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

GUSA Tickets Square Off in Pre-Election Debate

The three official tickets for Thursday’s GUSA executive elections made their best pitches to an audience of students packed tightly into Sellinger Lounge last night during a debate on a range of campus issues.

The tickets – Twister Murchison (SFS ’08) and Salik Ishtiaq (SFS ’07), Khalil Hibri (SFS ’07) and Geoff Greene (SFS ’07) and Gage Raley (COL ’07) and Oxana iliaeva (COL ’07) – went head-to-head in a contest hosted by the Election Commission.

The questions, some of which were prepared by the commission and others posed by audience members, ranged from the serious to the silly, from safety to student association accessibility and even included what kind of a tree the candidate would choose to be if given the option.

The major platforms that the candidates highlighted included expansion of GUTS bus service, area safety improvement and improved interaction between students and GUSA.

Hibri said that the focus of his campaign has been GUSA’s failure to communicate with the rest of the student body.

“[GUSA] is the only organization that can legitimately claim to represent every student on this campus,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s not representing every student on this campus.”

All the candidates agreed that there was a rift between GUSA and the student body. Hibri said that he would implement student surveys in order to keep lines of communication open. Ishtiaq proposed an up-to-date Web site and more communication with campus newspapers to improve interaction with students. Raley said that an under-representation of women in GUSA prevents it from accurately representing the student body.

But Raley also said that all other issues paled in comparison to student safety.

“Nothing matters to any of us if we are not safe,” he said. “When a student is forced to walk down a dark street because Georgetown wouldn’t pay the 10 cents to replace a burned out light, Georgetown has failed us.”

Raley said that his administration would organize “a comprehensive list of areas where the administration needs to fix the burned-out light bulbs, to fix the call boxes.”

The two other candidates said that safety was a major issue in their platforms, as well. Murchison said he plans to revive SafeWalk, a program that would provide students with escorts to off-campus locations at night. Ishtiaq said that increased funding for Alpha Phi Omega, a community service fraternity, would help it expand its nightly escort service.

Candidates also spent considerable time addressing GUTS bus expansion, which they spun as an issue related both to safety and overall quality of life.

“We know how to make the GUTS bus work in two months,” Hibri said, adding that there are 19 available vans which could be driven by student drivers after a two-week training course.

Murchison said that a plan to expand the GUTS bus program is already in the works.

“Right now there is actually a plan being enacted to get GUTS buses running,” he said. He said that high costs are slowing progress, but that GUSA is already playing an role in mitigating that cost.

Clayton Keir (SFS ’07) and Patrick Sullivan (SFS ’08), who are campaigning as a write-in ticket, were not present at the debate because GUSA bylaws do not allow the participation of unofficial candidates.

“They missed the cut-off to be on the ballot, so their only option is to be a write-in candidate,” said Benita Sinnarajah, head of the Election Commission, after the debate. Sinnarajah said that she was pleased with the quality of debate.

“The candidates were great,” she said. “I am so happy about the turnout. I think the debates went really well.”

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