Op-Ed: Put election in perspective

When I read about the postering-day massacre in The Hatchet, I was frankly appalled (“Starting gun sounds in campaign race,” Feb. 22, p. 1). In the five years that I was involved with campus elections as a supporter, candidate and former chairman of the Joint Elections Committee, I have seen some crazy stuff, but physical violence and supporters falling off ledges is clearly over the line.

I am actually amazed no one is making a bigger deal of the fight that broke out between different campaign supporters. The Election Charter clearly states in section 87 that a candidate whose supporters “attempt or commit an act of violence against another candidate” will be thrown out of the race and potentially referred to Student Judicial Services. This is only one of two offenses in the charter that leads to automatic expulsion – and the system is set up that way for a reason. No one should get into physical fights over a student election.

The Election Charter also clearly states in section 71 that “candidates shall poster only on permanent masonry within reach of a commonly traveled surface.” As a result, it was against the rules for anyone to be on a ledge trying to poster. One of the reasons that rule is there is to prevent tragic accidents like we saw on Wednesday when a student fell and was injured. It is the responsibility of the candidates to brief their supporters on the rules. That apparently was not done. No one should be sent to the hospital over a student election.

It is just silly that this sort of thing occurs. When I led a committee last year that rewrote the Election Charter, we pushed back the postering time to 5:30 p.m. so people would not camp out all night for postering space. Unfortunately, people now just camp out all day.

What makes this situation even more ridiculous is that candidates are limited to 150 posters for the top positions, others get 100 or 50 posters. We included that limitation last year as well. Gone are the days when you could put up 2,000 posters and really eliminate any decent space for your opponents. People once tried that, and that is why “camping out” became such a blood sport. But be realistic, candidates. Your opponents have a poster limit – they cannot blanket the campus. There will be plenty of room for your posters.

Furthermore, all those posters you rushed to put up on Wednesday and for which you camped out all day – well, the snow on Thursday probably took care of most of them. It is ironic to see a picture in The Hatchet of two hopefully mature students fighting over a piece of concrete in front of Funger Hall, when I know for a fact that posters just will not stay up for more than a day on Funger given the building material especially if it snows or rains.

It took me several years to learn a very simple truth, so let me share it with all the candidates: This is only a student election. For years, I was caught up in the sport, the competition, the sheer rush of it all. After all, elections are the drug of choice for many GW political junkies.

But in the end, it is just a student election. Those of you that lose may find that experience is the best thing that has ever happened to you because it gives you more time to concentrate on school, work and your future.

So lighten up. It is just a student election.

-The writer, a graduate student pursuing an MBA, served as chairman of the 2000 Joint Elections Committee.

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