In a campaign season marked by mediocrity and similarity, only one ticket rises above the pack with a demonstrated grasp of the issues facing Georgetown students and an ability to include minority voices.
All four tickets competing for executive positions in the Georgetown University Student Association are running on platforms that have flaws that must be addressed if they are to effectively serve the student body. Still, only one ticket has shown the competence to truly address its shortcomings. This ability, combined with their detailed policy platform and a willingness to work with students from every corner of Georgetown, make Josh Sirois (SFS ’20) and Casey Doherty (COL ’20) students’ best choice on the ballot Feb. 22.
In a field of mediocre opponents, Sirois and Doherty stand out. They have proposed policies that will benefit often-ignored communities at Georgetown. Sirois’ plan to put a wheelchair-accessible entrance on the first floor of Lauinger Library is an actionable, common-sense idea that would measurably improve accessibility on campus.
Sirois and Doherty have already proposed realistic ways to make Georgetown more affordable. Their proposal to create an online textbook hub for students to buy and sell textbooks with their peers has potential, if the candidates are able to mobilize the student body behind their cause.
Sirois and Doherty have faced numerous criticisms for running as sophomores. However, they have proven to be more qualified and prepared than their opponents. Their track record — Sirois has been a senator since his first term at Georgetown, while Doherty has served on GUSA’s Federal and D.C. Relations committee — shows they are able to effectively represent the entire student body.
The principle of empowering the voices of marginalized students strengthens Sirois and Doherty in comparison to the only other ticket with a detail- and policy-oriented campaign: Hunter Estes (SFS ’19) and Richard Howell (SFS ’19).
Estes and Howell have distinguished themselves from the pack by emphasizing a schoolwide commitment to service. Many of their community-driven policies, such as a mandatory service day for all groups recognized by the Student Activities Commission, should be seriously considered by the eventual winners, whomever they may be. Other ideas, such as a tuition freeze policy, in which a student’s tuition would remain the same throughout their years at Georgetown, demonstrate a genuine, but naive, desire to make Georgetown affordable.
However, the GUSA executive’s most important role is to represent and work with all students. While Estes and Howell claim they will cultivate a welcoming Georgetown community, Estes’ actions as a GUSA senator indicate his inability and seeming unwillingness to include all students.
While serving as a GUSA senator in January, Estes was the only senator to vote against Resolution Number 1-29-17-3, according to GUSA senate records. The resolution condemned President Donald Trump’s travel ban against seven Muslim-majority countries and urged the university to provide resources to community members “affected adversely by this Order.”
When asked in an interview with The Hoya how he would reconcile his voting record with his professed desire to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all Hoyas, Estes claimed he did not recall the bill regarding the travel ban. In a subsequent email to The Hoya, Estes clarified that his problem with the resolution “was not its support for community members, but [Estes] found that the wording of part of the resolution mischaracterized the nature of American defense policy.”
Estes was also the sole vote in opposition to an April 2017 GUSA senate resolution that showed support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and students who would be affected by its termination, according to GUSA senate voting records and three then-senators. DACA is an administrative program established by former President Barack Obama that provided work authorization and legal protection to about 800,000 immigrants without documentation who were brought to the United States as children.
Estes’ advocacy for Georgetown’s LGBTQ community is also dubious, as represented by his support of Love Saxa, a pro-traditional marriage group that rejects LGBTQ relationships. Last semester, he served as the group’s vice president and advocated on its behalf in front of a Student Activities Commission hearing prompted by questions of Love Saxa’s intolerant views.
The detail-oriented and only nominally inclusive campaign run by Estes and Howell has found its polar opposite in the ticket of Sahil Nair (SFS ’19) and Naba Rahman (SFS ’19).
Nair and Rahman are strong, intelligent campus leaders whose campaign centers on a vision for a more approachable and inclusive GUSA. However, that sentiment seems to be the extent of their platform’s specificity.
Holding this year’s truest claim to the coveted moniker of “outsider ticket,” Nair and Rahman have adamantly advocated for a GUSA that works with various campus stakeholders. In stark contrast to Estes and Howell, they could effectively incorporate the desires of underrepresented groups.
By contrast, Nair and Rahman have only a surface-level understanding of university policy processes and lack meaningful relationships with any relevant university administrators — facts raised by the candidates in an interview with The Hoya. Past administrations have proven that these two qualities are crucial to the success of an executive’s policy agenda.
Conversely, Sirois has two years of concrete policy experience within GUSA, and Doherty demonstrated a complete understanding of a comprehensive platform that addresses accessibility, sexual health and affordability in an interview with The Hoya.
This critique of Nair and Rahman is not delivered strictly due to the candidates’ status as GUSA outsiders — outsiders can deliver new, creative perspectives. However, Nair and Rahman’s platform promotes a continuation of status quo accountability and inclusion policies, devoid of fresh proposals. Under their website heading “This is Our Vision,” they write, “everyone has their own definition of what it means to achieve.”
However, their platform hardly indicates how they plan to catalyze the achievement of others.
Sirois and Doherty have been far more clear on their priorities; they have also demonstrated a commitment to approach their work with purpose and sincerity.
The ticket of Logan Arkema (COL ’20) and Jonathan Compo (COL ’20), on the other hand, is best known for its commitment to carrying out GUSA duties as Batman and Robin.
Arkema currently serves as an elected GUSA senator, representing West Campus as the Dark Knight. In this capacity, he has worked effectively with his colleagues on several policy priorities, most notably workers’ rights. His platform, which he presented to The Hoya as a “Victory Contingency Plan,” also addresses affordability, specifically calling for reform in the area of textbook costs.
Yet, Arkema noted his goal was not to win, but rather to “highlight common shortcomings among the more ‘serious’ campaigns, and push them to address those shortcomings.” Arkema and Compo’s intentions are largely good, though their satirical approach to campaigning is a legitimate reason for concern.
GUSA is a necessary tool for advancing the interests of students; it requires leaders who are prepared to seriously consider those interests upon entering the office. Arkema is not fully prepared to recognize the necessary limits of well-executed satire – when asked if he would use the Batman voice to address the community regarding issues like hate crime against students, he was indecisive. While Arkema has demonstrated some capacity to govern, he does not take the job of GUSA executive seriously enough to merit votes.
If Sirois and Doherty incorporate some of Estes and Howell’s ideas while organizing around Nair and Rahman’s driving force of inclusivity, they have an opportunity to bring substantial, positive change to Georgetown. For their sufficient preparation for the job, their forward-looking solutions and their sincere desire to represent all communities at Georgetown, this editorial board endorses Sirois and Doherty for the positions of GUSA president and vice president. They are the best choice students have.
The Hoya’s editorial board is composed of six students and is chaired by the Opinion Editor. Editorials reflect only the beliefs of a majority of the board and are not representative of The Hoya or any individual member of the board.