation of FAQ sheets and weekly newsletters about commonplace Georgetown issues, as well as a relaunching of GUSA’s website, Vincent/Hirai provide actionable steps that other candidates couldn’t. Hirai’s involvement with GSP reassures us that there would be some form of representation for low-income students; the two hope to reserve funding for GSP students for opportunities like attending basketball games.
In the spirit of transparency, Vincent and Hirai were able to list a number of student groups and individuals with whom they had previously worked, as well as groups that they would like to work with in future. The fact that they did not formally reach out to any of these groups on behalf of the campaign, however, places doubt on their stated intentions to facilitate open communication and collaboration among students. However, their experience working with different groups in the past is a slight point in their favor.
On a separate note, we express reservations about Hirai’s position as a former Director of Communications for the Georgetown University College Republicans. The Voice demands that candidates advocate vehemently for LGBTQ+ and reproductive rights—rights under attack by today’s Republican Party. Hirai’s apparent conservative views are deeply concerning to us, but neither of the other two campaigns have convinced us that they will necessarily practice more progressive politics.
In endorsing this ticket, this Editorial Board calls on Vincent and Hirai to do the outreach work that they did not do before and build a staff with deeper sets of experiences working in affinity and activist groups. This campaign, though better than their opponents, is far from complete; if they want to make changes that truly help the student body, Vincent and Hirai must make real strides towards centering the communities they claim to support and consider the valid concerns raised by the campaigns of their opponents.
Chijioke Achebe (SFS ’25) and Devon Pasieka (MSB ’25) have good intentions—but seem to lack a better grasp on what constructive action looks like. These two sophomore candidates brought up issues that the other tickets ignored, namely solidarity with Georgetown’s staff workers. Yet we’re concerned about their ability to actualize real change.
We were impressed by their expressed desire to work on labor rights issues. “As much as GUSA is supposed to serve the undergraduate community, we’re also supposed to serve those who serve the undergraduate student body,” Pasieka said in an interview with the Voice. None of the other candidates included workers’ rights in their campaign. Although we cannot endorse this ticket on the sole grounds of this stated commitment—especially because Achebe’s involvement with the Coalition for Workers’ Rights seemed shallow up to this point—we hope that GUSA’s next executive will not forget this priority.
Most of the tangible policy goals they provided in an interview with the Voice did not inspire confidence. In an effort to increase students’ awareness of the happenings on the Hilltop, for example, they presented the idea of posting an agenda of every on-campus or Georgetown-affiliated event for each week or day on GUSA’s official Instagram account. While reorganizing GUSA’s functionality to be a centralized messaging platform and nexus for students is a nice idea, we worry about whether this is tenable, given the pure logistical nightmare of coordinating and messaging about the hundreds of events on-campus every week. Plus it’s an idea that is dubiously effective in facilitating true representation and elevating the voices of students of marginalized identities on campus—events are, ultimately, only a small part of student experience on campus.
We additionally worry about their capacity to work with affinity groups to accomplish their goals. Achebe plugged the central strength of their ticket as one where they ‘know the right people’ to get work done—yet they don’t seem to have an actual record of working with groups like the Black Leadership Forum. Despite having some contact with GREEN and the Workers Rights Coalition, they seemed unsure of how to pursue meaningful work with these groups in the future.
This ticket also lacks the level of GUSA experience of Vincent/Hirai. Even if we were to endorse based on experience—Achebe is a GUSA Senator and the Vice Chair of Finance and Appropriations and Pasieka is a member of the current Executive’s senior staff—the Vincent/Hirai ticket has served longer tenures. Their combined work on GUSA—they cited increasing fresh fruit at Leo’s and newspaper portal access as key examples of their impact—seem to have made minimal changes to student body experience broadly. Moreover, while we at the Voice have historically preferred to support candidates, often outsiders, that challenge GUSA’s entrenched status quo with progressive change, Achebe and Pasieka are not outsiders; they are merely insiders with less experience. Perhaps another year and more intentional time working with subcommunities at Georgetown could make them a stronger ticket in the future.
As for the campaign of Spencer Woodall (SFS ’24), current vice speaker, and Anya Caraiani (MSB ’24), their official Instagram account’s heavy focus on budget is not an accident; they have little else to speak of in the way of a platform. Though we do appreciate their intentions to free up $1,000 in excess GUSA spending—partly by relying on uncompensated student labor from their senior staff—to be put to more productive uses, we are not confident the money will be used wisely. $1,000 is also, in the grand scheme of the Executive’s role in managing the budget, a vanishingly small amount of money; that doesn’t even fund eight pages of an average Voice issue. The idea of not paying student workers for minuscule gains also is counter to our fundamental values of better supporting student labor on campus.
In their interview with the Voice, they were able to only identify as uses for their freed-up funds the installation of more trash cans around campus, hosting “cross-cultural events” to connect members of different affinity groups, and quiet spaces for disabled students. Though none of these ideas are problematic in and of themselves, and incremental change can be important to campus progress, they don’t add up to financial plans that will address the most significant issues facing the student body. Fundamentally, Woodall and Caraiani appear to have little understanding of the needs of students, and seem unwilling to push Georgetown’s administration towards key student initiatives like reparations and reconciliations for the GU272+.
To be clear, this ticket did speak to ideas they would like to push the university to pursue outside of their plans for GUSA’s budget, such as increased CAPS funding and the introduction of various mental health initiatives, but we at the Voice are unconvinced they have the ability to make significant progress on this front. When asked, their solution to pushing the administration towards positive change was to avoid pushing them at all, and instead to work around them whenever possible. Though seeking to avoid the all but inevitable bureaucracy that comes with working with Georgetown’s administration is an excellent idea in theory, the changes we would like to see GUSA pursue cannot be realistically accomplished this way. The Voice wants to endorse candidates that will push administrators to hold them accountable to the GU272+ referendum, supporting students’ mental health, and treating workers fairly.
When asked about student groups that he reached out to, Woodall identified two people of color with whom he had happened to interact with but admitted he wasn’t completely sure to which affinity groups one of them belonged. He then added that “as a cis straight white man, this [wasn’t] really [his] comfort territory.” We agree. His promises to listen to the student body were betrayed by his manifest ignorance of its diversity and the specific concerns of students of marginalized identities. Egregiously, in response to the Voice’s question on how his campaign planned to support the GU272+, Woodall commented that he “cringes” at the continued legacy of slavery. We cringed even harder at his suggestions: Not only did he initially dodge the topic, he also argued that GUSA should be the main advocacy group pushing for reparations, seemingly oblivious to the existence of critical activism by Hoyas Advocating for Slavery Accountability, its predecessors, or the descendant voices themselves over the past few years beyond GUSA’s hallowed chambers.
While we like Woodall/Caraiani’s commitment to routing funds away from GUSA’s administrative expenses and towards more progressive causes, their methods for doing so are suspect and their goals for the money do not inspire confidence. None of this year’s tickets live up to what we would like to see from a GUSA executive, but we in particular cannot endorse a campaign with such a dearth of meaningful policy goals.
The GUSA we wanted (and deserved)
None of these campaigns are the progressive tickets we’d like to see in our GUSA executive. Last year, when write-in candidates Marcella Wiggan (COL ’23) and Otice Carder (COL ’23) (“MO”) joined the race at the last minute, they reached out to Asian American Student Association (AASA), Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlán (MEChA), GU Pride, and the GU Coalition for Workers’ Rights in just 24 hours. They demonstrated humility in the recognition that they didn’t have all the answers—especially for affinity groups or activism organizations they were not a part of—which they expressed by actually engaging student groups in a formal capacity. They didn’t just reference individuals they had connections with in different clubs, as seems to have become the norm in this year’s tickets. This model was still imperfect—Wiggan and Carder lacked substantial experience actually organizing alongside these groups, and were nowhere near as plugged in as Nile Blass (COL ’22) and Nicole Sanchez (SFS ’22) were the year before. Even so, when comparing MO to this year’s campaigns, it is hard not to miss this past precedent of dedication to actually working with Georgetown’s student communities.
We find it hard to endorse any of these tickets ourselves without seeing evidence they’ve actually taken steps to get the support of the marginalized groups they claim to advocate for. We hope future GUSA executive tickets will take the responsibility of GUSA seriously and avoid tokenizing communities on campus, instead spending the time, effort, and hard work it takes to actually do advocacy. Mere face-to-face relationships with a few members of organizations aren’t enough to legitimate real working ties. And improving GUSA’s accessibility and transparency has come up on almost every ticket we’ve seen over the years: It’s time to be innovative and self-reflective about what that means, especially when all three tickets this year involve GUSA insiders.
Despite all this, one of these campaigns is going to win, and we think that the Vincent/Hirai ticket has the best chance of running a functional GUSA. Vote for Vincent/Hirai.