Students voted to elect 12 senators to the Georgetown University Student Association senate Sept. 26 with platforms centered on improving facilities and providing more resources for survivors of sexual assault.
The election filled seven freshman seats and four at-large seats, available for students from all years, as well as a seat left vacant for the Class of 2020 by the resignation of Matthew Buckwald (COL ’20) on Aug. 30 amid his accumulation of three unexcused absences.
The new freshman senators include Leo Rassieur (COL ’23), Eric Bazail Eimil (SFS ’23), Zumanah Mahmud (MSB ’23), Eric Lipka (COL ’23), Zach Volpe (SFS ’23), Zahra Wakilzada (COL ’23) and Eddie Galvan (MSB ’23). Alexandra Mucher (COL ’22), Henry Dai (SFS ’22), Chris Ziac (COL ’22) and Charlie Wang (SFS ’22) won the four at-large senate seats, and Juliana Arias (SFS ’20) ran unopposed and won the vacant seat for the Class of 2020.
While the list of candidates released last week was mostly comprised of male students, many female students successfully petitioned to join the ballot late last week. Although last year’s freshman class did not elect any female senators, the Class of 2023 elected both Mahmud and Wakilzada this year.
Overall voter turnout for this year’s election was 19.2%, according to the GUSA election commission’s Twitter account. Turnout was low at the beginning of the polling period, with only 14% participation at the halfway mark. At the close of the polls, turnout for the freshman class elections was 40.5% while turnout was 12.5% for the at-large seats and 8% for the senior seat, according to Justin Rich (SFS ’22), chair of the GUSA election commission.
Turnout for this year’s election marks a decrease in participation compared to last year’s fall election, which saw an overall turnout of 21%. The turnout percentage continues a downward trend in turnout since the fall 2017 elections, during which turnout reached a historic high of 30%.
As senator, Eimil hopes to focus on improving sustainable infrastructure, enhancing disability access and increasing resources for sexual assault survivors, he wrote in an email to The Hoya.
The diversity of the freshman class of senators this year will enable the legislative body to better serve the student body, according to newly elected Eimil.
“We have one of the most diverse slates of senators in history, representing so many communities on campus and so many perspectives, and I hope this enables us to advance real progressive changes,” Eimil wrote.
Wang, one of the newly elected at-large senators, is optimistic that important dialogues held throughout the election process will continue in the senate, he wrote in an email to The Hoya.
“I ran on the platform of initiating more dialogues between organizations and groups with different opinions, and I hope GUSA senate will be the platform and the initiator for more dialogues and conversations,” Wang wrote. “I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to serve the student body. I will not let the student body down, and I will fight for making their lives better on and off campus.”
The election process ran smoothly and was easy to navigate according to many senators, including Ziac, who is aiming to improve facilities and federal work study programs with his at-large senate seat.
“Throughout the whole campaign I felt the process was very smooth and accessible,” he wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Wednesday’s election comes after a candidate town hall on Monday, at which 26 of the 28 prospective senators shared their vision for the Georgetown community and took questions from voters.
Lipka, one of the new freshman senators, expressed wariness of the senate’s ability to enact significant measures for the student body; however, she emphasized the possibility to overcome that wariness through cooperation.
“It’s clear that GUSA is flawed to say the least, but I believe through cooperation and diligence, we can move forward and improve our Georgetown community one small step at a time,” Lipka wrote in an email to The Hoya, “I look forward to working with the current administration to advance the rights of all members of our community and hopefully restore trust in our governing institutions here on campus.”
Hoya Staff Writer Riley Rogerson contributed to this reporting.