Serving on the JEC took too great a toll

When I made the decision to resign from the Joint Elections Committee, it was after much consideration. Though I planned to move forward with my other commitments, there apparently is still need for explanation.

I resigned from the JEC because my grades were in jeopardy. Period. There is no other reason.

Contrary to popular speculation, I am not disgusted with the JEC, its decisions or its procedures. I firmly support my former colleagues and friends on the JEC. I respect and admire them for the way they have handled themselves and the elections, sacrificing their personal lives and relationships in order to serve the GW community. Unfortunately, no one seems to appreciate how hard they are working for the University. It may be time to reorganize the way elections are run, but it is unfair to criticize the current JEC for what are largely institutional problems.

This brings me to criticism directed at the JEC for removing candidates from the ballot. First, it was the candidates that did not follow the rules; the JEC was enforcing a rule that was common knowledge. The candidates’ removal was their own responsibility.

The JEC gave these candidates the chance to appeal. We knew it was an issue of choice for the student body, but it was also an issue of fairness to the other candidates. When the case went to the student court, the decision was upheld. It did not matter what outcome any of the members of the JEC wanted; we had to do things by the book and look to the student court to make an exception. The JEC does not have the authority to arbitrarily choose not to enforce a rule.

Because candidates were removed from the ballot, the JEC also was blamed for the time it took to count ballots. Student opinion says that the JEC should have known there would be a substantial number of paper ballots.

However, the JEC did not know that candidates would remain off the ballot until the Sunday night before elections, when the student court upheld the original decision. While some might contend that the JEC rushed in counting ballots, others were saying that the JEC took a suspiciously lengthy period of time to count.

Clearly, the JEC could not possibly have pleased everyone. Admittedly, mistakes were made, but people need to remember that the JEC is made up of students trying their hardest to serve the entire student body.

Some students thought that resigning from the JEC was cowardly. If that were the case, I would have left when I realized how much I would be hated for removing candidates from the ballot; when I realized that we would potentially have to count thousands of ballots; when candidates and campaigns threatened my person at the election night party because the JEC could not count ballots fast enough.

I did not leave until I realized that I was skipping classes and not studying for exams because I was committed to office hours or hearings for this election. I refused to let my grades suffer for a student election.

In the my three years at GW, never before has anything come before my personal academic standards, but these elections did. On March 5, faced with exams and papers or an election season with no end in sight, I had to make my choice. Academics come first.

-The writer is a junior majoring in international affairs.

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