SBA Prepares for Spring Elections at Open Forum

While there are two months of classes remaining in the semester, Georgetown’s student government is already preparing to turn over power to a fresh set of leaders.  With the elections coming up on March 7-8, candidates have just a week left to make their case. Voting is conducted online, but staffed polling stations will be available in McDonough Hall.

The Student Bar Association (SBA)’s meeting on February 28th, the penultimate meeting of the current class of delegates and executive board members, featured a town-hall style forum where candidates for various executive board positions, including President, both Day and Evening Vice Presidents, Secretary, and Treasurer, were able to articulate their platform and answer questions from attendees.

Half of the 45 minutes allotted for the forum was occupied by the two candidates for SBA President.  2L Delegate Joshua Branch and 1L Delegate Ryan Shymansky both introduced themselves and their platforms in a one minute speech before they were asked questions by the attendees.  Shymansky drew attention to his relative inexperience, characterizing his run as  something he had not been planning for long.  Noting that it was unusual for first-year students to run for SBA President, he leaned on his experience and prior connections during his undergraduate years at Georgetown’s main campus.  Branch, who heads the Community Enrichment committee that has organized the speakership series, spoke about his ability to take a middle ground and his level-headed nature as beneficial to his candidacy.

Sitting SBA President Sandor Callahan, who has presided over a number of proceedings which are arguably an expansion of SBA’s area of interest, asked about the scope of student government.  The candidates diverged in subtle ways. Shymansky argued that the scope of SBA should remain the same while delving deeper into the areas already within its purview, while not foreclosing the opportunity to expand into new areas. Branch, on the other hand, argued that SBA should follow the will of the student body, expanding in response to what constituents desire.  The two candidates also idsagreed when it came to how they would increase engagement with students on campus.  Branch proposed holding a few town-hall style meetings per semester, while Shymansky advocated for instead sending out surveys through e-mail in order to save engaged students’ time.

After the Presidential debate, the three candidates for Day Vice President took the stage.  1L Jahid Mowla, not currently an SBA delegate, expressed regret at his lack of engagement at prior SBA meetings but appeared passionate nonetheless about the prospect of serving as Vice President.  He drew upon his past as a financial advisor in the construction industry and as a teacher.  He expressed a specific policy goal of improving cafeteria options for kosher and halal food.  Chris Joyce, currently a 1L delegate, emphasized the role of the VP as one who puts out fires and his willingness and desire to fill that role.  Lauren Weaver, also a 1L delegate, articulated a commitment to diversity alongside a commitment to fulfill the President’s agenda, no matter who they may be.  She shared that her experiences as a vice principal gave her the skills needed to serve as VP.

Only one Evening Vice President Candidate, 2E delegate Ata Akiner, attended the meeting, but he will be opposed on the ballot by newcomer Chris Fox.  Both sitting Transfer Delegates are running for other Executive Board positions.  Betty Rosenbaum will run unopposed for Treasurer, while Ahmad Al-Dajani will run unopposed for Secretary.  More candidates for all of these positions are possible, as write-in candidates are an option for voters.

1L delegates were selected earlier in the year.  For this election, a new slate of 2L and 3L delegates, along with equivalent positions in the evening program, are up for grabs.

Two final high-level positions, Chief of Staff and Attorney General, will be appointed by the new SBA President, likely from the pool of newly elected 3L delegates.


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