Enushe Khan (MSB ’17) and Chris Fisk (COL ’17) are leading the 2016 Georgetown University Student Association executive race with 25.5 percent of respondents selecting the Khan-Fisk ticket, according to a door-to-door poll conducted by The Hoya on Monday night.
Khan and Fisk are trailed by the write-in campaign of the Wisemiller’s Hot Chick and Chicken Madness sandwiches at 19.5 percent, followed by the write-in campaign of Reed Howard (SFS ’17) and Courtney Maduike (SFS ’17) at 6.2 percent. Howard and Maduike launched their ticket Monday evening with a social media campaign and informal town hall, approximately three hours before The Hoya conducted its poll.
The write-in campaign of Harsh Thakker (SFS ’18) and Anton Smaliak (SFS ’18) came last, with 1.3 percent of respondents selecting the Thakker-Smaliak ticket. Among all 599 respondents to The Hoya’s poll, 47 percent remain undecided. The 599 respondents surveyed consisted of 221 freshman, 177 sophomores, 146 juniors and 55 seniors.
Among the 299 out of 599 respondents who self-identified as ‘likely voters,’ the Khan-Fisk tickets performed noticeably better, with 38.5 percent of the vote. Out of likely voters, Hot Chick and Chicken Madness received 19.7 percent of the vote, followed by Howard and Maduike with 10 percent of the vote and the Thakker-Smaliak ticket with 0.7 percent of likely voters. As of press time, 31.1 percent of likely voters remain undecided.
“This reassures us that there are students who really believe in the vision that we are trying to work towards,” Khan said.
“It’s comforting to note that given the state of the race, it’s not promoting apathy but instead inspiring certain people to want to get involved,” Fisk said.
The students polled show a similar apathy toward GUSA as previous election cycles, with 6.6 percent citing GUSA as very relevant, 49.8 percent citing it as somewhat relevant, 29.6 percent citing it as not very relevant and 13.7 percent citing it as not relevant at all. In comparison, in 2015, 7.1 percent of student respondents cited GUSA as very relevant, 46.6 percent cited it as somewhat relevant, 31.4 percent cited it as not very relevant and 14.9 percent cited it as not relevant at all.
“I don’t really have a barometer for how that trend [on relevancy] is moving, but GUSA works on a lot of things behind the scenes, and not in the face of everyday students, so I’m not totally surprised to see some of those not very relevant numbers be that high,” GUSA President Joe Luther (COL ’16) said. “Ultimately, GUSA is advocacy on behalf of the student body and making sure students feel some sort of investment in the group will make it more successful.”
Student respondents exhibited a higher satisfaction rate with the administration of Luther and Connor Rohan (COL ’16) than the previous administration of Trevor Tezel (SFS ’15) and Omika Jikaria (SFS ’15), with 35.3 percent approving, 5 percent disapproving and 58.9 percent unsure, compared to 27.4 percent of respondents approving of the Tezel and Jikaria administration, 2.9 percent disapproving and 69.7 percent unsure.
I’m glad to see that the unsure rating has gone down. One of our biggest focuses this year is engaging people on what GUSA is doing, so people having an opinion is a good sign,” Luther said. “I’m glad that more people feel informed enough to make a decision about how they feel about what GUSA is up to.”
“I’m glad our approval ratings are better than George W. Bush’s at the end of his second term,” Luther said.
Campaign manager and translator for the write-in campaign of Hot Chick and Chicken Madness Anirudha Vaddadi (SFS ’16) expressed his excitement for the sandwiches’ results in The Hoya’s polling.
“We’re really excited that the Georgetown students know what we stand for and understand our tickets. We know that they’re hungry for change and we are looking forward to take first place this Thursday and bring about change in 15 to 20 minutes,“Vaddadi said. “It’s always good being in first place so we were hoping for that, but we know a campaign is a marathon not a sprint.”
According to GUSA Election Commissioner Alden Fletcher (SFS ’17), if the write-in campaign of Hot Chick and Chicken Madness won the election, a new election would have to be called.
“The senate has to vote and certify the election before any candidate can be sworn in. Section 13.414 of the bylaws states the senate votes to deny the certification, another election must be held no later than two weeks after the vote,” Fletcher said. “It’s my understanding that should that happen, we wouldn’t default to a second place candidate, but rather, we would hold another election very shortly after this one.”
The write-in campaign of Howard and Maduike, who are petitioning the GUSA Constitutional Council to be added to the official ballot, is optimistic it will continue to garner student support and gain traction leading up to the election Thursday.
“That sounds great actually seeing as though we started an hour and a half before you started polling,” Howard said. “People are just so willing to volunteer their time to help us which has been very cool and really humbling.”
The ticket of Thakker and Smaliak was unable to be reached for comment before press time.
In addition to metrics-based polling about GUSA, student respondents were asked to name what they believe is the most pressing issue facing Georgetown. The greatest number of respondents chose the campus plan, with 23.8 percent of votes. Following the campus plan was construction at 21.7 percent, sexual assault at 19 percent, mental health at 18.8 percent and worker’s rights and accessibility at 7 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively.
The 2016 GUSA executive ballot will also include a referendum on live registration. Out of survey respondents, 41.4 percent voted in favor of pre-registration, compared to 11.4 in favor of live registration. Of the 599 respondents, 46.6 percent were unsure.
The 2016 GUSA executive election and the referendum will be held digitally Thursday, Feb. 18.
Hoya Staff Writers Kshithij Shrinath and Mallika Sen contributed reporting.