As the heads of GW’s two most prominent political student groups on campus prepare to move on, GW College Democrats President Anjan Choudhury and GW College Republicans Chairman Bill Eldridge say they have nothing but respect for each other after a healthy rivalry.
In his second year as CD president, Choudhury said student involvement has improved most since his election.
“The growth in our involvement has been fantastic,” Choudhury said. “When I first got there, we had a few board members and about 180 members. Now we are up to 25 or 30 board members and over 600 members.”
Eldridge said Republican students also became more active since he got involved four years ago.
“A lot of the credit should go to the previous two chairs,” Eldridge said. “Four years ago we had 40 members, and now we have more than 300. The best thing is that all of those members are staying active.”
Both leaders said they fell short of some goals and had a difficult time luring speakers to campus at times.
“This year we were so involved in the presidential campaign that we didn’t have as many speakers,” Choudhury said. “I always wanted Al Gore to come to GW but it never quite materialized.”
Eldridge said one of his biggest disappointments came when Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) failed to show at the opening event of the Congressional Lecture Series.
“He had to vote on a bill, and came back a month later,” Eldridge said. “But that (first) night we had 150 students just waiting around in the Marvin Center which was kind of embarrassing.”
Although Al Gore never came, Choudhury said he was more than happy to host his favorite speaker, Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.).
“That guy will do anything for college students,” Choudhury said. “He still came to an event even though he was on his way to the airport to attend his wife’s surgery.”
Eldridge said his favorite speaker the CRs hosted is former senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole.
“He filled (Dorothy Marvin) Betts Theatre and gave such an awe-inspiring speech,” Eldridge said. “He told (students) to be good leaders and students. It was not a partisan speech at all.”
Both Choudhury and Eldridge said the new leaders of their organizations should continue the momentum.
“(Incoming president) Jessie Demastrie is going to be amazing,” Choudhury said. “My only advice to him would be to never set limits on what the group can do.”
Eldridge said he would like incoming CR chair Shannon Flaherty to “continue our dominance on campus, and bring in more speakers and continue our friendly rivalry with the College Democrats.”
This friendly rivalry has made an impression on both Choudhury and Eldridge. Both leaders said they had a firm admiration for their political opponents.
“Anjan and I debated once on News Channel 8, which was awesome,” Eldridge said. “We debated presidential politics and general issues, and I hope it will continue in the future.”
Choudhury shared Eldridge’s feelings on the debates.
“I had a really good time meeting people on the other side who could just get together as college students and have a great time, putting personal politics aside,” he said.