Polls for the Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA) closed Oct. 7 at 10 p.m.
Twelve days later, there is still no GUSA president or vice president.
Following allegations of campaign fraud by candidates Jaden Cobb (CAS ’25) and Sanaa Mehta (SFS ’25) and a contentious vote not to certify the results of the first GUSA election Oct. 8, an unprecedented “special” election commenced tonight, Oct. 19, at 8 p.m. Cobb and Mehta have repeatedly denied they violated any campaign regulations.
The candidates are all familiar faces.
First, there is the Cobb-Mehta ticket. In the initial election, Cobb and Mehta collected 827 student votes, winning in a landslide, but their electoral joy was short-lived. Mere hours after the final tally was released, the election was invalidated by the GUSA Senate.
Full Disclosure: Sanaa Mehta previously served as a columnist for the Opinion section for The Hoya in spring 2023.
Next, the runners-up, Saatvik Sunkavalli (SFS ’25) and Andrea Li (SFS ’26), who together garnered 389 votes, have also put their names back on the ballot.
With trepidation, the Editorial Board chooses to re-endorse the Cobb-Mehta ticket due to its clear, extensive plans for office. However, the Board questions how seriously Cobb and Mehta consider the allegations brought against them and how sincerely they value GUSA’s electoral bylaws.
Just as in the first election, the Cobb-Mehta platform speaks for itself, with detailed plans addressing diversity, mental health and accessibility on campus. Their passion for serving the Georgetown community is evident.
“Because at the end of the day, I don’t care if we win, I don’t care if we lose, but I do care about the things that get done and our policy and helping those people because this policy wasn’t made by just us, it was made by the community, and I really want to see it get done,” Cobb said in an interview with The Hoya.
Despite the Editorial Board’s prior reservations, the Sunkavalli-Li ticket produced an impressive — albeit less comprehensive — plan for its administration. Sunkavalli and Li’s platform touches on similar issues to that of Cobb and Mehta, such as meal plan reform, financial accessibility initiatives and increased laundry funding.
Most notably, Sunkavalli and Li promise to advocate for the restoration of access to Narcan — a treatment for opioid overdoses — in student dormitories. The Editorial Board encourages the campaign that wins to pursue this lifesaving initiative.
However, this “special” election has unfortunately become a statement on GUSA as an institution, not each ticket’s policy.
On Oct. 6, the second day of voting, the GUSA Election Commision (EC) sanctioned the Cobb-Mehta campaign for violating GUSA bylaw 16.04, which prohibits the establishment of electronic voting stations. Members of the EC repeatedly warned the Cobb-Mehta team to put away their electronics, both in person and in emails that were obtained by The Hoya.
In addition, the campaign of Axel Abrica (CAS ’25) and Sebastian Cardena (CAS ’26), which finished third and decided not to run a second time, accused the Cobb-Mehta campaign of harassment and bullying. Cobb and Mehta have denied these allegations on multiple occasions.
The Editorial Board was disappointed by Cobb and Mehta’s dismissive attitude toward both the bylaw violation and harassment allegations.
“I’m sure if we asked a lot of [the senators] what were the reasons or evidence or like proof or what’s the basis for even a conversation on disqualification, really nothing would come up other than, like, oh there’s some laptops in the picture,” Mehta said to The Hoya.
Regardless, the team was asked to put the devices away, and they failed to comply.
When presented with these violations, despite Cobb and Mehta’s later rebuttal, the GUSA Senate chose not to certify the election, sparking controversy and a mockery of Georgetown’s student government on campus and online.
The Sunkavalli-Li ticket, although not present when the alleged harassment incidents took place, condemned how tense the election became on social media.
“The decertification is its own thing, but the rhetoric after it is something that just has not been addressed by really anyone. There are specific supporters that have attacked me on Instagram stories and such like that, and it is misinformation,” Sunkavalli said in an interview with The Hoya.
Despite being at the center of the issue — and reluctant to admit any wrongdoing — Cobb and Mehta also felt the toll of this ongoing drama.
“We made a rule where we don’t talk about the election for 48 hours,” Mehta said.
“Because it was a lot, and we’re two people out there who value our mental health,” Cobb added.
The vitriol inspired by this election is unacceptable and was largely preventable.
Much of this year’s theatrics stem from the EC’s miscommunication regarding the enforcement of GUSA bylaws. However, easing campaign regulations is not the solution to this year’s dysfunction, contrary to what Cobb and Mehta recommended.
“The bylaws, first and foremost, have to be redone for more clarity with less nuance, and that’s one of the things that if we do win, that we’re going to redo, like we’re going to reword some stuff and make it more clear,” Cobb said.
The Editorial Board was disheartened to hear that the Cobb-Mehta ticket intends to rewrite the very rules that cost them the first election.
Instead of diminishing EC regulation, the Editorial Board recommends that the EC and GUSA more broadly increase transparency to return the focus of elections to policy and restore trust in student government.
In that light, the Editorial Board endorses Cobb and Mehta for their ambitious yet practical platform and commends Sunkavalli and Li for their faith in the electoral process.
Regardless of the victors, the Board urges students to get involved in student government and, most importantly, to vote.
Polls opened Thursday, Oct. 19, at 8 p.m. and will close Friday, Oct. 20, at 8 p.m.
The Hoya’s Editorial Board is composed of six students and is chaired by the opinion editors. 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.