The Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA) Senate voted to certify the spring 2022 GUSA executive election results after over two hours of debate regarding alleged campaign violations.
At 3:30 a.m. on Feb. 13, the GUSA Election Commission (EC) announced that Kole Wolfe (SFS ’24) and Zeke Ume-Ukeje (COL ’24) won the 2022 GUSA executive election. At a GUSA Senate meeting 12 hours later, the EC recommended the senate vote to not certify the election, alleging the Wolfe-Ume ticket committed campaign violations, including bribing students with alcohol for votes. Despite the accusations, the GUSA Senate ultimately voted to certify the results of the executive election by a vote of 21 in favor, 3 against and 1 abstaining.
[Full Disclosure: Wolfe is a former Hoya staffer.]
At the meeting, the EC recommended the senate vote against certifying the election results, alleging the Wolfe-Ume ticket offered students alcohol in exchange for their vote in the election.
To substantiate their claim, the EC presented a screenshot of an email they received from a ProtonMail email address — which provides end-to-end encryption — that claimed Wolfe and Ume-Ukeje offered alcohol for votes. The name Carlton Zumm appeared in the account. A student named Carlton zum Brunnen (SFS ’24), who was contacted by the EC to determine if there was any relation, denied sending the emails. The EC said they suspected that an untraceable individual was impersonating Brunnen.
Additionally, the EC provided a screenshot of an email they received from Otice Carder (COL ’23), a write-in candidate for GUSA vice presidency, who claimed he and Wiggan heard multiple students say that Wolfe and Ume-Ukeje offered them beer in exchange for votes.
[Full disclosure: Carder is a former Hoya staffer.]
GUSA Election Commissioner Owen Posnett (COL ’24) said he could not recommend the senate certify the results in light of the allegations against Wolfe and Ume-Ukeje.
“A lot of things are not adding up and we have a lot of questions about how this election possibly could go. The benefit of the doubt is no longer viable. And this recommendation against certification is maybe the only one of this that makes sense and that is very important,” Posnett said at the meeting.
Wolfe and Ume-Ukeje denied all claims that his campaign offered alcohol for votes.
“I would just like to say that the allegations pertaining to beers to put in the exchange for their votes is categorically false,” Wolfe said at the meeting.
GUSA Senator Manahal Fazal (SFS ’24) said she would not certify the election results due to concerns from some students that the new executive would decrease advocacy and support for marginalized communities.
“The people I represent don’t support such candidates and the presence of their supporters indicates the kind of space they will host in GUSA and it’s not going to be a proper working and advocacy space, respectfully. I will not vote in favor for verifying this,” Fazal said at the meeting.
GUSA Senator Sanjana Ranganathan (SFS ’25) said the senate cannot deny the certification over disagreement with the Wolfe-Ume platform.
“Our personal concerns about the ticket can impact whether we decide to certify an election. That’s not our job. Senators don’t get 500 or 600 times the voting power,” Ranganathan said at the meeting.
According to Ranganathan, who voted to certify, the senate should wait for more evidence before making a decision.
The Wolfe-Ume administration looks forward to serving the student body, according to Wolfe.
“We’d like to thank the EC for their work, and are relieved to see the democratic process fully play out,” Wolfe wrote to The Hoya. “We are excited to represent the student body and work to make Georgetown a better place.”
Wolfe and Ume-Ukeje, who have no prior GUSA experience, centered their campaign around increasing student participation in GUSA. Their policies included collaborating with the Georgetown Center for Social Justice to create more accessible campus clubs, providing grants for low-income students to purchase textbooks and laptops and pressuring the university to act on the GU272 referendum.
This year’s executive election cycle was marked by two defining characteristics: rank-choice voting and the new addition of a write-in option, which the EC announced on GUSA’s Instagram account in a Feb. 10 post. The rank-choice voting system allowed voters to rank three tickets, including a write-in option. The EC eliminated tickets with the lowest numbers of votes and transferred the vote to the next ranked option for 52 rounds. In the 50th round, Thomas Leonard (COL ’23)and Nirvana Khan (SFS ’24) were the last remaining ticket that could not meet the threshold of required votes and were eliminated. Therefore, Leonard-Khan first-choice voters’ second choice votes were redistributed in the 51st round. More votes were given to Wolfe-Ume, placing them over the Marcella Wiggan (COL ’23)-Carder ticket who were eliminated, leaving Wolfe-Ume to be the last ticket standing.
Carder said he hopes to continue the dialogue started by his campaign and that Wolfe and Ume-Ukeje understand the responsibility the executive office holds.
“We’re going to keep these important conversations going and hope the WUME ticket realizes how much harm they can do with such little knowledge of the university’s workings and seeming lack of care for issues affecting the most vulnerable communities on campus,” Carder wrote to The Hoya.
Leonard said he wishes GUSA well as he departs the organization.
“I wish GUSA all the best and am looking forward to better days for the student body,” Leonard wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Khan said the election results may erase the sentiment that GUSA does make a difference in students’ lives.
“If there’s one thing we hope comes out of the Wolfe-Ume administration, it’s an awareness of how much of an impact GUSA had on the student body during the time we’ve been in it — especially the most marginalized members of it, which means this impact hasn’t always been seen but it has surely been felt,” Khan wrote in an email to The Hoya.
This article was updated on Feb. 14 to clarify the ranked choice process of the executive election. This article was also updated on Feb. 15 to include a full disclosure that Carder is a Hoya staffer.