Feb. 1, 2019
After training alongside each other for three years on the Georgetown men’s lightweight crew team, Ryan Zuccala (MSB ’20) and John Dolan (MSB ’20) are running for the Georgetown University Student Association executive to combat perceived inefficiencies of student government.
Friends and acquaintances told the pair they sought a productive GUSA executive, inspiring Zuccala and Dolan to announce their candidacy on a platform centered around actionable goals, according to Zuccala.
“The emails started to come out about GUSA and we started to ask some people what they think,” Zuccala said Monday interview with The Hoya. “People didn’t really know what GUSA did so they felt like GUSA never really represented them or got anything done that they wanted. We thought about it, and one day we were hanging out and the idea started to form.”
The candidates entered the race three weeks ago to enact feasible goals, which they feel have been neglected by GUSA executives in the past.
“We thought that maybe we could actually get something done that hasn’t been done before and get some tangible change,” Zuccala said.
Zuccala and Dolan are focused on tackling three main issues: lowering tuition, improving dining options and expediting work orders for housing and maintenance problems.
Zuccala and Dolan face three other tickets: Norman Francis Jr. (COL ’20) and Aleida Olvera (COL ’20); Nicki Gray (NHS ’20); and Sina Nemazi (COL ’21) and Roya Wolfe (SFS ’21). The election is set for Friday, Feb. 8.
Though they have no prior experience in GUSA, Zuccala and Dolan believe they can create tangible change for students should they be elected because of their desire to listen to students and their previous leadership experience.
“I think having two candidates come in who are from the outside, not in GUSA, might show that there can be a change in GUSA,” Dolan said. “I think that while we’re in office, it’s important to have two people that have experience as leaders.”
In addition to rowing together, both Zuccala and Dolan serve on the Student-Athlete Advisory Commission, which promotes student-athlete interests within the university. Zuccala has served as a member of the Georgetown University Student Investment Fund for the last three years, while Dolan is the vice president of marketing for the Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union.
Unlike other tickets that are targeting a wide range of policy areas, the pair believe their streamlined platform will allow for greater success in office.
“We’re not going to be tied down by a lot of other policies a lot of other candidates have. Some candidates have upwards of 20 policies that they are trying to push through, and to us that’s just way too many to get done,” Zuccala said. “We think that just by focusing on those three things, we can make real change.”
If elected, Zuccala and Dolan plan to reduce the expenses of organizations like Georgetown Program Board and GUSA as a way to lower tuition rates, which have been increasing for the past eight years, for students. They aim to increase transparency on how GUSA spends its $24,000 budget, according to Zuccala.
The pair also plan to collaborate with dining hall staff and administrators in an effort to increase the value of a meal swipe.
“We feel like people aren’t getting much for their meal swipes,” Dolan said Monday in an interview with The Hoya. “It’s kind of crazy how little we get for the value of our meal swipes. We feel like that can really be tackled.”
The cheapest plan available to undergraduate students includes 75 meals per semester and 5 guest meal swipes for $1186, which calculates to about $14.80 per meal swipe.
Dolan praised GUSA’s recent on-campus food pantry initiative, Hoya Hub, as an affordable opportunity for low-income students to access meals. The pair plan to continue support for the program.
Zuccala and Dolan also push for faster responses to housing complaints for students living on campus. Facilities responded to 361 mold-related work requests between August and October last year, more than double the number reported during that time frame in 2017.
Living in Henle Village, the pair have personally experienced multiple water leaks from the ceiling and are frustrated with the long wait times for work orders.
“There are students that are paying upwards of $70,000 a year, and to have water leaking into your apartment is ridiculous,” Zuccala said. “We want to make sure that work orders are fulfilled in a better time.”
Dolan specifically cited the pair’s experiences as student-athletes as valuable assets for collaboration and unity in the GUSA executive.
“We have a lot of experience being a leader in a team, and every organization at Georgetown is a team,” Dolan said. “Georgetown as a whole is a team, and that’s where Ryan and I thrive, is being on a team and accomplishing goals.”
Kamar Mack (COL ’20) and Jessica Andino (COL ’19) were the most recent executives elected with no previous GUSA experience. Last year’s winners, Sahil Nair (SFS ’19) and Naba Rahman (SFS ’19), touted themselves as outsiders in their campaign, though Rahman had previous experience serving on GUSA’s Federal and D.C. Relations committee.
The pair recognize students’ frustrations with GUSA and aim to serve as advocates for the Georgetown community.
“I think distrust in GUSA is getting to an all-time high,” Zuccala said. “The whole point of GUSA is to be an advocacy group for students, and if you don’t have an advocacy group for students, then how do you get your voice heard with the administration? I think GUSA has a necessary role, it just hasn’t been fulfilled yet.”
Hoya staff writer Deepika Jonnalagadda contributed reporting.