This February’s GUSA executive campaigns began with the typical policy debates and budget proposals, but 11th-hour disclosures of candidates’ involvement in secret societies brought chaos and controversy to the race, leading to a razor-close finish on election day.

The initial frontrunners were Jack Appelbaum (COL ’14) and Maggie Cleary (COL ’14), who had the endorsement of Georgetown University Student Association President Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) and Vice President Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13) along with the help of campaign manager and outgoing GUSA Chief of Staff Jake Sticka (COL ’13). A door-to-door survey of 800 students conducted Feb. 12 by The Hoya indicated that GUSA senate Speaker Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) and Adam Ramadan (SFS ’14) were running neck and neck with Appelbaum and Cleary, but an undecided plurality suggested the race was still up for grabs.

The campaign was proceeding calmly to the finish line when, with less than 24 hours before voting began Feb. 20, the anonymous Facebook page “StewardThroat Hoya” offered evidence indicating Appelbaum and Sticka were members of the Second Society of Stewards.

The membership disclosure, confirmed by Appelbaum and Sticka that evening, prompted the ticket of Shavonnia Corbin Johnson (SFS ’14) and Joe Vandegriff (COL ’14) to withdraw its cross-endorsement of Appelbaum and Cleary, citing concerns over transparency.

The news added to earlier complaints of the close interaction between the GUSA administration and the Appelbaum and Cleary ticket, which were voiced after the official GUSA Twitter account sent a message meant to be sent from the Appelbaum campaign account during the presidential debate Feb. 18. The campaign consistently defended the nature of its relationship with current GUSA officials.

Meanwhile, Ramadan was forced to retract an earlier statement denying membership in a secret society after numerous online commenters alleged that he was a member. Ramadan admitted to membership in a society unaffiliated with the Stewards. 

The election featured record turnout, and Appelbaum and Cleary maintained a narrow lead in the first three rounds of instant runoff voting, but Tisa and Ramadan pulled ahead by just 92 votes in the fourth round after Corbin Johnson and Vandegriff’s second-place votes were distributed.

Appelbaum said afterward that he did not believe the Stewards information changed the outcome of the election. The identity of StewardThroat Hoya was never confirmed.

Tisa and Ramadan were sworn into office March 16They recruited Appelbaum, Corbin Johnson and presidential candidate Spencer Walsh (MSB ’14) to join their administration as director of student space, director of group outreach and director of technology, respectively.

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