The Georgetown University Student Association held special Senate elections Friday to fill six vacancies that included two seats in Village A, two in Freshman South, one in LXR and one off-campus.
According to election commissioner Graham Willard (SFS ’18), these vacancies are typical following the election of a new GUSA executive staff, as senators move to fill positions in the executive cabinet. Last week GUSA President Joe Luther (COL ’16) and Vice President Connor Rohan (COL ’16) appointed 67 students to their cabinet.
The Election Commission, which also includes Alden Fletcher (SFS ’17) and Pavan Rajgopal (SFS ’14), will host special elections whenever seats are open but said that this will be the only round of these elections this year.
Winners of the election include Mitchel Hochberg (SFS ’15) representing Off-Campus, Avi Rajender (COL ’15) representing LXR, Jessica Scoratow (SFS ’18) and Alex Potcovaru (SFS ’18) representing Freshman South and Alex Barnes (SFS ’16) and Kevin Wilson (MSB ’16) representing Village A.
Turnout was low in the election, which is typical in special elections.
144 students voted in Freshman South, 52 voted in Village A, 19 voted in LXR and 79 voted in Off-Campus. Candidates in the LXR and Off-Campus jurisdictions were uncontested.
Winners officially began their terms after the election results were posted and will serve in the Senate for the remainder of the academic year, throughout the summer and into the first few weeks of September before regularly scheduled fall Senate elections.
Hochberg, who is also involved with Alpha Epsilon Pi and WGTB Georgetown Radio, ran a humorous campaign “founded on no serious issues.”
“I ran unopposed, so winning was more of a relief than anything else,” Hochberg said. “It is still inspiring to know that my fellow students think that I am more qualified than Chicken Madness.”
Hochberg said that his goals are to win GUSA assassins and to have his picture taken with Joe Luther (COL ’16) and Rohan.
Rajender said that he will use his experiences as a resident assistant in LXR to better the Georgetown community.
“Georgetown has given me a lot, and I viewed this as my chance to give back with a positive impact before I leave in May,” Rajender said. “I look forward to converting my conversations with leaders of Residential Living and Student Life regarding the campus plan and construction projects to positive results on behalf of my fellow Hoyas.”
Rajender, who was also involved with Global Medical Brigades before going on to co-found the Hoya Water Brigades chapter this year, said that his time at Georgetown motivated him to serve in the GUSA Senate.
“I wanted to help ensure that future Hoyas can have as great an experience as I have had,” he said. “I’m very honored to receive this opportunity.”
Scoratow said that while she initially viewed GUSA as “an elitist organization,” she was motivated to run for a Senate position after working on Abbey McNaughton’s (COL ’16) GUSA presidential campaign.
“Abbey and Will [Simons (COL ’16)] taught me that GUSA truly does important work on campus and that it has the potential to do even more when motivated, excited people are involved,” Scoratow said. “I decided to run because I love Georgetown, and I think that I have the potential to make it even better.”
Scoratow also said that she is looking forward to getting involved with the campus plan process, ensuring access to benefits for underrepresented student groups, reforming mental health on-campus and increasing sexual assault awareness and prevention.
Scoratow, who volunteers at the Women’s Center on-campus, said that sexual assault issues are particularly important to her.
“While there are certainly some programs on campus related to sexual assault prevention, I think that we as a university could do a much better job,” Scoratow said. “GUSA has the potential to implement programs that could lead to a real decrease in sexual assault on our very own campus.”
Potcovaru, who is also the New South Hall council president, said that he ran for Senate to work on issues beyond the halls of the freshman dorm.
“When the two seats opened up, I saw it as a great opportunity to expand this advocacy outward and represent fellow Hoyas on a different level,” Potcoyaru said.
Potcovaru said that Senate redistricting, the Campus Plan and improving Leo’s are all areas of interest, as well as working with administration on issues regarding curriculum and class selection.
“I recognize that this is a brief term, but it’s still important,” Potcovaru said. “The issues worked on now in the closing of the year will still effect [Freshman South] just like everyone else, and it’s important they have an advocate.”
Like Scoratow, Barnes said that until recently he saw GUSA as an elitist institution that catered only to Georgetown students interested in future political careers.
He said that he was motivated to put his name on the ballot after seeing the “detrimental” effects of the widely criticized 2010 campus plan.
“I’ve come to see that GUSA does have the capacity to serve the student body in an advocacy role,” Barnes said. “Dodging fences to visit friends in Henle … motivated me to be a part of that effort to ensure students have more of a say in the development of our University than our neighbors do.”
Barnes also said that he credits his experiences with the Model United Nations team and the International Relations Club for helping him develop the skills he will utilize in the Senate. He is also a writer for the Caravel and serves as the alumni relations chair of the Delta Phi Epsilon Professional Foreign Service Fraternity.
Wilson said that his role as Student Activities Commission commissioner has given him a better understanding of Georgetown students and the passion they have for a wide range of issues and activities.
“I realized that my previous experience on campus and dedication to students’ rights at Georgetown put me in an excellent position to represent my fellow students in GUSA,” Wilson wrote in an email to The Hoya. “I hope to bring those connections with student groups to my work in the Senate.”
Like other election winners, Wilson wrote that advocating for students’ rights in respect to the campus plan is one of the most important issues, in addition to protecting free speech and expression.
“I feel honored that my fellow Village A residents chose to elect me, and I’m looking forward to serving them in the coming months,” Wilson wrote. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity of working with my fellow Hoyas.”