Last Wednesday night, election banners were unfurled, videos were released and — like clockwork — the GUSA campaign season was underway once again. Though we don’t miss the late nights and sore knuckles from door knocking, it is hard not to think back to our own experience as candidates, and just how much has happened in the year since.
Far too often, we all get so wrapped up in the day-to-day sequence of events that we lose sight of the big picture. Students at Georgetown are more empowered now than ever before, in part because we have been unafraid to utilize the Georgetown University Student Association to create change. Every year, more and more Georgetown students participate in GUSA elections. We’re more diverse than we were then, as more and more individuals have sought to represent their fellow students.
But the fact is, GUSA wields very little inherent power of its own. What we do have is the power to channel a united student voice — and that voice has the power to move mountains.
During our term, we have never backed down from addressing challenges to student life or setting aside a chance to build new opportunities for future generations of students. This has been possible because members from both our executive team and the senate have believed in our mission, dedicating their time and effort to turning students’ best ideas into reality.
That is why we will not be making an endorsement for GUSA president and vice president this year. Rather than instruct students on our personal opinion, we believe it is up to voters to decide which candidate’s priorities best match their own. After the dust settles, it won’t be up to one candidate pair to make Georgetown a better place. It will be up to all of them — and, most importantly, it will be up to all of us as an engaged student body. The success of the future administration will depend not only on how they implement their platform, but also on how they work with their current competitors and future colleagues to advocate for students.
Each of the four tickets appearing on the ballot next Thursday has experience, vision and a proven dedication to service. And while we are confident that any one of them would continue the progress GUSA and Georgetown students have made in recent years, we believe there are a few crucial priorities that voters should take into account when they cast their ballots.
First and foremost, GUSA must always stay vigilant as a vanguard of student representation — and that is especially true as the 2010 Campus Plan agreement goes forward. Students have already felt the sting of an undergraduate parking ban and have run into trouble with strict noise rules that label all infractions “disorderly conduct.” And while it is because of the “One Georgetown, One Campus” campaign last semester that students will be living in Ryan and Mulledy Halls at the core of campus come fall 2015 rather than in a satellite dormitory miles away from the Hilltop, this will not be the last time students need to make their voices heard. The next GUSA executive must be willing and able to mobilize student activism even in the face of uncertainty and the possibility of failure.
The next GUSA executive also has an opportunity to grow the “What’s a Hoya?” program to maturity in a way that permanently improves our campus community. This initiative has the capacity to bring about a more inclusive Georgetown — one where all students understand not just the meaning of our Jesuit values, but how they can be implemented to promote inclusion, service and meaningful relationships on an increasingly diverse campus.
Lastly, we believe this institution has a moral imperative to continue combating the scourge of sexual assault on campus. We are proud to have fought for both the new alcohol amnesty clause for reporting sexual assaults and the campus-wide Sexual Assault Working Group, and we are thankful to the work of Sexual Assault Peer Educators, administrators and others who confront this difficult problem every day. This conversation must not fade from public consciousness, and we are pleased that virtually all candidates have prioritized this issue.
It has been among the greatest honors and privileges of our lives to serve Georgetown through our roles this year. We wish all candidates best of luck, thank them for their willingness to undergo the campaign process and look forward to what students can achieve together in the years to come.
NATE TISA and ADAM RAMADAN are seniors in the School of Foreign Service. They are president and vice president of the Georgetown University Student Association.