Staff Editorial: Politics as usual

With the U.S. economy wallowing in the doldrums of recession, it seems students would be more aware when they are wasting money. That is why we are confused by Student Association members’ fumbled and costly attempt at progressive student government.

A poorly executed referendum during the final exam reading period failed to garner the attention of students and managed to squander $2,500 of their money. The voter turnout of about 300 students should be convincing enough of yet another SA blunder without even taking into account the number of students who seem to have been sent by SA Executive Vice President Josh Singer, a main organizer of the forced vote. We hope that these members learned an important lesson: that good government, even at the university level, requires good planning.

Failing to get the support of the SA Senate, Singer, Sen. Eric Daleo (U-CCAS) and others set out on their own to force the referendum through signed petitions. In a clear act of pre-election campaigning for next year, they hit the streets calling for more freshman student voice in the Senate. Getting a third non-voting, virtually powerless and inexperienced senator into unproductive Senate meetings was so important that they could not wait for the normal February elections. In fact, the issue was so pressing that they didn’t plan well enough to get even a respectable percentage of the student vote. They got the signatures and their referendum, and now they will have their third freshman senator with no clear indication that students really want it.

In an effort to find a silver lining in this mess, we think it is encouraging that an overwhelming majority of student who voted – no matter what their biases may have been – supported efforts to send the Code of Student Conduct to the Joint Committee of Faculty and Students for revisions. Open debate on University policies are a welcome development. But the Senate needed no referendum to accomplish this.

The third measure on the referendum calls for the formation of a five-student committee to review and suggest changes to Student Judicial Services processes. Again, an admirable action that will surely expose inadequacies in GW’s secretive judicial process. But no referendum was needed to accomplish this. In fact, the SA creates committees on its own all the time.

We can only hope that other SA members will act more responsibly in their efforts to win future elections. Students seldom forget when their money is wasted.

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