On Saturday, the Georgetown University Student Association swore in the new President and Vice President, Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) and Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13). The inauguration was a small affair, with Vail being sworn in on a copy of Infinite Jest because, “This is the closest thing I had to a religious text.”
Gustafson also gave an impromptu address:
I’m going to take a few minutes of your time to say, thank you all for coming out today and happy St. Paddy’s Day. I am so very excited and honored to stand before you today to be sworn in as the GUSA president. GUSA have accomplished many incredible things the past three years, and I’ve learned a lot from my experience. Vail and I are in a great position to finish a lot of those initiatives that were started, especially SAFE reform, and to establish GUSA as an organization for and by all students and expand its reach into focus areas that haven’t been exercised in the past by GUSA. That said, I would like to thank Mike and Greg for their incredible hard work and dedication over the past year to the students and this university. You guys have left some incredibly large shoes to fill, and we hope we do you proud.
Vail and I have already begun work on some of the initiative we proposed in our platform, such as planning a research symposium, an LGTBQ-friendly checkbox on CHARMS, and the Student Life Report—and how to implement the recommendations that were given in that. We have also been working on a pretty fantastic cabinet to help execute a lot of these and other important initiatives. Vail and I have been given an incredible opportunity, and … we hope that we will serve all of you well in the next year, and know that our door is always open. Thank you very much.
Last week, Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) and Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13) won the 2012 GUSA executive election after two weeks of contentious campaigns and at least one act of defacement. Maybe now that the election is over we can all be nice to each other again.
After weeks of preparation and fourteen days of non-stop campaigning, after twodebates, after one defacement, after a record-breaking 3,697 number of first-round votes were counted, and the necessary instant-runoff voting processes were completed, GUSA senators Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) and Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13) have been declared the winners of the GUSA executive election.
Over 50 percent of eligible voters participated in what was perhaps the most intense GUSA elections in history. Six rounds of instant-runoff voting were required for the winning ticket to achieve 50 percent of the vote.
In the sixth round, Gustafson and Kohnert-Yount won with 1856 votes, while Murphy Kate Delaney (COL ’13) and Michael Appau (COL ’13) came in second with 1391 votes. Although every round of instant-runoff was necessary, the initial round of results indicated the strength of the Gustafson-Kohnert-Yount ticket. With 1130 first-place votes, the winning pair far outstripped the Delaney-Appau ticket, who received 714 first-place votes.
John Morris (COL ’13) and Lauren Weber (COL ’13) placed third, Colton Malkerson (COL ’13) and Maggie Cleary (COL ’14) finished fourth, Tyler Sax (COL ’13) and Michael Crouch (MSB ’13) placed narrowly behind Malkerson-Cleary in fifth, Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) and Sheila Walsh (COL ’14) placed sixth, and Daniel LaMagna (COL ’13) and Markel Starks (COL ’14) finished in last place. [Editor's note: complete vote tallies are available below.]
Replacing the outgoing executive team of Mike Meaney (SFS ’12) and Greg Laverriere (COL ’12), Gustafson and Kohnert-Yount will have to resign their positions in the GUSA senate in order to assume their executive positions.
Until now, the record for votes in an GUSA election was held by the 2006 referendum on the Accountability and Reform Amendment, which tallied 3,554 votes and gave GUSA wide authority over dispensing student organization funds.
At some point before midnight tonight, voting for the 2012-13 GUSA executive will begin. After two weeks of campaigning, two debates, and more square footage of signs than the Pennsylvania turnpike, you’ll finally be able to vote. Here’s Vox’s cheat sheet for the election.
Candidates, in ballot order
We won’t elaborate much on the individual platforms here because you’ve probably been beat over the head with these names and buzz words more than you’d like. So here is the list of candidates in the order they will appear on the ballot, with links to their responses to a Vox questionnaire (they were assigned the order randomly):
Given the sheer number of candidates and the the relative aggressiveness of the campaigns compared to years past, don’t be surprised if the winner receives less than a plurality of first-choice votes. With instant run-off voting, the results are iteratively re-tabulated after eliminating the candidate with the lowest number of votes until one candidate receives a majority. For reference, Mike & Greg won last year with 30% of first choice votes and only received the necessary majority after four rounds of elimination. In 2010, Calen & Jason received a majority right off the bat. But since the 2010 election wasn’t nearly as competitive, how you rank your second, third, and fourth place candidates could decide who wins, so pay attention (and a note to the candidates, campaigning to get already-decided voters to rank you in second place is probably a good idea).
By last night, each GUSA Executive campaign released at least one Youtube video. They range from the expected and mundane to the unexpected and amusing. Some prioritize messaging over cleverness, while others are clearly trying to make a splash. So if you want to vote in the GUSA election but don’t want to read through all the platforms or poorly-done live blogs of debates, here are Youtube videos from every campaign.
The most popular video of the campaign thus far has been Murphy Kate Delaney and Michael Appau’s “Running for GUSA“, which adapts Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “N**gas in Paris” to Georgetown. Both have surprisingly good rhythm, giving them slack for some very contrived lyrics (the rhyme scheme of “He said “Murph can we get married at the Daaahl(grin)” / I said “Maybe when the Hoyas finish balling” / Come and meet us in the Gaston Hall ‘n” as one example), though clearly Delaney needs to articulate her stance on President Obama’s birth certificate after spitting the line, ”Mikey’s straight out of Ghana / Like a Georgetown Obama.”
In what looks like the only campaign video produced by an outside group, vice presidential candidate Markel Starks walks dramatically down a hallway in Healy Hall, and talks about the campaign as the lighting changes dramatically. Although he only makes two references to his running mate, he does describe the fundamental point of their campaign: to institute practical reforms instead of focus on long-term reforms. The LaMagna-Starks campaign is also the producer of a Herman Cain-inspired ad that includes a Hoya smoking on a parked DPS car. Their official Youtube channel has an Introduction, a video Starks filmed from the locker room on the morning before the vice presidential debate, and video that includes Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims endorsing LaMagna-Starks.
The Malkerson-Cleary ticket put up a clever installment in Red Square today—a Rubik’s cube on which each block has a different item of their platform. According to Colton Malkerson (COL ’13), the cube represents their ability to think outside the box and to solve problems. In an attempt to think outside the box, they came up with a box. In an email to Vox, Malkerson wrote:
We wanted to think outside of the box when it came to campaigning, so we literally came up with a box. The Rubik’s cube says we are solving problems on campus and lists proposals from our platform. We wanted something eye-catching that you couldn’t miss going through Red Square. Hopefully students are interested enough when passing by to read some platform items.
Vox wonders if there’s deeper meaning to the cube. According to the logic, Colton and Maggie will solve Georgetown’s problems much like they’d solve a Rubik’s cube, by putting all the sides in their proper order. The cube seems to critique GUSA campaigns, suggesting that each puts forward roughly the same platform, just arranged in slightly different ways. The campaign, in this case Colton and Maggie’s, that puts them together in the correct way has solved the cube. It implies that there is only one right way to address Georgetown’s problems.
Last night, the large American flag turned campaign poster that the Malkerson-Cleary ticket put up in Red Square was vandalized with the words “U.S. WANTED FOR MURDER!” The Department of Public Safety classified the incident as vandalism, and Colton Malkerson (COL ’13) promised in a Youtube video filmed from the scene to return the flag to its original state.
Malkerson’s opponents decried the act.
Nate Tisa (COL ’14) wrote to Vox, “Defacing the American flag, or any flag for that matter, is detestable and should be condemned by the entire community. All candidates for this office are pouring their time and effort into the race and should not be unfairly mistreated. We hope that they are able to repair their signs and move on with the campaign.”
However, Tisa also qualified his remarks, questioning the Malkerson campaign’s decision to use the flag in the first place: “That said, there is inherent risk in connecting something like the American flag so superfluously to a campaign for student government. The Malkerson-Cleary campaign does not lay exclusive claim to America and the sign does not further their issues. Hoyas not in support of their campaign may find their names spread throughout the flag in poor taste, not to mention what it says about inclusion and diversity. Lets move back to the issues at hand.”
Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) wrote in an email, “I hope this was not done by any campaign, I think it would reflect badly on all of the candidates if this election goes negative. We need to remember that this is about the issues and the team that will be able to make the most positive change on campus. I don’t believe that you can make positive change if you are tearing down the other candidates first.”
“I’m highly disappointed that someone would resort to vandalism in order to express his or her views. This is an unfortunate blemish on what has thus far been a positive campaign. I told Colton and Maggie if they need help fixing their sign, I would be glad to pitch in,” wrote Tyler Sax (COL ’13).
Update, 11:06 a.m.: In an email to Vox, GUSA Election Commissioner Adam Giansiracusa (SFS ’12) wrote, “We hope the campaign remains positive, and that this is the last time anything like this occurs.”
Original post, 2:22 a.m.: Earlier tonight, the American flag turned massive GUSA campaign poster in Red Square, which belongs to the Colton Malkerson-Maggie Cleary ticket, was vandalized with the spray-painted words “U.S. WANTED FOR MURDER!” The ticket’s other large poster in Red Square was torn down. The Department of Public Safety has classified the incident as vandalism. For now, the torn down poster has been placed over the vandalized portion of the flag poster.
Both GUSA Speaker Adam Talbot (COL ’12) and GUSA presidential candidate Colton Malkerson (COL ’13) were at the scene tonight. Talbot said, ”I hoped campaigning would remain positive. This is an exceptional incident, it injects an unfortunate dynamic into the race. I had hoped candidates could stick to the issues and making Georgetown a better place.” He added, ”There is no way to infer that it was another campaign.”
Malkerson told the Voice, “[The flag] wasn’t meant as a political statement. It was meant to be eye-catching and celebrating the fact that we’re in Washington D.C.” In a Youtube video posted from Red Square, Malkerson said, “I’m not sure if they were targeting our campaign or the flag or the message, whatever it is, either way we’re going to keep doing our campaign.” The campaign plans to make the flag “look just as good as it was before.”
Vox invited each ticket to respond to five questions about their campaigns to be the next leaders of the GUSA Executive. They will be posted without editing or comment. Below is the response of Murphy Kate Delaney and Michael Appau.
Why are you qualified to the GUSA President and Vice President?
Our combination of GUSA experience and involvement with other campus organizations and activities makes us the most qualified and most effective voices for all Georgetown students. Our emphasis and passion is to create a better Georgetown and a better GUSA.
What are your top three goals that you hope to achieve as the GUSA Executives?
Our top three goals are:
(1) Expand the services that GUSA provides to benefit the daily lives and Georgetown experiences for all students. Services like: HoyaList (including a Text Book Co-Op), Bulldog Bikes, and the organization of Short-Term Community Service Projects.
(2) Improve GUSA’s Outreach with the Georgetown student body. We will re-vamp Executive ‘Office Hours’ and spend this time meeting with student group leaders, attend meetings of student organizations, and visit Freshmen common rooms on a regular basis to fully understand the needs and successes of Georgetown students. We think it is of the utmost importance that GUSA invests in Georgetown and does not sit back waiting for Georgetown to invest in GUSA.
(3) Build on the successful long-term goals and initiatives of past GUSA administrations. We will continue to address major issues: student space,neighborhood relations, and Code of Conduct reform. We have practical solutions to alleviate the severity of these problems for current Georgetown students in the short-term and will work to create a better Georgetown in the future.