Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Bridges, Ayer Win GUSA Election

STUDENT GOVERNMENT Bridges, Ayer Win GUSA Election Executives-elect Take 32.3 Percent By Amanda McGrath Hoya Staff Writer

Charles Nailen/The Hoya GUSA president-elect Kaydee Bridges (right) (SFS ’03) and vice president-elect Mason Ayer (left) (SFS ’03) celebrate their election win in Sellinger Lounge Monday night.

Taking 32.3 percent of the 2,766 votes cast in yesterday’s election, Kaydee Bridges (SFS ’03) and Mason Ayer (SFS ’03) won the race for GUSA president and vice president. Some candidates, however, said the election was unfair.

Forty-five percent of the student body voted in the online election yesterday, an increase from last year’s 36 percent participation rate. Behind Bridges and Ayer were Adi Kumar (COL ’03) and Rob Hutton (SFS ’04), garnering 542 votes. The Trey Street (SFS ’03) and Dan Spector (SFS ’04) ticket came in third with 425 votes. Robert Wingate-Robinson (MSB ’03) and Vinoda Basnayake (MSB ’03) received 414 votes and Matthew Brennan (SFS ’03) and Sean Hawks (SFS ’03) totaled 357 votes.

“It’s a huge surprise – the tickets were all phenomenal,” Bridges said. “It was a good, fair, clean race; I was proud to be a part of it.”

Bridges and Ayer said they were ready to begin their executive roles with GUSA. According to Ayer, their first order of business will be to extend the deadline for applications to GUSA executive appointments. Bridges said she planned to immediately fulfill her campaign pledge to ascertain the availability of on-campus space for students, especially the space in New South that will become available with the opening of the Southwest Quadrangle. “I’m going to jump on that right away. It’s extremely important to secure the New South space for students,” Bridges said. The pair also said they remained committed to their platform, including plans to implement a student-friendly Web site and increase student programming, especially at Hoya’s. Their platform also called for actions to improve campus safety as well as increase student involvement by holding weekly dinners with 12 randomly selected students.

“I’m happy with the decision the student body made,” Meredith Lahey (NHS ’03) said. “I know [Bridges and Ayer] are dedicated to improving GUSA and it’s effect on the student body.”

Some students said they felt the pair could have campaigned more effectively. “I think with the amount of experience between them, they could have represented themselves a little bit better,” Erin Reilly (NHS ’03) said.

Following the announcement of the results, Ayer said, “I’m still a little nervous – the whole event was unnerving, I had no idea what to expect.” He said he felt the competition was very close and that several other candidates had a “big presence” on campus.

Some candidates were let down by the results but congratulated the victors.

“I’m a little disappointed, but I couldn’t be happier for Kaydee and Mason,” Hutton said. “If I had to lose to someone, I’m glad it was them, they ran an excellent campaign.”

Several candidates, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the electoral process. “I think it was well done, but it got kind of dirty,” Brennan said. He declined to elaborate, but said, “the election commissioner didn’t really take control.”

Brennan said he was not sure if he would continue to be involved with GUSA.

Wingate-Robinson and Basnayake, who described themselves as “GUSA outsiders,” wished Bridges and Ayers the “best of luck – of all the campaigns, theirs was most similar to ours. They brought out a lot of good issues.” However, the pair alleged that their outsider status resulted in discrimination by the election commission.

“GUSA is a centralized power, a closed circle,” Wingate-Robinson said. “It’s hard to be an outsider on the ticket. He said he and his running mate “were not given a fair shake on a lot of issues.”

He said he and Basnayake were removed from the ticket on Sunday for being 92 cents over their allotted $75 budget and were not permitted to show receipts to prove that the costs of their expenses were within budget for most of the day. “We spent all day trying to work this out,” Basnayake said. “Sunday is the most valuable campaigning day and this prevented us from getting out there.” Though the commission eventually saw the receipts and resubmitted their names to the ballot, Basnayake said it was “insulting.”

They said they were also upset with the candidate debate that was held Thursday night in Sellinger Lounge, which Wingate-Robinson was unable to attend because of a time conflict with a track meet. “It wasn’t a matter of prioritizing,” he said. “I’m on a scholarship for track, I have a binding obligation to run [in the meets].” Basnayake said that they had been assured by members of the commission that their campaign manager could fill in for Wingate-Robinson, but at the last minute they were informed Basnayake would have to debate alone.

Election Commissioner Meg Kinnard (SFS ’02) said she and the commission stood by their decisions. “I have absolute faith in the decisions our committee came to concerning various issues,” she said. She said the commission had no choice but to remove Wingate-Robinson and Basnayake from the ticket on Sunday, but had no hesitation in restoring their names once the appropriate documentation of their expenses had been received. In response to the discrepancies over the debate, Kinnard said their was a misunderstanding and she had “apologized profusely” but the pair had not given the commission enough time to work out an appropriate compromise. “I stand by my judgment call,” Kinnard said.

She also said that she felt candidates should have GUSA experience before running for leadership positions, but that the association did not exclude anyone from participating. “I would hope anyone attempting to become an executive leader would have an understanding of the standards to which they would be held, but no person is unappreciated,” Kinnard said.

According to Basnayake and Wingate-Robinson, their campaign was also hindered when their two principle posters were stolen, one from New South and another from Red Square. “They were a large part of our budget, it crippled our campaign,” Basnayake said. Wingate-Robinson said a witness had reported the thief to be another candidate, but declined to reveal the name of the candidate or the witness.

“The fact that we got 400-plus votes without any type of advertising says a lot,” Basnayake said.

“We had a lot of issues we were really passionate about, that are important but often get ignored. Win or lose, it brought publicity to those issues. We have no regrets, we ran a good campaign,” Basnayake said. He also said he was “touched” by the letters of support he received from leaders of campus minority organizations.

Kinnard said there were negative elements of the campaign she had not expected to see.

“This is the closest I’ve been to any campaign at Georgetown. To be in the presence of the election in its many stages I had no idea what I would see. There were a lot of accusations, a lot of complaints,” Kinnard said. “All the candidates were serious in what they stood for. Some were willing to go to lengths that may not have been the best decisions . there were some candidates who tried to get the most out of the bylaws, in unethical ways.”

Current GUSA President Ryan DuBose (COL ’02) said, “It’s all about voting day. Everyone’s going to feel cheated in some way, but I think all the tickets ran a very good race. I was impressed – their platforms revealed a lot of new, creative ideas that we haven’t seen before. This campaign was about rethinking the issues.”

Bridges and Ayer will replace DuBose and current GUSA Vice President Brian Walsh (COL ’02) at the GUSA meeting on Feb. 19. DuBose said his involvement with GUSA would continue for at least a month following the change of leadership.

“Brian and I are going to finish up certain projects we’ve been working on before we leave,” DuBose said.

As parting advice to his successors, DuBose said, “the best thing the executive candidates can do is to go to the administrative meetings and present the student voice . otherwise the student opinion isn’t taken into account in decision making.” He also advised Bridges and Ayer to “make themselves accessible to the students.”

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