The Student Association has yet to accomplish much beyond allocating money to student organizations this year. We are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on disruptions caused by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but the excuses are over. The SA says it has plans to do more than dole out money, including establishing a new committee to study the 4-RIDE campus escort system and pass a bill condemning efforts at Gelman Library to charge for computer printing. Hopefully, these two efforts will be successful and will propel the SA to fulfill at least some of the many promises its members have made. With work, the SA can accomplish more than what students unfortunately come to expect from their representatives: zero.
Tuesday night, SA President Roger Kapoor gave his “State of the SA” address in which he said the organization has accomplished a great deal. The SA did help organize a vigil following the Sept. 11 attacks. This was a welcome event, but the vigil does not fulfill any long-term goals and will not continue to improve student life like the initiatives Kapoor and others promised to bring during their campaigns. SA advocacy for students in the GW’s preparations for the globalization protests was appropriate, but how much SA involvement influenced administrators’ decisions remains unclear. Providing transportation away from campus was not unprecedented. And allowing residence halls to remain open was the logical decision once it became clear the protests would be much smaller than anticipated.
SA leaders should be careful not to take credit for others’ accomplishments. While student groups were happy to get allocations 25 percent higher across the board this year, that has more to do with the SA fee spearheaded by last year’s administration than with any efforts of the current group.
The SA could accomplish a great deal by investigating campus problems and disseminating findings and recommendations for fixing them. Unfortunately, past efforts to do this have at best stalled. By collecting relevant testimony, interviewing experts, formulating workable solutions and publishing their findings, the 4-RIDE committee could help GW improve the escort system and could serve as a model for future inquiries. But the danger is that the committee could become one more piece of a vast bureaucracy, like so many that have preceded it.
Kapoor’s address mentioned several more planned initiatives in addition to his spring campaign promises that all appear encouraging. But announcing initiatives without following up with action accomplishes nothing. Now the SA should follow through on its promises by putting words into action.