Ditzian takes on SA `elitism’
Junior musician and writer touts `honest’ presidential campaign
Jason Ditzian won’t be plastering campus with posters listing his credentials – he says he doesn’t have the money to spend on fancy ads or palmcards.
And he’s not running on a lengthy platform of campaign promises – he says his campaign will speak for itself.
He is in the race for Student Association president, he says, to send a message: He’s ready to take on what he calls “elitism” in the SA.
“I’m running to make a statement against an SA that has done nothing for regular students like me,” Ditzian said.
As a “regular student,” the junior biology major from Wayland, Mass. has dabbled in his share of activities on campus. He is a writer and a musician – he plays the saxophone in three student bands, writes for Independence Magazine and is an active member of GW’s creative writing community.
And it’s “regular students” Ditzian says he hopes to reach with his campaign; students like him who want a break from what he perceives as an inaccessible student government.
“I want to reach the people in student groups that the SA has basically forgotten,” Ditzian said. “There are the musicians, the writers, the people at the campus papers. I want all the kids who never vote to be able to seriously consider me.”
Ditzian does not have lofty goals for the SA if he wins its top spot; he says his election would speak volumes.
“If people come out to vote for me, that will demonstrate the dissatisfaction out there,” he said. “If I win, the organization is going to change itself. People are going to see how fed up the students are, and things will change.”
But Ditzian still has two weeks to campaign, and he says he prides himself in running “what is possibly the only honest campaign in history.”
He’s planning no fancy electioneering – maybe some music, quite possibly some crayon-drawn posters and leaflets.
Crayons? Sure, Ditzian says. He is not about to spend a lot of money on the campaign. In fact, he says part of his reason for running is the $11,000 stipend that goes along with the SA presidency.
“I need the money to pay off my loans,” he said. “I think people can relate to that.”-Becky Neilson
Siddiqui rallies grassroots support
`Unique’ presidential campaign focuses on untapped constituency
She has laughed off nay-sayers’ underestimation of her “outsider” pursuit of the Student Association presidency, but Sabina Siddiqui refuses to joke about one GW myth.
“You can’t be an underdog forever,” said Siddiqui, a junior who aspires to practice neurosurgery.
Siddiqui’s platform hinges on grassroots campaigning, and reaching out to students and campus organizations to find the issues she should address in her agenda.
Siddiqui says she will run a unique campaign – and that she hopes to tap into previously untouched student groups.
“That perception (that she is an underdog) is because I am dealing with a base of students who have never been dealt with before,” Siddiqui said.
Siddiqui gained political experience working on current SA President Kuyomars “Q” Golparvar’s campaign. She says that experience inspired her to follow Golparvar’s footsteps and continue his work on a broader level.
She says she hopes to take GW to that next level by making the SA an effective advocacy tool. Siddiqui says she envisions long-term changes for the SA, ranging from making student leaders more accessible to revamping the student allocations process which funds campus organizations.
“I can look at the SA . from the students’ perspective,” Siddiqui said.
Siddiqui notes her involvement with the SA’s Dining Services Commission, her job tutoring in the D.C. Reads program and her role in creating the Interfaith Council.
“I go where I am needed. I make an effort to take on the issues,” Siddiqui said.
As her campaign slogan asserts, Siddiqui can say one thing the other presidential candidates can’t – Sabina has “SA” in her name.
The slogan was just “too funny to let go,” she said.
And despite the involuntary political inclination of her name, Siddiqui set the record straight – again.
“I am not the political type. I never have been and never will be,” Siddiqui said.-Stacey Felsen
Macmanus seeks simple solutions
SA senator says he will `ruffle feathers’ in the administration
Patrick Macmanus has been a student leader since he stepped onto GW’s campus.
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Macmanus served as Mitchell Hall president his freshman year, directed the Student Association’s Campus Spirit Initiative last year and currently represents undergraduates as an SA senator.
The SA presidency, he says, is the next logical step.
“I want to give back to GW what it’s given to me,” Macmanus said. “I believe public service is the best way to get things done.”
Macmanus’ platform promises “real solutions” and he says he is proud of his record of helping students.
“I have done everything I said I would do,” he said.
As the SA’s go-to-guy for campus spirit, Macmanus helped create the first GW CD and brought Colonial Madness to campus.
In the Senate, he worked to obtain approval for a University health and wellness center from the city’s Board of Zoning Adjustment. And he has lobbied for improved Smith Center facilities until the new wellness center is built.
Macmanus says he hopes such efforts will help foster “a sense of place” in GW students.
“I believe if we focus on the problems and get results, students will feel better about the University,” he said.
Macmanus’ platform touches upon student concerns about Commencement, tuition, student services and technology, problems to which he says he believes simple solutions exist.
“I might be going in to this very naive,” he said. “But I believe every one of these things, if thought about enough, is easily accomplished.
“I’ve seen that people bring problems to the forefront, but that’s half the battle. The other half is getting things done,” he said.
Macmanus says he believes institutional flaws exist in the SA and he said he has ideas to improve the structure of the organization – including cutting down on the number of people involved in the organization.
“There needs to be more direct communication between the cabinet and the president,” he said. “I really don’t think the president knows what’s going on. It’s too big.”
Macmanus says he will work alongside the administration, but if those cooperative efforts fail, he said he is willing to go to University’s administrators with students’ demands.
“Being president should be walking a fine line,” he said. “I believe that it is nearly impossible to get things done without ruffling the feathers of the administration.”-Matt Berger
Potter vows persistent advocacy
Undergraduate at-large senator urges new solutions to old problems
Student Association presidential candidate Carrie Potter makes a distinction between politics and community service – she says she is more interested in the latter.
“I don’t like the word politics. I hope I never get involved in politics,” Potter said. “You could poster ’till you die, but if students don’t feel comfortable with you, it doesn’t matter.”
Potter, a junior sports management major from Nebraska, is an undergraduate-at-large senator and also chairs the Senate’s Academic Affairs Committee.
This is not Potter’s first tour of duty in the SA, though – she was a Columbian School of Arts and Sciences senator last year. She has been active in other campus activities as well; she was a Residence Hall Association representative for Thurston Hall and coordinated Colonial Inauguration last summer.
Potter says academic issues are central to her platform.
She says she would like to see more comprehensive advisi
ng – especially in the Columbian School – and she advocates moving some of the CSAS freshman advising workshops to the residence halls.
“There are a lot of simple things we can do to make things better. Not spending a lot of money to bring in all these new advisers, but in some cases just using the resources we have,” Potter said.
Potter also supports limiting the number of students admitted to GW to decrease class sizes, and re-evaluating English fluency requirements and training of teaching assistants.
But Potter says her biggest task if she is elected will not be to introduce revolutionary new programs or induce monumental changes in the system.
Instead she vows to remain persistent and keep pushing the administration to make good on existing plans.
“I couldn’t come out and say I’m going to promise you this or that because it’s not really right. Promising things is like instilling a false hope in students . What our job as leaders should be is to keep pushing the administration to follow through,” Potter said.
Potter says she believes the best way to produce new solutions to old problems is to increase communication between students and administrators year-round, not just before a major event or decision.
“We need to start saying, `I’m tired of sitting on the floor of my economics lecture,’ ” Potter said. “We need to start talking about things earlier and really representing them to the administration.”-Jason Filkins