Feb. 1, 2019
Long before launching their bid for the Georgetown University Student Association executive, Norman Francis Jr. (COL ’20) and Aleida Olvera (COL ’20) bonded in the first few weeks of their freshman year, after Olvera witnessed Francis attempt to climb a doorway in Village C West.
Since freshman year, the two have remained close friends, making the decision to expand their personal relationship into a political one last week. Francis and Olvera’s campaign is centered on the themes of transparency, reform, accessibility and progress — or “T.R.A.P.,” as the pair have labelled it.
Though they had chosen to run the day before the final executive election info session, Francis said his ability to work well under deadlines serves as previous experience working under a tight timeline.
“I decided to run last week,” Francis said Sunday in an interview with The Hoya. “I’m a Georgetown student, I like living life under pressure. On one Friday, I finished three finals — I wrote 22 pages from three different finals — so I like working under pressure.”
Drawing on Olvera’s experiences encountering obstacles at Georgetown as a first-generation college student, the pair’s platform focuses on improving access to university resources, particularly for first-generation students.
“I think academic accessibility is really lacking in this university,” Olvera said Sunday in an interview with The Hoya. “We are here to learn. We are here to take advantage of Georgetown’s curriculum, and it should be working for us to succeed instead of working against us.”
Francis and Aleida face three other tickets: Nicki Gray (NHS ’20); Sina Nemazi (COL ’21) and Roya Wolfe (SFS ’21); Ryan Zuccala (MSB ’20) and John Dolan (MSB ’20). The election is set for Friday, Feb. 8.
Francis is a student office assistant at the Georgetown University department of African American studies, serves as a tour guide for Blue and Gray Tour Guide Society, is a board member of the Black Student Alliance, and is the program director of Georgetown Radio.
Olvera serves as co-director for Georgetown’s Hoya Hacks hackathon, is the technology director of Georgetown Radio and is a Georgetown Community Scholar.
The pair stressed the malleable nature of their current policy platform and their openness to input from the student body. Olvera said they are looking forward to criticism from the student body as a mode for improvement.
“We would love for people to criticize our campaign,” Olvera said. “We are so ready for it because we want to know what works and what doesn’t work because we haven’t been a part of GUSA.”
Francis and Olvera plan to meet with current GUSA senators and representatives from student groups to discuss the potential for changes in their current policy based on what has been done in the past. Around two-thirds of the policy specifics are susceptible to change, according to Francis.
Francis and Olvera’s campaign revolves around achievable goals and new ideas to maximize the opportunity for the reform of failed initiatives, according to Francis.
“Sometimes, bad work gets repeated and good work gets lost,” Francis said. “I want to be able to have goals that we can actually achieve so that we don’t just have these high-arching goals that are either redundant, have been done before or people are currently working on them.”
Olvera hopes to introduce a pamphlet informing students of alternative options within Georgetown’s curriculum, including information about taking classes pass/fail or auditing courses. The pamphlet would be circulated within the dean’s offices.
The pair also hope to increase accessibility for students with physical disabilities through efforts like greater signage pointing towards accessible entrances and more accessible routes across campus. The candidates plan to advocate for understaffed university resources by placing pressure on the university to hire a full-time Title IX coordinator and secure a permanent replacement for the former director of the Georgetown University Women’s Center.
The ticket highlighted the necessity of targeting a wide range of student issues for their platform before they set concrete policy goals. Francis and Olvera plan to address a range of issues, from increasing resources for LGBTQ activists to promoting the rights of graduate student workers.
“Something that is really important is to make sure that we can actually reach out to Georgetown students,” Francis said. “We’re still trying to reach out to a lot of different advocacy groups to really finalize our policy because it’s still in one of its early formats.”
The pair seek to form partnerships with the student organizations they represent, planning to develop relationships with student athletes and members of unrecognized student groups through the process of developing and enacting productive policy while in office.
If elected, the ticket plans to increase communication between former GUSA executives and future executives, allowing for progress on an initiative to continue after a single year, Francis said.
The pair touted their status as an outsider ticket as a strength, as it sets them apart from those deeply involved in GUSA politics.
“I feel like us as a ticket are much more approachable to the rest of the student body only because we haven’t been involved in GUSA,” Olvera said. “We wanted to make sure that we’re as authentic as possible throughout this entire process.”
If elected, Francis and Olvera seek to leave a legacy of accountability and advocacy for the students they represent.
“We want to make sure we have some sort of report given out as we leave and as we enter so people know our big goals and they hold us accountable to them,” Olvera said. “We want to be the GUSA VP and president that everyone knew was really trying to advocate for people that tend to be lost in these spaces that aren’t specifically built for them.”