Georgetown University Student Association President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) and Vice President Adam Ramadan (SFS ’14) have decided to not officially endorse any of the candidate teams vying for executive office in the 2014 GUSA executive election. In a co-authored viewpoint published in The Hoya (“Why We Won’t Endorse A Candidate for GUSA,” A3, Feb. 21, 2014), the pair cited a desire not to sway public opinion as their rationale behind the decision to withhold support from any one ticket.
According to the viewpoint, the decision to back one team could potentially interfere with members of the student body trying to objectively determine who will best serve as campus leaders.
“Rather than instruct students on our personal opinion, we believe it is up to voters to decide which candidate’s priorities best match their own,” the executives wrote. “Each of the four tickets appearing on the ballot next Thursday has experience, vision and a proven dedication to service.”
Further, Tisa emphasized that regardless of the election’s outcome, all students will need to work together in order to achieve goals beneficial for the entire campus population.
“After the dust settles, it won’t be up to one candidate pair to make Georgetown a better place,” Tisa and Ramadan wrote. “It will be up to all of them — and, most importantly, it will be up to all of us as an engaged student body. The success of the future administration will depend not only on how they implement their platform, but also on how they work with their current competitors and future colleagues to advocate for students.”
Regardless of which candidate team wins the Feb. 27 election, they mentioned three areas they believed any future administration should prioritize: student advocacy and activism illustrated by the successful “One Georgetown, One Campus” initiative, the “What’s a Hoya?” program seeking to educate students about university values and opportunities and a continued emphasis on the prevention of sexual assault through new campus policies and continued discussion.
While the pair only publicly revealed their decision to not endorse Friday, some candidates, including presidential hopeful Thomas Lloyd (SFS ’15), had been aware of their mindset on this issue and agreed with this policy.
“We have known for some time that the current executive would not endorse anyone in the current race,” Lloyd said. “Even without any endorsement, we are confident that given our platform, along with our experience as student leaders, Nate and Adam would be happy with our ticket.”
During last year’s election, then-President Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) and Vice President Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13) chose to endorse Jack Appelbaum (COL ’14) and his running mate Maggie Cleary (COL ’14). According to Lloyd, Tisa did not completely approve of Gustafson’s decision to endorse a candidate, and his experience may have played a role in his choice not to endorse any pair in this year’s contest. Gustafson could not be reached for comment.
“When I worked for Nate on his last campaign, and worked with him during the year, it was made clear that Nate didn’t agree with Clara and Vail’s decision to endorse a ticket,” Lloyd said.
Fellow presidential candidate Ben Weiss (COL ’15), who worked with Tisa in the GUSA senate for two years, similarly approved of the decision to not endorse a ticket.
“I respect Nate’s decision not to endorse any candidate for executive office this election. He has close relationships with many people in the race, myself included, and I appreciate the fact that he recognizes that he has ties to multiple tickets and is staying out of the race,” Weiss said. “There was a lot of hoopla last year surrounding Clara and Vail’s decision to choose a ticket to support. My guess is that Nate didn’t want to replicate that this year. This completely leaves it up to the student body of Georgetown, which is how it should be.”
Candidate pair Trevor Tezel (SFS ’15) and Omika Jikaria (SFS ’15) also expressed respect for the endorsement decision.
“We respect the right of the GUSA executive to endorse or not to endorse as they see fit,” Tezel and Jikaria wrote in a joint campaign statement. Tezel currently serves as Tisa’s deputy chief of staff.
Vice presidential candidate Dan Silkman (COL ’15) chose not to comment on the motivations but offered support for whatever path the current executive chose to take.
“We have a lot of respect for Nate and Adam, and so whatever they choose to do is OK by us,” Silkman said.
Silkman’s running mate, presidential candidate Zach Singer (SFS ’15), serves as the executive’s chief of staff, and there were rumors that Tisa and Ramadan were considering Singer as their choice for an endorsement. However, Tisa maintains that personal relationships had no impact on his decisions regarding campus politics.
“Over the course of our term, we have worked with virtually all the candidates in this race,” Tisa told The Hoya. “Several of the candidates are personal friends, but we made it clear when they first got involved that we would not make an endorsement.”
In a written statement, Singer accepted Tisa and Ramadan’s decision.
“Dan and I respect all that Nate and Adam have done over the past year, and in the same vein we respect their decision not to endorse a ticket,” he wrote.
Ultimately, Tisa emphasized his goal of seeking to promote the interests of the entire university and student body, as well as to ensure that whoever ultimately wins the election is in the best possible position to succeed.
“We believe it hurts the institution when GUSA’s leadership focuses all its energy on developing one ticket rather than all those interested in serving,” Tisa said. “The success of the future administration will depend not only on how they implement their platform, but also on how they work with their current competitors and future colleagues to advocate for students.”