It’s all coming back to me now. For two years, I have tried hard to put the 2004 GUSA presidential election – and the very public controversy surrounding it – behind me.
The disputed results of last week’s election, however, combined with some good old-fashioned senioritis, have led me to some cleansing and final introspection on what occurred two years ago.
And now it’s time to share my thoughts.
The long version of what happened is too drawn out to be printed here, but Google my name and you’ll get an idea. The medium-length version is that Eric Lashner (COL ’05) and I received 99 fewer votes than Kelley Hampton (SFS ’05) and Luis Torres (COL ’05) on Feb. 10, 2004. Due to some campaign rules violations, Kelley and Luis were disqualified on Election Day, making the runners-up (us!) the de facto winners.
Over the next two months, appeals and counter-appeals occurred, leading to a revolving door of temporary presidencies.
Eventually, Kelley and Luis prevailed, officially un-disqualified by the three-person Constitutional Council. With rumors of secret societies, secret deals and very public frustrations from both sides, Kelley and Luis attempted to do the job they were elected to do.
But to properly understand the situation, only one thing really needs to be known: We killed GUSA. On Feb. 10, 2004 – the first time Kelley and Luis were disqualified – GUSA died, and it will never be the same again. “The Pawprint” couldn’t save it, Millennium Development Goals couldn’t save it, and a movie certainly won’t either.
Even the new Hoya Court, for which Eamonn Carr (COL ’06), the GUSA housing and facilities secretary, and Associate Vice President of Auxiliary Services Margie Bryant deserve recognition, was only peripherally related to GUSA. The seeds of a better Hoya Court were planted long before Pravin Rajan’s (SFS ’07) presidency; it took Carr caring enough to see it to fruition to make it happen.
As an institution, GUSA has little or no real power anymore, and that’s a good thing. During the spring of 2005, the Lecture Fund officially separated itself from the student association. Around the same time, the Student Activities Commission and the Senior Class Committee cut off all but figurehead ties.
The student body has realized that being a leader on campus is no longer synonymous with being involved with GUSA, and this is great for the university.
SAC is stronger, the class committees are stronger and new clubs have emerged that are reaching totally different parts of campus life. Our student association would make those at other schools laugh. I think that GUSA could fold altogether and the average student would not see any change.
But we’re better than those laughing schools. We have leaders here at Georgetown, real and caring leaders. The fact that they do not all get channeled into GUSA makes me proud to be a part of something bigger than student government.
Look at the new Hoya Blue, look at the Corp – where I’ve found a home for my post-GUSA involvement.
Look at GUASFCU, GERMS, GUGS, and hundreds of other acronyms, and you’ll see leaders who serve the student body, making the Hilltop better without ever putting their name on a ballot.
Twister Murchison (SFS ’08) is a friend of mine. I met him through Leadership and Beyond, the same pre-orientation program through which I met Eric Lashner, Kelley Hampton and Luis Torres.
Had I been GUSA president in the fall of 2004, Twister is somebody I almost certainly would have pulled into the fold.
As it turns out, I didn’t have to, because Twister loves student government for student government’s sake, so he sought out GUSA. I think he could be a great president, because he doesn’t see the presidency as an end. He sees it as a means, even if the strength of that means is much weaker than it used to be.
But if the Hibri-Greene disqualification doesn’t stick, Twister shouldn’t worry, because not being GUSA president could be the greatest blessing of his Georgetown life. It has been in mine.
Adam Giblin is a senior in the School of Foreign Service, a member of the GUSA Election Commission and a member of the Board of Directors of THE HOYA.