Georgetown University Student Association executive election ticket Olivia Kleier (SFS ’22) and Jon Pejo (COL ’22) have suspended their campaign, citing allegations that they plagiarized a fellow executive campaign, which they deny.
After official GUSA campaigning started at midnight Feb. 12, some students noticed similarities between two campaign websites. In a statement made to The Hoya on Monday, Kleier and Pejo said they have faced allegations that they plagiarized policy ideas and language from the master policy document of their opponents Nile Blass (COL ’22) and Nicole Sanchez (SFS ’22).
Kleier, a GUSA senator for the Class of 2022, and Pejo denied these allegations in the statement (Full disclosure: Pejo previously served as a deputy editor for The Hoya’s blog). The former ticket said the rumors detracted from their campaign priorities. Kleier and Pejo decided to suspend their campaign in an effort to minimize distractions from pressing policy issues at play in this election, according to Kleier.
“These allegations have detracted from what we hoped to be a lively campaign to determine what is best for the future of Georgetown and have forced us into a tough position,” Kleier wrote in an email to The Hoya. “The Kleier-Pejo campaign at no point plagiarized policy ideas or language from the Blass-Sanchez campaign, but the allegations have taken attention away from the important issues present in this election.”
Blass and Sanchez’s campaign released a statement Monday night that said that the allegations did not come from Blass or Sanchez. The ticket first learned of the plagiarism rumor when The Georgetown Voice, a student-run magazine, reached out to the campaign for a comment, according to the statement.
Kleier and Pejo met with Aida Ross (SFS ’22), communications director for Blass and Sanchez’s campaign, on the evening of Feb. 14, the statement said.
“We are still processing our feelings about the events during this time,” Sanchez and Blass said in the statement. “Since Aida’s meeting with Olivia and Jon, we have not had the opportunity to debrief as a full staff, and hope to do that soon, as we recognize the importance of action at this time.”
Blass and Sanchez’s platform is informed by their activism on campus and communication with fellow students, according to the statement.
“As we’ve emphasized in all aspects of our campaign thus far, we are running to be President and Vice President of GUSA because we are committed to working with Georgetown communities and leveraging our experiences to make our campus a better place, Blass and Sanchez said in the statement. “Every platform we released is a reflection of the work we have put into activism on campus, and in collaboration with our fellow community members.”
Previously, on Jan. 31, a campaign staffer for Kleier and Pejo gained access via text message to Blass and Sanchez’s policy document as a member of a campus affinity group. The staffer accessed the document before realizing the conflict of interest, according to an anonymous statement from the staffer.
“I opened the document and realized that it would be a conflict of interest and immediately closed it,” the staffer wrote in a statement released by Kleier and Pejo. “I then responded saying I was a part of another campaign and I couldn’t meet with them, but I was willing to answer any questions they had. This was the end of the conversation, and I never ended up giving any feedback.”
Blass and Sanchez will now compete against Daniella Sanchez (COL ’22) and Leo Arnett (SFS ’22) for GUSA executive. Voting will be open from Feb. 25 to 27.
Kleier and Pejo plan to share their ideas and goals for Georgetown outside of the GUSA executive branch, according to Kleier.
“We are truly disappointed it has come to this, but we believe our choice is made in the best interest of GUSA and the Georgetown community,” Kleier wrote. “Despite ending the campaign, we will continue to advocate for a more inclusive community and will fight to shape a GUSA that works for all Hoyas.”