Spencer Woodall (MSB, SFS ’24) and Anya Caraiani (SFS ’24), who are running for Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA) president and vice president, said they have built their platform around reframing GUSA’s budget to better serve students, combating food insecurity on campus and improving accessibility for disabled students.
The Hoya sat down with Woodall, who currently serves as GUSA vice speaker of the senate, and Caraiani 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 are your top priorities?
Woodall: We need to understand what we can do as members of GUSA. GUSA has its own budget of about $20,000 a year, and the biggest thing I have been a proponent of in this campaign is making sure that we spend that money responsibly because that’s $20,000, and we could be putting that money to other student organizations if we have extra room. I want to put this money into the Student Advocacy Office, because I’ve talked to some members of the student advocacy board and they said they’re pretty underfunded by GUSA.
Caraiani: One of the other main things we want to focus on is increasing accessibility on campus for disabled students. That’s a problem we’ve recognized. It’s a pretty stark problem in our community, and we want to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard and that we’re able to represent that voice adequately to the Georgetown administration.
How do you plan to facilitate interactions between the student body and GUSA?
Woodall: You get a transparent GUSA by making sure you elect transparent leaders. My opponents have a very bad history of injecting their politics — not necessarily their political views, but their politics as far as getting elected and reelected for GUSA and how they’ll look with the main campus. I don’t care what’s going to happen, what’s going to hurt me in an election. What I want to do is I want to make sure I’m best representing the needs of the student body and I’m helping them have the best experience on campus possible. I feel like we bring a very interesting take to the table, because you know that we’re not a completely political ticket.
Caraiani: Because I’m an outsider to GUSA, I have no vested interest in these power dynamics within GUSA. I don’t really know so much, I haven’t been there for the past year, so I can kind of provide a fresh perspective that isn’t so power-politics centered.
What experiences do you have that qualify you for this position?
Caraiani: I’m a club leader right now. I am the president of Prospect Records, which is a media board club. I’m basically managing day-to-day things, especially focusing on budget, and also just managing so many operations on a day-to-day basis, which would transfer over to GUSA, especially for us because we are so budget focused. Additionally, I’ve worked in a legislator’s office, and I’ve worked for a consulting firm.
Woodall: As Vice Speaker I’ve been in charge of a lot of leadership and I was in charge of creating the handbook for the key actors, which is basically getting the right names of administrators and getting their contact info so that senators know who to contact. I have almost a year of senate experience now, so I’m very well versed in how this all works and I’m more than capable of taking on the job.
How do you believe you will be able to accomplish the goals you set during your term?
Woodall: The good thing about our platform is that we don’t need a lot of help from administration to get a lot of our plans done. I’ve made specific plans about what we should do with our deficit budget, I have specific areas that I’ve mentioned where we can cut, and that’s one thing we can definitely do. That’s something that GUSA has complete autonomy of. Another thing I plan on doing is addressing food insecurity on campus and I feel like there’s a very easy way to do this that would not involve the administration. One of the ways is that we can work with one of the food security clubs on campus, and we can create a program where students can voluntarily share extra meals which they might have and share that with students that have food insecurity. Because it’s a completely voluntary program, that’s something we won’t have any problem dealing with the administration.
Caraiani: Just to add on to that, with the new housing concerns, next year a lot of students will be displaced from campus. Along with that comes a lesser meal plan or perhaps not so many swipes, and with that comes potentially food insecurity for people that can’t afford to get Uber Eats or to get groceries every single week. So Spencer’s plan would really help with that as well.
Why should voters support your ticket?
Caraiani: We’re the transparency ticket. Everything that we pledged to do is feasible to do within GUSA. We’re going to put effective plans into action. Most importantly of that is budget concerns because we can do so much with this extra money that’s just sitting there. We’re really a frugal ticket and it’s not about us. It’s about what we can do for the student body.
Woodall: We’re the only ticket that has an actual clear platform. What we need to do is we need to build our transparency and build better trust with the student body. You get that through having transparent leaders that have a history of not inflicting their own political success on how they vote, making sure people know exactly what they’re getting. What students should know is that we are the most transparent ticket and they should feel confident to communicate with us in any way. The goal here is simply to make our lives as hard as possible to make the lives of other students as easy as possible.