I know everyone must be tired of hearing about the Student Association elections by now, but because I spent Wednesday night at J Street until about 6 a.m., the elections are all that is on my mind.
It is has always struck me that the SA takes itself very, very seriously, especially considering that when it comes down to it, it actually doesn’t seem to do much.
But whenever I see SA “officials” around campus, they’re usually acting overly important, talking on cell phones or some other nonsense. I think they sometimes get confused and think of themselves as representatives of the United States rather than George Washington University. It’s a pretty important distinction.
All the maturity fades away, though, at election time. These people are running against each other and are all spending tons of money. They’re out and about on campus meeting and greeting the general public. But when night falls, they go out and rip down their opponents’ posters and file violations when their own posters get ripped down.
Yes, they can file violations. This may be the silliest part of it all. Sure, there have to be rules. But there should never be a situation where rules overtake common sense. For example, if GW students are so overwhelmingly behind a candidate that he gets nearly 800 write-in votes, shouldn’t he have been on the ballot in the first place?
It seems arbitrary, and quite frankly, it cheapens the whole election process. Imagine what a hollow victory it would’ve been for the winner, knowing that things could’ve turned out very differently if everyone had been on the ballot.
Waiting at J Street for the election results was where everyone really got out of hand. It was surreal. You have two groups of people (who for all intents and purposes, hate each other) trapped in a room together until 6 a.m.
That’s like a Jerry Springer episode with the Ku Klux Klan and Nation of Islam. There is bound to be trouble. Except J Street has no bouncers.
People were digressing. Our executive vice president, Jesse Strauss, made us all proud by shouting obscenities into the microphone, in response to chants of “Jason Haber,” his opponent for EVP in last year’s elections. Al Gore wouldn’t do something like that.
The Joint Elections Committee, the group that is responsible for counting the ballots, also was the subject of a great deal of animosity. I heard one of the guys sitting behind me say they should kick out of his fraternity one of their brothers who’s a JEC member. I don’t think he was being completely serious, but the point was certainly made.
Apparently though, there are even bigger problems than that. JEC members had to count all those write-in votes in one night. Obviously under a great deal of pressure from the masses, they had a bit of difficulty counting. Now, people who thought they won didn’t and people who thought they were in a runoff aren’t and we have general mass confusion.
And for some reason, every time they count, they get a different number. This weekend the general consensus around campus seemed to be that the entire process is flawed. I can’t say I disagree. Maybe if they redo the elections completely, they’ll also call off midterms. I mean, we can’t study with all this going on, can we?
I don’t know what is going on with it all right now. But despite my slight cynicism, I still feel sorry for everyone involved. And I’m certainly still going to vote. Let’s face it – it’s not like we are voting based on two vastly different ideologies. We all want the same things from the University. In the runoff elections, all the candidates have experience with leadership and all have the will to help students, or else they wouldn’t be willing to devote so much time and money to this.
So the only way to make the distinction is to vote for the most principled person, and the one with the most integrity. All we can do is vote for an honorable person who behaves like a decent human being. We need a few more of those in our SA.
This article appeared in the March 8, 1999 issue of the Hatchet.