Well thank God, someone with what seems to be integrity will be taking over the helm at our dearly beloved Student Association next year. Yes, the students have spoken. Well, a few have, at least. Omar Woodard will be the next SA president. The outrageous reign of petty politics of the past few years over the students’ governing body may finally be coming to an end. I guess I can stop popping valium every time I think about the SA. Maybe I should not get too far ahead of myself, though.
The great thing about Woodard being our next president is that he is a no-bullshit kind of guy. While I will admit that his monotone voice and mellow persona can leave you jabbing a fork in your eye and holding a mirror under your nose to see if you are still exhaling air, these characteristics also make you feel confident in him as a leader. These aspects of him give you a sense of comfort that when he speaks, he speaks the truth, and that he truly believes what he says. He makes you want to believe in him too.
Unlike current SA President Kris Hart, Woodard appears like he will truly be out there, speaking with and representing students. It appeared this year that Hart spent most of his time with GW’s administrators. I hope that Woodard will take his role as the leading representative of the students’ views very seriously. While Hart is hardly visible to students on campus, it seems that Woodard will be more visible among the student population during his tenure. Throughout his campaign, Woodard was a very personable character. Rather than doing backroom politicking and scheming on his cell phone – a common thing to witness during an SA presidential campaign – Woodard actually used the SA campaign to shake hands and meet fellow students.
However, in order to remain a personable and commanding campus leader, Woodard needs to avoid the same problem that former SA President Phil Robinson faced during his administration. With those in the Senate who care more about making themselves a name than about making GW a better place to be, Woodard needs to be extra careful not to get involved in the same petty SA politics that made Robinson ineffective. In his first days as president, Woodard should ensure that he does not face Robinson’s fate by doing three things:
First, he should set up systems that force the executive and legislative branches to work on initiatives in collaboration with one another. If he does this, everyone gets credit for the successes of the student government and there are no sour grapes. Second, he should mobilize the students around a central message and theme. If he does this, he will most definitely have enough constituent support to squelch any potential opposition in the Senate. And third, he should act in a way that is above petty politics. His campaign theme was about ending apathy, and he should act in a way that defines those that engage in pettiness as the same people that create apathy among the students.
Woodard has a lot to learn between now and this summer about what it means to be SA president. He has a lot to learn about different segments of the student population that he is not currently linked to. He has a lot to learn about how to deal effectively with GW administrators. And he also has a lot to learn from the history of past presidents. Some of it may be worth repeating, but a lot of it is not.
-The writer, a senior majoring in human services, is a Hatchet columnist.