From the USG Candidates: Joe VanGostein

“A vote for VanGostein is a vote for you”




To my friends, classmates, fellow Argo enthusiasts, supporters who have been with this movement since 2018 and those of you just joining us: 

My name is Joe VanGostein, maybe better known to you as Gabelli Joe or USG Joe, a Long Island native, rising Gabelli senior, a two-year member of a love-hate relationship with McMahon Hall, and, above all, a proud Ram. I have been a member of United Student Government (USG) since my freshman year, and while I ran for first-year senator almost on a whim, USG has since defined my time at Fordham, and I can’t wait to see how it will shape my final year here.

When I ran for first-year Gabelli senator in 2018, I had no idea what I was doing. I had never been involved in student government before, and I was only running as a way to meet more people at Fordham. To campaign, I launched an Instagram account called @gabellijoe. Little did I know then how that account would take off. With @gabellijoe, I followed anyone and everyone with “Fordham” in their bio I could find, including people I had never even met. Pretty soon, people started approaching me in the halls. “Hey, are you Gabelli Joe?” “Hey, are you that USG guy that followed me?” My reputation as Gabelli Joe became so ubiquitous that eventually people just started calling me Gabelli Joe all the time, and to this day my best friends at Fordham still have my contact info in their phones as Gabelli Joe. 

Now I’m running for president to seek a bigger platform to keep fighting the good fight along with all of you and make Fordham Lincoln Center the better, smarter, more inclusive place we all know it can be.

Gabelli Joe became bigger than me (a classmate once swore to me that I was nothing like Gabelli Joe, questioning if we were the same person) and even went cross-campus. When I was studying abroad in London last year, a Rose Hill student asked me if I was Gabelli Joe! Along the way, my commitment to USG deepened, and I ran for future positions not on a whim but with a deep passion to improve our campus community.

After serving as Gabelli senator for two years, I ran for student-body secretary, my first school-wide position. As such, I retired the Gabelli Joe moniker and became @usgjoe (which today gets more interactions and active followers than the official USG account). In my expanded role, my DMs have gone from requests to publicize club events to issues to raise to the  administration. Over the last year as secretary, it has been my honor to earn your trust, to hear your concerns and to go to the administration for solutions. 

Based on the issues you’ve brought to me in person, over Zoom or through DMs, I’ve met with administrators to fight for pass/fail options, Public Safety to address bias concerns, library representatives to petition for expanded hours and more — even over the summer, when USG is not in session. Now I’m running for president to seek a bigger platform to keep fighting the good fight along with all of you and make Fordham Lincoln Center the better, smarter, more inclusive place we all know it can be.

There is no other candidate who has served longer or in more roles than me. Over the last three years, I have been everything from senator to Student Affairs committee member to Student Budget Activities Committee representative to secretary. I have planned events like the Christmas Tree Lighting, Club Leaders Networking Event and UNDYs, and I worked on student initiatives for social justice like Start With Us and Fordham Initiative for Race Equity (FIRE). But most importantly, I’ve striven to be a tireless amplifier of your voices through my Instagram, office hours and meetings with administrators.

As I said, @usgjoe, and my candidacy, are bigger than just me. This is our campaign and, hopefully, our presidency. Since our first campaign, @usgjoe has evolved into a real platform for student voices at Lincoln Center, from reporting dining hall complaints to spotlighting student quarantine activities, and I’ve used your DMs and comments to prove to the administration that students are calling for change and sought ways to accomplish it. As such, our platform is crowdsourced. After hearing your ideas on Instagram and Zoom fireside chats, I crafted a four-fold platform: 

    1. Social Justice: expand existing initiatives like Start With Us and FIRE, divest from discriminatory contractors, uphold USG bias reporting, and push the administration to hire more Black, Indigenous and people of color and LGBTQ+ employees. 
    2. COVID-19 Activism: keep the administration accountable for enforcing its own guidelines and communicating honestly, expand incident reporting, and launch hybrid student-support spaces
    3. Sustainability: eliminate single-use straws, reinstall the reusable cup program, eliminate Fairlife products, and expand the dorm composting program to more buildings
    4. Lincoln Center (LC) Pride: lean into what makes us unique instead of trying to emulate RH, such as respecting our diverse campus community by adding Halal options to campus dining!

Of course, politicians are notorious for grand ideas and empty promises, and I’m sure some of you reading this are a bit skeptical. I would be too! But I promise you (and those who know me can attest to this), I have never shied away from speaking up to the administration to fight on behalf of myself and my campus community. As president, I would use my expanded role to be an even bigger thorn in the administration’s side in pushing them to make the real changes you deserve. I encourage you all to DM me at @usgjoe with questions, concerns, ideas, or funny memes, or to set up a Zoom call, and I hope you consider voting VanGostein for USG LC president to bring our movement home and ensure that our first year back in person is our best year yet.

The Observer has invited both USG presidential candidates to submit op-eds about their platforms. The publication of any candidate’s submission does not constitute an endorsement by The Observer.

Watch the full USG presidential debate here: