Jan. 29, 2019
Sam Appel (COL ’20) resigned from the Georgetown University Student Association senate and stepped down from his bid for GUSA vice president on a ticket with Nicki Gray (NHS ’20) Monday evening. Gray has since continued her campaign without a running mate.
Gray is permitted to continue her campaign for president alone, according to GUSA Election Commissioner Minji Doh (SFS ’19). If elected, Gray would appoint a vice president once in office.
A solo candidate has never run in a student government presidential race in GUSA’s electoral records, which span the last 20 years of GUSA’s 35-year history, according to GUSA Historian Henry Westerman (SFS ’21).
After meeting on Monday evening, Gray and Appel reached the conclusion that Appel would remove his name from the ballot and resign from the GUSA senate immediately. At this time, Gray has agreed to keep the reasoning for Appel’s departure private because of a third-party request, according to campaign manager Marc Pitrois (SFS ’20).
Appel submitted his resignation from the senate at 8:43 p.m. following Monday’s meeting with Gray.
GUSA senate speaker Eliza Lafferty (COL ’21) and vice speaker Patrick Walsh (SFS ’21) accepted Appel’s decision to leave the senate. The pair declined to comment on anything further about Appel’s resignation.
“Senator Appel submitted his request for resignation, and we accepted that request. We will be moving forward with the work of the Senate,” Lafferty and Walsh wrote in a statement to The Hoya.
At 9:42 p.m. Monday, Appel asked to remove his name from the executive ballot in a letter emailed to the election commission, according to Castle. Neither of Appel’s letters disclosed why he chose to exit the race or resign as senator.
Appel confirmed his resignations in a Tuesday morning call with The Hoya, but declined to comment on the reasons behind his exit.
Campaign staffers were notified in an email from Gray at approximately 12:30 a.m. Tuesday morning about Appel’s exit from the ticket.
“Last night, Sam Appel and I made the choice that he will no longer run for Vice President,” Gray wrote in a staffwide email obtained by The Hoya. Staffers were not made aware of specific reasons behind Appel’s departure from the campaign.
Sam Dubke (SFS ’21), Gray’s former volunteer coordinator and a GUSA senator, also stepped down from the campaign, according to the email. Dubke declined to comment on the reasons behind his or Appel’s resignations.
A resignation during the executive election race has not occurred in recent years and the election commission bylaws are not explicit on how to proceed, according to GUSA Election Commissioner Grant Castle (SFS ’21). Typically, election rules stipulate that candidates have 72 hours to appear on the ballot once campaigning officially begins, a deadline that expired Monday at midnight.
In this special circumstance, when the election commission — an independent body of undergraduate students who administer all GUSA races — discussed the option for Gray to select a new running mate, she preferred to run alone, Castle said.
Gray announced her intent to run without a running mate on her campaign’s Facebook page Tuesday evening.
The GUSA senate is expected to fill Appel’s position in the finance and appropriations committee during its next meeting, per GUSA bylaws. The senate’s next meeting is scheduled for Sunday. The bylaws also require GUSA President Juan Martinez (SFS ’20) to call a special election to fill Appel’s senate seat.
Chair of the FinApp committee Hayley Grande (COL ’21) confirmed the senate’s intent to fill Appel’s seat.
“We will be holding an internal election to comply with gusa bylaws and fill the seat,” Grande wrote in a statement to The Hoya.
Appel’s resignation is one of many GUSA has experienced in recent months. The ex-senator’s departure comes after the Sept. 11 resignations of former GUSA vice president Naba Rahman (SFS ’19) and 10 other executive cabinet members. The resignations were part of a push to force then-GUSA president Sahil Nair (SFS’19) out of office. Nair resigned later that morning.
After Rahman and staff tried to rescind their resignations, GUSA senators demanded those resignations go into effect after an emergency session of the senate was held that night. Rahman and the remaining cabinet members officially resigned Sept. 13. Former senator Chad Gasman (COL ’20) also resigned following the executive resignations as a result of subsequent mental health duress, according to a Sept. 12 statement by Gasman.
Earlier this month, Appel introduced a GUSA resolution calling for a referendum in which students can vote on whether to establish a reconciliation contribution, a fee included in student tuition that would collect money for a charitable fund to benefit descendants of the GU272.
The resolution originated 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 who were sold by the Maryland Society of Jesus in 1838 to financially sustain Georgetown, commonly known as the GU272.
Titled the “Act of Referendum to Establish a New GU272 Legacy and Create the Reconciliation Contribution,” the resolution passed the GUSA senate ways and means committee Jan. 23 and awaits a vote in the full senate Feb 2. GUSA President Martinez (SFS ’20) and Vice President Kenna Chick (SFS ’20) endorsed the bill after the senate postponed its Jan. 27 vote.
In addition to Gray, three other tickets remain in the running for the executive election: 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 Feb. 8.
Hoya staff writer Maya Gandhi contributed reporting.