From the election and inauguration to faculty White House appointments, the Hilltop was abuzz with political news this year even beyond its usual standards.
Students arrived on campus in August to find student groups primed to start the campaign season. The Georgetown University College Republicans and Georgetown University College Democrats organized trips to canvass for both the presidential and congressional campaigns in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Nine alumni ran for congressional seats, joining a legacy of Georgetown graduates on the Hill. Of the nine who ran, six — Filemon Vela (COL ’85) (D-Tex.), John Delaney (LAW ’88) (D-Md.), Lois Frankel (LAW ’73) (D-Fla.), Hakeem Jeffries (GSB ’94) (D-N.Y.), Ann McLane Kuster (LAW ’84) (D-N.H.) and Sen. Mazie Hirono (LAW ’78) (D-Hawaii) — won seats in Congress.
To encourage voter registration, the Georgetown University Student Association partnered with online voter registration platform TurboVote to provide a convenient registration system. Many students who did not register in time to request absentee ballots opted to vote in the District of Columbia, which offers same-day registration.
This increase in student voter turnout, however, was a factor in long lines and delays at polling places in D.C. and northern Virginia on Election Day, when some voters waited nearly three hours to vote. To make matters worse, some polling places were allotted the same number of ballots for the general election as they usually receive for local elections and were unprepared for higher turnout.
After a hard-fought election season, campus attention turned to high-profile appointments for President Obama’s second-term administration, including several alumni and faculty affiliated with Georgetown.
Denis McDonough (GRD ’96) was named Obama’s new chief of staff, while adjunct professor Ron Klain (COL ’83), who served as chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore, was rumored to be on the president’s short list. Chuck Hagel left his post as a professor in the School of Foreign Service to serve as secretary of defense, while former White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew (LAW ’83) was appointed and confirmed as treasury secretary.
Moreover, a few prominent federal staffers made the switch to Georgetown. Lisa Brown, former acting chief performance officer in the White House Office of Management and Budget, was named the university’s chief counsel in March. Former Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) joined the Georgetown Public Policy Institute as a visiting professor.
Overall, Cassey said that he was optimistic that this year’s high level of student interest in politics could continue in non-election years.
“Given that we just went through the [2010 Campus Plan] agreement process, many people see the impact of having [representation],” Cassey said. “Many students who attend Georgetown want to live in D.C., and by voting on certain issues, they can have an effect on the city they want to live in in the future.”