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

Oops! They Did It Again

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Four out of the last six elections for the presidency of the Georgetown University Student Association have been tainted with illegitimacy. This time, it was a misled, misguided GUSA Election Commission that crashed the party.

On Monday night, the commission – composed of Sophia Behnia (COL ’09), Will Dreher (SFS ’09) and Frederick Moore (COL ’09) – disqualified two tickets from the election, slated to begin hours later. In e-mails to Jeffrey Lamb (MSB ’10), his running mate Molly Breen (MSB ’11) and Peter Dagher (MSB ’10) and his running mate Elias Ibrahim (MSB ’10), the commissioners explained that the disqualifications resulted from second violations of Office of Residence Life posting and flyering policies. After previous infractions by several tickets, the candidates had been informed that further violations would result in disqualification.

In disqualifying the tickets, the commission overstepped its bounds. The governing bylaws of GUSA that pertain to election regulations do not include rules regarding posting and flyering; bylaw 16.06 further states, “No other restrictions other than those stated here shall apply to campaigning.”

The commission held all of the tickets to a standard not put forth in the GUSA bylaws. It exercised powers it did not have, it treated all of the candidates unfairly and it needlessly compromised the legitimacy of yet another election. We welcome the resignations of the three commissioners. (We also appreciate the efforts of Dreher and Moore, who will remain for the first round of voting in the new election.)

In the wake of the commission’s profound error, the GUSA Senate pressured the commissioners to suspend the election and convened the GUSA Constitutional Council. The council ruled correctly and invalidated Tuesday’s election. These well-reasoned measures kept a developing electoral wildfire under control. Case closed, right?

Not quite. Despite the restoration of the wrongly disqualified tickets, the new election is still fundamentally unfair. Six of the tickets evaded disqualification by avoiding multiple violations of Residence Life policy; to retroactively allow two tickets to violate these rules is to treat the field of candidates unequally.

The entire crisis has lent publicity to the Lamb-Breen and Dagher-Ibrahim tickets; the unscathed tickets have received no such coverage, and in elections for student government, name recognition matters.

What’s the remedy? The new election is the best solution for now, but how does GUSA make sure that it doesn’t embarrass itself again next year? The problem lies not in the nature of the Election Commission – it lies in the GUSA bylaws. The GUSA Senate should replace bylaw 16.06 with one that allows the Election Commision to hold all candidates to university rules that may directly pertain to campaigning (like posting policies).

As a student association, GUSA’s integrity is dependent on its respect for university regulations. Candidates for the presidency of GUSA, by virtue of their candidacy, are considered members of the organization. The Election Commission should be empowered to enforce university rules relevant to the campaign – only when university officials successfully prove that a rule has been broken.

In other words, though the commission was out of bounds in disqualifying the tickets, it should be permitted to do so in cases such as these. GUSA should work to make this possible.

The actions of the GUSA Senate and Executive, the Constitutional Council, and Dreher and Moore have more or less salvaged this election. Regardless of how it turns out, however, the winning ticket will need to work to prove its own legitimacy and dispel the popular notion that GUSA is a farce of collective ineptitude. This should not have to be done, and the lessons learned from this year should be enough to ensure that this never happens again.

Judging from history, we might not bet on it. Regardless, we reiterate our support for Calen Angert (MSB ’11) and Jason Kluger (MSB ’11): Their deliberate avoidance of repeated Residence Life policy violations, diligence and resilience during the campaign and GUSA experience assure us that these are the candidates most likely to avert another electoral fiasco next year. Here’s hoping.

To send a letter to the editor on a recent campus issue or Hoya story or a viewpoint on any topic, contact opinionthehoya.com. Letters should not exceed 300 words, and viewpoints should be between 600 to 800 words.

Donate to The Hoya

Your donation will support the student journalists of Georgetown University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Hoya