Our view: SA candidates must offer realistic policy to help students and work hard to solve actual student problems
During each Student Association election season, The Hatchet meets with all candidates for the presidency and executive vice presidency, evaluates their platforms and issues endorsements. Thinking grandiose policy objectives impress those participating in the endorsement hearings, candidates often tote platforms virtually incapable of being implemented. Anticipating a similar situation this year, this page sees fit to outline the criteria it will use when formulating its endorsement.
What student government needs most are individuals in touch with student issues who are serious about legislating and acting to address them. Student apathy for the SA rages when there exists a perception that its apparatchiks are more concerned with internal minutiae rather than real student life concerns. Instead of merely focusing on abstract issues concerning the SA bureaucracy – such as amending bylaws and changing the constitution – candidates should identify projects, both small and large, with the ability to impact student life directly.
While a candidate’s ideas are important in choosing student government leaders, an individual’s approach to the job is equally relevant. It is important for a future SA president or EVP to enter office with a pragmatic approach to governance and policy-making. As evidenced by the current gridlock between the executive branch and the Senate, one’s approach to the entire enterprise has the ability to accelerate progress or stagnate innovation. This page will look favorably upon candidates willing to compromise and accommodate divergent opinions in the interest of working for students.
It is imperative that candidates for student government have integrity and respect for the institution and people they serve. While to a lesser extent this year, student government leaders have been embroiled in a series of scandals in the past. When a scandal breaks, the good work done on behalf of students is halted in favor of debate on how to fix rules to prevent them in the future. The easiest way to prevent such a situation is simply to elect leaders who care enough about their job to respect the rules and common sense.
Joke candidates detract from addressing real issues in the campaign. Equally obstructive, however, are candidates who take themselves too seriously. While it is important to take the job seriously, it is just as crucial that candidates recognize they are merely students given the opportunity to work on behalf of other students. Power is infatuating, and the temptation to lose track of one’s own importance is strong. Any leader hoping for the support of a majority of students must show that he or she is a grounded person in addition to a creative thinker.
Each SA election offers a fresh start and renewed optimism for student government at GW. Candidates should seize this sentiment and articulate platforms that are simultaneously ambitious and pragmatic. They should not be timid in defending their beliefs, but not do so to the point of stunting progress. GW students have waited far too long for such a reality in their student government.