When Alex Bobroske (SFS ’17) arrived on the Hilltop in the fall of 2013, the Georgetown University Student Association was not on his radar. He did not run for senate, join any committees or throw himself into campus activism.
Now — a little under 21/2 later — Bobroske manages what many believe to be the largest GUSA campaign in Georgetown history. There are more than 200 active supporters, a massive core leadership team and audacious goals for restructuring GUSA itself.
As the only other ticket has dropped out of the race and the Enushe Khan (MSB ’17) and Chris Fisk (COL ’17) ticket starts to take on a feeling of inevitability, a look at Bobroske and his fellow staffers reveals just how different this campaign is from the traditional GUSA model.
Bobroske worked on his first GUSA campaign the second semester of his freshman year, helping to do field work in freshman dorms. In the meantime, he joined the Georgetown Gospel Choir, wrote for the Georgetown College Republicans’ online publication, The Right Way, and got involved with the Step Team.
Eventually, then-GUSA senate Vice President Abbey McNaughton (COL ’16) asked Bobroske to help with the senate’s redistricting in spring of 2015, hoping his leadership on other campus clubs would translate well to a role in GUSA.
It was in his new role with the senate that Bobroske met Khan and the two formed a tight bond.
“We default became friends because Abbey McNaughton paired us together in this forced marriage,” Bobroske joked.
In the fall of this year, Enushe and Chris began to seriously consider a run for GUSA executives. They quickly reached out to Bobroske.
“They brought me in basically right away when they were having these discussions, and they told me if they did run, they’d want me to be their campaign manager,” Bobroske said.
In terms of GUSA campaigns, the Khan-Fisk ticket took what Bobroske considered a late start, which allowed the campaign’s current members to solidify their other roles and responsibilities on campus.
“We really started to reach out and get staff in December, which is a huge shift from previous years,” Bobroske said. “It just doesn’t make sense to focus on running a campaign instead of your commitments to your organizations for the fall.”
The Khan-Fisk campaign team credits much of their early outreach successes, particularly among freshmen, to their mentorship program. Every freshman that joined the campaign has been paired to an upperclassman with experience in a particular policy issue that interests them.
Co-director of Outreach Sam Granville (COL ’17) said she hopes the policy will increase student involvement both in the campaign and in GUSA itself after the election.
“It really encourages freshmen to get involved, because you don’t want to wait until junior year and then have a whole turnover of people in GUSA with the new administration. It’s better to build those relationships from the start,” Granville said.
The mentorship program correlates with the campaign’s larger theme of sustained involvement. With no officially competing tickets, the Khan-Fisk campaign hopes to raise student awareness about key policy issues, such as the planned restructuring of GUSA. By getting students interested and involved, Bobroske and the rest of the campaign team hope to springboard campaign excitement into real enthusiasm and interest in GUSA.
Co-field Director Thomas Massad (COL ’17) pointed out that many students’ interest in GUSA fades as the election season transitions into regular GUSA activity.
“One thing that happens with GUSA is we hear about it for a couple of weeks during the year and people generally just lose interest or don’t maintain that sort of passion for these topics,” Massad said.
The staff of the Khan-Fisk ticket sometimes refers to their group as a “team of rivals.” The expansive campaign infrastructure for the Khan-Fisk ticket springs from a conscious effort to consolidate campus leaders from different backgrounds and perspectives.
Three different 2015 campaigns are represented in the Khan-Fisk staff, a veritable coalition considering the six-ticket variety of last year’s race.
Bobroske said he believes the willingness of many campus leaders to recognize the benefits of a unified front in generating reform has helped strengthen the Khan-Fisk team and kept opposition to a minimum.
“So far we see this approach of collaboration rather than intense and toxic competition is much better for GUSA and for the campaign,” Bobroske said.
In addition to bringing on staffers from all parts of campus, Khan-Fisk reached out to dozens of field-level student volunteers in December and January. Bobroske estimates the total number of students involved in the campaign to be upwards of 200. When the campaign kicked off at midnight last Friday morning, more than 50 volunteers were on hand to help place a banner in Red Square.
Even Khan and Fisk’s biggest advocates on their own staff have been pleasantly surprised by the massive mobilization.
“I’m pretty stunned that we have success to the amount that we have a 200 hundred-person staff, that was never in my mindset, but we’re pretty excited that this many people are excited,” Bobroske said.
The top staffers on the Khan-Fisk ticket have high hopes for the future of the GUSA executive leaders next year, but for now they remain concentrated on next Thursday’s election. As for the potential for continued roles in GUSA for the Khan-Fisk staff next year, most remain up in the air.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Massad said.