Meet the candidates: GUSA Executive

October 4, 2023

It is the time of year for Hoyas to exercise their voting rights as another cycle of GUSA elections approaches. This year, three candidates have entered the bid for GUSA’s Executive. Polls for the GUSA Executive elections open on Qualtrics on Thursday, Oct. 5, at 10 p.m. and close on Saturday, Oct. 7, at 10 p.m. Similar to years prior, the ballot will use a ranked-choice voting system that allows students to rank their candidate preferences.

This year, all three tickets include a previous GUSA representative with a non-GUSA running mate, and base their platforms on advocacy initiatives. All the tickets are notably more diverse than previous years, with all three tickets having at least one candidate in the Georgetown Scholars Program (GSP), which serves first-generation low-income (FGLI) students. The Voice sat down with each ticket to discuss their overall goals for their executive tenure, and the key points of their respective platforms.

Axel Abrica (CAS ’25) and Sebastian Cardena (CAS ’26)

As the “self-proclaimed people’s ticket,” the Abrica-Cardena ticket boasts a platform centered on advocacy work. Their campaign’s primary goal is to improve administrative support for the “most vulnerable communities” on campus by tackling key issues such as inaccessible infrastructure and reforming the bias reporting system.

Their platform extensively lays out policy suggestions to address a lack of campus support for women-identifying and queer students, as well as FGLI students. Cardena said their experience in labor organizing with the Coalition for Workers’ Rights would qualify them to continue advocacy work for workers’ rights.

Abrica, who previously served as GUSA’s Director of Financial Accessibility, emphasized his commitment to continuing efforts to reduce financial barriers for students from low-income backgrounds. As one of the co-founders of GUSA’s winter and summer bridge housing initiatives, Abrica shared that he hopes to further the scope of his work using GUSA’s executive resources.

One of the primary initiatives the Abrica-Cardena ticket proposed was a “participatory budget.” In essence, they want to dedicate $4,000 of their $10,000 semesterly executive budget to an accessibility development fund to help students afford accommodations. Upon assessing student needs through town halls and surveys, the remaining $6,000 would go to two student-sourced projects, like repairing the water damage in Village C West and refurbishing furniture in Lauinger Library.

Abrica and Cardena hope to build trust with the student body through transparency on several levels. With the pair touting a history in activism, they both hope to “bridge the gap” between GUSA and activist movements.

“We’re the ticket that hopes to bridge the divide between activists, students, and administrators on campus through a history of organizing, our dedication, and our detailed platform of advocacy for all students,” Cardena said. 

Jaden Cobb (CAS ’25) and Sanaa Mehta (SFS ’25)

According to Cobb and Mehta, their “ever-evolving” platform is open to continuous revision in response to the needs of the student body. Cobb, who previously served as GUSA’s Director of Inclusion and Equity, said that they don’t intend to speak for student groups on campus, but instead aim to provide a platform for the voices of vulnerable communities.

The Cobb-Mehta ticket boasts the highest number of official endorsements from campus organizations this election cycle, including Georgetown’s chapter of the NAACP, Hoyas Advocating for Slavery Accountability (HASA), Eritrean Ethiopian Student Association, Georgetown Black Student Alliance (BSA), South Asian Society (SAS), and The Blaxa. Cobb currently serves as the vice-president of BSA and is an active member of NAACP while Mehta is an active member in SAS.

The pair specifically address race and gender equity issues in their platform, including a commitment to advocate for gender-inclusive housing and non-binary restrooms in every building for gender nonconforming students, and keeping the administration accountable to fulfilling the demands proposed by LaHannah Giles (CAS ’23). They also promised to tackle broader student-body issues such as CAPS accessibility and the current restrictive meal plans available for students.

Cobb and Mehta highlighted their intentions to combat a lack of diversity in spaces like GUSA.

“GUSA was built for students with a white savior complex. GUSA isn’t for us, but we plan to change that,” Cobb said at the GUSA town hall on Sept. 28. “We want to build a GUSA that is for the students, by the students.”

The pair’s platform extensively addresses issues facing affinity groups across campus like access to diverse and impactful medical and mental health resources, including BIPOC and queer students who, according to Cobb, were integral in crafting the language surrounding these specific policies.

Cobb and Mehta shared that they hope to continue the work of their predecessors Nile Blass (COL ’22) and Nicole Sanchez (SFS ’23) by restructuring the GUSA administration in a more horizontal structure so less power is concentrated in the executive, to more evenly distribute power and responsibility. A horizontally integrated GUSA administration is a goal for all candidates this semester. The Cobb-Mehta ticket’s vision would phase out the Senate, form direct communication channels between the administration and project leads, and potentially restart the abolish GUSA referendum

Saatvik Sunkavalli (SFS ’25) and Andrea Li (SFS ’26)

The Sunkavalli-Li ticket is a balance of Sunkavalli’s two years of GUSA experience as a Senator with Li’s fresh perspective as a GUSA outsider. The pair has marketed their campaign as the choice for “common-sense solutions with tangible impact.”

“Our platform is built on actionable things we can accomplish in the next year,” Sunkavalli said.

In their platform, Sunkavalli and Li prioritized logistical changes in response to popular student complaints, like reforming the meal plan and extending GUTS bus hours during weekends. Emphasizing a practical and realistic approach, the pair shared that they would hold the administration accountable to realize the changes outlined in their platform. 

The Sunkavalli-Li platform currently doesn’t directly tackle issues facing marginalized communities on campus, but instead takes broader strokes at issues facing the entire student body. For instance, they hope to reinstate the CAPS liaison to GUSA and to expand travel options beyond the vans currently owned by the Center for Social Justice.

Like Cobb, Sunkavalli believes that GUSA has to undergo structural changes to do its job.

“We think that GUSA as an institution does not effectively carry out its mission statement,” Sunkavalli said at the GUSA town hall.

Sunkavalli has a more modest vision for integrating GUSA horizontally—one that “strengthens the constitution so that there is more explicit responsibility for department chairs.” In doing so, he hopes that passionate students would be able to participate more fully in GUSA.

Editor’s Note: Sebastian Cardena has attended meetings and contributed to reporting for the Voice.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect that voting will take place on Qualtrics, not CampusGroups.

Ajani Jones
Ajani is a junior in the college majoring in linguistics. He is the Editor-in-Chief. He is also really, REALLY excited for the Percy Jackson TV show and will not shut up about it (still won't).

More: , ,

Read More

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments