Feb. 1, 2019
As a solo candidate, Georgetown University Student Association presidential candidate Nicki Gray (NHS ’20) promises to collaborate with student leaders and support survivors of interpersonal violence.
Gray is running for the GUSA executive without a vice presidential candidate after her former running mate, Sam Appel (COL ’20), removed his name from the executive ballot Monday night.
Despite losing her vice presidential candidate, Gray highlighted the ongoing support from her campaign staff.
“I’m running alone in the sense that my name is the only one on the ballot, but I’m by no means running alone,” Gray said Wednesday in an interview with The Hoya. “I have an amazing team to support me, an amazing group of people that I’ve been learning from throughout this entire process, from the time I decided to run.”
Gray’s platform includes initiatives to support women and survivors of interpersonal violence on Georgetown’s campus, such as partnering with local nonprofit organizations to facilitate access to pro bono legal counsel to students going through the Title IX office.
The other tickets in the executive election are Norman Francis Jr. (COL ’20) and Aleida Olvera (COL ’20), Sina Nemazi (COL ’21) and Roya Wolfe (SFS ’21), and Ryan Zuccala (MSB ’20) and John Dolan (MSB ’20). The election is set for Friday, Feb. 8.
Gray currently serves as the director of personnel for the Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service and the standards chair for the Delta Phi Epsilon professional foreign service sorority. She is also involved with the Minority Health Initiative Council in the School of Nursing and Health Studies.
In light of Georgetown’s communications about the university’s comment in response to the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed Title IX changes, Gray said her campaign hopes to make Title IX policy and procedures more transparent for students.
“We would push to make sure that every time that there is a change in staffing, policy, procedures, that that is communicated not just through one email, but through social media posts and other ways around campus,” Gray said. “This is not just a women’s issue; this issue affects everyone on campus.”
The university has been conducting an ongoing search for a full-time Title IX coordinator since the former coordinator unexpectedly left her position in June 2018.
Earlier this month, Appel introduced a GUSA resolution originating from the work of the GU272 Advocacy Team, a group of students who push for Georgetown’s support of the descendants of the 272 slaves commonly known as the GU272, who were sold by the Maryland Society of Jesus in 1838 to financially sustain Georgetown.
If the resolution passes, students would vote on whether to add a semesterly fee of $27.20 for a reconciliation fund to contribute to the GU272.
Gray plans to push the university to implement the recommendations of the GU272 advocacy team should she be elected.
“With all the knowledge that I have gained about the GU272, I firmly believe that it is an important issue that needs to be addressed,” Gray said. “Not just for the Georgetown community, but also because we would be the first institution to put forth any sort of progress on an issue like this.”
To elevate underrepresented student voices on campus, Gray’s campaign aims to work alongside student activists and promote a culture of dialogue.
“We want to make sure that we are meeting with them ahead of time, hosting office hours like other GUSA executives have done in the past, but about specific issues and actively reaching out to those students that want to work on these issues and saying ‘Hey, we are having a conversation about this issues. Come talk to us. We would love to hear what you have to say,’” Gray said.
Gray also hopes to streamline GUSA’s legislative process and identified redundancy between certain GUSA policy teams, such as the LGBTQ advocacy team, and already existing student groups or university resources.
“In order to push legislation faster and make actual change, we need to streamline that process,” Gray said. “I don’t necessarily think that’s what we need to do in the case of all of the policy teams; I think they can serve a good role. But they need to be really looked at carefully and seeing how we can, for lack of a better term, decrease that bottleneck in the system.”
Despite the absence of GUSA experience in her ticket, Gray said she has prepared to take on the role of GUSA president by conducting research on GUSA’s history and speaking with individuals who are involved in the organization.
“Leading up to this campaign season I have been doing my research about GUSA, its history, its structure as much as I can from the outside in order to prepare myself for this candidacy and ultimately prepare myself to succeed in this administration,” Gray said.
A solo candidate has never run in a student government presidential race in GUSA’s electoral records, which span the last 20 years of the organization’s 35-year history, according to GUSA historian Henry Westerman (SFS ’21).
Gray does not plan to choose a vice presidential running mate unless she is elected and intends to employ an open application process.
“I’ll look to have some sort of application process where I can get to know the potential candidates and make sure that they are absolutely the strongest candidate for the position,” Gray said.
The value of GUSA lies in is its ability to unite community members behind a common mission in order to achieve results, according to Gray.
“What I think one of the roles of what student government can and should be is forming connections across different campus offices, administrative offices, administrators where things can be done together,” Gray said.