The Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA) will hold a special executive election for the positions of president and vice president Oct. 19 to Oct. 20 after the GUSA Senate failed to certify the results of last week’s election.
At its Oct. 8 meeting, the GUSA Senate did not certify the Jaden Cobb (CAS ’25)-Sanaa Mehta (SFS ’25) campaign’s win amid allegations that the Cobb-Mehta campaign broke GUSA election bylaws by improperly tabling on election day and reportedly bullying and harassing other campaigns. Cobb and Mehta confirmed to The Hoya that they will run again in the special election.
Full disclosure: Sanaa Mehta previously served as a columnist for The Hoya’s Opinion section in spring 2023.
The unprecedented special election comes after the GUSA Senate could not reach the two-thirds majority of the full senate, or 15 votes, to certify the executive election, which GUSA’s bylaws mandate. With three of the 22 senators abstaining, two absent, and six voting against certification, the motion to certify failed 11 to six.
The senators voting not to certify were Meriam Ahmad (SFS ’26), Manahal Fazal (SFS ’24), Yasin Khan (SFS ’26), Max Massick (CAS ’24 ), Jibril Syed (MSB ’24) and Sahar Wakilzada (SFS ’26). Fazal, the former speaker of the senate, finished her term as senator with the Oct. 8 meeting.
Ahmad and Khan said they voted against certification because they believed the response of the GUSA Election Commission, which oversees GUSA elections, to Cobb and Mehta’s improper tabling constituted a procedural error.
“The GUSA by-laws state, ‘The Senate shall vote to deny certification only if it believes there were serious procedural or technical errors in the implementation of the election.’ I myself voted accordingly,” Khan wrote to The Hoya.
Fazal said she also voted not to certify based on the technicality.
“Because of that technical error, it was unfair for the other two campaigns. Do I believe that would have changed the results? Probably not, but it was unfair, and I think because of that, I did vote no to certify,” Fazal told The Hoya.
Ahmad said she intends to propose a change to the bylaws to prevent future decertifications.
“I am focusing on what I can do to make sure this situation does not happen again,” Ahmad wrote to The Hoya. “This will include proposing to the Senate that we amend the bylaws to clarify the campaign regulations and that we revisit the threshold of Senate election certification.”
Syed and Massick declined to comment, while Wakilzada did not respond to requests for comment.
The GUSA Election Commission found that Cobb and Mehta violated GUSA bylaw 16.04, which states that candidates cannot create voting stations with electronic devices on election days.
The Election Commission presented photos and videos at the senate meeting, which showed Cobb and other students tabling with flyers and electronic devices present on an election day. They found Cobb and Mehta in violation of the bylaws for four hours between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Oct 6.
Cobb and Mehta rejected the allegations of breaking election rules and said they did not bully or harass any of their opponents.
Cobb said the alleged tabling violation with voting stations was merely campaign volunteers doing homework while running a Cobb-Mehta meet-and-greet.
“The bylaw doesn’t say, ‘technology present.’ It just says you may not set up a voting station with electronic devices. In our minds, because nobody was actually voting at our table with the electronics, we believe that it wasn’t a voting station,” Cobb said at an Oct. 10 press conference. “We had people volunteer, because this was a coalition of people from all different parts of campus wanting to help. So we had them, and they were just doing homework because we’re in the middle of midterms.”
“Tabling was a normal thing. ‘Voting station’ implies people are voting at the station, and there’s no evidence that that happened,” Cobb added.
Other campaigns also accused Cobb and Mehta of bullying other tickets, particularly the Axel Abrica (CAS ’25)-Sebastian Cardena (CAS ’26) ticket, which both Cobb and Mehta denied.
“Saying the Abrica ticket had no chance of winning, I did not say that, and that they looked stupid doing tabling sessions because they had no shot of winning, also did not say that,” Cobb said. “I was scared of them, because they were walking around in a shark costume, people know them.”
Mehta said she does not believe Cobb is capable of the alleged bullying of Abrica and Cardena.
“I’ve worked with Jaden, I’ve literally seen Jaden every single day for the last two weeks,” Mehta added at the press conference. “Jaden does not talk like that.”
Mehta said the decertification wasted students’ and student organizations’ time.
“We feel sorry, because we wasted important organizations’ and people’s time to work on endorsing us and sit down and read through policy with us,” Mehta said. “We wasted all of their time just for it to get decertified and all of these rumors and important topics to be misconstrued and discussed.”
Cobb said the senate’s decision to decertify the election went against the wishes of the 827 students who voted for him and Mehta in the original election.
“Georgetown University Student Association is for the students and supposed to be by the students, and that’s one of the things that we wanted to bring back to GUSA,” Cobb said. “What the GUSA Senate showed us — well, six people, I’m gonna be honest, six people showed us — was that it’s not for the students right now, and it’s not by the students, and it’s very disheartening to see that six people’s votes can outweigh 827 people’s votes.”