Statement to Sheila Cruz-Morales
In a series of Tweets posted by Sheila Cruz-Morales on Monday, January 31st, she and her sister expressed their concern regarding an interaction that occurred in the “Georgetown Transfers” GroupMe. We have taken the time necessary to reflect on the situation that had transpired and had a conversation with Sheila. Thomas is deeply sorry for how Sheila and her sister were affected during this instance. We recognize that the only way to better ourselves as people and as representatives of the Georgetown student body is to fully commit to recognizing and mitigating concerns raised from members of our community. We would like to thank Sheila and her sister for holding us to the standard of accountability that is required of us and for their willingness to have an open dialogue.
Statement From the Leonard-Khan Campaign on Concerns From Members of the Georgetown Community
A few days ago, we were made aware of concerns regarding our viability as candidates for the GUSA Presidential and Vice Presidential positions. We take these concerns very seriously, so it was our utmost priority to put a lot of thought, time, and reflection into how to best move forward as candidates. With this in mind, we concluded that it is important to first and foremost reaffirm our commitment to serving marginalized communities, as well as to genuinely apologize before taking any further action during this campaign season.
Under the Blass-Sanchez administration, the Executive operated with a policy of contacting members of the Senior Staff if they had missed three or more meetings. As Nile and Nicole’s appointed Chief of Staff, Thomas assumed responsibility for this and other administrative functions within the organization. In line with these responsibilities, Thomas did contact Ace to inquire about their interest in continuing to serve within GUSA and to schedule a time for them to meet with GUSA leadership to overview organizational goals for the academic year. At the time of Thomas’s contacting Ace, he was unaware of any of Ace’s needs, nor their personal situation. Thomas takes full responsibility for this oversight, as well as for any sort of miscommunication among members of GUSA leadership regarding Ace’s absences.
While the initial interaction with Ace occurred on September 15th, Ace responded to Thomas with their availability on September 21st. While it does not excuse the harm that was caused, or the broader impact, Thomas was unable to respond, as he had spent that day and most of the night in the hospital with norovirus, as well as several after in recovery.
Neither Thomas or Nirvana would ever want anyone to feel as though any type of need they may have represents a barrier to participating in the work that GUSA does. We are deeply apologetic for the harm we caused to Ace through our interactions with them. GUSA has a lot of work to do in terms of becoming accessible to members of marginalized populations, disabled people in particular, and are fully committed to the personal growth required to be better examples of leadership. We would love to have further conversations with Ace or other affected parties to this end.
In addition, it has come to our attention that the “Our Track Record” page on our campaign website harmed some members of the same communities we are so passionate about representing. We would never want to take credit for work we didn’t do, nor did we intend to convey that we were the sole individuals responsible for the accomplishments we listed. We also understand that members of GSP have provided a very specific perspective and efforts to these projects that we cannot lay claim to. Furthermore, the intention behind listing the projects we have been involved in was not to glorify ourselves, but merely showcase our effort and commitment to student advocacy. We have updated our website to highlight our specific contributions and the people we worked alongside. While we regret the miscommunication on our part, we feel that erasing our contributions – especially those of Nirvana, a low-income woman of color – would be unjust.
We would also like to address claims from Melanie Cruz-Morales, the Speaker of the 15th Senate, that Nirvana co-opted her identity by sending an official email using her signature. Under her role as Senate Outreach Chair, Nirvana was directed to send an email from the official Senate email account. When approached by Speaker Cruz-Morales about the issue, Nirvana immediately apologized to them and took full accountability for forgetting to take off the Speaker and Vice Speaker's email signature. While Nirvana is earnestly sorry for her mistake, she would appreciate grace as a first-year that was new to GUSA. From her point of view, it was an honest miscommunication and Nirvana never intended to appropriate Melanie or Erique’s professional identity. We are also hurt by the concerns that we cannot adequately represent low-income communities on campus due to our personal identities. Though she is not a member of the GSP community, Nirvana is a low-income student, and to have her identity erased and her mistakes weaponized by a fellow person of color is both hurtful and counterproductive to the change we all want to see in GUSA.
When Nirvana and Thomas made the decision to run for President and Vice President of GUSA, they did so with an understanding of the enormous responsibility they would have to represent the entirety of the student body. In recognition of this responsibility, they have been deeply reflective of the experiences they’ve been a part of and the lessons they’ve learned in order to run a campaign that is both reflective of the needs of the student body and the direction GUSA needs to best move forward. We treat concerns regarding our standing as candidates with the utmost respect and hope to foster and maintain positive and fruitful working relationships with the communities we hope to represent in office in all that we do.