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

Rajan Reflects on Past Term

When former GUSA President Pravin Rajan (SFS ’07) first took office last winter, he said the position had no clear responsibilities, no job description and no guidelines.

Now that his term has ended, Rajan says that the student association’s executive branch looks completely different.

“We sort of took on a tribal feel,” he said in an interview on Wednesday. Weaknesses in internal communication created divisions among the separate departments of the expanded executive, he said, and although this did not prevent his administration from making significant achievements, he credits those achievements to the hard work of individuals, rather than to the institution as a whole.

“Right now it’s the individuals,” he said. “It should be the institution.”

During his campaign for president, Rajan promised to bring student experts into GUSA to work with administrators on policy issues like housing, alcohol and campus safety. And although Rajan and former Vice President Nate Wright (COL ’06) could both have been considered GUSA insiders, the cabinet they put together was composed largely of students who had distinguished themselves in other ways and shown their capacity for effective work.

“I think we got elected ’cause it was clear we knew what we were doing,” he said. “And I think the year showed that.”

Rajan’s Secretary of Housing and Facilities Eamonn Carr (COL ’06), one individual to whom Rajan gave credit, said that the administration’s relations with administrators played a significant role in its achievements.

“It is essential for students to establish relationships with administrators if change is to be effectively implemented,” he said in an e-mail.

Although his administration’s work to reform the housing selection policy last spring ultimately failed, Rajan said that successes in other areas distinguished his administration as the first in recent memory to make genuine accomplishments on multiple fronts. He listed the opening of a renovated Hoya Court, renovations to Darnall Cafeteria and implementation of Supper with Jesuits as significant improvements made by his staff.

Still, problems communicating its achievements to the student body prevented recognition of GUSA as an effective lobbying institution, Rajan said.

Having chosen to focus more on policy issues rather than on marketing and communication, his administration lost a significant tool, he said.

Assembly Chair Ed Duffy (SFS `07) said that, although Rajan delivered some important results as president, his administration constantly struggled with communication both internally and with the student body.

“The bad thing about his administration is they didn’t communicate as well as they probably could have,” Duffy said.

Wright said that, despite riding high into office after defeating the closest of eight competitors by nearly 10 percentage points, he played very little role in GUSA because of his involvement in other projects, such as Students Taking Action Now: Darfur, a Sudan refugee advocacy group.

“If I had to do it all over again, it is easy to say I would have like to have done more with GUSA, but the truth is that I faced a hard decision and I chose to use my time with the people I felt needed it the most,” he said.

Rajan says his biggest regret, however, is not having gone farther with institutional reform, which was a major aspect of his campaign platform. Rajan said that while he succeeded in effecting a significant restructuring of the executive branch, the fragmented organism that resulted is, at best, a transition stage. He said that constitutional reforms in the future will be of greatest benefit to GUSA.

Still, he says that he has not given up hope for the association. Although the recent elections were far from ideal, all of the candidates demonstrated admirable traits throughout the aftermath, he said.

“[GUSA President] Twister [Murchison (SFS ’08)] has already shown effective leadership with GUTS, and [disqualified presidential candidate] Khalil [Hibri (SFS ’07)] has just been a real class act in dealing with the results,” he said.

Murchison announced in late March that GUSA had raised over $20,000 from alumni donors that it plans to use towards expanded weekend GUTS bus service.

Rajan said that he learned during his tenure that students can achieve their goals if they work hard enough.

“Students really can accomplish things,” he said. “A lot of those things [that GUSA accomplished] were said to be impossible.”

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