Combining their experiences as student leaders on Georgetown University’s campus, executive election ticket Daniella Sanchez (COL ’22) and Leo Arnett (SFS ’22) plans to create a more inclusive Georgetown community and engage students in the decision-making process.
If elected, Sanchez and Arnett plan to focus on restructuring GUSA as a more inclusive organization, protecting student rights and establishing better communication between students and administrators.
Both currently members of GUSA, Sanchez previously served as speaker of the GUSA Senate and currently serves as the co-director of student inclusion, the director of COVID-19 response and a senate liaison for the executive staff’s engagement team. Arnett serves as the current director of campus affairs for GUSA President Nicolo Ferretti (SFS ’21) and Vice President Bryce Badger (MSB ’21).
Relying on past experiences in GUSA and other campus organizations, Sanchez and Arnett’s platform is centered around three fundamental themes: funding, advocacy and community.
To remain focused on these themes, the executive ticket will prioritize student voices, according to Sanchez.
“Leo and I have always centralized student input in our work and not just to be reelected. Not because we thought that this was the best political move, but because we genuinely always cared about what the greatest student population thought and making sure that we were going beyond our GUSA,” Sanchez said in a Zoom interview with The Hoya. “Everything that Leo and I have done has been to make sure that students have been incorporated.”
Outside of GUSA, Sanchez is involved in the Georgetown Women’s Alliance, through which she helps bring women together in a space where they can thrive and grow. If elected, Sanchez hopes to bring special attention to women’s voices and experiences on campus.
“It’s a very obvious issue that there’s not many women in leadership positions, especially in specific sectors across Georgetown,” according to Sanchez.
Additionally, Arnett has spent much of his time outside of GUSA working on the Georgetown Program Board, a student-run organization that hosts events for Georgetown’s undergraduate population.
If elected as vice president, Arnett plans to use his experiences organizing Georgetown Day and gathering student perspectives to create a more inclusive GUSA, he said.
“That experience, even bringing it into more of a virtual world, still kind of defines the way that I want to go into GUSA,” Arnett said in a Zoom interview with The Hoya. “In a way that brings student leaders in but also brings in and celebrates the experiences of any Georgetown student that is there.”
Sanchez and Arnett’s platform is also proposing a four-step GUSA restructuring process that focuses on ensuring student involvement. The restructuring process includes disbanding the GUSA Senate and creating a new student representative organization built on input from the student body. The plan also proposes the creation of a new club funding process for Georgetown’s Council of Advisory Boards with the help of CAB and student organizations, as well as the establishment of a new GUSA governing document, according to Sanchez and Arnett’s campaign website.
To ensure inclusivity and student involvement, the ticket plans to establish a restructuring committee within GUSA and host restructuring conventions for student leaders and organizations to participate in the restructuring plans.
Sanchez and Arnett believe input from the student body is the key to restructuring GUSA, according to Sanchez.
“We think that the student body should be an active voice and have an active input in the process,” Sanchez said. “Instead of restructuring and proposing a plan, the student body should be consistently giving input and feedback.”
The ticket’s platform also proposes a Student Bill of Rights to ensure that students have tangible ways to execute their ideas in collaboration with administrators. The Student Bill of Rights would aim to reform the relationship between students and administrators by giving student leaders greater power in policy negotiations, according to Arnett.
“The Student Bill of Rights gives the student body teeth to actually fight back on the administration when they want to sweep whatever interests or policy initiatives that we have under the rug,” Arnett said.
Sanchez and Arnett will also focus on improving the financial aid process. In August, after the student body and GUSA members, including Sanchez, voiced concerns about cuts to students’ financial aid packages, the university revised the packages, including waiving students’ expected summer work contributions and providing tuition credits to account for the university’s 10% tuition reduction.
Arnett said the ticket’s financial aid policy would prioritize advocacy for a transparent financial aid process that includes all students’ financial needs,
“The process is not transparent, and it’s not for students,” Arnett said. “We want to make sure that the financial aid process is not only transparent, but one that actually works to be as accountable for all students on campus instead of forcing a lot of students to go look for external sources of financing if it doesn’t meet those needs.”
The ticket plans to work with the Financial Aid Student Advisory Committee, advocate for reform at Georgetown while respecting federal financial aid regulations and hold the university’s Office of Financial Aid accountable.
Further, Sanchez and Arnett hope to change the way student funds are circulated to the Georgetown University Police Department. Under current university policy, student groups are required to hire campus police for certain on-campus events. The fees associated with hiring campus police are funded by part of the student activities fee, a cost that all students have to pay at the beginning of each semester.
Sanchez and Arnett believe student funds should not go toward GUPD funding, according to Arnett.
“We don’t want the student activities fee just being recirculated back to pay the salaries of both GUPD and the university itself,” Arnett said. “That is the money that is used for student organizations, and it should be there, period.”
Last June, a student petition demanding the university cease all relationships with any police department garnered over 8,000 signatures. On June 7, the GUSA Senate passed a resolution that called for the university to cease its relationship with the Metropolitan Police Department and later created a student advisory committee to oversee GUPD.
Sanchez and Arnett hope to use data from the university’s first cultural climate survey, launched in February 2020 to measure students’ perceptions of diversity and inclusion on campus, to initiate and inform their platform’s GUPD reforms, according to Sanchez.
“The administration is always asking for statistics — where are the numbers on that, how can you prove it — even though we know it’s happening,” Sanchez said. “The numbers in that cultural climate survey will actually show, okay, this is what’s happening. Now we need to fix it.”
Although few formal bias reports have been filed against GUPD, many students have shared instances of unnecessary surveillance and excessive use of force by the department on social media. As a senator, Sanchez was responsible for adding GUPD-specific questions to the survey.
As part of their platform’s commitment to advocacy, Sanchez and Arnett want to support student activism, according to Arnett.
“If a student wants to go participate in either a march or a protest in D.C., or even a sit-in on campus itself, professors need to be more lenient when it comes to grade extensions or absences from class and working with students so that if they are fighting for their own rights or particular movements, that academics isn’t a barrier to that,” Arnett said. “That’s such a selling point when it comes to Georgetown, to participate in things like that.”
If elected, Sanchez and Arnett will work with the Faculty Senate and Office of the Provost to ensure these rights for students.
Overall, the ticket hopes to restore student faith and involvement in GUSA, according to Arnett.
“This doesn’t just entail educating students about what GUSA does, because that’s what administrations have talked about in the past. That’s normally the crux that everyone falls upon, just making sure that people know what resources we have available. For us, that’s not enough,” Arnett said. “For us, what it is as soon as we get elected into office is bringing students into the conversation of how GUSA should function inherently.”