Julio Salmeron-Perla (SFS ’22) and Gabby Elliott Brault (SFS ’21) have teamed up in the past. The pair collaborated to advocate for socioeconomic inclusivity on campus, with Salmeron-Perla working from the Georgetown University Student Association Senate and Elliott Brault pushing in the executive. Their partnership entered a new stage when they petitioned to join the GUSA 2020 Executive election ballot Jan. 24.
The pair is seeking to better the university by reshaping policies on mental health resources, sexual misconduct and inclusivity. At the core of these policy initiatives is a desire to rework what they perceive to be an ineffective and disconnected GUSA, according to an interview with The Hoya.
After struggling to find a community that she felt accepted her on campus, Elliott Brault hopes to harness GUSA’s power to make sure every student feels recognized and included.
“I’ve never felt like I had a very strong place on campus, a very strong identity on campus. I didn’t feel like I belonged to any one group or identity,” Elliott Brault said. “I wanted GUSA to be something that kind of brought students together, and I found that that wasn’t the case. I found that GUSA was lacking in so many different things: communication, transparency, even just getting things done.”
Drawing upon their experiences working in GUSA in the past, Salmeron-Perla and Elliott Brault hope to partner with other student leaders to find effective ways to accomplish concrete goals.
“A big part of our platform is the fact that GUSA is broken. Our slogan is ‘GUSA is broken, let’s fix it together,’” Elliott Brault said. “A big part of that is being together, and that is drawing students in from every different background on campus so that they can communicate with GUSA and actually make a difference within GUSA itself.”
To join the GUSA Executive ticket, presidential hopefuls needed to attend one of two information sessions hosted by the election commission, which only candidates Nicolo Ferretti (SFS ’21) and Bryce Badger (MSB ’21) attended. Salmeron-Perla and Elliott Brault instead joined the race days later via a petition requiring 100 signatures to enter the race. Since the pair launched their petition, two other tickets joined the race by petition.
Though the pair boasts GUSA experience, they hope to bring fresh perspectives to the table with their candidacy, according to Salmeron-Perla.
“I think that part of why we ran is because we heard the voice of the student body that was discontent and wanted a challenge to that first ticket, and wanted a second choice, wanted something different something fresh that will start GUSA on a clean slate,” Salmeron-Perla said.
As well as serving as a GUSA senator his freshman year, Salmeron-Perla has been involved in the International Relations Club and international relations publication The Caravel.
Elliott Brault has served as president of the now disbanded United Feminists Club and mentors freshmen in the Georgetown Scholars Program, a campus organization that provides support and mentorship to first-generation or low-income students.
Elliott Brault also worked as Socioeconomic Advocacy Policy chair in the GUSA executive branch, including during the term of former GUSA President Sahil Nair (SFS ’19). In fall 2018, Elliott Brault resigned along with nine other executive members to put pressure on Nair to resign amid sexual assault allegations against him.
To address one of the ticket’s policy areas, sexual misconduct on campus, the pair hopes to increase trust in GUSA by making an open space for students to come and talk to specially trained GUSA members who can support them through the Title IX process.
“I think you can’t prevent sexual assault on campus. You can’t prevent sexual harassment. But you can hold students accountable for it,” Elliott Brault said. “I will walk with students myself to report these things if I have to. I just want them to feel like they have that space on campus.”
Salmeron-Perla and Elliott Brault are not the only students who have low trust in GUSA. According to a poll last year, only 2% of students indicated a strong trust in the student government. In period of low student faith in GUSA, the pair hopes to revitalize support in the institution by being more accessible on campus, specifically for sexual assault survivors.
“I think it’s a long process to rebuild trust in something. I think part of it will be making sure we’re open for survivors to come to us so that we have all the resources they need at the drop of a hat,” Elliott Brault said. “I think part of it is that a lot of students don’t know what GUSA is and they don’t know what GUSA does.”
During their time in GUSA, Salmeron-Perla and Elliott Brault found it difficult to make progress on initiatives with the administration because of the short length of GUSA terms. The team hopes to open up policy proposals and resolutions to the entire student body and encourage students outside of GUSA to spearhead projects, since their commitment to the project goals would likely outlast GUSA terms.
While the pair does not yet have all of their concrete policies defined, the two hope to be adaptable to students’ current issues and to be more responsive to the Georgetown community, Salmeron-Perla said.
“I think that a big part of what we seek to do is actually stay informed. We’re not here to say, ‘We’re going to promise to end this, or we’re going to stop this,’ but rather, we’re here to start a movement of, ‘We’re going to meet with administrators and actually talk to students,’” Salmeron-Perla said. “We’re going to make GUSA actually be around the students.”
If elected, Salmeron-Perla and Elliott Brault would spend their first 100 days in office working to build a strong executive team and establish relationships with GUSA senators and the larger student body so that they can make progress on tangible goals.
“I think Gabby and I are the best candidates because we see our limitations,” Salmeron-Perla said. “We seek to work with students and the administration to try to work through some of those limitations and improve conditions for all students on campus.”
This article has been updated at 4 p.m. on Feb. 2 to remove a portion of a quote for the well-being of the source.