Camber Vincent (SFS ’24) and Alyssa Hirai (SFS ’24), who are running for Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA) president and vice president, said they have built their platform around institutional experience, ongoing advocacy projects and established connections to administration and student groups.
The Hoya sat down with Vincent, who currently serves as GUSA speaker of the senate, and Hirai, at-large GUSA senator and chair of policy and advocacy, to discuss their campaign goals and how they plan to achieve them. Voting opens Nov. 10 and closes Nov. 12.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
If elected, what will your top priorities be?
Vincent: We want to continue the work that we’ve already started to get back together. We’ve lost a lot of institutional resources over the years because of lackluster administrations, COVID-19 responses and all of these problems of being online. We’ve just started to get back a lot of channels of advocacy and communications — we just got back the GUSA newsletter, we are currently working on the GUSA website. We want to keep this trend towards more engagement with the student body, more engagement with the community and make sure that we’re actually there to provide answers to questions.
Hirai: One of my long-term projects is improving our meal plan, especially for upperclassmen — reducing the meal plan. These are all projects that affect every student on campus. These are issues that disproportionately affect first-generation, low-income students. That was one of my reasons for joining GUSA in the first place, and that advocacy is what I want to continue if I’m elected.
How do you plan to facilitate interactions between the student body and GUSA?
Vincent: Students have a lot of questions about a lot of different things that impact their lives — we have the answers to these questions. In order to actually communicate those answers, what we’re going to start doing and what we’ve already begun to work on with the website that we’re building out, is making these briefing documents — one-page documents whenever there’s a relevant update that explains the rationale behind the university administrators’ decisions and answers frequently asked questions.
Hirai: We also already have a working relationship with key actors in the administration. A lot of it is going to be continuation and ramping up the projects that we already have, and the GUSA website and the newsletter are big ones.
What experience do you have that qualifies you for this position?
Hirai: A lot of my advocacy in GUSA has come from my experience being a first-generation, low-income student. The Georgetown Scholars Program (GSP) has been a really big part of my college life and that’s the reason I joined GUSA — to give back and to represent students disproportionately affected by various issues on campus, whether it be housing or the meal plan, or lack of transportation access. We’ve talked a lot about how we can advocate for GSP but I think having those lived experiences and connections with people also part of that community would definitely help.
Vincent: For me, it’s more about institutional experience. I have been in the senate for about two years now. The other two presidential tickets have been in the senate for about a year now. Of the three, I’m the only one who has actually taken steps to achieve various platforms and various indications of success. I’m the only one who’s actually met with administrators. I think that my experience, my connections with administrators, my knowledge of connections with various groups on this campus that are important for advocacy and platforming them, is something that would really help me be a successful executive ticket here is just ongoing relationship with the administration that other students have not built despite having the same opportunity to do so during our time in the senate.
How do you believe you will be able to accomplish the goals you set during your term?
Hirai: Camber and I have been working with various faculty members and we have ongoing projects that I think we’ve made a lot of progress on in the past year. It’s also about knowing what projects are actually feasible. I think a lot of students feel frustrated because when people campaign for GUSA, they always have a list of things that would be great if it could happen but we all know that it’s literally impossible. We have the knowledge to figure out what projects we actually can get done and really lean into those ones.
Vincent: I think the two things that distinctly make or break whether we’re able to achieve our goals is first a willingness to put in the work. You are spending a huge amount of your time doing unpaid and unrecognized work that the university administration should be doing. At the end of the day, I am the only candidate in the field that has committed the time to actually do that. There’s also something to be said for structural continuity. One of the things that GUSA struggles with is that a lot of projects are long term — they take four, five, six years to complete advocacy on. Students are only here for four years, so ensuring that your projects actually get passed down is something that’s important.
Why should voters support your ticket?
Vincent: Voters should support our ticket because we are the only candidates with qualified experience who know what we’re doing. We’re the only ones who know what feasibly can and can’t be done and we’re the only ones with working relationships with administrators. And without those three key aspects, you’re going to have a failed administration that doesn’t know what they’re doing.
Hirai: This sounds like a very low bar, but Camber and I share a common interest in having a functional student government and I think that’s what students are just so frustrated with. No one cares about dumb politics in GUSA. I think our ticket represents the average Georgetown student the best, and also various affinity groups and traditionally more vulnerable and underrepresented communities on campus.