The seven Georgetown University Student Association presidential tickets kicked off their campaigns Thursday at midnight, marking the start of what will be a two-week race.
This year’s field is almost entirely comprised of candidates with past GUSA experience; 10 of the 14 presidential and vice presidential candidates are members of the current senate or executive cabinet.
Several candidates plan to base their campaigns on the need for better engagement between GUSA and the student body.
“We think that outreach and GUSA as an institution need to be flipped inside out, and we need to be going out into the community instead of expecting the community to come to us,” GUSA Director of Special Projects Tyler Sax (COL ’13), a presidential candidate, said.
Sax and his running mate Michael Crouch (MSB ‘13), current GUSA secretary of information and technology, have proposed an executive department designed to foster student outreach. If elected, they hope to build a cabinet made of representatives from student groups on campus.
Presidential candidate Senate Vice Speaker Nate Tisa (COL ’14) and vice presidential candidate and current senator and Finance and Appropriations Committee Vice Chair Sheila Walsh (COL ’14) hope to better represent the student body by promoting diversity both inside and outside of the student government. They are the only all-sophomore ticket.
“We had to be able to form [the campaign team] this year because if we waited in the wings until it was our turn next year, then … the problems with diversity, with structure of student government would perpetuate themselves further,” Tisa said.
GUSA senators Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) and Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13), who make up one ticket, praised the current executive administration for becoming more open to students than past administrations had been but said they believe that GUSA can still be more proactive in engaging with students.
“We want to actively reach out to students and get their opinions, find out their concerns and answer their questions,” Kohnert-Yount, who is running for vice president, said.
Current GUSA President Mike Meaney (SFS ’12) and Vice President Greg Laverriere (COL ’12) have spent the past few months trying to ensure that their initiatives, including the Student Advocacy Office and the 2012 Student Life Report, will continue with the next administration. Many of the candidates emphasized the importance of continuing and expanding upon these programs.
The ticket made up of GUSA Deputy Chief of Staff John Morris (COL ’13) and Lauren Weber (COL ’13), a member of The Hoya’s board of directors, hope to broaden the scope of the SAO, which counsels students accused of disciplinary violations and advises them on a number of issues they may face when dealing with the school administration.
Candidates have also proposed several new initiatives.
Colton Malkerson (COL ’13), GUSA senator and Finance and Appropriations Committee chair, and Maggie Cleary (COL ‘14), director of executive outreach, issued a 20-page agenda detailing proposals ranging from a Georgetown Zipcar fleet to increasing minors available across all of the undergraduate schools. They intend to hold themselves to these proposals by adding a Campaign Promise Tracker to the GUSA Website.
“Now the best way for GUSA to improve is to deliver on proposals that matter to students and actually get things done,” Malkerson, the presidential candidate, said.
GUSA Fund Chair Murphy Kate Delaney (COL ’13) and Michael Appau (COL ’13) plan to increase the number of ways that GUSA impacts the daily life of a student.
“We see that other student governments at other schools provide student services that GUSA doesn’t have an emphasis on,” Delaney, the presidential candidate, said.
GUSA senator Daniel LaMagna (COL ’13), who is running for president with Markel Starks (COL ’14) as his vice president, declined to comment on his ticket’s platform. Starks is the second men’s basketball player in two years to run for vice president; Henry Sims (COL ’12) ran last year.
The election will be held Feb. 23. It will be preceded by a presidential debate Feb. 12 and a vice presidential debate Feb. 14.
“Seeing the start of the campaign is a little bittersweet because Mike and I have enjoyed our time so much, but I look forward to the two people who will succeed us, and I hope it’s a well thought-out and well run campaign,” Laverriere said.