On the Record with Joe and Connor 2.0
After the GUSA senate’s unanimous vote yesterday, Joe Luther (COL ’16) and Connor Rohan (COL ’16) have officially been certified as the next president and vice president of the association. Although they will not be sworn in until the following month, Vox sat down with the two to both reflect on their campaign and discuss their plans moving forward after what turned out to be quite a…dynamic 2015 GUSA Executive Election.
Vox: Was your campaign always serious, or did it begin as satire? If the latter, when did you start to take it seriously?
Connor: It began as satire, and as we progressed—
Joe: People asked us more serious questions, and we simply explained our methodology in constructing our satire campaign, and sort of these more serious contexts, meeting with the Editorial Boards and the debates, it sort of gradually transformed us into something more serious than we initially intended. Not that we weren’t making serious commentary with our satire, we were just being a little more transparent about it.
Vox: How did your prospects of winning the election change throughout the two weeks of the campaign season?
Connor: We did not think we would win, but after we got both [newspaper] endorsements, we said to ourselves, “Oh, looks like we are going to maybe win this,” which we did not expect, again, because we had no platform or budget.
Joe: Right. I would say the 24 hours with the VP debate then The Hoya endorsement was when we realized that things were getting a lot more serious—our prospects were a lot more serious than they originally were.
Connor: Yeah the VP debate was where it really took a turn. Because when you get into a room full of people that are knowledgeable, you need to be prepared in some way for that…and we learned a lot throughout that entire process. We have learned more in the past few days—*laughs*
Joe: It’s been a whirlwind.
Connor: Yeah, it’s been crazy.
Vox: Since being elected, it is what you expected it to be?
Connor: GUSA is way bigger—
Joe: It is way more complex. Both internally in GUSA, and in dealing with the administration, than I think we initially anticipated.
Connor: It is a very, very quick transition. There are certain things that we have to have done already.
Joe: That we were not prepared to—
Connor: Because some people, they put people on their Cabinet staff from their campaign staff, and we didn’t have a staff—
Joe: We had a staff of two full-time people and a couple part time, so we did not have pieces in place to plug-in, so we are currently looking for those pieces.
Vox: What aspects of your platform are your top priorities for these first few months as President and Vice President?
Joe: Definitely the tunnels. We want to explore them. I think we need to get a map going.
Connor: We only had one serious plank. So I mean, you can answer that yourself. I mean there’s a lot, I think the biggest thing… I know for a fact that the biggest thing we are going to have to deal with is the Campus Plan. And that’s going to be mostly on [Joe]. So he’s learning a lot, we’re learning a ton throughout this. Hopefully in a month, I think from today, we get sworn in, we will be adequately—
Joe: Fully prepared. Fully prepared.
Vox: Along the same line, do you guys have any strategies for dealing with the upcoming negotiations with the Campus Plan? Is there anything that you are trying to achieve?
Connor: I don’t think that we feel comfortable answering that question yet.
Joe: We are still immersing ourselves.
Connor: Until we have all the details, I don’t think we can start to plan strategy until we are as well-versed in the issue as we need to be.
Vox: What do you guys hope that the legacy of your administration will be?
Joe: I think really it is just a large culture change in terms of how GUSA operates. What we really want to do, the whole point of our campaign was to shake-up how GUSA works a little bit, because GUSA seems pretty alientated to a lot of people. We hope at least just through our campaign, not necessarily just being elected, that we can sort of change how people view this institution. So what we really want to do is include a lot of people that wouldn’t normally be a part of GUSA and make GUSA something that is fun to work with.
Vox: Do you have any ideas for how you want to go about doing that?
Connor: I think the first thing we are going to do is start with how we pick Cabinet staff. We are going to have a pretty big campaign for trying to get people who have never been involved in GUSA, but who are very passionate about issues, into our Cabinet staff. A lot of the time, with people that are appointed, it is done very quickly, low-key, people that have had a lot of GUSA experience, or people that have worked for campaigns.
Joe: One of our biggest initiatives is just outreach because we feel that sometimes GUSA is too secluded and invisible from the public. And people responded really well to the way we approached our campaign, so we hope that we can apply a similar tactic in reaching people. That is how our administration can be successful.
Additional reporting by Lara Fishbane.
Photo: Andrew Sullivan/The Georgetown Voice