Emphasizing their campaign motto “Moving Forward,” Josh Sirois (SFS ’20) and Casey Doherty (COL ’20) are running for president and vice president, respectively, of the Georgetown University Student Association to champion existing projects and advance new ideas.
Sirois and Doherty are running on a detailed policy platform and a combined four years of student government experience, while attempting to shake the stigma of an establishment “GUSA insider” ticket.
Hailing from Salem, Mo., Sirois is a GUSA senator who previously served on the senate’s Finance and Appropriations Committee, which allocates over $1 million to student groups each year. He is also a member of acapella group Superfood and the tour guide group Blue and Gray.
Doherty is co-secretary of congressional relations on GUSA’s Federal and D.C. Relations Committee, where she led recent efforts to advocate U.S. Congress to pass the Dream Act of 2017, an immigration bill protecting students without documentation. She also serves on the College Academic Council and is a coordinator for Georgetown Opportunities for Leadership Development. She is from Glennville, New York.
Sirois and Doherty are running against three other tickets: the satirical ticket Logan Arkema (COL ’20) and Jonathan Compo (COL ’20), Hunter Estes (SFS ’19) and Richard Howell (SFS ’19), and Sahil Nair (SFS ’19) and Naba Rahman (SFS ’19). The election is set for Feb. 22.
Sirois first considered running last year after current GUSA President Kamar Mack (COL ’19), then a sophomore, ran successfully for GUSA president alongside current GUSA Vice President Jessica Andino (COL ’18). Sirois campaigned for one of the tickets opposing Mack, Garet Williams (COL ’18) and Habon Ali (SFS ’18).
Initially, Sirois planned to run with Precious King (SFS ’20), but King stepped down shortly after winter break. Sirois and Doherty said King resigned for “personal reasons,” which they declined to specify. King declined to comment on her resignation.
Doherty, who originally led the campaign’s policy team, replaced King as the vice presidential candidate in late January. King continues to work on the campaign as an adviser.
Sirois and Doherty are running on a wide-ranging platform addressing 24 policy areas. In a Sunday interview with The Hoya, they emphasized that their ideas — organized into three pillars of affordability and access, student health and wellness and student empowerment — will produce concrete and specific results.
Sirois said he plans to concentrate on affordability and access if elected. On the issue of accessibility, he plans to advocate for a handicapped-accessible entrance on Lauinger Library’s first floor.
Long term, Sirois said he wants meal plans to include more flex dollars, so students do not waste meal swipes on lower-priced items. Sirois and Doherty also expressed support for Hoya Hub, an on-campus food pantry that members of GUSA are developing to counter food insecurity.
Sirois and Doherty’s affordability plan focuses on academic and cost-of-living expenses, such as restructuring meal plans and encouraging professors to upload textbooks online. They also promised to advocate increased transparency and student involvement in the tuition-setting process, but called Estes and Howell’s calls for a tuition freeze for current students “unrealistic.”
Doherty also pledged to concentrate on safety and combatting sexual assault. She proposed registration holds for students who fail to complete bystander training and a potential partnership with New Student Orientation to include sexual health and relationships programming.
Throughout their policy proposals, Sirois and Doherty stressed student empowerment, which they connected to one of their self-identified strengths: building relationships.
“So many of these ideas and these plans didn’t just come from Casey and I’s minds. We have sat down with club leaders. I sat down with [Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Services], and the president said he doesn’t think in history, any other GUSA candidate has sat down and asked them what they think,” Sirois said.
Sirois and Doherty are the only sophomores among this year’s non-satirical candidates, a class status they acknowledge some students may perceive as a weakness. Instead, they framed it as a strength.
“It’s been described as a weakness that we are both sophomores, but I think that at Georgetown it honestly makes a lot of sense,” Sirois said. “We’re not going to be here in the fall looking for jobs, we’re going to be living right on campus. This is our prime dedication.”
Georgetown has elected at least two all-sophomore executive teams since 1969, according to GUSA historian Ari Goldstein (COL ’18). The most recent all-sophomore ticket elected GUSA president and vice president served in 2009, according to Goldstein.
Both Sirois and Doherty also noted that they have pledged to stay on campus for the summer, noting a contrast with Rahman, one of the other vice presidential candidates, who plans to spend most of the summer interning for Morgan Stanley in New York. GUSA bylaws require presidents to stay in Washington, D.C., during the summer months but do not impose restrictions on vice presidents.
Some students may portray them as a GUSA establishment ticket, as Sirois and Doherty acknowledged. Since the fall of their freshman year, Sirois has served in the GUSA senate and Doherty has worked in the GUSA executive. Eight of the 12 campaign staff members listed on their website are involved in GUSA.
Still, the pair have sought to distance themselves from the stigma associated with “GUSA insiders,” vowing in a message on their campaign website to reform the association “made up of an often-insular Executive and the same group of Senators each year.”
Their ideas to make GUSA more inclusive include creating a GUSA general body, which would meet regularly and allow students to get involved without joining any particular policy coalition.
Doherty emphasized in Saturday’s interview that she and Sirois have “new, actionable, concrete ideas that aren’t just playing off what the current administration has done.”
Sirois said understanding the GUSA system would help them advance their policy goals.
“The ins and outs of GUSA I do know pretty well. I’d say that’s one of the most important qualifications of doing this job. There’s a drastic learning curve, and we saw that, honestly, with Kamar and Jessica,” Sirois said.
Sirois, Doherty and their campaign team encouraged students to vote based on candidates’ policy proposals rather than social media pages and publicity efforts.
“We really feel like we created the best policy — the most actionable, concrete and specific — that we can start to implement right away,” Doherty said. “We know that not everything GUSA does is sexy, but it does need to be done, and the projects really do create positive change.”