Images and appearances are often met with disdainful realities. Upon arriving at GW, we are met with the idea that the Student Association is there for us, that it will protect our rights and serve the student body. We are led to believe that the SA will stand up to the administration and take on interests significant to students.
Only later do we realize that the SA is replete with the sort of infighting that destroys any possibility for student unity, the only source of power against the administration. Faced with the impeachment and partisanship that have been the sole accomplishments of this year’s SA, the administration is free to make any decisions it wishes without any fear of organized student response. In short, the SA has failed in its promises and ideals.
We are now faced with the opportunity of great reform. In fact, the next group of people to take office in the Student Association will have unbounded opportunities to reform this institution, the first step toward improving student life at GW. However, these are times that require great visions of change, not politics as usual.
Fundamental changes are necessary and inevitable. From the midst of backlashing and infighting, a more effective SA must emerge. Instead of a twice weekly Hatchet joke, the SA should be a potent and indivisible means through which the rights and desires of students should be preserved. When the administration announced that it would remove housekeeping and raise room fees, the SA should have reacted with a unified front, the students’ interests first and foremost. What occurred, however, was decidedly different, rather more of a non-event. Nothing happened.
And even more issues face the men and women who will next assume these offices. SA finance reform must take place, for the benefit of all who attend this University. Funds need to become more readily available to student groups. Many honorable students put their credit on the line for their organizations because funding is not readily available. Reimbursements in the form of Expenditure Approval Forms should be rendered in fewer than 14 days, not the two months that it can sometimes take.
Also, student group accounts should have readily accessible funds, not red tape that hinders their activities and gatherings. Senators and officers should have accessible e-mail accounts or at least let their personal accounts be known. Office hours should be held so that the students can meet their representatives face to face.
Furthermore, this campaign should not be about flashy Web sites and mailboxes stuffed with catch-phrases. In fact, this race is not even about leadership experience and with which clubs we’ve all been associated. It’s about a vision for reuniting the student body in hopes of achieving our common goals.
We have before us a great opportunity for change, one that does come along often. The next group of people to assume office in the SA will have a great opportunity – they can either change and improve for posterity or sit in office with keen titles while respect for the SA continues to dwindle, removing any power the students could have.
Whether seeking office, we all have a great challenge before us; the result must be a more powerful student body lest we resign ourselves to failure. If the SA does not exist as the voice of the entire student body, we are better off without it than with it.
The election is not about candidates – it is about you. This is your fight.
-The writer is a freshman majoring in international affairs.