The Georgetown University Student Association Senate swore in its newest member, Julio Salmeron-Perla (SFS ’22), Feb. 9 after the former executive candidate and senator won a write-in election Feb. 6.
Salmeron-Perla will fill the vacant seat previously held by Zev Burton (SFS ’22), who resigned from his post Nov. 11 citing concerns surrounding institutional reform and GUSA culture. No student ran an official campaign for the empty seat, leaving room for a write-in candidate to win the election.
Salmeron-Perla previously served as a senator in the 2018-19 GUSA Senate and lost his reelection campaign in spring 2019. Salmeron-Perla had previously run for the position of GUSA president alongside his vice presidential candidate Gabby Elliott Brault (SFS ’21) after they petitioned to join the executive election ballot Jan. 24. However, Elliott Brault withdrew from the race Feb. 1 and Salmeron-Perla suspended his campaign two days later.
Salmeron-Perla expressed surprise at his recent senate win in an interview with The Hoya shortly after his confirmation.
“I feel a bit in awe because I wasn’t really campaigning for senate,” Salmeron-Perla said. “I guess after we withdrew from the executive race, some of my friends thought that I could still do some work in GUSA for the things that my campaign was for.”
During their executive election campaign, Salmeron-Perla and Elliott Brault emphasized the need for reform within GUSA. A large part of their platform involved implementing new policies on sexual misconduct, mental health resources and inclusivity. With a focus on helping survivors, Salmeron-Perla and Elliott Brault specifically wanted to increase trust in GUSA by providing students with a safe space and support from specially trained GUSA members who could assist survivors through the Title IX process.
The pair also pushed for more communication, transparency and efficiency within GUSA running with the slogan: “GUSA is broken, let’s fix it together.” Salmeron-Perla hopes to continue to promote his platform by collaborating with others in the senate, including Speaker Juan Martinez (SFS ’20), he said.
“I especially look forward to working with Speaker Juan on continuing to promote transparency in the senate and in the administration,” Salmeron-Perla said.
Salmeron-Perla will be up for reelection to join the 2020-21 GUSA Senate in April, according to Martinez. In the meantime, the speaker hopes to work with Salmeron-Perla on his proposals for the student body, he wrote in an email to The Hoya.
“I believe the 14th Senate would be willing to collaborate with Senator Julio Salmeron-Perla on his vision for GUSA,” Martinez wrote. “Unfortunately, the timeliness of this special Senate election means that Senator Salmeron-Perla will be up for re-election in April. Regardless, I welcome any and all legislation that he believes will work to benefit the student body.”
Since Salmeron-Perla enters the senate so late this academic year, he has limited options to join committees and less time to propose legislation, according to Policy and Advocacy Committee Chair Daniella Sanchez (COL ’22). Because Salmeron-Perla did not officially run for the senate seat and now has little time to enact policy, GUSA should rethink the purpose of some write-in elections, according to Sanchez.
“In the future, there is no need for write-in elections to be held if no one ran for the vacant position, especially considering there is such limited time in our terms,” Sanchez wrote in an email to The Hoya. “For now, we will continue our dedication to projects and advocating for the student body as effectively as possible regardless of the vacancies or elections.”
As a former GUSA senator during his freshman year, Salmeron-Perla has experience working with the senate and hopes to adjust to the changes that have been made in the past year, he said.
“I’ve been out of the senate for a year, and I’ve seen that there have been a lot of structural changes, so I’ve got to get myself acquainted with the different organisms in the senate and meet with the senators,” Salmeron-Perla said.
Two more senate seats remain vacant after the resignation of Alexandra Mucher (COL ’22) and Zumanah Mahmud (MSB ’23). The seats are set to be filled in a special election later this semester.
Hoya Staff Writer Jaime Moore-Carrillo contributed reporting.