This weekend The Hatchet's editorial board spent 10 hours interviewing both the presidential and executive-vice presidential candidates for the Student Association. Unlike last year's slim pickings, this year's batch of candidates is surprisingly strong for the most part. Still we can only have one SA president - thankfully - and this year, The Hatchet endorses current EVP Kyle Boyer for the job.
Boyer, a junior, brings experience, leadership ability and strong ideas to the table. While he may be the more predictable candidate, he is also the most qualified. Boyer's platform includes student life improvements, responsive leadership and a focus on advocacy. None of these are groundbreaking platform planks, but all are necessary, and Boyer is capable of living up to these promises.
He intends to get students angry about the issues that are true problems - dining, advising and so on - and recognizes the power of the collective student voice. As far as dining goes, Boyer is frustrated with what he calls "Band-Aid" solutions and promises to engage the union to get real, lasting change.
One of the more unique aspects of Boyer's platform is that he has a solid plan for reducing book costs, and is the only one that mentions this issue. He will advocate for professors not to assign brand new versions of books when little has changed, and would even go so far as to divert people from using the bookstore until prices were more reasonable.
His collaboration with local student government presidents has moved the Metro discount project forward, and his already strong and positive relationships with administrators show that Boyer has not waited to become president to start advocating for students. While he is criticized for being an SA insider, experience really does count for a lot.
The important thing to remember in this race is that more than one candidate would be effective in the presidential role. Sophomore Julie Bindelglass presents an extremely well put-together campaign and is clearly knowledgeable. While Boyer's extra year of experience gives him the necessary edge, Bindelglass would be a competent and probably successful leader. Her greatest fault may be that her overly polished campaign, complete with a media contact and volunteer coordinator, is reminiscent of an administration that takes itself too seriously without the serious progress to show for it.
Sophomore Nick Polk, another strong contender, does not have this problem. He acknowledges that he is just another student, and even promised to give up the SA office and not order new business cards if elected. His focus on small, tangible changes - such as town halls where current graduate, law and medical students could advise undergraduates and keeping extra laptop chargers in Gelman - is pragmatic, and Polk should definitely be kept involved, win or lose. One of the troubling things Polk shared was that he would keep SA conflicts internal, making transparency a questionable goal for him.
The most refreshing candidate of the lot has to be Sammy Lopez, a junior running on a slate with Arthur Goodland, also a junior. Lopez has been portrayed as a joke candidate throughout the campaign, but he has some surprisingly unique and feasible ideas - including microwaves in academic buildings so students can quickly heat up lunch and more Internet hotspots. If Lopez is elected, we can at least be fairly confident of these simple goals being met. Lopez also has some in-depth knowledge of dining lobbying, and is an extremely well-spoken candidate. Unfortunately, he has embraced the joke candidate stigma, and it is important to remember that administrators are watching. While Boyer, Bindelglass and Polk, with all of their experience, are clearly better qualified, a Lopez presidency would be interesting to say the least.
Junior Justin Hollimon and sophomore Jordan Phillips were equally uninspiring, though for different reasons. While Hollimon is very approachable, he lacks concrete ideas, SA experience and administrator relationships. Phillips, on the other hand, has several detailed ideas, but may succumb to tunnel-vision when it comes to sustainability, his pet issue. Both of these candidates demonstrate leadership skills, but would best serve the GW community in capacities other than that of SA president.
The one glaring exception to the otherwise strong ballot is junior George Brunner, a second semester transfer student. While Brunner may admittedly have leadership experience, he has almost zero knowledge of how GW functions. One of his platform points is extending 4-RIDE hours, and yet the candidate could not even say what the current hours are. He could only list one administrator at this school with whom he has been in touch, and regarding Metro discounts, claims "it is unacceptable that we have waited this long under the current administration," without any understanding of where negotiations currently are or what his next step would be. He kept referencing the "teams" he would build to help him, but a basic knowledge of how the University works is necessary. He is perhaps the only candidate that has the potential to do more harm than good next year.
This year's candidate pool is mostly quite impressive, but no candidate has the experience, ideas and pragmatism of Kyle Boyer. Vote for Kyle Boyer for SA president 2009-2010.
Readers can visit The Forum to comment on the editorial board's endorsements.