I arrived on the GW campus this year wanting to help fellow students by contributing my efforts to make the system work for them. I have always believed that if the resources available to people are used with conviction and dedication, positive change is possible. I told some of my new friends that these thoughts inspired me to get involved in the Student Association, and I was discouraged.
“The SA is a joke.”
“You have better things to do with your time.”
Those were the most common reactions I received from more experienced GW students. But still, I applied for the freshman Senate seat. No, I am not bitter about not having been selected. What I am bitter about is the disdainful looks I received when I suggested the creation of an office of student advocate. My ideas received little, if any, encouragement from my few SA contacts or individuals in the student body. At this point, I made a horrible mistake. I withdrew my involvement and took a break from my usual political activity. I regret that decision.
I have heard a great deal of questions in reference to the legitimacy of the SA during this election season. And we are all asking the same questions: What is the problem with the SA? What should we do about it?
I would like to propose an answer. Let us, as students, make a campus-wide, inclusive commitment to showing up to support our government. The problem with the SA is that the government seems to be out of touch with the students. But at the same time, we have given up on the SA. How can the organization recover from that?
This is not in defense of the SA. There are problems with outreach. We need more advocacy, more inclusive government. We need to make a change, but we can’t do that if we don’t work with our government. Nothing is possible if we give up. Everything is possible if we show up.
I am going to show up next year. I am going to be involved. I want to see the issues facing my fellow students be intelligently addressed by those who derive their power from my vote. And I want you to join me. Don’t be repulsed at SA candidates because they want to get elected. If they want the job, we’ll put them there. And if they want to keep their job, they will work hard for us. And we’ll be with them every step of the way.
I want my SA to advocate for you and me. If you want to give up, then don’t complain. If you want to show your government what kind of a school you want this to be, then let us go to the meetings. Let us get informed, watch our leaders work and make them listen.
We are all part of the SA. Our government is our responsibility as well. Please don’t make the same mistake I did this past year. We may not get everything we want, but if you and I don’t show up now, we will not get anything at all. This is democracy, and it doesn’t work without our involvement. Give yourself some power. Be there with me.
-The writer is a freshman.