On the Record with Abbey and Will: Rise Together with funding reform, free speech, and Right Shark
The second ticket in the 2015 GUSA Executive Election that Vox spoke with was Abbey McNaughton (COL ’16), running for President, and Will Simons (COL ’16), running for Vice President. Their platform includes increasing the Student Activities fee to alleviate funding problems, creating an Office of the Free Speech Advocate—and ending the discrimination against Right Shark.
What are the most important issues addressed in your platform, and what are some immediate changes you would like to make in office?
Though there are a variety of issues, each affecting many students, there is one that fundamentally affects every current student, and will impact future Hoyas until 2038: the campus plan. The last campus plan had very little student input, and was negotiated without much student involvement. As a result, Georgetown has been required to implement the 3rd-year housing requirement, create SNAPs, and pay off-duty MPD officers to “protect” the neighbors from us students.
But the Campus Plan has also forced the University to prioritize funding for new buildings and delay discussions around student desires – for instance, renovations to Kehoe field, a Disability Cultural Center, and more multipurpose arts space. When we say Rise Together, we mean all corners of Georgetown uniting behind common goals to defeat harmful University or neighborhood policies.
In addition to effective campus plan negotiations, we consider funding reform, free speech, pluralism, and socioeconomic equity among our highest priorities. We will advocate for a $44 increase in the Student Activities fee, and students will be able to allocate this $44 amount to the student group of their choosing. We believe that this will alleviate many current issues facing groups due to a lack of funding.
Additionally, we want to create an Office of the Free Speech Advocate, staffing a few students exceptionally well-versed in the Policy to arbitrate alleged Policy infractions in real time––sort of like Batman, but for free speech. We’re also proud, though fairly disappointed, to be the only ticket supporting the student-led initiative through the Provost’s office for a cross-listed diversity requirement.
Finally, there are some very easy reforms that we intend to push for to make Georgetown much more affordable for a significant proportion of Hoyas, from getting financial aid to cover printing and laundry, to pushing the University to get rid of the student summer income contribution to financial aid, where the University deducts from your financial aid package the money you made over the summer.
What makes your ticket unique from the others that are in the running?
Abbey: Through my experience in the GUSA Senate and as one of two presenters to the committees on the University’s Board of Directors, I have been able to develop unique personal relationships with top-level administrators and members of the Board. I have been able to advocate on issues that affect all different parts of campus, ranging from Kehoe Field, to accessibility and mental health. Through this position, and coupled with prior experience in the College Academic Council, I have gained significant experience working directly on policy issues.
Will: Meanwhile, I have student advocacy experience from outside of GUSA. I led the Students Against Restrictive Housing Policy social media campaign last year, which successfully delayed the implementation of the new housing restrictions which will prevent students who study abroad in the fall from entering the normal housing lottery. I was able to garner wide support for the initiative from students across campus in an aggressive social media and outreach effort.
The combination of unique student advocacy experience – along with recognition of GUSA’s shortcomings – will allow us to accomplish more of our goals and improve GUSA more effectively than any other ticket.
Which groups on campus have you been involved in during your time at Georgetown?
Will: GSWAG (Georgetown Speechwriting Advisory Group, VP & President), GU Club Golf (VP), US-Middle East Youth Network (Board), GU College Dems
Abbey: GUSA Senate, currently as Vice-Speaker and former member of Finance and Appropriations Committee, student representative to the University’s Board of Directors, formerly secretary for the College Academic Council, The Hoya (sorry), College Peer Advisor, GU College Republicans, SAPE
If you could describe your campaign in four words, what would they be?
Unity. Representation. Rise Together.
What is your favorite Wisey’s sandwich?
Will: The 116 (BBQ chicken, American cheese, and bacon). Though it’s not listed, if you order it, they’ll know what you’re talking about.
Abbey: I always go for a burger, no bun (Celiac problems), and on the side, at least seven packets of ketchup.
Thoughts on Left Shark for GUSA 2015?
We’re distressed with the lack of attention on Right Shark. We want Right Shark to feel equally valued (after all, he was at least as awesome a dancer as Left Shark), so we’ll be supporting Right Shark over Left Shark for GUSA.
Photo: Courtesy of Abbey and Will